DENVER – A pastor displayed the message "Jews Killed The Lord Jesus" in front of his church on a busy Denver thoroughfare Wednesday, prompting outrage from Jews and Christians alike.
The sign in front of Lovingway United Pentecostal Church (search) upset one passer-by so much she bought a ladder that afternoon to remove the first word.
Pastor Maurice Gordon (search) said he was inspired by the intense discussion leading to Wednesday's release of the Mel Gibson (search) film "The Passion of the Christ," which some have criticized as anti-Semitic and others have hailed as powerfully portraying the Crucifixion of Christ. Gibson has denied allegations of anti-Semitism and said the movie does not blame Jews for the death of Jesus.
"I had been listening to debate back and forth on talk radio about who really did it," Gordon told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "What I did, right or wrong, was to give a citation from the Apostle Paul."
Gordon's action prompted a response Wednesday night from the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center (search), an international Jewish human rights organization that urged Christian leaders in Denver to rebuke the church for posting the sign.
"The Jewish people has suffered from the libel of deicide for nearly two thousand years," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center. "We continue to look to our Christian neighbors and friends to rebuke those who would pass off this canard as theology."
Dr. James Ryan of the Colorado Council of Churches also was distraught by the sign.
"I would hope that they would hear the outcry not just of the Jewish community, but of the Christian community as well, that this is not a true representation of the gospel of love and grace of Jesus Christ," Ryan said.
Ryan said he hoped Gordon would take the sign down, but passer-by Ami Ship decided not to wait.
Ship bought a ladder and took down the word "Jews" herself. She said she thought the sign was incorrect and anti-Semitic.
Gordon, who has been pastor of the church for 29 years, said the sign would probably be changed by Thursday.
"You only want to do this maybe once in a lifetime," Gordon said. "At least hopefully it will get people to go back and read the fine print in the Bible."