Church rents movie theater marquee in response to LGBT pride event: 'Then cometh shame'

LGBT group calls sign 'damaging and toxic,' cites 'religious trauma'

Movie theater sign
The signage at the Old Theater in Lowell, Michigan, went up in June 2022 ahead of a scheduled pride event. |

A Michigan church is stirring up strong reactions from the community after renting out a popular movie theater sign and quoting Bible verses on it ahead of a nearby LGBT “pride” event.

The Old Theater in Lowell, which has a population of about 3,800 and is located approximately 15 miles east of Grand Rapids, posted the messaging on its marquee, which it regularly rents out for advertising and other uses.

Pastor Josh Langdon of Lowell's Bible Believers Church told The Christian Post that the church rented out the space to stand up to what he calls an “extreme LGBT agenda that we believe is unbiblical and damaging to our culture.”

“It’s an intense battle that we believe as a church that Christians need to stand against,” he said.

Langdon said the church decided to rent the sign when they heard the event was returning to Lowell after 2021, which was the first time the city held an LGBT pride event.

Last June, Langdon says the church went to the event with Scripture signs and Gospel tracts to “stand against the movement.” 

With this year's Lowell pride event being held this past Saturday, the congregation rented the Old Theater marquee and put the words of Acts 16:31 on one half and Proverbs 11:2 on the other in the King James Version. Proverbs 11:2 reads: “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom." 

The signage drew heavy criticism from supporters of the pride event. Many of them took to The Old Theater’s Facebook and Google pages to voice their disapproval, including writing what Langdon said were “intentionally smearing reviews on Google.”

Langdon said it wasn't the church's intention to cause controversy for the theater.

“I guess I knew that there would be people in the pride movement that would be upset by it, anticipated that they wouldn’t be happy about the verses, but I feel bad that this business is being intentionally [smeared],” he said. “It’s sad to see in our culture this quickness to cancel people that you don’t see eye to eye with, and it’s what it looks like is going on in this case.”

Nicole Lintemuth, board president of Lowell Pride, told CP in an email interview that the group’s mission is to “celebrate the diversity of LGBTQIA+ culture and create a community that is safe and inclusive.”

But after hearing about the theater signage, Lintemuth said she was “disappointed but not surprised.”

“West Michigan is a pretty conservative area. For a lot of us, we grew up hearing ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’ was the least cruel statement from people of faith,” she said. “For many of us, we heard over and over that we're evil, an abomination, something that needs to be destroyed." 

“That language is damaging and toxic, and religious trauma is real for many in our community," she added.

Lintemuth claims members of Langdon’s church were “harassing our guests” at last year’s event.

“[Supporters] stood in front of them with flags and signs of love, stepping in for each other when one person's arms got tired, covering hate with love,” she added. “It gives me goosebumps still thinking about it.”

Lowell Pride 2021 event
Attendees of Lowell Pride 2021 block the view of protesters at the event in June 2021 in Lowell, Michigan. |

The 2022 event featured over 70 vendors, a kids activity area and a lineup of events that included a Q&A panel where experts and community members answer questions submitted by the public. 

“It's a great opportunity for all of us [to] learn together and grow,” Lintemuth said.

She claims Proverbs 11:2 — the verse referenced on the marquee —  has been misinterpreted to “bash the LGBTQIA community.” 

“The pride referenced is the pride in thinking we as humans could know more than God, or speak for Him," Lintemuth said. “That they left off the second half of the verse, about how humility brings wisdom, is telling to me."

“Pride for the LGBTQIA community is about breaking free from shame, hate and fear. It is not a lack of humility, or trying to change anyone,” she added.

Lintemuth believes that while the Old Theater owners can do business as they see fit, she’s calling on the theater to remove the phrase “LGBTQ Welcoming” from their Google page.

“You can not be an ally and also be ignorant to the hate and discrimination we face on a daily basis,” she said.

But for Langdon, he believes the church is facing cultural headwinds in America that can no longer be ignored.

“While our culture wants to keep Christianity quiet, I believe it’s our duty to stand, even when it’s uncomfortable, and in this case it is,” he said. “It’d be much easier to not put up the sign in our small community. … People see it as stirring the pot and causing distress to others. That is not our goal."

“We love homosexuals. We want to see them come to Christ for salvation, but ‘how will they know without a preacher?'" he asked. "If Christians aren’t willing to oppose the error of their ways in truth and love, then they won’t hear it.”

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