‘Scumbags Welcome!’ Church Behind Controversial Billboard
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — On one of the busiest roads in Lake County, one big billboard is delivering one shocker after another and stirring up controversy.
The giant display reads “Scumbags Welcome!” and it recently popped up on Highway 441 between Tavares and Leesburg where thousands of drivers can’t miss it.
Even more surprising, a local church called Saturday Night Live Church is behind the message.
“Calling people scumbags, that’s just not right. I was raised in a Christian home and I was raised not to insult people,” said passerby Bradley Lord.
SNL Church is non-denominational and markets itself on Facebook to those who think church is “lame, boring, dull, irrelevant and unengaging.” Members have services on Saturday nights inside a building owned by First United Methodist Church of Tavares which is not affiliated with the group.
SNL Church Pastor Moses Robbins says to understand the billboard; people have to read the Bible scripture on it, Mark 2:13-17, which describes how Jesus Christ welcomed everyone.
“It’s nothing outrageous by any means,” said Robbins. “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.”
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.
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 6 more months. He said in 3 months or so he has another message planned. It deals with sex.