If you’re driving by the Anglican Parish of Gosford in New South Wales, Australia, the witty messages posted on the church’s signboard might surprise you.
The notices went viral after a picture of one sign reading, "Dear Christians, Some people are gay. Get over it. Love God” was posted online.
The project is designed to promote how Christianity plays a role in our modern lives, says parish minister Rod Bower.
What's the story behind the signs?
I really dislike boring church notice boards. I mean, how many people really care that the sewing group is meeting on Tuesday?
Big church notice boards are great ways to make people think, especially if passersby are expecting something dull and conservative. When all of a sudden they are confronted with an unexpected message, it can stop them in their tracks.
One of your most famous signs is about gay rights. Why did you address the topic?
Most people expect the church to be anti-gay, but in fact there are many progressive Christians who are very supportive of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. This issue is manifesting itself in the marriage equity debate here in Australia as it is in America.
But why do you think God would have taken this pro-gay stance?
I really don’t pretend to speak on behalf of God. But while I respect the Bible and take it very seriously, I do not believe we are meant to always take it literally.
Some ancient biblical laws should no longer be forced on a modern society. We now understand, from a scientific and psychological perspective, the dynamics of human sexuality and understand the importance of affirming the integrity of every human being. That is about love, and I think God blesses love.
Do you take suggestions from your clergy for new messages?
Yes, anything from “Keep your head down and shut up” to demands for my sacking or resignation. Thankfully others are supportive and even offer ideas for the signs.
Overall, what’s been the response to your signs?
Our signs evoke a lot of both positive and negative reactions in the community, but they do get people talking. The anti-homophobia sign has created the greatest response with millions of Internet views.
Western civilization in general has rejected what we perceive to be traditional, orthodox, conservative Christianity. The wider community responds openly and energetically to a more progressive expression of Christian spirituality. Our signs tap into that interest and therefore elicit a great response from the community.