Right-wing evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress, who has a long history of attacking other religions, spoke at the White House’s Hanukkah celebration Wednesday, HuffPost reported. In 2011, Jeffress said that Mormons, Muslims, Jews, and gays are destined for Hell, as Right Wing Watch reported at the time.
During President Donald Trump’s speech, Trump spotted Jeffress in the crowd and chose the moment to praise the evangelical pastor.
“And, by the way, Robert Jeffress, I see you right here. And what a tremendous faith leader you are and a tremendous man you are,” Trump said. “Pastor, thank you for being here so much also. We appreciate it. We have so many people and so many great faith leaders here, and I want to thank you all for being here. It’s fantastic. This is a great, great day. We appreciate it very much, Robert. Thank you very much.”
Trump later invited Jeffress and attorney Alan Dershowitz, who Trump may add to his impeachment defense team and who has been accused of being involved in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking, up to the stage. Trump added that he liked the pastor because Jeffress praised him on talk shows.
“We’ve never had such evangelical Christian support. Jeff, come on up. Jeff. Come on up here, Jeff,” Trump said, waving him on stage. “But Robert Jeffress–I didn’t know him, but he–I watched him. And I’d watch him on different shows, and I’d say, ‘I like that guy. Man, he talks really great about me. And I like people that talk well about me.’”
Trump said he thought his administration had “made more progress toward faith leaders” and noted that it “got rid of the Johnson Amendment, which was a disaster.” The Johnson Amendment had prohibited churches from participating and intervening in political campaigns and had long been a target of conservative Christian groups.
“I think Donald Trump is the most pro-faith president in history when you look at what he has done for people of all faiths,” Jeffress said. “And, Mr. President, you know, Jewish and Christian believers alike believe what God said to Abraham in Genesis 12–that God would bless those who bless Israel, and He would curse those who curse Israel.”
“And I want to thank you, Mr. President, for being the kind of president who has the courage to stand up and be, when it comes to Israel, on the right side of history,” Jeffress continued. “But most importantly, you’re on the right side of God. And that’s why you are not going to fail, and we’re going to stand behind you 100 percent.”
Jeffress said in 2011, “Judaism, you can’t be saved being a Jew.” He recently mocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Catholic faith and claimed that Democrats worship the demon god “Moloch, who allowed for child sacrifice.” In August, Robert Jeffress asserted that Sen. Bernie Sanders is “completely illiterate when it comes to what the Old Testament teaches about Israel,” as are all Jews who vote for Democrats.