Church sign vandalized with anti-Semitic message

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – Sometime after a prayer meeting on the night of Dec. 28, the sign of Mount Signal Baptist Church was vandalized to communicate an anti-Semitic message.

The church’s pastor, Leonard Irvin, received a phone call from a woman who drove by the sign on Old Highway 280, then turned around to re-read the sign, which said “Jews suck,” and removed the message.

“She realized there were letters scattered all over the ground. She figured it was probably vandalism. She took the letters down for us so the message wouldn’t stay on the sign,” Irvin said. “I was able to meet her at the church, and I called the sheriff’s department and made a report.”

Irvin, a retired Birmingham police sergeant, said he wants the community to know that his church was not responsible for the message.

“It just kind of disturbed us. We are Christians and have theological differences with the Jewish faith, but we are rooted in the Jewish faith,” Irvin said. “We are not a hate group, not anti-Semitic. We do not consider them as enemies; we consider them as friends. We respect the Jewish people.

“We really do respect those people and their beliefs,” he added. “We don’t want them to have any harm. It just disturbed us that some people may have seen our sign and it was not us that put it there.”

Irvin posted a new message on his church’s sign.

“It’s from Psalm 122:6, ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, how blessed are those who love you,’” Irvin said. “What I’m hoping to do, those that had seen the message and wondering about us as a church, we wanted them to know those weren’t our feelings.

“We know we’re inviting a little retaliation, but the reputation of our church was worth someone coming and messing with us again.”

If you have any information concerning the incident, please call the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department at 669-4181.