A church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, is opening its doors to conversation with those who took issue with a message posted outside of the chapel, which read “Black Lives Mater.”
The sign was put up following the June 17 shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine black people were killed in the attack, which is thought to have been carried out by a white supremacist.
The sign was inspired by conversations among the congregation following the shooting.
Trinity Lutheran Church frequently posts inspirational, spiritual and motivational messages outside its chapel.
The “Black Lives Matter” sign drew unexpected controversy.
“I was very, very surprised by the reaction,” Pastor Paul Lutz told WFMZ.
"It seems like the sign brought up some really intense feelings from people in our community," Family Ministry pastor Dane Skilbred said.
After the sign was posted, “a police officer in Texas was killed. And then, that weekend, the folks in Minnesota, at the state fair, started saying some nasty things,” Lutz said. “Lots of people made the assumption we were supporting those terrible, destructive, evil things, and we weren't.”
The church began receiving phone calls, emails and criticism on social media for displaying the message.
Others said the church should support all lives. While the phrase “All Lives Matter” is a common retort to the Black Lives Matter movement, it has been criticized for being used as a tool to silence those who highlight the distinctive and disproportionate problems faced by black Americans.
“Black Lives Matter is not to say white lives don't matter, or blue lives don't matter, but at this point in time, these are the lives, the house on fire that needs our attention," Lutz said.
Reddit user GeekAesthete summarized the opposition to the “All Lives Matter” phrase in an often repeated response. He wrote, according to Fusion: “Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say ‘I should get my fair share.’ And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, ‘everyone should get their fair share.’”
Lutz, responding to criticism of the church getting involved with social issues, said that churches have always done that, adding, “Feeding hungry people is a social and political issue.”
The sign outside the church now reads: “We heard you. Can we talk?” and coincides with a forum scheduled for Sept. 9 to discuss the issue with representatives of Black Lives Matter.