The rabbi who appeared alongside Vice President Pence and invoked “Jesus the Messiah” while mourning the victims of a Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting was defrocked more than a decade ago. 

NBC News reported on Tuesday that Loren Jacobs, who led a prayer at a Detroit campaign rally on Monday, was stripped of his rabbinic ordination in 2003 after being found guilty of libel. 

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“Jacobs was stripped of his rabbinic ordination by the UMJC in 2003, after our judicial board found him guilty of libel,” Monique Brumbach, a spokeswoman for the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, wrote in an email to the news network. 

Brumbach did not detail specifics to NBC News regarding who Jacobs libeled. But it appeared that Jacobs had been involved in theological disputes with other leaders of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, NBC reported.

Messianic Judaism believes that Jesus is the messiah and that the New Testament is authentic. It is a form of religion that is not recognized by mainstream Jewish leaders in the U.S.

Jacobs opened his prayer on Monday by invoking “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God and Father of my Lord and Savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, and my God and Father, too," according to reports.

GOP House candidate Lena Epstein defended her decision to invite Jacobs, the founder and senior rabbi of Congregation Shema Yisrael in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., to a campaign rally shortly after it occurred.  

"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," she wrote on Twitter.

But the decision has led to criticism from multiple people inside the Jewish community. 

“We don’t even recognize him as a rabbi,” Rabbi Marla Hornsten, a former president of the Michigan Board of Rabbis, told NBC News. “Even to call him a rabbi is offensive.”

"Yesterday I received the directory of Michigan Board of Rabbis" Jason Miller, a rabbi in the Detroit area, wrote on Facebook. "There are over 60 rabbis on this list and yet the only rabbi they could find to offer a prayer for the 11 Jewish victims in Pittsburgh at the Mike Pence rally was a local Jews for Jesus rabbi? That's pathetic!"

A representative for Congregation Shema Yisrael told NBC that Jacobs would not answer questions about his prayer to honor the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. 
 
An aide to the vice president told The Washington Post earlier this week that Pence was unaware which religious leader would lead the prayer.