City of Harrisonburg Investigates Church Sign

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- A complaint over a church sign led the city of Harrisonburg to investigate. The sign has a pro-life message in the form of a Bible quote from Mother Teresa.

The city initially ruled that the sign was considered a banner, which would prohibit the church from hanging the sign according to the city sign ordinance. The other concern wasn't the message on the sign, but actually the picture on it.

The violation has since been rescinded and the sign is still hanging up. John Whitehead, an attorney for the church said that the city never had a case and the church was just expressing its First Amendment Rights.

"Here you have a church, and the key here was they were just expressing their religious views, and not offensively by the way," said Whitehead, "I mean, who's against what Mother Teresa has to say anyway? That would have to be my question."

The city released a statement saying that "The city's intent was not to regulate the content of the sign, simply to ensure the structure and material of the sign met the requirements of the ordinance."

Currently the city is reviewing city code on sign ordinance to better determine the types of signs that are acceptable to hang up.

Whitehead also said that if the city had gone to their attorney first, a violation letter would never have had to been filed.