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Pinellas Park church's 'white privilege' sign stirs up controversy

This sign outside Good Samaritan Church in Pinellas Park has some calling or writing complaints to the church.
This sign outside Good Samaritan Church in Pinellas Park has some calling or writing complaints to the church.
Published Feb. 20, 2016

The message appeared on the sign outside the Good Samaritan Church earlier this week.

"If you are white, use your privilege to fight for justice."

The Rev. Jen Daysa, pastor of the Pinellas Park Presbyterian church, said she put it there to raise awareness about racial issues.

"We've always been a church about racial justice," she said. "We do think that those who are white in our community have to recognize the history in our country and the privileges we do receive. We have to actively work against that system that unjustly privileges us."

Daysa said people have called to complain about the sign at the church, located at 6085 Park Blvd. N.

The reviews on the church's Facebook page have been especially biting.

"I am here for my privilege," one user commented. "I didn't realize I had it until I saw your church on the news. I figured you could tell me where to find it."

Another called the sign "misguided."

"As a local worship leader, you really got this wrong," the user wrote. "No matter how u look at this, no matter your intention, you messed this one up big time."

Others offered to pray for the church.

Though no one has come to the church to complain, one woman told Daysa she considered attending Sunday to disrupt the church service and talk about the sign.

It's not the first time the church's sign has caused complaints.

Its message over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend: "White Privilege: If you can't see it, you got it."

It took only 48 hours for the complaints to pour in.

"They left some pretty strongly worded voice mails," Daysa said, adding that the comments on Facebook were no less harsh.

Despite the controversy, Daysa said her congregation has a constant, open discussion about racial issues and hasn't expressed objections to the sign.

"The negative reactions I've heard so far have been from Caucasian or white people in our community who don't believe white privilege exists and are upset that we're drawing attention to it," she said. "We could go through life as white people in our community and not even recognize it. But we need to acknowledge it."