Who Is Robert Jeffress, Evangelical Pastor Who Delivered Prayer At Jerusalem Embassy Opening?
Evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress drew controversy both before and after leading the prayer at the ceremony for the unveiling of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem earlier this month, and much of the uproar came because of his beliefs.
Evangelical Pastor Robert Jeffress
Jeffresss leads the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in the nation.
Among the most inflammatory remarks Jeffress has made is that “you can’t be saved being a Jew.”
“You know who said that, by the way?” added Jeffress. “The three greatest Jews in the New Testament: Peter, Paul and Jesus Christ. They all said Judaism won’t do it. It’s faith in Jesus Christ.”
Judaism is one of several religions the pastor has offended. Regarding Islam, he said in a 2010 interview:
“Islam is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell. Mormonism is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell.”
Jeffress is known for delivering big sermons on television, and is known as a “televangelist” in many circles. He has appeared frequently on Fox News.
Many prominent politicians including Mitt Romney denounced the choice of Jeffress to speak at the Embassy ceremony in Jerusalem, citing his past statements about other religions and calling him a “bigot.”
In 2016, the Dallas Observer published an article about Jeffress that listed several outlandish beliefs the pastor held and publicly proclaimed to be true.
Among these statements was that Obergefell v. Hodge, the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage, was by far the worst one the court had ever made.
Jeffress also once said, according to the report, that 9/11 was God’s way of punishing Americans for abortion, and that homosexuality and pedophilia are related.
The pastor also said in 2016 that Pope Francis owed then-candidate Donald Trump an apology for questioning his faith.
After speaking at the Embassy in Jerusalem, Jeffress addressed critics of his opening prayer, who primarily slammed him for not explicitly addressing the violent protests from Palestinians that took place in the Gaza region over the Embassy’s opening. More than 50 Palestinians were killed and over 2,000 were injured in the protests.
in a Fox News interview, Jeffress said: “There is an absolute air of excitement here in Jerusalem over what happened earlier today. There is real excitement in this city that is not being drowned out by the violence in Gaza.”
Jeffress denied ever saying anything disparaging about Jews.
A large number of Evangelical Christians continue to support Trump despite his many scandals that directly violate their faith’s beliefs, like his extramarital affair with porn star Stormy Daniels in 2006.
Regarding the affair with Daniels and liberals calling Evangelicals “hypocrites” because of their silence on it, Jeffress said in March: “It’s absolutely ludicrous. Evangelicals know they’re not compromising their beliefs in order to support this great president. Let’s be clear. Evangelicals still believe in the commandment that thou shalt not have sex with a porn star, we’re still agreed on that. However, whether or not the president violated this commandment is totally irrelevant to our support for him for two quick reasons: First of all, Evangelicals knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they elected Donald Trump. We supported him because of his policies and strong leadership, and tonight you saw another example of that leadership in the announcement on North Korea.”
Jeffress continued: “Secondly, Evangelicals understand the concept of sin and forgiveness. Forgiveness is available through Christ for anyone who asks. And whether or not this president needs that forgiveness for this particular allegation, whether he asked for it is between him, his family and his God.”
Along with Jeffress, Rev. John Hagee — who gave the closing prayer at the Jerusalem Embassy opening — also drew controversy for his beliefs and past remarks.
Hagee is a San Antonio-based televangelist who founded Christians United for Israel. A New York Times report earlier this month stated that in a 2006 NPR interview, Hagee said Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of punishing New Orleans for its sins.
The Times report also said Hagee once stated in a 1990s sermon that Hitler and the Holocaust part of God’s plan to return Jews to Israel.