A controversial billboard proclaiming the pope is the Antichrist remains standing today despite an expired contract, WorldNetDaily has learned, prompting a Catholic group to say it’s ready to “wage war” over the matter.
Oregon billboard stands despite annual contract’s expiration
Larry Weathers, the Oregon barber behind the placard, confirms his yearlong contract ended May 8, and he’s now renting the advertising space on a month-to-month basis.
“The only way that it’s coming down is if it’s forced down,” Weathers said. “Rome is gonna get enflamed again.”
The billboard sparking outrage reads “The POPE Is The ANTICHRIST, Free Proof,” and provides a website address for more information.
As reported previously by WorldNetDaily, its display has prompted a national debate over free speech, a Catholic effort to put up a competing message, and a call by Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly to take the sign down.
Weathers would like the sign, located along Interstate 5 near Medford, Ore., to stay up at least a few months more or perhaps a year if reaction doesn’t somehow force the ad down sooner.
“This is a direct attack against Satan and the organization he works through, which is the Vatican,” he said.
Members of the Catholic community had lobbied hard for the sign’s removal in August when the story became national news, sending angry messages to the billboard company.
The sign’s owner – Outdoor Media Dimensions – was vague last year when pressed to answer questions regarding the future of Weathers’ ad.
However, the New York-based Catholic League says it was told by a company spokesman the sign would be taken down upon expiration of the contract in May.
“He’s double-crossed us,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. “I’m going to give him an ultimatum – one more month [that the sign remains] and we’ll wage war on him. The jig is up!”
Donohue tried unsuccessfully last year to post his own sign with a message reading, “Outdoor Media Dimensions Sponsors Anti-Catholicism,” but is now thinking about exposing the company’s practices through trade publications.
“I can’t do much about some backwater bigotry,” Donohue said, “[but] I can hurt them in the pocketbook.”
Donohue admits this issue is “small peanuts” compared to the sexual-abuse scandal that has been rocking the Catholic Church worldwide in recent months, but he doesn’t think it should be ignored.
Calls to Outdoor Media Dimensions were not returned, but last year company spokesman Steve Croft told WorldNetDaily the company did not necessarily agree with the sign’s message.
“Nobody here believes that [about the pope],” Croft said. “Just because we have an ad for George W. Bush for president doesn’t mean we endorse him.”
Meanwhile, Weathers has another billboard in the works to be erected in the Eugene, Ore., area as soon as his current sign comes down, whenever that may be. It reads, “Saturday, the 7th day – God’s SABBATH vs. Sunday worship – the MARK of Rome, read Matthew 15:9.”
Billboard planned for display once pope billboard comes down
In the King James translation of the Bible, Matthew 15:9 quotes Jesus as saying, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
The new message also says people can get a free book on the subject by logging on to the same website mentioned in the Antichrist billboard. The book, “National Sunday Law,” uses the Saturday-vs.-Sunday Sabbath controversy to purport that the Roman Catholic Church’s leadership is the enemy of true followers of Christ. Its author is even offering up to one million dollars if it can be proved the Bible says the Sabbath is Sunday instead of Saturday.
Weathers is part of The Rogue Valley Historic Seventh-day Adventists, which is not connected to, and is shunned by, the more well-known Seventh-day Adventists. It’s his belief that the seventh day of the week, Saturday, is the scriptural day of rest for followers of God that originally prompted him to post billboards.
The Archdiocese of Portland says it’s disappointed the pope billboard remains visible in its sphere of influence and plans to contact Catholics in southern Oregon to gauge their reaction.
“My big concern is not how people who are sophisticated look at this and see it for what it is,” said Mary Jo Tully, chancellor of the archdiocese. “My greater concern is for people who feel jeopardized because of their Catholic faith.”
Weathers again insists he’s not spreading any message of hate, but rather just informing people of truth. He invites people to challenge what he’s teaching.
“Prove me wrong,” he said. “If you can prove us wrong using the Bible and history as the standard, we’ll take down the billboard and stop sending books and we’ll follow Rome. No one has ever proved us wrong.”
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