DES MOINES, Iowa — A suburban South Des Moines, Iowa church is under fire after its Pastor Mike DeMastus posted the message “Gay is not okay” on the church’s marquee sign.
According to DeMastus, “Gay is Not Okay” is the title of his next Sunday sermon and as he does with all of his sermons, he promoted it by putting the title on the church’s illuminated marquee outside.
Demastus, pastor of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ said that over the past couple of weeks, he’s had several conversations with people about homosexuality. Desmastus claimed that this will be the second time he has devoted an entire sermon to homosexuality during his 14 years with the church.
A local resident, Patrick Boltinghouse, got off work that night and while running an errand, drove past the marquee with its anti-gay message.
Boltinghouse, who is gay, said it was not the first time he’d something like this. Usually, he just ignores it, he said, but this time it was different.
“Not everyone can laugh something this offensive off,” he said.
Boltinghouse snapped a picture of the sign and posted it on Facebook with this message:
“Greetings from the southside of DesMoines, IA … Just wanted you all to know Jesus loves you, even if it’s not ok to these biggots :) xoxoxoxo.”
Soon, people were commenting on the picture, sharing it on their Facebook profiles, and one user even created a Facebook page entitled “People against the bigots at Fort Des Moines Church of Christ.” Another Facebook page announced plans for a protest targeting the church’s Sunday’s service, and almost 200 people have said that they planned to attend, reported the Des Moines Register.
The outcry has shocked DeMastus, who told local television WOI-TV that he is now receiving threatening messages as a result of the sign.
“When I did take it down it was when I received messages that indicated simply my address and the message, ‘Hope you feel safe at home,'” DeMastus said. “It’s sad … this is the community that cries wanting us to be tolerant and I said gay is not okay, I didn’t say gays are not okay.”
DeMastus still intends to give his sermon this Sunday.
“I’m not going to have people threaten my family and my life because of a church sign, but I am gonna preach the truth from God’s word,” he said.
For his part, the DeMastus thinks people are misinterpreting his intent — his message was not to condemn homosexuals, but rather homosexuality, he claimed.