"I want to read you an excerpt from a London police exam in England," he said, addressing the Wednesday adult Bible study group.
Pastor Mike Titsworth often forces his congregation to consider moral dilemmas. But when it comes to the sign standing underneath his steeple at Trinity Baptist Church in Benton, he feels it represents the church's moral obligation. The sign -- urging voters to mark "no" on their ballots for Issue 5, which would legalize marijuana for those wanting to use it medicinally.
"As a church and a pastor we have a right -- I believe an obligation -- to stand up and speak out against such issues like legalizing marijuana," he said. "It's a gateway drug, and just because you put the word medicinal in front of it doesn't change the fact that it's wrong."
But Baptist church-goer and medical marijuana supporter Gary Fults thinks the church has no place in politics, particularly when it comes to an issue of telling taxpayers how to cast their ballot.
"They have a very big role in the community, but I don't think they need to take part in the political aspects of what happens in a community," he said. "Churches have the right to speak whatever issue they want, but if they're going to do that, then they need to give up tax exemption. "
Because churches that meet certain criteria are automatically tax-exempt, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) bans them from endorsing or supporting particular political candidates in an official church capacity. If they break those rules, they could lose their tax-exempt status.
The IRS also has restrictions for churches that are tax exempt, keeping them from being involved in substantial political lobbying activities.The question now is -- is this sign substantial?
"It's a great big sign. It's six foot by four foot with tall letters. It's going to get your attention," Fults said. "There's the nature of that repetitiveness. People drive by that every day, and it has a role to influence people."
"We have put up signs in the past related to the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life -- opposition to casinos. All sorts of moral issues, and this is the first time I've ever drawn attention," Pastor Titsworth said.
Political candidates and activists all know signs can play a role in politics.
"That's why the sign is up, to encourage voters to say no," Titsworth said. "I want folks to know where we as a church stand."
"Don't take a sign's word for it," Fults countered. "Don't buy into the rhetoric either pro or con. Read the language in the initiative for yourself."
At least both sides agree on one thing, in the end voters have to read between the lines and decide which side they stand on for themselves.
In that spirit, a Saline County Medical Marijuana Town Hall is being held on October 25, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the Gene Moss Building in Tyndall Park.
Larry Page with the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council will speak against Issue 5 (a.k.a. the Medical Marijuana Initiative), while David Couch of Arkansans for Compassionate Care will speak in favor of the ballot initiative.
The public will have a chance to pose questions to both parties.
Trinity Baptist Church does serve as a polling place on election day, and Titsworth told KARK the sign would be taken down before the church opened as a polling site.