A marquee message at a Springdale church was criticized by some earlier this week, and now church leaders want to clear up some confusion.
Earlier this week, we brought you to Apostolic Faith Church where its sign read, “heaven has strict immigration laws, hell has open borders.”
“To me, it was a slap in the face to put the word immigration on that sign,” resident Alice Gachuzo-Colin said.
The word immigration was removed following a complaint.
“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.
Springdale is 36.4 percent Hispanic, a city that prides itself on diversity.
Some members of the community were not pleased with what they saw.
Church leaders are now opening up, telling us they didn’t intend for it to come off as racial or political.
“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.”
Pennington said the message ran across several church leaders who didn’t think anything of it.
“My wife had actually come up with it before we had seen it anywhere else before any of it came up on any other churches.”
When asked if Pennington thought he could see how some people interpreted it as political, he said, “I can’t say how anything comes across, I don’t know how other people think. But just like the sign is not political, I will not discuss the political part of it now — because that’s not the intention of what it was.”
And although the message was met with criticism, Pennington said it has actually garnered an outpouring of support.
“It did sort of shock us with the support we did get…every nationality of people saying we know this is a biblical meaning, we know what the meaning was behind us, we read the bible, we know what you’re getting at.”
Despite this, Pennington adds, “of course we apologize to those people [we offended].”
For some, the message still remains ambiguous, but this church says it wants to make one thing clear.
“Anybody that walks through that door is welcome to this church,” Pennington said.
Pastor Darrell Hollaway adds, “we treat everyone the same, it doesn’t matter where they came from.”