UPDATE: All signs point to controversy in beer and wine sale debate

Some residents in Bladen County call the sign "offensive" and say it questions their beliefs.
Some residents in Bladen County call the sign "offensive" and say it questions their beliefs.

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) – In the debate over the countywide sale of beer and wine, a sign in Elizabethtown is causing controversy.

The sign shows photos of beer and the Bible and reads "which will you vote against?"

Some residents in Bladen County call the sign "offensive" and say it questions their beliefs.

"There are ways to get your point across other than putting something offensive on a sign," resident Jeff Smith said, who is for the county wide sale of beer and wine.

Residents also questioned the legality of the sign based on the Elizabethtown sign ordinance that states:

"Temporary political signs advertising candidates or issues, located on private property, are not to exceed four (4) square feet in area per display surface. Temporary political signs may be erected up to sixty (60) days before and are to be removed within seven (7) days after the appropriate election. All roof mounted political signs are prohibited."

Town officials said the billboard is legal because it is regulated by the rules of outdoor advertising.

"The sign that's in question is an outdoor advertising sign, done by an advertising company," Zoning and Code Officer Bryan Martin said. "It is not in the same category as a temporary political sign," he continued.

A statement from the Churches Against the County Wide Sale of Beer and Wine stands behind the sign:

"The Bladen Baptist Association stands by its interpretation of Scripture and its stand against alcohol.  We have one of two choices we must make with regard to interpretation of biblical passages which deal with alcohol….we either accept the Bible's teaching on it or we reject it.  Passages such as Proverbs 20:1 teach against using alcohol, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."  In addition to the Scriptures most of the Church groups in the County (Southern Baptists, Free Will Baptists, Independent Baptists, Pentecostal Churches, etc.) have a Covenant they are taught when they become members of a Church.  That Covenant teaches that we must "abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage."

County residents will vote on the referendum on May 6.

Some residents in Bladen County formed a political action committee called "Bladen County Residents for the County Wide Sale of Beer and Wine."

According to the PAC, the sale of beer and wine will provide economic benefits for the towns that are not already able to sell it.

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