Messages on church reader board stir controversy
HOOD RIVER, Ore. (KATU) - The view from the Belmont Drive Missionary Baptist Church is beautiful, but many say the messages outside the church are downright ugly.
The reader board now displays two messages. The first reads, "Wake up Christians. Allah is not our God. Muhammad not greater than Jesus." The second says, "Only the Bible is God's word. 'Holy book.' Koran is just another book."
"I literally had to stop and back up and make sure I saw what I saw, and I was profoundly offended and upset by it," Eric Cohn said.
Cohn, a Hood River resident, first spotted the message while he was out for a bike ride. He couldn't believe what he was reading, and he isn't the only one.
"I was really annoyed and sad," Hood River mayor, Paul Blackburn, said. "I am annoyed that in this political season there's a solid case of ugly going on. I think it norms up this kind of behavior like 'oh it's okay to be a bigot now.'"
Both men are concerned the sign sends the wrong message about their town. Cohn was so worried he even wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper.
"This one guy wrote in here that I'm a terrorist almost. You ought to see what he put in here!" Pastor Michael Harrington said as he read from the letter.
Harrington spotted the letter and is now defending the messages he put on the sign. He says everyone is overreacting.
"I'm not politically correct. I've never been politically correct, but I think I'm biblically correct, and that's what matters to me," Harrington said.
Harrington says he harbors no hate towards Muslims or Islam, only that he's trying to educate others about his religion.
"It isn't against any particular denomination. It's just the fact that I have taught and will continue to teach that I have one God, one way of salvation and one Bible that's holy," Harrington said.
Harrington doesn't plan to take the messages down until the first of the month when he was planning to put new messages up anyway. He says anyone is welcome to come by his church to discuss the matter over coffee and doughnuts.
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