President Trump has presented himself as the world’s biggest friend of Israel.
He has proven his credentials for that title by becoming the first U.S. president foolish enough to sabotage the peace process between an Israel no longer truly considering a two-state solution and the Palestinians whose land Israel has occupied since 1967 by acceding to their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demands that the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as the nation’s capital.
Now that Trump has taken that ill-advised step, the U.S. embassy will be moved to Jerusalem from its current location in Tel Aviv with an opening ceremony taking place tomorrow.
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While Trump’s ingratiating himself with Israel may have something to do with his antipathy towards Iran and the Muslim world in general, his support of the Israeli government comes at least in part from the urging of his evangelical Christian followers.
The evangelicals treasure Israel because of its biblical role in the prophesies that herald the second coming of Jesus Christ and the rapture that they believe will lead to the bodily ascension of all devout Christian followers into heaven while the rest of us are stuck here on earth with Trump.
For all of the passion for Israel that the evangelicals so piously demonstrate, Trump’s selection of a prominent Southern Baptist pastor to deliver the prayer at the opening ceremony for the new embassy has raised eyebrows because of the pastor’s long history of anti-semitic comments.
Robert Jeffress is the evangelical leader of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, a large congregation with around 13 thousand members. He also hosts a lucrative television and radio ministry through his Pathway To Victory programs. Jeffress serves as an informal advisor to Trump on faith-based issues and led Trump in prayer from the Oval Office when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston.
Yet, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Jeffress has a long history of making highly negative comments about members of any faith other than his own.
The newspaper points to a video clip compilation posted by Media Matters for America of some of Jeffress most extreme comments, including statements like “the dark dirty secret of Islam is that it is a religion that promotes pedophilia”, “Mormonism is heresy from the pit of hell,” and that Roman Catholicism is a “Satanic” result of “Babylonian mystery religion,“ a discredited theory based on fallacious interpretations of both Catholicism and Babylonian religious practices.
Jeffress also said:
“You can’t be saved being a Jew, you know who said that by the way, the three greatest Jews in the New Testament, Peter, Paul, and Jesus Christ, they all said Judaism won’t do it, it’s faith in Jesus Christ.”
That statement is professing a standard declaration of Christianity as the one true religion, but it also damns the self-described chosen people to an afterlife in hell according to Christian theology. Now that’s no way to treat a group who is crucial to facilitating your own ascension to a happy after-life in the fluffy clouds of an all evangelical heaven, is it?
Trump’s pick of a bigoted religious extremist like Jeffress to offer the prayers at the new Jerusalem embassy’s opening ceremonies is typical of the administration. After all, the choice of an anti-semitic pastor to pray at the opening of the new embassy in Israel is not much different than the religious right choosing the antithesis of a Christian as the candidate to support for president.
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