Leaders of an Arkansas church are apologizing for a controversial message that was on the church’s marquee and offended members of the community.
The sign outside Apostolic Faith Church in Springdale, Arkansas, recently read, "Heaven has strict immigration laws, hell has open borders," KNWA-TV reported.
The sign sparked controversy and prompted complaints from the surrounding community. Springdale is 36.4 percent Hispanic, and some thought the inclusion of the word “immigration” gave the message a racial or political tone.
"A lot of undocumented and just immigrant people just in general live around that area where the church is located, and having to pass by that message every day -- I don't think it's something they should have to go through," resident Irvin Camacho said.
The word “immigration” has since been removed. Now, church leaders say they weren’t trying to send a political message or to offend anyone.
"The reason we put that sign up was to tell everybody it is not easy to make heaven," Assistant Pastor Michael Pennington said. "If you read Scriptures, it tells them the road to hell is wide and broad, but the road to heaven is narrow and straight."
He reiterated that the sign wasn't meant to be political and said he wouldn't discuss why people might interpret it as a political message.
"Of course we apologize to those people [we offended]," Pennington said.
Anyone is welcome at the church, Pennington said. Pastor Darrell Hollaway added, “We treat everyone the same, it doesn't matter where they came from."
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