'Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim' sign stirs controversy

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by Phil Anaya / KENS 5

khou.com

Posted on October 19, 2012 at 8:30 AM

LEAKEY, Texas -- A controversy regarding a political sign prominently displayed outside a church is playing out in a small town west of San Antonio.

Is it protected speech or political hate? And does it have a place on a church marquee?

The sign reads, "Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim! The capitalist, not the communist!"

That marquee standing outside a non-denominational church has become the talk of the town in Leakey — about 90 miles northwest of San Antonio.

The Church in the Valley is run by Pastor Ray Miller. Miller declined an interview but did say the sign was solely his idea. He said he changes the sign weekly and this isn't the first bold statement to be displayed.

The pastor said he feels strongly about the upcoming presidential election and feels the message on the marquee speaks for itself.

Since it is a church, it is classified as a non-profit organization. That means, by law, it can not endorse a political candidate.

While it is a heated campaign season, some residents and visitors admit that seeing the message outside a church is an eye opener.

“I can see why there’s some controversy, because the separation of church, and maybe they shouldn’t get involved in it,” said tourist Blake Fischer. "But I don’t see no problem with them trying to send a message."

Several residents not affiliated with the church said the sign doesn't really bother them since it’s not their place of worship.

“It’s their prerogative, it’s their opinion, it’s their church,” said Pamela Rice, of Leakey.

While the very small and quiet town of Leakey is now in the spotlight, some business owners are embracing the attention.

“I love it. Even if it’s bad attention, bring it on. Come to town, see what it’s about,” Damon White said. “Not everyone hates Obama, not everyone loves him; not everyone hates Romney, or loves Romney. Come see for yourself.”

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