East Texans Sound Off On Church Sign

Since the sign went up at Woodland Hills Baptist Church, we have been flooded with emails and phone calls from many of you. A majority of the comments we received have been against the sign but in this report we want to give you a balance of both sides as we share some of your words.

Linda writes, "I am appalled, embarrassed and sad that the pastor of that church with the insulting sign would think he is judge of all people. I pray that the compassion being shown by thousands of others in Smith County will make up for the hurt the evacuees feel."

Sarah writes, "...I understand and agree with what they are saying on their church sign. They are not condemning the people of New Orleans. They are simply not condoning the sin in the city of New Orleans. New Orleans is a wicked city..."

Janet writes, "...Whatever assistance his church is providing to these devastated people is completely negated by his lack of tact and sensitivity. This man has embarrassed our city and everyone in it that does not share his opinion. I believe he owes this entire city a public apology."

David writes, "Even though I agree with the pastor's sentiment that America's values are going the wrong way, I don't agree with the posting of that sign. We need to be helping the people that were in that disaster rather than pointing out their sins. 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone' and I don't believe that Pastor Wiley Bennett qualifies to cast the first stone."

C.L. writes, "You expressed shock that a church would express God's disappointment and possible judgment on New Orleans. Have you read the Bible? Jesus in my Bible will return with a flaming sword, not as some milk toast hippie!!..."

In response to Pastor Wiley saying, "I'm doing it to point out the sins of America" Justin writes, "Since when was a Christian's purpose to point out people's sins? Every city and every person has sin, that's no secret. A Christian's responsibility is to spread the message of Christ's love and sacrifice..."

Mrs. Jackson writes, "I totally agree with Mr. Bennett... The hurricanes and earthquakes are going to get stronger and stronger and the next one could be big enough to make it to Texas. We all need to open our eyes, especially those who can't understand the sign at Woodland Hills."

David writes, "...Pastor Bennett was trying to say that America is pulling away from God. Then why doesn't the sign just say, 'America is pulling away from God'? I would have to agree that the moral fiber of American society is deteriorating. But, that is clearly not the message Pastor Bennett's message on the marquis is conveying..."

And this viewer writes, "I believe he is correct, if a person is a Christian and reads the Bible it is clear this was an act of judgment on this country, not saying all in that area are sinners nor all that died are sinners, but the innocent suffer sometimes with the guilty... God's judgment is on this country and it is only going to get worse. I do not believe the Pastor meant to offend anyone, it is merely and greatly a needed wake up call for all!!!"

C.M. writes, "...I am very distressed that a man claiming to be a Godly person would do such a mean and hurtful thing. Our guests from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast need our support and prayers, not arrogance, self-righteousness and unkindness..."

And Craig writes, "The best church sign that I have ever seen stated: 'Sign broken...message inside.' The sign at Woodland Hills serves no purpose and should be taken down. The message should be given in the church at the podium, not posted in lights on a busy road."

And finally, Barbara writes, "Please let everyone know that the sign in front of the Woodland Hills Baptist Church does not represent the Southern Baptist Churches in Tyler and East Texas. I'm sure that the Southern Baptist of East Texas want the evacuees to know that GOD loves them and we love them..."

Gillian Sheridan, reporting. gsheridan@kltv.com