Controversial billboard in Tennessee sparks outrage but should spark inspiration


Motorists on Highway 25 passing through Portland, Tennessee, are being treated to a message on behalf of resident Rodney Monday and friends. Monday pooled funds to commission a billboard displaying a quote from Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. It is an abomination.” To the right of this is Christianity’s other favorite anti-gay catchphrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

It’s a woefully uninspired piece of anti-gay propaganda whose Christian rhetoric and bland graphic design is sure to ostracize more than impact. Naturally, LGBT groups have lobbied to have the billboard taken down. But they need to stop wasting their breath and get a little more creative.

Monday’s billboard is protected free speech in every sense. Free speech isn’t limited to favorable ideas, and if the First Amendment effectively guards anything, it’s the freedom to express divisive ideas. 

So in place of ire and rage, let’s get a touch more creative. I have a billboard campaign to propose. Let’s plaster up some of Leviticus’ other mandates. Because according to this book, there are a lot of sinners passing through Portland, Tennessee—and just about every other town in America. We might get them to reconsider the error of their ways. Here are a few groups this campaign could help:

Hippies, hipsters, and bohemians:

Lovers of a good surf-n-turf:

Ladies going to church just days after having a baby:

H&M shoppers or owners of anything mixed with a poodle:


The IRS:

Frustrated teens:

All this to say—as I wrote last week—the LGBT community can’t respond to religious objectors by undercutting others’ Constitutional rights. That tactic is stale. We’d really help ourselves by directing our energy towards spreading ideas in poignant, effective ways rather than bemoaning messages like that on Tennessee’s billboard. In other words, we should teach and nurture each other.

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