A Biblical billboard in Portland, Tenn., has some residents seeing red over a message many consider to be antigay.
Rodney Monday commissioned the billboard four months ago with funds raised by friends -- a group calling themselves "concerned Christians." The billboard quotes a passage from the book of Levitcus, in the Old Testament, notes Nashville's WSMV-TV.
"You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. It is an abomination," reads the billboard, purportedly signed by "GOD." "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin."
Monday, a Vietnam veteran, said he was moved to take his message public after President Obama formally announced his personal support for marriage equality in 2012.
"When the president came out and indicated that he thought that gay marriage was OK, that was pretty much the last straw," Monday told WSMV.
Portland Mayor Ken Wilber told Nashville news station WTVF that one resident called to complain that the billboard is "not fit for the time that we're in, and just thought it was out of place, and just sent a bad message."
Nevertheless, Wilber stressed that the First Amendment protects religion and speech, even that which might be offensive to some. "As long as it's not lewd or anything like that, we do not control the messages of the signs," he told WTVF.
Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, acknowledged that Monday is well within his First Amendment rights to post the billboard, but questioned whether or not Monday's message is one Tennesseans want to project. Sanders says a message of tolerance would have been a better approach.
"It's a free country. The man has the right to put it up there," Sanders told WSMV. "We're not questioning that; we're questioning whether it's the right message. ... We hate to see anything in a community that encourages that kind of divisiveness, picking on people."
Reactions are mixed among residents.
"They don't want people to be gay or anything," Portland hair stylist and resident Haley Greer told WTVF. "It's almost like they're trying to get them into church, but that's not the way to do it. ... It was a meant... to start a controversial thing over it. You know if they put it up, it was meant to offend somebody in some way."
The billboard will continue to spark conversation -- and likely outrage -- for the forseeable future, as Monday has already renewed the billboard's lease for at least six more months, according to WSMV.
Watch WTVF's report on the billboard below.