GENEVA – A man who said he posted the “Love Kills Pride” rainbow signs on Geneva’s city-owned utility poles addressed the Geneva City Council to defend his actions and to respond to Mayor Kevin Burns’ criticism of the anti-gay message.
Speaking at the City Council meeting Nov. 6, Aaron Viland, 19, of St. Charles, said he created the Love Kills Pride project and wanted to address the comments Burns made.
At an Oct. 16 meeting, Burns reprimanded those who posted the signs, saying that to use the word “kills” is “frightening and threatening.”
Burns had also criticized the anonymity of the signs and that its website, www.lovekillspride.com, gives no indication as to whose site it is.
A video on the website specifically shows the First Congregational Church of Geneva, 321 Hamilton St., Geneva, as a church that is welcoming to the gay community. The church hosted the “Got Love?” rainbow yard signs, along with other LGBT-welcoming messages, and performs gay weddings.
Viland said he chose to be anonymous to focus on the message and not himself when he posted the “Love Kills Pride” signs.
Viland said he did that because he was bothered by the “Got Love?” rainbow yard signs in the area, as people were posting them in the name of Jesus.
“This was outrageous to me, because the Bible is very clear on the practice of homosexuality,” Viland said, citing Bible passages from Timothy and 1 Corinthians.
“It is very clear what God thinks of homosexuality, and so it was upsetting that they’re spreading a message so blatantly contrary to what God has already stated,” Viland said.
Viland said he did not agree with the vandalism that was done to the church’s signs.
“I wanted to enter the discussion and put both to shame … with a message of God himself and explain how it relates to the issue at hand,” Viland said.
Viland said pride is not only a bad quality and a character flaw, but that it kills.
“This is therefore a very serious problem for all of us, both myself and homosexuals, and every one of us in this room are infected with deadly pride, which deserves the wrath of God,” Viland said.
Viland continued, reciting the details of the death and resurrection of Jesus as a ransom for sin.
“Our message is one of forgiveness of sins and not one of violence against homosexuals or any other type of sin. That is our message for the homosexual community and is my message to all people,” Viland said. “It is very concerning to hear Mayor Burns call this message bigotry. … Such a statement essentially demeans any public statement of the Christian faith.”
Viland criticized Burns, stating the mayor “sided with the hate-mongering crowds instead of truly looking into both sides.”
Viland said he was afraid this would lead to the diminishment of Christians’ freedom of public expression.
Geneva resident Brian Nord responded.
“I forgive the gentleman who just spoke,” Nord said. “And I forgive the people who are with him for their ignorance, their hate, their sadness and their cowardice.”
The Rev. Rebecca Clancy said the church has been targeted by an anti-gay group that includes Viland.
“They were handing out brochures, ‘Love Kills Pride,’ stating ‘the wages of sin is death’ and that homosexuality is a sin,” Clancy said.
As a professor of biblical theology, Clancy said the group are literalists reacting against the church’s welcoming message.
“This is a human document as well as divine,” Clancy said of the Bible. “It is a faith testimony that was in development for 2,000 years. It has a tiny handful of references to homosexuals. … They pretend that it represents the whole. … I think they are not interpreting the Bible correctly.”