An Australian Baptist pastor has come under criticism for posting what are being called homophobic messages on his church windows – although he has said he is solely expressing his opinion on what the Bible says of human sexuality.
The Hamilton Baptist church in Australia, where the Rev. Trevor Walmsley preaches, displayed electronic messages on the side of the sanctuary reading "You are here because God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," and another reading "None of us owe our existence to same-sex sexual relationships".
A number of local residents who read the messages were "outraged," News.com.au reported, but Walmsley was quick to explain that the signs represent his views, and not necessarily those of the church.
"I suppose they are a bit controversial, but I am very much in support of marriage as it has been traditionally known," the Australian pastor said. "I can't speak for the denomination but for me personally, and probably for our church here, we would stand for the traditional definition of marriage of a man and a woman for life, to the exclusion of all others."
He further added that "disagreeing with what other people believe doesn't necessarily mean we don't love them."
The Rev. Rod Benson, a spokesman for the Australian Baptist Ministries, has criticized the display, however, calling the massages "childish" and noting that the Baptist Church cannot be held accountable for the pastor's views.
"It's a childish statement and it's been around for decades, that slogan," Benson said, referring to the "Adam and Steve" sign.
"It's very regrettable that one of our Baptist churches would choose to put such a statement on the outside of their building," he added. "It sends the wrong message. We want to treat all people, without exception, with respect and it's not helpful in the debate about marriage to have those kinds of childish slogans displayed on our churches."
While opposing homophobia, the Australian Baptist Ministries recently declared its support for the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
"For more than 400 years Baptists have affirmed the Bible as the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. The Bible teaches that the only appropriate context for sexual intercourse is between a woman and a man who are married to each other. Those who argue otherwise have drifted away from biblical ethics and an authentic Baptist understanding of marriage," read a statement released in June by the ABM.