Some Catawba Co. residents think controversial billboard goes too far

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Some residents believe a controversial billboard along Interstate 40 in Catawba County by a religious group is using it to support President Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims has gone too far.

The sign points to the 9/11 attack and those behind it.

In the nearby towns of Claremont and Catawba, people are talking about its message.

"I think the numbers are powerful enough in themselves,” one supporter said. “So, if you look at it and think something is wrong about it, it makes you wonder about you."

Oliver Reitzell opposes the billboard.

"I believe in the Christian way and that's to embrace everybody,” Reitzell said. “Kind of the hate message behind it. I'm not for that."

The North Carolina Pastors Network, which funded the sign and claims to have support from 600 pastors across the state.

It is headed by evangelist Dave Kistler, who doesn't believe the billboard's message is one of hate.

"I'm saying it now, that this is not what this is about,” Kistler said. “There's certainly nothing hateful in our billboard. Some have interpreted it to be that and say that. It was not. It is the truth."

But Paul Cummings who is an associate pastor in Hickory believes the billboard contradicts teachings from the Bible.

"My opinion is that I think these people need the saving gospel of Jesus more than I need to be protected,” Cummings with the Corinth Reformed Church said. “I'm perfectly willing for people who are hostile to us, to be in our country, because that's what loving your enemy is all about."

Veteran Andrew Katocs who served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't see how the billboard and its message are helping.

"That billboard, it sounds like somebody is trying to cause some issues that don't need to be worried about now," Katocs said.

The religious group said they have no plans to take down the billboard, but instead claiming they are just trying to state the truth.

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