LGBT Activist Threatens to Burn Down Church Over Traditional Marriage Billboard
An evangelical church in Australia has been threatened with an oil fire for displaying a billboard message declaring that God created marriage between one man and one woman.
"On Facebook, a lot of the stuff has been quite vicious at times," John Gill, senior pastor at Bellbowrie Community Church in Brisbane, told Daily Mail Australia. "I mean quite physically threatening. That's been scary for some in the church."
"One of the comments, for example, was a suggestion that people bring petrol down and set the church on fire," Gill added chillingly. The pastor said that his church has 150 parishioners, and these responses have come after Bellbowrie Community Church put up a billboard defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
In an interesting twist, the person who shared a photo of the billboard on Facebook just happened to be an opponent of the message. Patrick Wood posted photos of either side of the billboard, with the message, "Their house, their hypocritical rules. Same sign, same day, opposite sides. I won't forget their Marriage Equality stance."
"God designed marriage between a man and a woman," read the billboard. This was a direct reference to multiple scripture verses. Genesis 2:24 clearly states that "a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." Jesus quotes this passage, endorsing the Genesis view of marriage.
On the other side, the sign read, "All people are respected and welcome here."
While Wood and others interpret the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman to be exclusionary, meaning that LGBT people are not welcome, the one message is not incompatible with the other. It is fully possible for Christians to love LGBT people while disagreeing with same-sex marriage.
Indeed, a teacher from the New South Wales Central Coast told Daily Mail Australia that the two billboards were consistent with the Bible. "This is not a contradiction," she said. "It is perfectly in order and reflects our Christian ethos: acceptance of individuals regardless while upholding the sanctity of marriage and simultaneously rejecting SSM with its implications."
Even so, the billboard itself was vandalized over the weekend, so that it read, "God designed marriage between a man and a man."
Australia is in the middle of a nationwide non-binding mail-in vote on whether or not to redefine marriage, including same-sex unions. The ballots are due to be returned by November 7.
Gill, the pastor at Bellbowrie, said the threats leveled against his church over the billboard emphasized the threat to religious freedom if Australia redefines marriage. He wondered specifically about a church's freedom to express biblical doctrine in public, via billboards or other messages.