A church in Des Moines, Iowa, is receiving harsh criticism and threats for hanging a sign on its marquee indicating the church's stance that homosexuality is a sin. However, the wording and prominence of the sign has caused some backlash and has led some to say it is offensive to homosexuals.
Rev. Michael Demastus of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ has even received death threats and criticism for posting the sign that says "Gay is not okay", according to the Des Moines Register.
The sign was put outside on the church's marquee on Wednesday and was seen by Des Moines resident, Patrick Boltinghouse, who is gay. Outraged by the message, Botlinghouse took a picture of the sign and posted it on Facebook, starting a social media assault on Fort Des Moines Church of Christ.
Boltinghouse said he would usually ignore a message like this, but something about this one was different.
"Not everyone can laugh something this offensive off," Boltinghouse said. "A sign like this doesn't bring people closer to God, it scares people away from God."
Boltinghouse went on to label the entire church leadership and congregation "bigots," by posting a caption with the photo that read, "Greetings from the south-side of DesMoines, IA...Just wanted you all to know Jesus loves you, even if it's not ok to these biggots :) xoxoxoxo."
People have continued commenting on the picture and sharing it throughout Facebook. Some have even jumped on board the "bigot" attack against the church, starting a page called, "People against the bigots at Fort Des Moines Church of Christ."
Almost 200 people have agreed to attend a protest Sunday.
Demastus has indicated that he knew the sign would be provocative, but never expected the extreme reaction he has received. He has tried to dull down the backlash by amending the sign to also target other sins. The sign recently changed to read "Adultery is not okay."
He has also been forced to close down the church's Facebook page which has been attacked by gay activists leaving death threats and vulgar messages.
Demastus also filed a police report after threats were made to his home and even to his family.
He has insisted that offended people have misinterpreted his message, which was to condemn the act and sin of homosexuality and not to condemn homosexual people themselves.
Insisting that he and his church loved everybody regardless of their backgrounds or sins, Demastus said, "We are a group of people that love everybody."
He plans on having a police presence at his Sunday service this week, according to The Republic. He says protesters are welcome, but must remain outside the church.
"They (protesters) are not welcome in our church service in anyway," Demastus said.