‘Heaven has strict immigration laws’: Church sign seen as attack on immigrants removed

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 2:29 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 2:51 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT/Gray News) - A sign posted outside of a church in South Omaha over the weekend made people feel anything but welcome.

The sign read, “Heaven has strict immigration laws, hell has open borders” at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, as reported by WOWT.

A sign is shown outside a church in South Omaha and it's being seen as an attack on immigrants.
A sign is shown outside a church in South Omaha and it's being seen as an attack on immigrants.(WOWT)

Several residents said they didn’t agree with the message.

South Omaha resident Gary Kastrick started the South Omaha Mural Project, dedicated to honoring immigrants in the community. He said the message seemed hateful and is not a message the community stands behind.

“People unconsciously don’t realize what they are saying, and there’s no place for things like that if you are constantly aware of just how demeaning it is,” Kastrick said.

The church is located at 36th and Q streets, south of downtown Omaha.

“36th and Q is the epicenter of the immigrant experience of the midlands,” said Jose “Chato” Garcia, South Omaha historian.

The Archdiocese of Omaha said a St. Mary’s volunteer made an offensive and inexcusable mistake and that volunteer has since been removed from his duties.

The archdiocese also apologized in a statement that said in part: “St. Mary Parish and the Archdiocese of Omaha apologize to anyone who has been hurt by the marquee message. Both the parish and the archdiocese have enjoyed a longstanding relationship with our Hispanic brothers and sisters living in the city. One person’s mistake will not weaken this valued relationship.”

The church has since removed the sign and replaced it with a message of “Lo Siento,” or “sorry” in Spanish. The archdiocese and the church said they want to apologize to anyone who was hurt.

Community members said they hope the person who put up the sign learns an important lesson.

“I’m always a believer that when you punish someone, you just make them mad. But if you try to truly educate them and understand why what they are saying is wrong, that’s why it’s good they are saying sorry,” Kastrick said.

Copyright 2022 WOWT via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.