A church sign that reads "Help for the Homosexual" is advertising a pastor’s upcoming sermon, in the U.S. east-coast city of New Jersey.
The Rev. Sal Roggio, founder of the Cumberland Country Community Church in Milville, intended for the newest sign to be blunt while sending a message in the most clear and concise way.
"When you lie to someone, you take away their hope," said Roggio, according to The Press of Atlantic City. "I want folks to come in and know there's hope."
And there is hope or at least help for the homosexual, as the church sign reads.
It's part of the New Jersey church’s sermon series on "The Sexploitation of the Church," which is covering pornography, infidelity in marriage and sex education in public schools. Roggio's upcoming sermon will offer gays a chance to escape their life of sin by teaching them that sexual orientation is a conscious decision, not a predetermined predicament, he said.
Although the sign may attract much attention, Roggio’s goal isn't to see 1,000 people fill the pews this Sunday but to draw people that are "thirsty for knowledge," he said, according to the local newspaper.
Those who attend the service will discover what's otherwise being hidden by a national media with a gay agenda, he added.
Roggio testifies what many conservative Christians have been arguing – that homosexuality is a temptation and a sin and that change is possible in God.
"The biggest lie is that 10 percent of the population is gay," he said, according to the Press. "If you think one in 10 people are homosexual then it seems normal, but when that goes down to the real number, 2 to 3 percent, it doesn't seem so normal any more."
With gay tolerance in America breaking record numbers, according to a recent Gallup poll, and increasing media portrayal of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) community which conservatives say is biased, more people, including Christians, are becoming confused on whether homosexuality is genetic or is something that can be "cured."
"I once had a person tell me, 'You think I chose this lifestyle?'" Roggio said. "The implication was that he was stuck. The truth is no one is stuck, no one is born that way."
The Rev. Bob Stith, national strategist on gender issues of the Southern Baptist Convention, sees the confusion in the church as a bigger problem than the long-debated issue itself.
"As this wave continues to grow, the conservative church faces a challenge which is ultimately greater than the issue of homosexuality itself," he stated in a column. "I’ve met many people in Southern Baptist churches who have begun to question what the Bible says about homosexuality. It isn’t couched in those terms. They have just begun to wonder if change really is possible. Much of this is due to the fact that they have not read or heard anything to counteract the daily barrage from our culture, but the end result is an eroding of total confidence in Scripture.
"Once our confidence in the authority of Scripture is weakened we will have difficulty speaking with assurance on other moral issues our culture calls into question," he continued.
More church leaders have begun to equip themselves and stepped up to address the issue in the church to spread a message of truth as well as compassion as the GLBT movement grows with "incredible power."
"This is not a call to combat homosexual activists," said Stith. "It is a challenge to open our eyes to the thousands of men and women, mothers and fathers, children, and, yes, husbands and wives whose lives will be tragically impacted by this sin."
Millville's Roggio has invited Greg Quinlan, a former homosexual and gay-rights activist turned straight pro-family lobbyist, as this Sunday's guest speaker. His life as a young gay man was overturned with a prayer over the phone.
"I'll give them the biblical perspective and that's fine, but Greg can offer the biblical and practical perspective of someone that's lived that life," said Roggio.
Sunday's sermon isn't intended to force change on anyone struggling with same-sex desires, he mentioned. Homosexuality and coming out of that lifestyle is just a hot-button topic right now, said Roggio, who says the sin of homosexuality isn't greater than the sin of infidelity or sex out of wedlock.
And he wants to offer an outlet to those who want to be saved.
When addressing the issue of homosexuality from the pulpit, Baptist strategist Stith warns pastors not to forget the original objective.
"Our task is to proclaim the power of the risen Christ to set all men free," he stated. "We must be clear that this freedom includes freedom from the power of sin as well as from the penalty of sin. Our burden must be for all those who have been deceived. It doesn’t matter that many are convinced they are not deceived.
"With a measure of complicity on our part, we have too often been portrayed as bigots, as angry, hateful people. As we clarify our objective we will be better able to demonstrate that the truest loving approach is to tell the truth."