A North Carolina pastor turned Republican candidate for Congress once said there would be no peace in Israel until Jews and Muslims converted to Christianity.
The remark made by Mark Harris in a 2011 sermon was among a number of other controversial comments he made about Islam while pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church that were revealed by CNN on Friday, days before the US midterm elections.
In his teaching, Harris recounted his trip to the Holy Land earlier that year, noting the strained relations between Israelis and Palestinians.
“You cannot be in that land, as powerful and as moving as it is, without realizing the incredible tension that is constantly in that land between the Palestinians and the Jews,” Harris told his congregation. “There will never be peace in Jerusalem until the day comes that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
“And until those that are called in Islam realize that and until those that are called in Judaism realize that — for that matter until those that are caught in the religion of Christianity and are missing the personal relationship with Jesus Christ, realize that — there’ll never be peace in their soul or peace in their city.”
CNN’s KFile also uncovered numerous instances of Harris making unfounded and disparaging remarks about Islam.
In one 2014 sermon, Harris screened a conspiratorial video about Muslim immigration to Europe that claimed Western values and culture were at risk due to decreasing fertility rates.
Harris presented the video as “cold hard facts that need to be exposed” and asked his congregation: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The 2009 video, titled “Muslim Demographics,” was debunked by fact-checking site Snopes as “mostly false,” and recent Pew research on Muslim immigration also did not support the claims made in the video.
In a November 2010 sermon, Harris branded Islam “dangerous” and warned against politicians who presented the faith as just another religion.
“There is a satanic trinity of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. Satan is always a counterfeit,” Harris said. “Listen to me, that is why the religion of Islam is so dangerous. It is the great counterfeit of our generation.”
During another sermon that month, Harris claimed that everyone living under Muslim rule is forced to “bow down to the image of the Beast” and “worship the anti-Christ.”
Earlier in his campaign for Congress, Harris attracted media attention when some of his comments about women came to light.
In July, ABC News uncovered audio of a 2013 sermon in which Harris questioned whether professional careers were the “healthiest pursuit” for women and called on them to take on the role of “servant lover” in their marriages.
Harris’s campaign did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
North Carolina’s 9th District became a key election bellwether when Harris narrowly ousted three-term Rep. Robert Pittenger in the GOP primary, giving Democrats a wider opening in solidly red territory.
The 54-year-old former pastor is running against Democrat Dan McCready, an Iraq War veteran, solar energy company founder and Harvard Business School graduate.
US President Donald Trump won the Charlotte-area district by 12 points in the 2016 election, and a Democrat hasn’t been elected to represent it since John F. Kennedy was president.
The Charlotte Observer noted that “few preachers have been more prominent” in North Carolina than Harris has, but polling website FiveThirtyEight has the two candidates at a statistical tie, calling the race for the 9th district a “tossup.”
Agencies contributed to this report.