A 14-foot neon sign pleads for passersby to "Save the GOP." A relatively unthreatening sentiment, except the rest of the glowing red and green text labels soon-to-be-presidential nominee Mitt Romney a "racist." The sign, in front of Steven Showers' Newbury Park, Calif., home, has made his home the topic of neighborly outrage.
The 59-year-old registered Republican erected the sign to express his opposition to the candidate's Mormon faith, and what he deems its racist history, according to the Los Angeles Times. The neon sign is meant to advertise his Web site, which explains his thoughts in further detail.
The Mormon religion's dealings with race have been something of a blemish in its history. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not allow blacks into the priesthood -- the status of all adult male members in good standing -- until 1978.
Romney has spoken in favor of the switch, which occurred while he was 31 years old. He claimed to have pulled over his car upon hearing the news, and wept tears of joy and relief. He distanced himself from the church's segregationist history during an interview with "Meet The Press," where he pointed to the support of the civil rights movement by his father, the late Michgan Gov. George Romney.
"My dad's reputation, my mom's and my own, is always been one of reaching out to people and not discriminating based upon race or anything else," he said. "Those are my fundamental beliefs, and I was anxious to see change in my church."
Romney's history with the church remains politically dicey, and he rarely talks about his service as a bishop in Boston. The reason remains unclear, as polls have shown America voters are not put off by the prospect of a Mormon in the White House, with a majority telling Pew they were comfortable with his faith.
It leaves Showers in the minority. Still, he's selling $800 miniature versions of his sign. But the terror of his buzzing sign may end soon.
A Ventura County code inspector and deemed the sign in violation of zoning laws. No decision has been made at the county level about its fate.