Mitt Romney Criticizes Pastor Slated to Pray at Opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem

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Senate candidate and former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney objected to the inclusion of Pastor Robert Jeffress in the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem. He brought up comments Jeffress made about other religions in the past and said it made him a poor choice for the occasion. Romney stated on his Twitter account Sunday that, “Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,” and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.’ He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.”

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Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, responded to Romney without mentioning him by name. “Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith alone in Christ. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.”

Jeffress spoke out about Mormonism in the early stages of the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries. Jeffress introduced then Texas Governor Rick Perry before the Value Voters Summit, calling him a “true follower of Jesus.” Afterward, Jeffress spoke with reporters and told them that the Mormon Church is a cult. Jeffress later told reporters that he did not understand the controversy surrounding his comments since they reflected the views held by most evangelicals. He said at the time, “The idea that Mormonism is a theological cult is not news either. That has been the historical position of Christianity for a long time.”

Jeffress is slated to give the opening prayer at Monday’s ceremony. He told Fox & Friends that he intends to pray for three things. He said he will thank God for “his faithfulness to Israel for 4,000 years,” citing the occasion as another fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12. Then, he said he will thank God “for the strong leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” because he “is determined to protect his people.” Jeffress also stated he would “express gratitude for our tremendous President, Donald Trump.”

CNN reported that Pastor John Hagee will also take part in the ceremony. Hagee says he told President Trump that his decision to move the embassy would guarantee him “political immortality” because he has “the courage to do what other presidents did not have the courage to do.”

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