Maryland Jews complain Christian conversion drive 'offensive'

Aug. 19, 2013 at 11:01 AM
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BALTIMORE, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Jewish leaders in Baltimore, Md., have characterized as "very offensive" a million-dollar campaign by a California businessman to convert Jews to Christianity.

The campaign conducted by a group of 10 women college students conveys the message Jews can accept Jesus Christ as the messiah and remain Jewish, The Baltimore Sun reported Monday.

Arthur C. Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, criticized the annual summer drive as "very offensive to the Jewish community," saying the idea of a Jewish Christian was a contradiction of theological teaching.

Tom Cantor, president of Scantibodies Laboratory Inc. in San Diego, funds the campaign through Israel Restoration Ministries, an organization he founded. He spends about $4 million a year on Christian missionary work, including about $1 million to target major American cities with heavily Jewish neighborhoods.

After receiving dozens of calls complaining or asking questions about the door-to-door visits, Abramson met last week with the Rev. Lou Rossi, senior pastor of Granite Baptist Church in Glen Burnie, which has hosted the students for the last two summers.

Rossi says his church will probably host the group again, but might offer some guidance for the evangelists next time.

The pastor said the women made no attempt to pass themselves off as Jewish, although because they wore long skirts they may have appeared to be Orthodox Jews.

Cantor, a converted Jew, insisted he conducts the campaigns for "my people" because he doesn't want any of them "going to hell" because they haven't accepted Christ.

He insisted Jews could be Muslim, Buddhist or Christian and still be Jewish.

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