Residents upset after Knoxville church posts controversial sign


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A sign posted by a Knoxville church continues to raise eyebrows and spark both discussion and outrage after it was posted online.

The sign posted by Knoxville Baptist Tabernacle Church read “Remember Satan was the first to demand equal rights.” Many people posted the picture to the WATE 6 On Your Side Facebook and Twitter pages, starting a debate about what the sign really means.

The pastor says the purpose of the sign was to send a message about unity and spark conversation in the community. He says it wasn’t meant to offend anyone.

Pastor Tony Greene
Pastor Tony Greene

“Our sign referencing Satan demanding his equal rights to ascend into the heavens and be God was simply ‘I’ and all about that individual,” said Pastor Tony Greene. “It was not a statement against any one group in particular, you know what about the rights of the unborn babies, the rights of children, the rights of everyone?”

After the picture was posted on Facebook, there was mixed reaction to the message. Stephanie Settlemyre said, “As a Christian, I find this highly offensive, these kinds of signs and messages are exactly the reason why people are turned off by Christianity.”

Adam Miller posted, “Honestly thought that the photo was shopped, I thought, “surely someone wouldn’t post such a thing,” said Miller. “Makes me sad I was wrong, and doubly sad that these folks are in my back yard.”

Ashley Smith wrote, “Church offends many anyway, you could write Jesus loves you and someone would get bent out of shape.”

Now the sign reads: “Glad you reading, did not intend to offend, we all need Christ.”

Pastor Greene spoke about why he made the change.

Now the sign reads: "Glad you reading, didn't mean to offend anyone, we all need Christ."
Now the sign reads: “Glad you reading, didn’t mean to offend anyone, we all need Christ.”

“We are a diversity congregation of people. We’ve reached people that know us and know our stand in this community know what we’ve done,” said Greene. “My heart breaks in the dividedness of our country.”

Greene says they like to interact with the community and they typically change the sign once a week. Greene says they will have another message posted later this week.

The picture of the church’s message board is going viral online. After someone posted it on Reddit, the photo gained over 1,000 comments in less than 24 hours.

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