Once again, Union County has made the national headlines, this time because of a sign at a church.
Last Thursday, the sign in front of the Jonesville Church of God read:
Are They Brothers”
Pastor Roger Byrd says the message linking Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama with terrorist leader Osama bin Laden wasn't political. He said he wanted people to think about whether they might be getting a Muslim in the White House.
The sign angered some folks in Jonesville, who said it carried a racist message.
It also attracted the attention of local TV stations, which seized on the opportunity to showcase our “backwards” community. After all, isn't this the same county where a mother drowned her two children and a black TV news reporter was attacked by two white women?
By Monday evening, the story had made the Associated Press wire and quickly became worldwide news - but not in this newspaper.
We decided Monday morning that this was not a story we wanted to cover because Pastor Byrd was merely exercising his right to free speech. We did not consider the message on the sign to be racist or political. Although we questioned the pastor's judgment, he had every right to express his opinion.
Unfortunately, others didn't see it the same way, like the person in Perth, Australia, who e-mailed us a letter saying the sign was “not only stupid, but also bigoted, racist, xenophobic and thoroughly wrong. It is any wonder America manages to get itself into so many wars with religious intelligence of this level.”
By Tuesday, the sign in front of the church had been changed. It now reads ‘‘How will you spend eternity, smoking or no smoking?''
It's doubtful anyone will take offense to this message.