Thursday, September 15, 2005


Medford church's sign at odds with the time

Medford, Mass. - A fundamentalist Medford church came under fire yesterday for posting a sign on its front lawn suggesting the death and destruction Hurricane Katrina wreaked on New Orleans was divine retribution.

``Natural disaster? Or God's anger with sin?'' the sign outside New England Baptist Church on Salem Street read yesterday before a church official queried by a reporter had the letters removed.

``It's not supposed to be a slight against the people of New Orleans,'' Deacon Brian Codi said of the sign at the church, which distributes fire-and-brimstone pamphlets, including one calling homosexuals ``21st century Sodomites.''

``All it is, is a wakeup call. We're all sinners,'' Codi said. ``My house could be next.''

Shortly after a Herald reporter left, a child from the church removed the sign. But word about its message spread quickly, through word of mouth and Hub Internet blogs.

``I don't know what God they worship, but it certainly isn't mine,'' said Stephen DeFerrari, a Cambridge native who has been living out of a Baton Rouge, La., hotel with his wife since they escaped their flooded New Orleans home in a canoe.

``There's been a lot of churches down here,'' DeFerrari said, ``but they're all busy helping, not preaching.''

New England Baptist has not yet contributed to the hurricane relief effort but is ``working on it,'' Codi said.

The Rev. Jeffrey L. Brown, the ``honorary mayor'' of the evacuee shelter at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod, declined to comment on the sign yesterday, but said, ``My work is what I feel is God's work, and that is helping restore dignity to the lives of people who have lost everything.''


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