WASHINGTON — Senate candidate Mitt Romney of Utah said Sunday a prominent Baptist minister shouldn’t be giving the prayer that opens the US Embassy in Jerusalem because he’s a “religious bigot.”
In a tweet, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee criticized Dallas minister Robert Jeffress for his remarks about Jews, Mormons and Islam.
The Jerusalem Open House on Monday also lambasted Jeffress’s participation, saying he had in the past called gay rights promoters “pedophilia activists” and said homosexuality was a “perversion.”
Jeffress, a Southern Baptist who vigorously supported Trump during the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign and was a member of his evangelical advisory board, will say a prayer at Monday’s embassy opening in Jerusalem.
Romney said, “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.”
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.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 14, 2018
The liberal group Media Matters reports on its website that Jeffress made the remarks cited by Romney in a 2011 speech at the conservative Values Voter Summit.
Jeffress responded in a tweet of his own by defending his view that “salvation is through faith in Christ alone.”
“Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. 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 said in the tweet.
Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. 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.
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) May 14, 2018
The role of Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, a Southern Baptist megachurch, underlines the significance of the Jerusalem event as an appeal to Christian conservatives, part of President Donald Trump’s base of supporters.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.