St. Francis Xavier in Acushnet, Massachusetts, isn’t afraid to insert its voice into the contentious gay marriage debate. The church, which posted a controversial sign voicing its disapproval of gay marriage, is reportedly receiving violent threats as a result of it’s anti-gay marriage messaging.

“Two men are friends, not spouses,” read the contentious sign, which was clearly intended to drive home the church’s view that marriage is an institution that should be reserved for men and women, exclusively.

Monsignor Gerard O’Connor, the head of pastoral services, said that the message was posted to reiterate the Catholic Church’s views on the sanctity of marriage. Additionally, he claimed that the original intention was for the church to offer a response to President Barack Obama’s recent gay marriage endorsement.

“That’s what the church teaches,” O’Connor said in an interview with CBS Boston. “We understand people disagree with us, but we do it out of love. We never said we hate anybody.”

The message, which was intended to capture attention, has certainly grabbed attention. According to staff members at St. Francis Xavier, authorities are keeping a close eye on the house of worship after someone called and threatened to burn it to the ground.

After people began coming to the church to protest, officials decided to remove the sign. One woman, Vanessa Perry, is planning a small, peaceful gathering this upcoming Sunday. Perry also posted a sign on a fence in front of the church that reads, “You may not be welcome in the church, but you are in this community. Spread love, not hate,” it said, with a rainbow balloon tied to the fence.

 

(H/T: CBS Boston)