Thursday, April 14, 2005


Sign spotted earlier this week at a Baptist church in Newport, Tennessee:

Here's the story, from WATE (Channel 6) in Knoxville:

A sign in front of a Baptist church in Newport is drawing criticism from other churchgoers because of its reference to the pope and hell.

Posted on the sign in front of Hilltop Baptist Church is the message, "No truth. No hope following a hell-bound pope." The other side of the sign reads, "False hope in a fake pope."

An assistant pastor at the church, who declined to go on camera, told 6 News the sign's main message is that people shouldn't put their hope in the pope alone. He insisted the church isn't trying to say the pope is in hell, saying that people are misunderstanding the sign.

"That's what Catholics would say, too. We don't put our hope in the pope alone," explained Father Vann Johnston, with the Knoxville Catholic Diocese. "The pope has a specific office to...a specific function within the Catholic church. But we only claim Jesus Christ as our lord and savior." ...

Er ... OK -- that almost explains the wording of the sign.

The church took the sign down, but offered no apologies -- just this instead:

From the follow-up story:

...After watching the Monday night report, a viewer e-mailed the newsroom saying, "It's disgusting to see such bigotry and ignorance."

However, the newsroom received an equally passionate e-mail from a Hilltop Baptist member that says, "You people are misunderstanding the sign. The Bible clearly states not to have other gods and many, many people put the pope as their god and that's wrong." ...

A little bit closer to explaining the sign -- or, on second thought, not really any closer at all.

Look, I'm a lapsed Catholic and pretty damn critical of the church, but I don't think the Pope is going to hell merely because he was the Pope.

I know the nouveau evangelicals really dug John Paul -- but I guess not everyone got the memo.

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