Members of an Ohio church want a rapper to take down his billboard advertisement that is near the church. In response, rapper Marcellus Hale went to the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church on March 18 to appeal to its members for their support.
Hale hoped to dispel concerns about the billboard among church members, reports ABC 22.
“I’m hoping to promote good music coming from Dayton. I am trying to show anything is possible,” said Hale.
“I put all the money into the billboard by myself from T-shirt sales to CD’s. Now I am just trying to make good promotions so everybody can see it and acknowledge it.”
The billboard features rapper Marcellus Hale’s face while he holds wads of cash up to his ear. The phrase “Who is Cellus Hale?” appears next to the rapper, and “Coming Soon” appears beneath the image.
Members of the Baptist church reportedly feel that it sends the “wrong message” and have expressed their disapproval of the sign.
Hale was shocked at the churchgoers’ reaction to the sign.
“I was actually surprised about it because I am not trying to promote violence, promote drugs and weapons to the city. I am actually trying to show people [there are] other ways to make it out instead of that,” said Hale.
Some church members reportedly became sympathetic to Hale’s billboard after his visit.
“It’s a young man starting out trying to make a living for himself. He is not promoting violence. I don’t see nothing violent there,” said Dorris Hemphill, a member of Calvary Missionary Baptist Church.
Even if the churchgoers wanted to remove Hale’s billboard, they might have a hard time legally doing so. Advertisements enjoy some free speech protection under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, according to University of North Carolina law professor David Owens.
“Town[s] can certainly regulate signs. But there are limits on the authority of the town to regulate the content of a sign,” wrote Owens on his blog.
Hale said that he wants to be a role model for Dayton’s young people, emphasizing that he does not want trouble with the local church.