Pennsylvania

Church's “Black Lives Matter” Sign Sparks Controversy

An eastern Pennsylvania pastor is speaking out after his church drew criticism for putting the slogan "Black Lives Matter" on its message board.

The Rev. Paul Lutz says Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale was just trying to prompt discussions about race when they posted the sign back on August 27, especially in the wake of a shooting in which nine black people were killed by a white gunman inside a South Carolina church.

But the sign prompted a negative response when a Texas police officer was killed a day after it was posted and a Minneapolis march, organized under the Black Lives Matter label, saw protesters chanting "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon" on Aug. 29.

Lutz then received numerous phone calls and emails complaining about the sign and accusing the Black Lives Matter movement of promoting hatred and disrespect towards police officers.

“Because of Facebook and our politics, people kind of shoot things at us back and forth and we don’t really do a good job of listening and trying to understand the other side,” Lutz told NBC10.

Lutz said the sign was meant to promote inclusion but decided it was time for further discussion after the backlash. A forum was held Wednesday night where people shared their views on the controversy, including members of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“I’m very disappointed in 2015 that type of hatred and bigotry exists,” said Asa Khalif, a Philadelphia Black Lives Matter organizer. “Especially targeting a place of worship.”

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During the meeting many people defended the church from those who spoke out against the sign. Julie Fagley told NBC10 she would have liked to hear from all the people who made the angry phone calls and sent the messages but they did not speak.

“I think they’re hypocrites,” she said. “I think they’re bullies.”

Members of the church admitted it was a tough and emotional week due to the controversy but also said they were glad they sparked a conversation.
 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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