Mass. Church Draws Protest Over Anti-Gay Marriage Sign

A Massachusetts church drew protest this past weekend over a message posted on its sign which said, "Two men are friends, not spouses."

Around a dozen people with signs stood outside of St. Francis Xavier Parish of Acushnet on Sunday, many of whom were former members of the church, to protest the sign that had been posted for one day last week.

In an interview with local media, Monsignor Gerard O'Connor of St. Francis Parish explained that the message was meant to show where they stood on the hot button issue of same-sex marriage.

"There's no hatred in the gospel of Jesus Christ and there never can be. We've got to do everything out of love," said O'Connor to WBZ-TV. "That's what the church teaches … We understand people disagree with us, but we do it out of love. We never said we hate anybody."

The backlash against the church sign began online, as members of the homosexual community expressed their protests on social media. Physical demonstrations, including the one on Sunday, came later, with one protester putting a paper sign on a fence near the church sign reading, "You may not be welcome in the church, but you are in this community. Spread love, not hate." With it, she put a rainbow balloon.

"I just wanted to let them and the community know that attitude didn't reflect the whole community," said Vanessa Perry in an interview with WBZ-TV.

While protesters stood silently and carried signs with slogans like "Spread Love, Not Hate," other responses to the sign were not as civil.

Not long after posting the statement, St. Francis Parish received several threats of violence, including one phone call where an anonymous individual threatened to burn down the church building.

The sign was posted by the Catholic parish in response to President Barack Obama's recent statements in support of same-sex marriage.

The sign's message was up on the church property for about a day, having been replaced with the message "Go out and proclaim the Gospel."

St. Francis Xavier Parish of Acushnet, Mass., did not return a request for comment by press time.