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Controversial billboards in Columbus, Ohio, reading "Jesus is Muslim" and "Mohammed is in the Bible" are drawing protests from local Christians who say Muslims are "hijacking" the name of Jesus.
"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," Coach Dave Daubenmire of Pass the Salt Ministries said in a statement Thursday.
Daubenmire is hosting a prayer vigil on Saturday alongside the Rev. Rusty Thomas of Operation Save America and Pastor Bill Dunfee of New Beginnings Church in Warsaw.
The billboards are sponsored by a group called "Ask a Muslim," based in Columbus, which says that it is dedicated to educating people about Islam.
"We believe that clearing up the many misconceptions about Islam will make this world a better place. A place with less violence and hatred, filled with mutual respect and understanding," the group says.
The group argues on its website that Muslims are actually Christians, if "Christian" is 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 offers that there is a connection between Jesus and Muhammad in the Bible.
"Please remember Islam = following Jesus. Muhammad confirmed Jesus," it adds.
Requests for comment and further clarification from "Ask a Muslim" by The Christian Post were not returned by the time of press.
Through the prayer vigil, Daubenmire is hoping to make clear that Jesus Christ is not a Muslim.
"Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and resurrected over 600 years before the birth of Mohammed. Although Islam honors Jesus as a prophet, they do not believe that He is the risen Son of God," argued the veteran 25-year high school football coach, who now hosts a weekly radio show and speaks on Christian topics with national media.
"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!!"