CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. -- A controversial billboard along I-40 in Catawba County has led a Raleigh-based Christian group to rent its own billboard to criticize it.
Back in May, the North Carolina Pastors Network posted the following message to a billboard located just beyond the westbound I-40 rest stop: "Why support President Trump's Immigration Ban? 19 Muslim Immigrants killed almost 3,000 Americans on 9-11."
The sign has now been taken down since its rental period is up, but the North Carolina Council of Churches posted the following message just a few miles down the highway near Exit 132 in Conover: "Welcome the stranger, for you were once a stranger."
Reverend Dr. Jennifer Copeland, who leads the council, said they posted their billboard in direct response to the Pastors Network's sign.
She said people have a duty to welcome the vulnerable.
"If anybody is vulnerable right now, it's a refugee fleeing a war-torn country and looking for safety on our shores," she said.
The Pastors Network's leader, Dave Kistler, supported the ban because, in his view, the government is charged by the Bible and the Constitution to keep citizens safe.
He said there's a distinct difference between the individual Christian response and the government response to the travel ban.
"This has nothing whatsoever to do with hatred or hostility toward anyone that comes from a background," Kistler said. "I have dear friends that are Muslim."
Kistler said his group is looking at posting more highway messages in the near-future.