A Louisiana pastor found his church the subject of a peaceful demonstration protesting his decision to put up an anti-gay sign in his front yard that appeared to target his lesbian neighbors.
The protest was prompted by a Facebook post shared by Lynda Slimer of Benton, La., who said that she, her wife, and two daughters came home to find the sign in the yard of their neighbor, Rex Cornwell, the pastor of the Bossier Church of Christ.
The sign features the international ‘No’ symbol over the LGBTQ Pride flag with the words “God forbids homosexuality, so should we.” Bible verses condemning homosexuality appear at the bottom of the sign.
Slimer wrote on Facebook that she believes the yard sign was prompted by Cornwell’s realization that she and her wife are not roommates.
“We’ve lived here a year, I’ve baked them cookies, invited them into our home and introduced them to our family,” Slimer wrote about the pastor and his family. “They have waved to us as they come and go and we have talked about the weather. They’ve told us if we ever need anything to just come knock on their door. All thrown out the window because they realized that we are wives and not roommates. This is not a representation of God. Jesus would not do this.”
Slimer’s Facebook post was shared by local community members, who decided to organize a protest outside of Cornwell’s church in South Bossier, La., this past Sunday.
More than two dozen people gathered across the street from the church, holding signs reading: “Spread love not hate,” “God is love,” and “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Some demonstrators held rainbow flags or wore rainbow-themed clothing.
“Love is love. We love everyone. We love the minister of the church that we’re gathered for here, but we do hope that he can find it in his heart to bring down the hateful sign that is breaking the hearts of his neighbors,” Sarah Hair, one of the protesters, said. “We’re commanded to love our neighbors and that’s what we want to do.”
“Anyone of faith can have the opinions and beliefs that they feel like they hold dear. There’s nothing wrong with that,” James LeBlanc, another protester, who is a gay married man, said in a
But Cornwell says he has a responsibility to stand up for Biblical principles, including the Bible’s condemnation of various sins.
“Homosexuality is condemned,” he told CBS affiliate KLFY. “It’s an anathema that means something horrible. We’re just simply taking a stand against the homosexual movement as well as other kinds of sins.
“So what we do is we’re going to pray for them,” Cornwell added. “We’ll show them the kind of love that Jesus showed, but we can’t back down either. So we have a responsibility to stand up [for] the word of God.”
According to the “NWLA Stands with Love” Facebook page, more protests will be planned outside Cornwell’s church on subsequent Sundays until the sign is taken down.
Slimer and her wife, who were out of town on the Sunday of the first protest, shared a message on Facebook thanking those who stood up for them.
“We wanted to let you all know that we appreciate you all more than we can explain,” they wrote. “This community has made us feel SO LOVED, and for that we are eternally grateful. Sending you all love and hugs!”
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