Billboards appearing in several Ohio locations declaring “Jesus is Muslim” are stirring controversy.
Christian groups held a prayer vigil and rally opposing the message near one of the billboards in Columbus Saturday, according to The Christian Post.
“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 hijacking of the name of Jesus Christ in their attempt to lure uninformed Christians into their religion,” head of the Christian ministry Pass the Salt, Dave Daubenmire, said in a statement issued through Christian Newswire prior to the rally.
“Jesus isn’t Muslim,” the Rev. Bill Dunfee, pastor of New Beginnings Ministries told The Columbus Dispatch. “To insinuate that he is, is a lie, an absurdity. Our motive is just simply to defend the church and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The billboards are sponsored by Columbus-based group, “Ask a Muslim,” who are committed to educating people about Islam.
“We believe that clearing up the many misconceptions about Islam will make this world a better place,” the group’s website says. “A place with less violence and hatred, filled with mutual respect and understanding.”
The group’s website makes the case that Muslims are actually Christians, when taken to mean “someone following the teachings of Christ.”
“Muslims are following the teachings of Jesus, while most Christians have began to follow the Church – this is why the Quran needed to be revealed. (Holy Quran 9:31),” the website states, and suggests there is a connection between Jesus and Muhammad in the Bible.
Daubenmire disagrees, saying he finds the billboards’ messages “insensitive, dishonest and deserving of a response from concerned Christians.”
“Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and resurrected over 600 years before the birth of Mohammed,” he said. “Although Islam honors Jesus as a prophet, they do not believe that He is the risen Son of God.”