Monday, April 21, 2008

"OBAMA OSAMA / HUMM / ARE THEY BROTHERS" Church Sign: Daft or Devious?

Whether the small South Carolina church sign is the result of ignorance or deceit, it does not help Christians, Muslims, or most other Americans.

"Small Church's Obama Sign Causes Big Controversy" (April 21, 2008)

Excerpt: "JONESVILLE, S.C. -- The sign in front of a small church in a small town ... reads: 'Obama, Osama, hmm, are they brothers?'

"[Pastor Roger] Byrd said that the message wasn't meant to be racial or political.

" 'It's simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ,' he said.

"When asked if he believes that Barack Obama is Muslim, Byrd said, 'I don't know. See it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim? I don't know. He says he's not. I hope he's not. But I don't know. And it's just something to try to stir people's minds. It was never intended to hurt feelings or to offend anybody.' "

I really don't know what to make of this.

Hayseed or Huckster?

"And it's just something to try to stir people's minds. It was never intended to hurt feelings or to offend anybody."

I've been acquainted with people who were daft enough to say something like what the pastor said - and be perfectly sincere.

(Small towns don't have a monopoly on people with, to be polite, peculiar ideas. I learned one of my favorite loony lines, "[North Dakota] farmers don't have to work [because] they store all their grain in an elevator in Grand Forks," from a resident of a mid-sized metropolitan area.)

On the other hand, the claim that the sign isn't political made me wonder just how stupid the pastor thought most Americans are.

Maybe that was the idea: by displaying that "HUMM" sign, Pastor Byrd got more publicity for his church, than almost anything else could. It's not hard to argue that publicity leads to interest. Someone who's interested might come to see what a service is like: and might even become a member.

This might be a very well-managed membership drive. There's not way for me to know, one way or another.

There's a moderately adequate photo on that WYFF article. You'll find a better photo, and a little background, at "South Carolina Pastor Posts Church Sign Linking Obama With Bin Laden" ( (April 21, 2008)).

Some Church Puts Up a Stupid Sign: So What?

Whether the Jonesville Church of God's pastor, Roger Byrd, is the hayseed he's making himself out to be, or a man with a real talent for putting his congregation on the map, I don't know: and it doesn't matter, except to him and his flock.

What does matter is that public attitudes in America, toward Islam and Muslims, are at present quite tolerant (CAIR notwithstanding): but are not cast in stone.

However ridiculous a sign like that is, there will now be people who will repeat what it says.

The Whopper: It's Not Just a Burger

That is a problem. I'm not a Muslim, but I'm a convert to a faith that hasn't been universally popular in America: Catholicism. One of the tools that people who didn't like Catholics used was 'the whopper:' a lie so big, so obviously incredible, that it wouldn't be believed. The problem was (and is) that, "for a whopper to be effective, it does not need to be believed in every detail. It is enough that it leaves behind a bad impression. People will think that if anyone bothers to promote such a lie, there must be a kernel of truth in it." ("Anti-Catholic Whoppers" (August 10, 2004))

I am disturbed, that the pastor of what appears to be a Christian church would be either so ignorant, or so cynically manipulative, as to put a sign like this up.

Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.


Brigid said...

Two words: Good grief.

Pastor Byrd doesn't know if Obama is Muslim? Either he really is a dumb hick or is doing a really good job of acting the part. Or maybe he missed the whole mess with Obama's resident pastor.

Tinggay said...

I frowned through the whole post after reading the first sentence. That was ignorant and mean. really, really mean.
Even if you are not actually a muslim but to imply that every Muslim is like Osama -- now, that's a stupid.

Brian H. Gill said...


Good grief, indeed. Pastor Byrd may, indeed, have have missed the 'Obama's ... pastor' (not resident, BTW) mess: it may not have been on the news he watches.

For example, the Carter debacle in Egypt and Syria is a non-event on CNN.

What appalls me is the attitude this presumably Christian pastor seems to have about Muslims.

Brian H. Gill said...


"Ignorant and mean" is, I'm afraid, a rather accurate way of looking at that sign.

I have no idea what's going inside the mind of Pastor Byrd. For his sake, I hope that he's got a good reason for taking the course he has.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.