Another 'pray for president' sign appears in Crossroads
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Sept. 15, 2012 at 4:15 a.m.
Updated Sept. 16, 2012 at 4:16 a.m.
Another sign urging drivers to pray for the president of the United States has gone up in Victoria.
This time, however, the request to pray and associated Bible verse posted on the sign, is somewhat less inflammatory.
In front of Warrior Supply, in the 3000 block of Houston Highway, a yellow sign posts the phrase, "Pray for our president 1 Timothy 2:1-4."
The Bible passage reads, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity."
"This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Warrior Supply owner Stephen Argubright said he, too, isn't a supporter of sitting President Barack Obama, but believes the sign in front of his store better represents the Christian faith to which he subscribes.
"I wasn't retaliating against the other sign ... but people need to know there's a better option for how to pray for our leaders, even if we don't agree with them," Argubright said. "I'm trying to encourage people to pray for anybody who's over you, the Congress, Senate, our mayor. Anybody who's over you, that's who you should be praying for."
The "other" sign Argubright is referring to was posted about a month ago at the intersection of North Navarro and Stanly streets next to Car West Car Wash and Uncle Mutt's Bar-B-Q. That sign reads, "Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8."
The verse on the sign - owned and posted by Milton H. Neitsch Jr., of Victoria, who owns the properties where Uncle Mutt's and the car wash are located - states, "Let his days be few, and let another take his office."
But it's the verses following Psalm 109:8 that are stirring community controversy, since the author of the passage, King David of Israel, is praying to God for the death of an evil leader.
Psalm 109:9, for example, reads, "Let his children be fatherless and his wife be a widow."
The Rev. Amy Danchik, among other clergy members in the Crossroads, spoke publicly of her desire to see the sign taken down, citing its misuse of Christian Scripture to promote what she believed was a hateful political agenda. She also said the verse could imply a possible threat to the president's life.
Neitsch insists the sign was only meant to suggest that he desired Obama to leave office in November. He has since underlined the "8" on the sign in bright pink.
"I did that for Amy's benefit because she said she has an eyesight problem," Neitsch said.
In an interview two weeks ago, Danchik said she met with Neitsch at her church, Christ the Victor Lutheran, and they agreed in good faith the sign would come down.
But on Thursday, Neitsch said the sign would likely stay up because Danchik has not presented him with an alternative sign suggestion to put in its place, which according to Neitsch was the compromise they agreed to.
"The longer she takes, the longer it takes to come down," he said. "There's a very good chance it's not going to come down. It's getting late" in the election season.
Danchik was not available for comment.
Since the controversy over the sign first went viral in the community about two weeks ago, Neitsch said he has received support letters from across the country applauding the sign and its message.
"I have gotten so much support on it; I really hate to take it down," he said.
He said he's also received support from many members of Danchik's church, located near the Pray for Obama sign on Stanly Street.
"I'd like to thank her congregation for supporting the sign," he said.
Neitsch also said two agents from the U.S. Secret Service in Houston visited his home in recent weeks to investigate whether they believed him to be a threat to the president.
"They said you're perfectly right to put up the sign," he said.
Calls to the Secret Service Houston office were not immediately returned.
Victoria Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor and Police Chief J.J. Craig said they had not been contacted by the Secret Service about an investigation in Victoria, which is normally the procedure.
The Rev. Carl Westbrook, the retired Methodist minister who encouraged Argubright to post the sign in front of his business, said he hopes the community would read the new "Pray for our President" sign and realize there's a better, less-controversial way to pray for elected officials.
"In my opinion, this is a much better approach to praying for leadership," he said, referring to the Timothy verse. "In its full context, which is necessary for reading Scripture, it's about praying for our leaders ... and it is a more complete picture of what I believe the Christian faith is about. We're about making sure that love and grace and mercy is experienced by all."
Argubright and Westbrook said they hope the new sign will encourage and remind fellow Crossroads residents to live peacefully together, no matter what political party they belong to.
"God is part of our life, and God is still in control no matter who we have in leadership. I don't agree with Obama, but God allowed him to be in leadership. It's time to rise up ... and remember whatever you pray you should want to come back on you," Argubright said.