Call this one of those stumbles by people who have not yet learned anything about how the world has changed in the advent of social media. It was a simple, short-lived sign that read only “✝ > =”. In English, this would be Christ/Christianity Greater Than Equality.” Oh what a simple statement means to the debate over marriage equality.
Now, of course, some people assume that this means “the cross is greater than marriage equality”, and it is, thusly, an anti-marriage equality sign. It went up at the Glasgow Church in New Castle County, Delaware.
According to Senior Pastor Chuck F. Betters, “the sign was misinterpreted.” He explains that the intended message was that “the cross of Jesus Christ is greater than any ideology.” After the internet exploded over the sign, Betters removed it calling it a mistake. On the internet, he was called a bigot, a racist, and more.
It was a sign that showed up at a tense time for Delaware as their legislators consider a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill is backed by Governor Jack Markell and other Democrats, but it is unclear if it will pass the Delaware Senate.
Equality Delaware’s Lisa Goodman noted that Betters’ sign was controversial, she did note that the sign was protected under the Constitution’s freedoms of speech and religion. That is only partially true. In truth, the government cannot stop the sign from going up. It doesn’t stop anyone from attacking Betters or his church for the sign.
While the sign may not have been about opposing same-sex marriage, Betters and his church do oppose same-sex marriage. Betters does believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman and stated that “Where culture clashes with Scripture we will always land on the clear teaching of the Bible.” This is his opinion, of course. It should be noted that the First Amendment is suppose to shield people from having other’s religious beliefs imposed upon them.
Still, Betters did state that “While we stand in opposition to the Marriage Equality Act on both theological and legal grounds, we condemn all hate speech and lack of civility in the debate on the part of both sides.”