A set of controversial billboards funded by the informational website Ask-A-Muslim.com is causing a stir in Columbus, Oh. The signs have slogans like "Jesus is Muslim" and "Muslims love Jesus too."
Dave Daubenmire of the Pass the Salt Ministry feels the billboards are misleading and disrespectful, especially as they have gone up during the season of Lent. In a press release sent to Christian Newswire, Daubenmire announced his intention to hold a "Jesus Is Lord" prayer vigil/rally in protest.
“Although we support the Islamic community's right to free speech, as well as their right to post messages on billboards, we do not support the hi-jacking of the name of Jesus Christ in their attempt to lure uninformed Christians into their religion," he said. "During this most Holy Lenten Season we find the messages on the billboards to be insensitive, dishonest and deserving of a response from concerned Christians. We will be on the streets to proclaim Jesus is NOT Muslim but Jesus is Lord!!"
Kenneth Tour, a member of the Ask A Muslim organization, explained to Fox News that the point of the billboards is to encourage people to learn about Islam and find out what Muslims think of Jesus. The website says, "For starters, Muslims are Christians – if “Christian” means someone following the teachings of Christ, so by learning about Islam you are not disobeying Jesus."
"If they read the billboard, and maybe if the message is slightly controversial, well then they ask questions," Tours commented.
Others don't agree with this strategy.
“Jesus isn’t Muslim. To insinuate that he is, is a lie, an absurdity,” said the Rev. Bill Dunfee, pastor of New Beginnings Ministries, to the Columbus Dispatch. “Our motive is just simply to defend the church and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Interfaith advocate Imran Malik and board president of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center feels the billboard might be "a little overboard," according to the Columbus Dispatch. Just as certain messages about Mohammed offend some Muslims, he understands why the message could be upsetting to Christians.
Ask-A-Muslim.com says on its website, "We are a group of Muslims based in Columbus, OH, USA. We are dedicated to educating you about Islam, giving you a chance to hear about Islam from practicing Muslims."
An invitation for dialogue or an overly provocative stunt? Let us know what you think of the billboards in the comments.