PORTLAND, Tenn. — Residents in Portland, Tenn., are divided over a billboard proclaiming homosexuality “is an abomination.”
Resembling an open Bible, the left side of the billboard quotes an Old Testament passage of Leviticus Chapter 18, Verse 22, “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. It is an abomination. – God.” The billboard’s right side states, “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin,” followed by the message “paid for by concerned Christians.”
The Tennessean reports that Vietnam veteran and Portland resident Ronnie Monday initiated the billboard, said he feels the statement is necessary.
“People have sat down long enough, and this country is going in the wrong direction,” Monday said. “Celebrities and the president have had their say that gay marriage and homosexuality is OK, and I think it went against what God said. I needed to do something.”
“It’s not my message, it’s God’s message,” he said.
But not everyone in Portland agrees with the billboard, and say the message is not an act of love, but bullying.
“If they call themselves ‘Christians,’ they should be focusing on the New Testament, which is about love, forgiving and acceptance,” says Shannon Lynch, who has taught religion, ethics and philosophy for 14 years. “To me this sign seems to be a form a bullying, condemning people for who they are, and that’s not what God does,” Lynch said. “God loves no matter who you are.”
Chris Sanders, Executive Director of the Tennessee Equality Project told WSMV-TV that Monday has a First Amendment right to put up the billboard, but questioned if the message was right for the community.
“We hate to see anything in a community that encourages that kind of divisiveness, picking on people,” Sanders said.
As free speech, the sign “has every right to be there, said Jason Vandiver-Lawrence, who disapproved spending money on something that creates such negativity.
“Why not spend time and money on helping people in the community and spreading a positive message?” Vandiver-Lawrence asked.