They're not exactly preaching peace and tolerance.
(Editor's note: This post was originally published on AlterNet.)
Texan televangelist John Hagee called same-sex marriage supporters “counterfeit Christians.” A pastor in Tampa, Florida refused to perform a funeral service when he learned the deceased man had been gay, because that would have been “blasphemous.” And Pastor Steve Washburn of First Baptist Pflugerville, Texas, is warning that pastors will be imprisoned for speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage. And that was just this week.
Certain church leaders certainly seem to be re-prioritizing Jesus’ to-do list. They’ve decided to ignore the Bible’s minor points, like turn the other cheek and that whole Golden Rule thing. Also, they’re not going to worry so much about the poor. These shepherds, instead, demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ by hating on homosexuality. They instruct their flock by broadcasting messages of homophobia—literally—on church signs and marquees. Here are some of the worst church signs preaching against brotherly love.
1. Ménage a trois with God.This sign, which was placed in front of the Devon Park United Methodist Church polling site in Wilmington, North Carolina, may go down in history for being the first, and probably only, religious sign to push a threesome as an alternative to same-sex marriage. The sign’s message is so urgent, no time or plastic could be spared for punctuation: “A true marriage male and female and god.” The takeaway? Marriage exists between one man and one woman and the omnipresent voyeur known as god.
2. God good, gays bad! In this sign, on display at the Santa Clara Jesus Is Lord Baptist Church in California, the beauty is in its simplicity: “God is good/Gays are bad/vote Yes on Prop Eight.” If only all get-out-the-vote initiatives were this straightforward and Manichean, voting rates would go through the roof. Prop 8, the statewide ballot proposition in California to ban same-sex marriage, brought together churches, synagogues, Mormons, Catholics, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, who were able to put aside their religious differences and come together in a beautiful interfaith collaborative effort to strip people of their civil rights. Because, at the end of the day, we may call him different names, but we all believe in the same god, who happens to be very homophobic.
3. Homophobic haiku. This short and catchy “Gay Is not Okay” sign appeared outside of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in South Des Moines, Iowa. Pastor Mike DeMastus was merely using the church’s illuminated marquee to advertise the theme of his upcoming Sunday sermon, something he does for every sermon every week. Besides being an effective promotional tool, the minimalist text is just 12 syllables shy of being a homophobic haiku.
Lest you fear DeMastus is intolerant, he’s the victim of intolerance from gay people who don’t want to accept his rejection of their lifestyle. Calling out the alleged hypocrisy, the pastor said, “This is the community that cries wanting us to be tolerant and I said gay is not okay, I didn't say gays are not okay.” For DeMastus, homosexuals are no worse than other people who commit sins and must repent: “They are no different than an adulterer, or cheater, or liar. They’re sinners, just like me…that was the intention of the message, but it got muddied up real quick.” In other words, gays aren’t an abomination. But what they do is. So, what’s the big deal? These LGBT bullies even organized a protest at the church, and demonstrated their intolerance of hatred, homophobia, bullying, and suicide.
4. Some of my best friends are sinning gays. This sign, gracing the front the Seagate Chapel Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, says, "God loves gays but he hates a perverted life style—turn or burn." If you can’t find the phrase in Romans 1-26-27, that’s probably because it isn’t there. Anna Benson, who made the sign, must have taken some liberties paraphrasing. But before you cry homophobe, you should know that Benson is a total LOG (Lover of Gays). She defended the sign, saying, “I love the gays.” Regardless of your feelings, I think we can all agree that the “turn or burn” rhyme is pretty brilliant. This is yet another example of the church trying to cozy up to the state, since this sign was part of the successful effort to pass the North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, which limited not only marriage, but domestic partnerships, to between one man and one woman.
5. What would Jesus do? Stone the homos!This “Jesus would stone homos” sign, which was outside a church in… NEW YORK CITY, merely puts some Old Testament teachings into plain language. I didn’t think it was possible, but Pastor James David Manning seems to love the gays even more than Anna Benson. He explained, “I never said that I would stone homos. I never said that. I never said that I would ask anyone else to stone homos. I never said that. What I did say is what the Bible says, and I gave several verses within the word of God that would demonstrate why I believe that Jesus would stone homos." And what verses does this biblical scholar cite? Leviticus, obviously. But he shows major skills in breaking down John 8:7. Here Jesus is asked whether an adulteress should be stoned, and he responds, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." Now most people take that to mean, “don’t be a judgmental hypocrite.” But Manning’s exegesis of the text reveals that Christ is actually saying, “don’t be a judgmental hypocrite. Allow me, instead, to stone her, since I’m sinless!” I guess, under this reading, Jesus was about to stone her when something came up.
6. Teach a man to be your friend and he’ll never be your husband.This sign, brought to you by St. Xavier Church in Acushnet, Massachusetts may be one of the straightest, most boring, same-sex marriage-opposing sign ever. It observes that two men are friends, not spouses. It’s unclear if they are aware that there are two-husband households.
7. Math hates equality. This sign, seen at the Glasgow Church in New Castle County, Delaware, is not at all formulaic. To sum up, this sign says that same-sex marriage just shouldn’t be part of the equation. In case you’ve forgotten everything you learned in arithmetic, allow me to translate: The cross (Christianity) is greater than equality (for the gays).
8. Lemonade won’t save you from hell. Sadly, you’ve probably heard about the vile Westboro Baptist Church. The congregation pickets the funerals of U.S. soldiers and victims of the Sandy Hook shooting and other high-profile tragedies, and attributes these deaths to god’s hating America and “fags.” Their deranged view doesn’t discriminate and the sexual orientation of the deceased person is irrelevant. Planting Peace decided to open the “Equality House” across the street from WBC. When a five-year old girl saw the rainbow-painted house, she decided to set up shop in front of it to sell lemonade and raise money for what she considered to be “the most beautiful house in the world.” The despicable WBC folks responded by calling her a “Satanic liar” and creating this personalized marquee.
9. Don’t say the Bible didn’t warn you about HIV!This is another gem from Pastor James Manning. I didn’t think it was possible, but he manages to outdo his earlier work with this sign, which “cites” Corinthians, specifically the part saying, “All churches & members that support homos cursed be thou with cancer syphillus HIV stroke madness itch then hell.” I can’t really add anything to this. It speaks for itself.