A church marquee that displayed a message disagreeing with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriage was spray-painted with graffiti this weekend.
But the sign at Bisbee Baptist Church was quickly cleaned up to keep showing the message: “Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Pastor Freddie Matthews said he would like to talk to the person who spray-painted the sign early on July 4 with the phrase, “F--- 2 Your God We Love Gays!”
“Be willing to understand that we have our differences, but expressing them this way is not appropriate,” Matthews said.
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Matthews had put up the message on June 28, the day after the Supreme Court’s ruling struck down the ban on same-sex marriage. He said the message coincided with his sermon that week about marriage and it was undisturbed for about six days.
“I didn’t wake up Saturday morning to put something out there to make someone mad,” he said.
The church, which is more than 100 years old, is in north Mansfield at 3001 Gertie Barrett Road. Between 80 and 100 people attend services, Matthews said.
Church leaders were alerted to the vandalism by police at 2 a.m. July 4 and the graffiti was quickly removed, Matthews said. An incident report was filed with the police July 7.
“What’s sad about it is that they used the obscenity,” Matthews said. “That’s a very blasphemous statement.”
Mansfield police spokesman Thad Penkala said this crime would be considered criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor. He said detectives would have to investigate to determine if it rose to the level of a hate crime.
Matthews’ sermon that week did touch on gay marriage, but he also gave other examples including how sexual relationships outside of marriage are legal, but not right.
“Just because something is legal doesn’t mean you have to accept it as part of your life,” he said.
Matthews said he did show an edited version of the graffiti during the sermon after the incident.
The church has not seen any other vandalism, he said, and does not have a camera outside.
Matthews said he usually leaves messages up on the marquee for a week to 10 days and is contemplating what to put up next.
“The church is open to the community,” Matthews said. “ We want to share the love of God with all people.”
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770