QUEENSBURY — A local church sign that read “Heaven has a strict immgration (sic) policy. Hell has open borders” fired up a small protest Sunday, though the church says the sign’s meaning was misinterpreted.
Six people stood with signs outside of the Queensbury Church of Christ on Aviation Road as Sunday’s services were wrapping up. They were there to protest the message on the sign, which has since been replaced with others like, “Tweet others as you want to be tweeted” and “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Kailey Strafford, of Queensbury, organized the protest on Facebook after she saw the sign while home from college. Strafford said she felt very upset by it.
On the social media site, Strafford said she talked to members of the church about it “and I was told that ‘illegals’ should be here, that Mexican culture is different from the culture of the United States, and that the sign has nothing to do with immigration, it is a play on words.”
She still felt it was important to protest and “stand up for the rights of immigrants, undocumented and documented, and to denounce this hateful rhetoric.”
Strafford carried a megaphone outside the church Sunday, shouting things like, “This is a nation built on immigration.”
Five others joined her, including the organizer of the Glens Falls Women’s March, Enid Mastrianni.
“I was appalled when I saw the sign,” she said, adding that it was especially a Christian church’s responsibility to welcome strangers.
Dan Curry, of Clifton Park, is a history teacher and re-enactor. He came dressed as an immigrant from the late 1800s or early 1900s while the group discussed how Italian and Irish immigrants were unwanted when they came to the United States, and compared their migration to how President Donald Trump wants to build a wall at the U.S. and Mexico border.
When a Post-Star reporter walked up to the church to try and speak with someone there, a man, who refused to identify himself, closed the door on her, then opened it and said he would not talk and had been in discussion with police.
When the reporter asked if the man was a representative of the church, he said, “You’re trespassing. I’ll call the police. Please leave.”
Logan Robertson, outreach minister for the church, answered the phone there later Sunday afternoon and was not aware that someone had asked the reporter to leave.
He said the message on the sign had been taken out of context and was referencing a part of the Book of Matthew that says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
“(It had) nothing to do with immigration,” Robertson said. “Nothing to do with immigration. ... Our focus is scriptural and spiritual.”
Robertson also said that an immigrant had attended services that Sunday, and the church has no problems nor anything to do with immigration policy.