A sign at a Delaware church opposing gay marriage has sparked a national controversy.
The News Journal reports the sign outside Glasgow Church in New Castle County featured a play on the equal sign that's become popular on social media to show support for same-sex marriage. The church sign included a cross, then a “greater than” sign, followed by the equal sign.
A picture of the sign posted on Twitter drew attention from bloggers and thousands of comments.
"And churches like Glasgow Church wonder why the fastest growing demographic in America is atheism, " wrote Scott Wooledge.
Senior Pastor Chuck Betters, who was called a bigot and a racist, says the church's intended message was that “the cross of Jesus Christ is greater than any ideology.” But he says it was misinterpreted as a political statement against gay people. He removed the sign in a day and called it a mistake.
In a statement released by Betters he condemned any hate speech on both sides of the issue.
“Where culture clashes with Scripture we will always land on the clear teaching of the Bible. While we stand in opposition to the Marriage Equality Act on both theological and legal grounds, we condemn all hate speech and lack of civility in the debate on the part of both sides.”
The sign appeared as Delaware legislators are considering a same-sex marriage bill.
This effort comes two years after lawmakers legalized same-sex civil unions in Delaware.
The marriage equality bill, backed by Gov. Jack Markell and other leading Democrats, passed the state House of Representatives last week and will get a hearing in a Senate committee Wednesday.
Betters said there will be a Q-and-A to discuss the issue on May 5 in the church library, according to the paper.
Pictured: Sign supporting gay marriage