Locals are refusing to allow the area’s Presbyterian Church to get away with spreading anti-LGBT+ messages on a sign outside their building.
Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Lake Shastina, California, caused much anger among locals earlier in the week when the sign outside their building read, “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still a sin. The culture may change. The Bible does not.”
The church is known to have displayed similar hateful messages before, but this year, the neighbourhood’s residents are not standing for it.
Locals gathered outside the church before services over the weekend at a protest called Shastina Love Rally, where they hoped to “spread love and show the world how Siskiyou [County] embraces everyone!”
Responding to the controversy, Pastor Justin Hoke told the Siskiyou Daily that the purpose of the sign was to “rebuke sin.”
He wrote on Facebook, “It is not possible to preach the gospel in short pithy statements. I have used this sign for seven years now to provoke reflection or make a strong point about a single truth.
“Such as this one: ‘The culture does not determine truth, God does.’ … The funny thing is, I could have put those words up and no one would have cared. Why? Because it does not rebuke sin or call anyone to repentance.
“The church has lost its saltiness and I fully expect to get as much or more flack from the visible church as I am getting from the world.”
“The response we’re receiving from this sign proves that it was posted way too late. If a conservative mountain farming community is no longer a safe place to call sin, sin, then is anywhere in this country still safe for real Christians?” he added.
Local resident Robyn Vandiver told KTVL that the gathering was to “show that we actually care about all members of our community, regardless of orientation gender or other aspects of identity that make them unique.”
Meanwhile, fellow Lake Shastina resident, Sharon LoMonaco said that she began to take a new route to work every day because signs such as this by the church caused her distress.
Rally organizer Amelia Mallory added, “I don’t think that anybody here thinks we’re going to change their minds across the street. I don’t think anybody here thinks we’re going to have a productive dialogue with anybody across the street. And that’s fine. But really what we’re trying to do is make sure that everybody else in the community knows that we’re here and we love them.”
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