Controversial billboard

Story highlights

The man who heads the group says the sign isn't about hate

He says he has Muslim friends who have converted to Christianity

CNN  — 

President Trump’s travel ban may not have passed muster with an appeals court, but one church group in North Carolina isn’t mincing words about why it’s needed.

The North Carolina Pastors’ Network put up a billboard along an Interstate which says:

“Why support President Trump’s immigration ban? 19 Muslim immigrants killed 2977 Americans. September 11, 2001.”

It blares its message loud and clear for residents of Claremont and Catawba, through which the interstate runs.

Dave Kistler, who heads the group, believes if the terrorists behind the 9/11 attack had converted to Christianity, the attack wouldn’t have happened.

He told CNN the billboard isn’t meant to incite religious animus.

“This isn’t about hate,” he said. “The issue we’re trying to make is the problem with Islam and its ideology.”

Kitlas says he has Muslim friends but most of them have converted to Christianity.

‘I don’t hate them’

Though he hasn’t spoken to any practicing Muslims about the billboard, he says he’s not worried about what they think.

“I’m not worried about offending them. I don’t hate them. This is not a slight against any individual,” he said.

Oliver Reitzell, a resident, told CNN affiliate WSOC that he’s bothered by the sign.

“I believe in the Christian way and that’s to embrace everybody,” Reitzell told WSOC.

The billboard seems to stress that Muslims are to blame for the 2,977 lives lost on 9/11. It doesn’t mention that at least 32 innocent Muslims also lost their lives on 9/11.

That’s not to say the billboard doesn’t have its supporters.

“I think the numbers are powerful enough in themselves,” one person told WSOC. “So, if you look at it and think something is wrong about it, it makes you wonder about you.”