- Mac’s Fresh Market, a Christian grocery chain with locations in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, sparked controversy with an ad that touched on the immigration debate.
- "Heaven has a wall, a gate and a strict immigration policy. Hell has open borders. Let that sink in," reads a quote included in the regional grocery chain’s weekly ad.
- Mac’s Fresh Market owner Reggy McDaniel told Business Insider that he has been "shocked" by the massive reaction to the ad, which he said was intended to tell people that the only way into heaven is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
- McDaniels said he is not ending the weekly messages and plans to run an anti-abortion quote from Ronald Reagan in the coming week’s ad.
A regional Christian grocery chain has sparked controversy with its weekly ad.
Mac’s Fresh Market, which has locations in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, often includes a religious message in its circular highlighting the latest deals. In early February, this message linked religion to the current immigration debate.
"Heaven has a wall, a gate and a strict immigration policy. Hell has open borders. Let that sink in," Mac’s Weekly Quote for February 6 reads, according to a Facebook post from the chain.
Responses have been split, as some people say that the message is discriminatory or hurtful toward immigrants.
One person commented: "Ad is very disrespectful and pure hateful will no longer spend my money on any of your products!"
"My wife and I have been loyal customers of Mac’s in Tioga for years," wrote another. "I will never enter that store again."
One person quoted Leviticus 19:33 to 34, writing: "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt."
The controversy is impacting people offline as well. Employees at a Camden, Arkansas, Mac’s Fresh Market told local news station KARK that they had been approached by dozens of customers and received even more phone calls about the ads, which were distributed in the area.
In an interview with Business Insider, Mac’s Fresh Market owner Reggy McDaniel said that he was "shocked" by the extent of the reaction. McDaniel said that people from Ukraine to Minnesota have reached out to him about the ad over the past week, but that 80-85% of the responses have been positive.
This support is clear on Mac’s Fresh Market’s Facebook page.
"Absolutely agree and support you 100%. How can folks be mad at this? The Bible does say there is a gate and wall," one fan commented.
"Looks like I need to start shopping at Mac’s," wrote another. "He has my support. Freedom of speech people."
"You just got some new customers," commented a third. "Stand strong Patriot!"
McDaniel said he has been running religious quotes in the weekly circular for two decades. The primary purpose of the "wall" message was not political, he said, but instead an attempt to point people towards Christianity.
"In front of the gates of Heaven — you’re only going to get through the gates through the blood of Jesus Christ," he said.
While McDaniel said he did not expect the controversy, he is also not going to shy away from engaging in politically charged topics that he thinks are spiritually relevant.
Next week, McDaniel told Business Insider, Mac’s Fresh Market’s weekly ad will include an anti-abortion quote from Ronald Reagan: "I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born."
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Source: Business Insider