Controversial pro-Trump pastor offers blessing at Jerusalem embassy opening

JERUSALEM ISRAEL- MAY 8 2018 A road sign indicating the direction of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Sergey Orlov  TASS

"The choice of Jeffress sends exactly the wrong message".

Jeffress, who runs the First Baptist Church in Dallas, has referred to Islam and Mormonism as "a heresy from the pit of hell". McCain's rationale is particularly relevant to Trump's decision to pick him to open the American embassy in Israel: He rejected Hagee's endorsement because of a sermon Hagee gave in the late 1990s where he attempted to provide biblical support for the idea that Adolf Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews was part of God's plan to push them to Israel. "The truth that I, together with tens of hundreds of thousands of evangelical Christians all over the world, proceed to espouse that perception, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy".

Dr. Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell University, a private Christian school, weighed in to say if Jeffress is a bigot, then so too is Jesus Christ. After Romney became the Republican nominee, Jeffress revealed that he backed Romney as the "lesser of two evils" when Romney challenged former President Barack Obama for the White House in 2012. Jeffress later told reporters that he did not understand the controversy surrounding his comments since they reflected the views held by most evangelicals.

He has also called Mormonism "a cult" that is not a true part of Christianity and said "you can't be saved by being a Jew", Haaretz reported. 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.

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"I'm going to be thanking God for the strong leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is absolutely determined to protect Israel", Jeffress said.

The pastor of First Baptist Dallas has been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump and said that he had "courage that no other US president has" had to move the embassy from Tel Aviv.

The other pastor in attendance on Monday, Rev. John Hagee, is similarly extreme. "America has always been a kingdom of grace, but President Trump himself is a king of kindness", he said.

The relocation of the embassy marks a almost three decade departure from USA foreign policy and has been largely regarded by evangelical Christians as a major victory for the Trump administration.

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