JONESVILLE, S.C. -- The sign in front of a small church in a small town is causing a big controversy in Jonesville, S.C. Pastor Roger Byrd said that he just wanted to get people thinking. So last Thursday, he put a new message on the sign at the Jonesville Church of God.
It reads: "Obama, Osama, hmm, are they brothers?"
Byrd said that the message wasn't meant to be racial or political. "It's simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ," he said.
When asked if he believes that Barack Obama is Muslim, Byrd said, "I don't know. See it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim ? I don't know. He says he's not. I hope he's not. But I don't know. And it's just something to try to stir people's minds. It was never intended to hurt feelings or to offend anybody."
Obama has said repeatedly during his campaign that he is a Christian and attends Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Despite some criticism, Byrd says that the message will stay on the sign. He took the issue before his congregation Sunday night, and they decided unanimously to keep it. Byrd also said he doesn't want it to look like controversy forced him to take the sign down.
Beyond the fact that this shows that small-minded people continue to believe what they want to believe no matter what evidence is provided to the contrary, it also shows how far we have to go in our national discourse when someone who implies that someone is a "brother" of a terrorist can then just say, "I didn't mean to be political! I was just trying to get people to think." Um, Reverend: how about starting with your own brain before you get to worrying about ours? Oh--and thanks for that beautiful message of Brotherly Love.