Signs promoting love say 'Hate Has No Home' in suburbs
Walking around her "somewhat diverse" Lombard neighborhood dotted with campaign signs last fall, Kathy Foulser imagined what it might feel like to be someone else passing a sign for then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
If Foulser was one of her Hispanic, black or Muslim neighbors, she imagined she might feel less than welcome in the place she calls home.
So when the election ended and Foulser's church ordered signs to put a more "positive energy" into the world, she snapped one up.
"Love your neighbor*" Foulser's yard sign says, clarifying the asterisk with an explanation below: "*your black, brown, immigrant, disabled, religiously different, LGBTQ, fully human neighbor."
Her yard sign is one of 50 across the suburbs ordered by Unitarian Church of Hinsdale and modeled after similar displays first posted in Minnesota.
"I wanted to have a sign where the people in our neighborhood who have been vilified as groups during the election could walk by and say, 'OK, somebody cares about me,'" Foulser said.
Foulser's sign is among at least four varieties of positive messages sprouting up around the suburbs. Others say "Hate Has No Home Here," "Love Everyone, Always," or "We Are Not Afraid."
Supporters say the signs are designed to counter the division they say has been evident since the presidential campaign.
The Rev. Pam Rumancik, minister of Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, said she's ordering 100 more "Love your neighbor" signs for her congregation and nearby Unitarian churches after a strong response claimed all 50 she ordered early last month.
"I love the message and I love that there's so much energy in our community right now around putting out positive messages that we don't want to stand for hate," Rumancik said. "I think that's a tremendous blessing."
Opposing hate is exactly the aim of a separate sign campaign Mimi Qunell is bringing to Naperville. The signs, saying "Hate Has No Home Here" in six languages, originated on the north side of Chicago, where the message was designed by students at a school with kids from more than 40 countries.
Qunell, who is active in the Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association as a lay person from the Jewish tradition, is bringing a few hundred of the signs to Naperville through a GoFundMe campaign that concludes Tuesday. She hopes the signs, intended to be nonpartisan and apolitical, become a conversation point and a unifier.
"I think it's going to mean different things to different people," she said about the anti-hate message. "Hopefully it'll be a safe thing people can come together and talk about, instead of these things that are so inflammatory."
Tom Cordaro, justice and outreach minister at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Parish in Naperville, has one of the "Hate Has No Home Here" signs posted in his office window and another at his home in Aurora. He contributed to Qunell's campaign to help more such signs make their way to the Naperville area.
St. Margaret Mary feels a "prominent calling" to reach out across faith lines by hosting interfaith gatherings with Muslims, allowing a Baha'i community to meet in its space and recently starting a refugee support group, Cordaro said. The anti-hate signs further that calling to inclusivity, he said.
Supporting refugees is the message of another variety of yard signs being distributed by World Relief DuPage/Aurora, a nonprofit organization that helps refugees and immigrants get settled in DuPage and Kane counties.
World Relief is giving away free plastic signs at its Wheaton and Aurora locations that say "We Are Not Afraid." The signs, meant as a show of support for neighbors originally from other countries, direct viewers to the website wewelcomerefugees.com.
In a similarly welcoming gesture to counter "heated" divisions that surfaced during election season, South Barrington-based Willow Creek Community Church has been putting out an anti-hate message since the fall: "Love Everyone, Always." The church distributed 10,000 yard signs bearing the phrase and also posted billboards along expressways.
Some of the smaller signs are still up in yards across the suburbs, including in Lisle, and church leaders say they're distributing more this weekend because of the popularity of the campaign.
Religious leaders behind the sign campaigns say it's a common teaching in nearly all faiths to love and serve others, even those who look, act, think or vote differently. The signs, they say, put that message more visibly into the everyday world.
"We have a common humanity and that's what's really important to remember -- we all are worthy of dignity and respect," said Foulser of Lombard, who plans to keep her "Love your neighbor" sign up as long as it lasts. "I don't think there's ever a point at which that message won't become important."