Protest works, y’all. It’s exhausting and painfully hard work, but it gets things done. Even the smallest of efforts can have a big impact.
Consider the case of Kristin Russell, a native of tiny Auburn, Indiana, and her fight to keep hatred out of her hometown.
It all started on June 26, when the day’s travels took Russell past the Remnant Fellowship Church. There she encountered an utterly unacceptable and hateful statement on the building’s exterior sign: “LGBTO (sic) IS A HATE CRIME AGAINST GOD REPENT”
Russell pulled over and looked at the sign until she saw a better message in the letters—and then she changed the sign so it read “STAY OPEN MINDED.”
Then she posted the story to Facebook.
Russell was kind enough to make sure the service schedule was still there after she borrowed the “Y.” That’s pretty remarkable, considering the cruelty of the original sentiment. After all, June is Pride Month, which just makes homophobia—which is already dangerous—extra offensive. Kudos to Russell for not burning it all down.
The church, which just opened its doors this spring, swiftly returned the sign to its original words of hate. When asked about the sign by Fort Wayne’s NBC, an unnamed church leader offered appalling goals, alongside a healthy dose of “we’re the victim” whining.
We spoke with a pastor of Remnant Fellowship, who said their message is an attempt to “…reach young people and steer them away from a lifestyle they believe is harmful to them.”
The church maintains it is not intolerant of others beliefs, but that it’s finding those on the other side of this issue are intolerant of the beliefs of Remnant Fellowship Church.
Elder Robert Sturges appears to have gone much further than the anonymous pastor in his interview with Newschannel 15—or perhaps it’s that they were the only station who would air his hatred, or call homosexuality a “lifestyle.”
Sturges says the LGBTQ lifestyle will destroy lives, especially the lives of children.
“Even the schools are telling the kids ‘go ahead and experiment.’ They’re going to destroy kids at young ages. They’re opening themselves up to disease and mental illness and making them the enemies of God, who calls them to sexual purity. That’s why we put the sign up.”
In a statement posted to Facebook Tuesday, Remnant Fellowship offered no apologies to those who are offended by the display, which some deem as being “anti-LGBT.”
“Put this on church sign to reach a wicked and filthy generation. I pray God grant some repentance and life before the great Judgements about to be poured on this nation. Especially the young people who have been sold lies so long and are [fed] a flood of filth every day,” the church’s Facebook post reads. “Jesus can save the vilest of sinners, many of us were saved out of wicked lives. Nothing is to[o] hard for God.”
Just days later, on July 1, Russell teamed up with community organizers to protest the Remnant Fellowship.
We want to send a message that being LGBTQ+ is NOT a hate crime against God. This protest is to push back against hateful messages in a nonviolent way and to affirm LGBTQ+ individuals for who they are.
By Friday evening, the church looked a little different.
By all outward appearances the church looks to have vacated the building.
“I just wanted to come and look and check the sign out and they were gone. The sign and everything,” said Auburn resident Tammy Kessler.
On Saturday, an elder confirmed with WANE that Revenant Fellowship has left the building; the elder claims the church was evicted. No plans for relocation were mentioned.
Indiana might be the land of Pence, but score a win for the good Hoosiers of Auburn.
Protest works, y’all.