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Church sign causes Sunday mass protest

By |2018-01-16T14:00:57-05:00April 24th, 2009|News|

by Jessica Carreras

Redford- On a peaceful spring morning, as Redford locals headed off to church, one group was determined to create a religious learning experience of their own. Last Sunday, just before the Covenant Community Church of Redford’s 11 a.m. mass, a group of 25 nonviolent protestors gathered outside to protest the church’s outdoor sign, which said, “God can save homosexuals from their sin.”
There, local lesbian Courtney Antuna and a slew of friends and supporters – including Antuna’s mother, wielding a sign that read “God loves my gay daughter” – protested for two and a half hours as churchgoers came in and out of mass. “We basically just wanted to let the community know that signs like that were not acceptable,” Antuna said. “We understand and respect everyone’s right to their own thoughts and beliefs…but to post a sign like that out in public is just wrong.”
Antuna wasn’t alone in her thinking. Images of the sign began circulating last week through e-mails to various members and supporters of the LGBT community. Antuna began sending e-mails of her own, organizing the protest and urging people to make signs and come out for Sunday mass.
The protestors met there at 10:30 a.m. and were greeted by both positive and negative feedback. Most protestors hailed from Redford, Livonia, Novi, Lincoln Park and other local communities. “Most of us live in the houses right behind the church,” Antuna said.
Fellow protestor Angela Hueston approached the pastor of the church, Reverend Cole Westwood, last Tuesday after word of the sign got out. Hueston asked the pastor to remove the sign, but was told that the message on it was true and part of the Bible. She then informed him that if the sign was not removed, there would most likely be a protest. Westwood responded by telling Hueston that he didn’t appreciate being threatened.
The event was free of threats from those protesting, who were advised by both the Affirmations Community Center and the Redford Police Department to not start verbal fights with anyone coming in and out of the church.
Passersbys, said Antuna, were generally supportive of the group’s messages against the homophobic sign. Some honked their horns and gave a thumb’s up, while several others even stopped to join the protest. “I didn’t hear one negative comment from anyone that drove or walked by,” Antuna said. “It seemed that everyone agreed that the sign was wrong, except for those in the church.”
Threats and homophobic slurs were heard from churchgoers who approached the protestors after mass. Antuna stated that some of them were called “faggots,” while Antuna’s mother was told that God hated her daughter for being a lesbian.
Still, the group persisted as locals came out of the church and encountered the mass of protestors. “We wanted to wait until all of the church members had come out so that they could see what we were there for,” Antuna explained, adding that some of them were not even aware of what the sign said.
The group finally left at around 1 p.m. when one member of the church threatened to go home and gather some of his friends to come back to the church and physically assault the protestors.
Their message to the church, however, remains strong. “They are free to preach whatever they want behind closed doors, but to bring it out like that is unfair and degrading to gays and lesbians in Redford and all over the world,” Antuna said. “I think it’s extremely important that the community recognize that this form of discrimination is unacceptable and that the gays and lesbians in Redford do not deserve this sort of treatment.”
Though the sign was taken down for one day, it was back up again on Tuesday morning. Upon seeing the sign, Antuna released another e-mail letting people know that she and several friends would attempt to get the sign taken down for good. If they are unsuccessful, however, she urged that people come out again this Sunday for another protest.

Covenant Community Church
25800 Student St., Redford
313-535-3100
info@covenantredford.com
http://www.covenantredford.com

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.