Church's gay marriage message sparks uproar
ACUSHNET, Mass. (WHDH) -- A church’s message sparked a new fight in the same-sex marriage debate.
A message board at St. Francis Xavier Church in Acushnet read “Two men are friends not spouses” on Tuesday.
“It was never meant to be hateful. It was never meant to cause harm to people, just a statement. Six words, we thought we’d get across our point of view in sort of a pithy,” said Monsignor Gerard O’Connor of St. Francis Xavier Church.
A person posted a second sign with a rainbow balloon a short time later. The message left by a local woman countered the church’s statement saying, “You may not be welcome in this church, but all people are welcome in this community. Spread love not hate.”
Vanessa said she wanted to let people know the church doesn’t speak for the community.
“And I worry that young people who might be struggling to come out see that and are really negatively affected by that and I worry,” said Vanessa, who supports gay marriage. “I was shocked. I felt like it was the 1940s and we were discriminating based on race and it just absolutely was appalling.”
Uproar ensued -- protesters with signs gathered outside the church, a barrage of comments were made on Facebook, and a threatening message laced with profanity was left on the church’s voicemail.
“Your sign is completely [expletive]…even post something like that,” the voicemail said. “Your church should be burned.”
“To see the responses come back to us. I didn’t realize the church hated so much by the people that disagree with us,” said O’Connor.
Vanessa and the church were surprised by the uproar, but they are standing by their messages.
“I think that it’s 2012 and it’s about time that we respect people for their beliefs,” said Vanessa.
“We think we have the right to express our difference of opinion in freedom without the backlash of hatred,” said O’Connor.
The Acushnet police said they are aware of what has been going on and they are keeping an eye on the church.