MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Lindsey Dukeminier and her fiancé were driving through Montgomery to visit family Thursday when they saw the sign. Their hearts sank into their stomachs.
The Wares Ferry Road Baptist Church sign, a cross at its top and to its side, had a clear message: “GOD DETESTS PRIDE.”
“We were very disappointed that during pride month of all months this church had a sign up like this,” Dukeminier said.
Lindsey and her partner stopped the car, approached the sign, and embraced. A photo of their kiss, the church sign at their side, has garnered dozens of likes, shares, and comments on social media. “Detest this,” the caption said.
Wesley Whitworth is the pastor of Wares Ferry Road Baptist Church. He claimed that the sign was not meant to target those in the LGBTQ community. The man who changes the sign, Whitworth said, was referencing “personal pride — pride and arrogance, things of that nature.”
“And it just coincided with pride month,” Whitworth said.
The pastor said that when he first saw the sign after it was put up last Saturday, even he thought it was a reference to pride month. He asked the man responsible for the sign whether that was the case. The man said it was not, and the pastor believed him.
“It was not the intent to put that up just to spark controversy,” Whitworth said.
Still, the pastor said that in his view, the Bible is clear on homosexuality.
“They’re being disingenuous if they think that most mainstream churches would not have a problem with that,” he said, referring to Dukeminier and her fiance. “Obviously we disagree on that. They’ll have to stand before God for what they do. It’s not my job to go around policing the actions of everybody.”
Whitworth said that he can understand why the sign may have made Dukeminier and her partner feel unwelcome. He said, though, that they’d be welcomed with open arms at Wares Ferry Baptist.
“I would, of course, make it clear, obviously, that our personal convictions are that this is not just an alternate lifestyle, it’s a sin like any other,” he said. “But they would be welcome to attend services and participate with us in hopes that they’d be converted to Christianity.”
Lindsey Dukeminier actually grew up as a Baptist in north Alabama, where she was active in church until her teen years.
“Messages like this push LGBT folks away from Christianity and make us feel unwelcome and unworthy of love,” she said.
Dukeminier said that if the sign wasn’t aimed at the LGBTQ community, “it was done in poor taste.”
Whitworth said he’ll consider having the sign taken down early.
“Because of this reaction, I may call the gentleman that handles that and have him change the sign early,” he said. “It was not our intention to draw attention to pride month. But I know what it looks like.”
Still, when asked if he thinks members of the LGBTQ community should be proud of that identity, the pastor didn’t mince words.
“I do not, any more than someone should be proud to be a drunkard or a wife abuser,” he said. “When someone says to me, ‘This is the way God made me,’ I disagree with that. You’ll have to take that up with the Lord.”
Lindsey Dukeminier said she’s proud to be a lesbian and proud to be an Alabamian, regardless of what a Montgomery church sign has to say on the issue.
“I wanted to take a picture in front of the sign with my fiancé to remind people that we are proud to love each other and that we’re not going anywhere,” she said. “Alabama is our home and we’re proud to live here as well!”