A sign put up in front of the Grace & Truth Baptist Church along Orange Avenue in Roanoke has sparked controversy in the community. The sign, which was put up after Governor Ralph Northan made wearing facial masks mandatory, compares him to the son of the antichrist.
Speaking about the sign, Pastor Paul Morrow stated: “I wanted to draw people’s attention to what’s going on in the world. It’s not so much about the governor. It’s not about me.”
He continued: “Not in my calling the governor the son of the anti-Christ, but in the scripture. It’s bold. It’s kind of loud.”
Eric Pointer posted a picture of the sign on Twitter, captioning the post: “What are your thoughts about this sign? It’s turning many heads in Roanoke…”
“I spoke to the pastor responsible for it. He’s saying he’s gotten backlash for it, but he’s defending it @WFXRnews pic.twitter.com/RkWmMQvxHj,” he continued.
A number of people were not pleased with the sign’s message.
Wayne Powell said, “I was just taken aback by what I saw here. I was just going along minding my business and I was just taken aback by what I saw.”
“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. People are hurting. People have lost their jobs, their families. They’ve lost so many things. And on top of that as a black man myself, we’re seeing where so many black men are losing their lives senselessly. And the best thing a church can do, the only thing a church can do to provide hope is to post something like this?” he continued.
Pastor Morrow stated that he wasn’t surprised by the negative reaction, and responded: “I expected blowback. I expected good meaning people would call me, email me, try to straighten me out, try to tell me how wrong I am, how ugly I am. That’s alright. We’re human. They have an opinion.”
He maintained that the scripture on the sign is indicative of our current situation, and that he kept the church open because he believed in his first amendment rights.
“The first amendment says nobody can pass a law to force me to close. Nobody can pass a law to tell me I can worship or I can’t. Nobody can pass a law that will hinder the peaceful assembly of the people in this building,” he said.
He stated that he has been holding services with 10 congregants, and that they have been social distancing. He maintained that in a sanctuary that can fit up to 200 people, spacing people out has been easy.