Robert Jeffress is the head pastor of First Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Southern Baptist megachurch located in the heart of downtown Dallas, Texas. He’s also anti-gay, anti-Catholic, anti-Mormon, Islamophobic and also posed with President Donald Trump yesterday around the signing ceremony for Trump’s largely symbolic executive order on “religious freedom.”
Jeffress and his church have built infamous reputations inside and outside of Dallas through Jeffress’ bigoted statements. In 2008, Jeffress delivered a sermon entitled “Gay is Not OK.” D Magazine describes it:
“What they [homosexuals] do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease.” But seconds later he reminded the flock to “demonstrate compassion,” noting that “cutting off your children is the biggest mistake you will ever make. You don’t have to approve of what they’re doing. You don’t have to invite their homosexual lover into your home. But let your son or daughter always know that you love them.”
In 2010, he called Islam an “evil, evil religion,” a “heresy from the pit of hell” and said that it “promoted pedophilia.” That same year, he called Catholicism a “Satanic” result of “Babylonian mystery religion” and Mormonism “a cult.” Towleroad.com also reminds us that “In 2015, Jeffress said that ongoing ‘gay cake’ rows would lead to an anti-Christian holocaust. He also claimed that same-sex marriage would have terrible consequences for Christians, that cakes at same-sex weddings are a sign of the Antichrist and that all gay men want is to molest children.”
It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that Trump would want to take a picture with such a man. In addition to First Baptist Church’ over 12,000 members, Jeffress also hosts a TV program broadcast to 1,200 TV stations in 29 countries and a daily radio show that’s broadcast through over 764 stations. In short, Jeffress has enormous political sway with Evangelical voters (81% of which voted for Trump in the last election). Also, Trump has surrounded himself with the most anti-LGBTQ cabinet of all time, so people like Jeffress fit right in to the Oval Office.
Luckily, this picture was the most that either man got out of yesterday’s executive signing. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who stood ready to sue Trump over his executive order, said in a tweet shortly after its signing, “We thought we’d have to sue Trump today. But it turned out the order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.”