Pastor defends anti-Islam sign -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Indianapolis Star AVON, Ind. — A church sign in Avon has area residents asking whether its message is hate speech or a needed warning. The marquee at Faith Baptist Church reads: Sunday sermon 10:30 a.m. "Islam: America's Number One Enemy." "To call Islam an enemy seems to be a message of hate," said Susan Jones, who works in Avon and has passed the marquee twice a day for the past week. "It is just arrogant and ignorant, and I can't get past it. It is disheartening that a pastor, a pillar of the community, would be preaching this." Marc Monte, pastor at Faith Baptist Church for 5½ years, said the sermon would provide needed information the public should receive — but hasn't — from the media and many Christian leaders. "I want to stir interest, not alarm, but Islam is a false religion, dangerous and hate-promoting," Monte said. "If I were a pastor who read KKK literature or Hitler's `Mein Kampf,' I would hope the members of my church would head to other churches. It is awful stuff. I repudiate it, and I put Islam in the same camp." Sayyid Syeed, director of Plainfield's Islamic Center of North America, said such views are inflammatory and dangerous to society. "Whether it is a pastor in Avon or Osama bin Laden, it is religion spoken with the same language — to incite others and provoke violence. It is the same treatment of religion; extremists think a lot alike," Syeed said. Monte said he met with Syeed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Afterward, Monte decided to read and study the Islamic text, the Quran. "I met with Syeed, and it got me very curious. In this personal conversation, there were things that struck me as odd," he said. "I opened the Quran and smelled a stinking, bloated, dead rat on every page." Monte gave a similar sermon last year on the Sunday before the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks but didn't put the topic on the church sign. "I really only have had one call questioning the sign, and I felt like the lady and I had a very productive conversation. It is an invitation to learn," he said. Monte estimates that 350 people attend a typical Sunday morning service. Link to Story Diversity group 'angry' over church sign Should Pastor Monte have preached a politically correct sermon? Or should he have preached the truth? Pastor Monte chose the latter, believing in what the Lord Jesus Christ says: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."