Loren Jacobs, the “Messianic rabbi” who prayed with Vice President Mike Pence during a campaign rally in Michigan, just days after the massacre in Pittsburgh, caused a lot of controversy. And now it turns out, there’s even more controversy—the guy was apparently defrocked by his congregation 15 years ago.
A spokesperson for “Jews for Jesus” (the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations) told NBC News, “Loren Jacobs was stripped of his rabbinic ordination by the UMJC in 2003, after our judicial board found him guilty of libel.”
The spokesperson did not go into detail about the libel, but Jacobs’ ouster seems to have something to do with an argument over theological teachings.
Jacobs’ appearance at the rally for GOP congressional candidate Lena Epstein, who is herself Jewish, was strange to begin with, as Jacobs chose to invoke the name of Jesus Christ in his prayer for the victims of the synagogue massacre. (The UMJC believes that Jesus is the son of God, a belief that many Jewish people find offensive.)
Vice President Pence invites a rabbi to pray for the victims of the Tree of Life shooting at a rally in Michigan. But.. pic.twitter.com/jkIVfYryvD
— Scott McGrew (@ScottMcGrew) October 30, 2018
Many Jewish leaders expressed confusion over why Epstein, who is a longtime member of Reform Jewish synagogue Temple Beth El in the Detroit area, would invite a “Jews for Jesus” rabbi to her event since they really don’t consider him to be Jewish. Rabbi Marla Hornstein, the former president of the Michigan Board of Rabbis, said “We don’t even recognize him as a rabbi. Even to call him a rabbi is offensive.”
Mark Miller, the senior Rabbi at Temple Beth El, even denounced Jacobs’ appearance at the event in a public Facebook post.
Meanwhile, Epstein tweeted a statement of her own, in which she claimed that “any media or political competitor who is attacking me or the Vice President is guilty of nothing short of religious intolerance and should be ashamed.”