A Nebraska church has apologized after a sign about heaven, hell, and immigration sparked intense debate and consternation.
The sign outside St. Mary’s Church in Omaha read, “Heaven has strict immigration laws — hell has open borders.” That message, seen among critics as speaking about immigration laws, sparked immediate furor.
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After anger about the sign percolated, the church reportedly took it down and replaced it with a new message: “Lo Siento,” which is Spanish for “I’m sorry,” WKRC-TV reported.
The change in signage came after numerous complaints from people like Gary Kastrick, founder of the South Omaha Mural Project, which honors immigrants.
“There’s no place for this,” he said.
Another local added, “It didn’t feel right, what they were trying to state. It kind of threw me off because it’s church.”
Others offered harsher rebukes. Jose Garcia, a local historian, told KMTV-TV the initial message was a “wound to civility,” especially considering its placement in the community.
“To put that on a Catholic diocesan property in the middle of the immigrant capital of the Midwest is not only a slap in the face, it is a wound to civility,” Garcia said.
A slew of complaints to the church and the Archdiocese of Omaha led to the sign’s removal.
The Archdiocese responded to the kerfuffle by stating that a volunteer made the error by posting the message; this individual was subsequently removed, and church officials apologized.
“St. Mary Parish and the Archdiocese of Omaha apologize to anyone who has been hurt by the marquee message,” the statement read. “Both the parish and the Archdiocese have enjoyed a longstanding relationship with our Hispanic brothers and sisters living in the city. One person’s mistake will not weaken this valued relationship.”
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