A Dallas pastor who has made controversial remarks about gays, Muslims, Catholics and others will preach at a pre-Inauguration service for President Elect Donald Trump.
The network said the service will take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House on Inauguration Day morning; a religious service before the oath of office itself is a tradition for new presidents.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jeffress Has Said That Islam Promotes Pedophilia & Was Evil
In 2010, Jeffress made some of his most inflammatory comments about Muslims when he said that Islam promotes pedophilia, according to Talking Points Memo.
In a sermon, Jeffress, who is pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, said, according to TPM, “The deep, dark, dirty secret of Islam: It is a religion that promotes pedophilia – sex with children. This so-called prophet Muhammad raped a 9-year-old girl – had sex with her.”
He also called Islam an “evil, evil” religion and said the religion was both “oppressive” and “violent,” Talking Points Memo reported.
Jeffress has also said that Islam was inspired by Satan and was a “false religion.”
2. Jeffress Has Condemned Homosexuality, Equating Gay Sex to a TV Outlet
Jeffress has made a series of controversial comments about gays. For example, he once said that gay sex was “like plugging a TV into a 220-volt power outlet rather than the recommended 120 outlet,” and added that the action would “blow the TV to smithereens,” according to The Huffington Post.
In other incendiary comments on gays, Jeffress has said that gays live a “miserable lifestyle” predisposed to “depression, or suicide, or alcoholism”; that gay rights will lead to the “inevitable implosion of our country”; and that gays are brainwashing the public, according to Rightwingwatch.org.
However, according to the Christian Post, Jeffress “revealed that he had to argue against what he called some ‘hard-right; Catholics and evangelicals in order to defend President-elect Donald Trump’s decision not to challenge the legislation of gay marriage in America.”
3. The Pastor Leads America’s Oldest Megachurch, Has a Radio Show & Is an Author
D Magazine reported that Jeffress is “the senior pastor at First Baptist Dallas, the oldest megachurch in America.”
The pastor’s official bio says the church has 13,000 members and added that Jeffress is also a Fox News Contributor and adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
The church recently underwent a $128 million renovation, considered one of the most expensive for a church in U.S. history, according to D Magazine. Jeffress also appears on national television programs, providing commentary, from time to time.
D Magazine reported that, in addition to leading that congregation, Jeffress has a radio show, a television show, and he’s written many books, most recently, Twilight’s Last Gleaming: How America’s Last Days Can Be Your Best Day. Jeffress’ bio says his daily radio program is called Pathway to Victory and is transmitted on 800 stations nationwide, including in major markets.
On Twitter, he describes himself as “Pastor of @firstdallas, best-selling author, and host of Pathway To Victory, a national radio and television ministry.”
4. Jeffress called Mormonism a ‘Cult’ & Suggested That the Catholic Church Is Not Trustworthy
Jeffress has made controversial comments about both Mormonism and Catholicism, suggesting that the Catholic Church can’t be trusted, the Christian Post reported.
According to the Christian Post, he said he believed Catholics will go to heaven, however.
Jeffress generated news headlines when he “introduced and endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit,” according to Town Hall. He described the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney as “cult,” Town Hall reported.
Some accused Jeffress of bigotry after the remark.
5. Jeffress Is a Strong Trump Supporter Who Predicted Trump Would Be the Most “Faith Friendly” President in U.S. History
Jeffress has been vocal in his support of the president elect. On Twitter, he wrote, “Just had tremendous visit w/President-elect @realDonaldTrump! I predict he’ll be the most faith-friendly president in our nation’s history.”
Jeffress has been very critical of President Barack Obama. The day after the 2016 presidential election, he posted a picture of himself making thumbs up with Trump and wrote, “Early this morning, @realDonaldTrump expressed his gratitude for the unprecedented number of Evangelicals who supported him. #Election2016.”
The pastor’s bio says he “graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a D.Min., a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a B.S. degree from Baylor University. In May 2010, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree from Dallas Baptist University. In June 2011, Dr. Jeffress received the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
He is married to Amy and the couple has two daughters, Julia and Dorothy, and a son-in-law, Ryan Sadler, the biography says.