Scumbags welcome!: Church's controversial billboard attracting criticism
Last updated at 10:57 PM on 4th March 2011
It shines out in the night like a beacon of light, attracting the attention of all passers by.
Of course, if you are going to put a gigantic sign screaming 'Scumbags Welcome!' on the road side you probably didn't intend it to do much else.
The pastor of Lake County church, Florida, hopes that the controversial billboard will help bring people closer to God.
Scumbags welcome: The giant sign advertising the SNL church has enraged many residents who believe it conveys a non-Christian message
Moses Robbins, of the Saturday Night Live (SNL) church, put the billboard up along Highway 441 between Tavares and Leesburg.
In less than a week, he said the phone has been ringing off the hook - not from Sumbags wanting to be welcomed - but from people criticising it and its message.
But Robbins said there is nothing vulgar about the sign and he doesn't care if it offends people, assuring this was not his goal.
He said that for people to understand they must read the Bible verse Mark 2:13-17, in which Jesus eats with sinners and tax collectors, to realise what inspired the billboard.
He claims that the message is based on Jesus Christ's work to engage sinners and put them on the right path and believes the problem stems from people not going to church.
Controversial: Pastor Moses Robbins has defended the sign saying he hopes that it will attract more people to his Saturday Night Live church
He told WFTV: 'It's nothing outrageous by any means. It's not some crazy cult. We're not out sacrificing chickens in the back. We're just teaching the Bible and introducing people to God.
'I wanted to create a short and blunt statement that would create some wonder and lead more people to church.'
The City of Tavares had code enforcement take a look at the large message after the city received complaints from residents.
A spokeswoman said the church is well within its right of free speech and had no other comment.
Passerby Bradley Lord said: 'Calling people scumbags, that's just not right. I was raised in a Christian home and I was raised not to insult people.'
Resident Sissie Zollinger was surprised to see the billboard but says she understands the church is just trying to reach people.
'I think they have a good message. They don't want to exclude anyone,' she said.
Pastor Robbins said he has the billboard leased for six more months and in three he has another planned, which deals with sex.
The SNL church formed in April 2010 and has less than 50 members.
On their Facebook page, where they do most of their marketing, members have voiced their support over the billboard.
Danae Copeland McPherson posted: ' I saw you on the news last night and was BLESSED! Love it!
'Love the message and love the LOVE! Thank you for spreading the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel!'
Joe Parvu said: 'I’m Joseph, husband and father of two and a follower of our Lord Jesus and I’m a scumbag. Proud to be part of the SNL church.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1363082/Scumbags-welcome--Churchs-controversial-billboard-attracting-criticism.html#ixzz1FkDrVibb