The pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas says billboards his congregation sponsored calling America a Christian nation were taken down because the company called them too “divisive.”
The removal also took place after the city’s mayor and newspaper criticized them.
The billboards referenced the church’s name, the date of the sermon (June 24), and the sermon Title, “America is a Christian Nation.” It also included a picture of the pastor, Robert Jeffress, and the service times.
Fox News’ Todd Starnes first reported on the controversy.
“We were told by the billboard company that the message was divisive,” Jeffress told Starnes’ radio show.
On June 7, The Dallas Morning News ran a column by Robert Wilonsky criticizing the billboards, saying Jeffress’ “gospel of division of division does not represent my Dallas.” Wilonsky quoted other comments Jeffress had made – about President Trump, for example – and also reached out to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings for comment about the billboards.
“I don’t mind someone being proud of the Christian tradition in America – it’s obviously there,” Rawlings told the newspaper. “But one of the strengths of Dallas is our faith-based community [and] it’s the strength that makes us a city of love versus a city of hate.”
Rawlings added, about the billboards, “It’s not the Dallas I want to be – to say things that do not unite us but divide us.”
Starnes cited a message from the billboard company, Outfront Media, to the church.
“We are getting hammered by the media for the ‘America is a Christian Nation’ tagline on the billboards,” the representative was quoted as telling the church. “Dallas Morning News and other news affiliates are doing stories on how it’s offensive and bigoted. Someone called our corporate office in New York about the ‘offensive’ billboards and following our lawyer’s advice, we have to take them down ASAP.”
The pressure from the media and the mayor’s office is worrisome, Jeffress said.
“It should greatly concern people of any faith when those in the press or government proactively seek to defeat, censor or silence any religious message with which they disagree,” he said.
In the end, another billboard company stepped up and agreed to carry the church’s message. That means the sermon title could be carried on as many 20 billboards and not the original number of two.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.
Publication date: June 18, 2018