A St. Petersburg church is starting an uproar over a controversial political sign. This is not the first time this church has caused a stir.
Outside Allendale United Methodist Church, Reverend Andy Oliver used his sign to draw attention, not to his congregation, but to a political issue.
It says, “white supremacy is the real crisis.”
“We really wanted to respond to our president who is taking this opportunity to manufacture a crisis at the border,” explained Rev. Oliver.
In the midst of this border wall dispute, Reverend Oliver wanted to extend a message of love and acceptance to counter what he believes is a racist ideology.
“Targeting people of color, making them the enemy. Things like walls are symptoms of misdirected fear,” said Oliver.
Many residents have taken to Facebook or made phone calls to the church expressing outrage. They say this only causes further division in the community.
“Churches have to be careful getting mixed up with politics. They divided the churches from the government. They had their reasons for that,” said local resident William Stephens.
One resident told 8 On Your Side that he prefers that the church put up scripture verses instead of political messages.
Allendale UMC has a history with political messages. The sign has even been vandalized.
“We’re going to get attacked but we have to stand together as a community because we know we’re doing the right thing for everyone,” said Oliver.
Ultimately, Pastor Oliver feels this is something the church is called to do.
“Jesus was one to not be afraid to speak truth in situations and to be present where people were hurting and being oppressed,” said Oliver.
Pastor Oliver points out Tuesday is the 90th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Oliver said MLK was not afraid to stand up to racism and that’s all he’s doing here.
“Martin Luther King kind of challenged that notion that churches shouldn’t be getting into the well-being of all people,” said Oliver.
“He criticized the church for not getting involved, saying many churches were hiding behind the security of their stained-glass windows.”