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Roanoke church’s sign sparks controversy

ROANOKE, Va. — A sign in front of a Roanoke church is getting a lot of attention from people who agree and disagree with the message.
The sign prominently displayed at Grace & Truth Baptist Church along Orange Avenue in Roanoke compares Governor Ralph Northam to the son of the antichrist.
The sign was put up after the Governors annoucement mandating facial masks.
“I wanted to draw people’s attention to what’s going on in the world. It not so much about the governor. It’s not about me,” said Pastor Paul Morrow.
He says he wanted it to draw attention to the mentioned scripture.
“Not in my calling the governor the son of the anti-Christ, but in the scripture. It’s bold. It’s kind of loud,” said Pastor Morrow.
But some people who drove by and saw the sign don’t like the message.
“I was just taken aback by what I saw here. I was just going along minding my business and I was just taken aback by what I saw,” said Wayne Powell.
Powell says he feels the sign could be used for a more inspirational message.
“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. People are hurting. People have lost their jobs, their families. They’ve lost so many things. And on top of that as a black man myself, we’re seeing where so many black men are losing their lives senselessly,” said Powell.
“And the best thing a church can do, the only thing a church can do to provide hope is to post something like this?”
It’s a reponse that didn’t surprise Pastor Morrow.
“I expected blowback. I expected good meaning people would call me, email me, try to straighten me out, try to tell me how wrong I am, how ugly I am. That’s alright. We’re human. They have an opinion.”
To Pastor Morrow, the scripture relates to our current situation. He says he stayed open during the pandemic because of his belief in the first amendment posting this sign on the door that speaks about the church’s rights.
“The first amendment says nobody can pass a law to force me to close. Nobody can pass a law to tell me I can worship or I can’t. Nobody can pass a law that will hinder the peaceful assembly of the people in this building,” Pastor Morrow said.
He says the church services they’ve had, have been about 10 people and they’ve been practicing social distancing. He says the sanctuary here can fit up to 200 people, so they’ve been able to space out easily.

Donald Wolfe

Donald’s writings have appeared in HuffPost, Washington Examiner, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Virginian-Pilot, among other publications. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia. He is the Virginian Tribune's Publisher.

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