Pastor whose sign ignited furor apologizes

Associated Press/March 2, 2004
By Judith Kohler

Denver -- A pastor who outraged Jews and Christians with a sign reading "Jews Killed The Lord Jesus" said Tuesday he hopes his replacement sign of apology will calm the fury, but a new comment he made about the Holocaust drew fresh criticism.

The sign outside the Rev. Maurice Gordon's Lovingway United Pentecostal Church now says, "I am deeply sorry for offending the Jewish people, whom I love. Brother Gordon."

The earlier message, Gordon said, was a quote from the Bible that needs to be read in historical context. "It has nothing to do with now," he said.

Gordon had said the earlier message, posted last Wednesday on one of Denver's busiest thoroughfares, was inspired by the Mel Gibson film "The Passion of The Christ," which some believe wrongly blames Jews for the death of Christ.

Stirring more anger was Gordon's comment Tuesday that Jews need to forgive Germans for the Holocaust. Gordon said he formed that belief over the past week while fielding hundreds of angry phone calls and e-mails, many of them from Jews.

"The connection to the Holocaust is, in and of itself, offensive," said Bruce DeBoskey, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. "That's an unacceptable way to communicate a message, especially about such a painful event as the Holocaust."

Colorado and national Jewish and Christian leaders quickly condemned the message Gordon put up last week. The state district superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International said Gordon acted independently and that the Pentecostal group "feels that all of humanity was complicit" in Jesus' death.

A Jewish woman, outraged by the original sign, bought a ladder at a nearby store and removed the word "Jews." Gordon took the rest of the message down the same day, and the apology went up the next day.

He insisted Tuesday he didn't expect the furor. Controversy, though, is nothing new to the 74-year-old Gordon. His signs condemning homosexuality, extramarital sex and abortion have been assailed through the years.

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