CNN - A pastor with a long history of inflammatory remarks about Muslims, Mormons, Catholics and gays preached at a private service for President-elect Trump and his family on Friday, shortly before Trump took the oath of office. The pastor, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, is a Southern Baptist who vigorously campaigned for Trump during the final months of the presidential election and is a member of his evangelical advisory board. "I love this guy!" Trump has said of Jeffress.
Rev. Robert Jeffress of the Texas megachurch First Baptist in Dallas...leads a 12,000-member megachurch in Dallas and is a frequent guest on Fox News. But to many Americans, he may be best known for his frequent condemnations of Mormonism as a "cult" during the 2012 presidential campaign. He urged Christians not to vote for Mitt Romney, a Mormon, during the Republican primary. He later supported Romney over President Barack Obama. Jeffress has also called Islam and Mormonism heresies "from the pit of hell," suggested that the Catholic church was led astray by Satan, accused Obama of "paving the way" for the Antichrist and spread false statistics about the prevalence of HIV among gays, who he said live a "miserable" and "filthy" lifestyle. In recent years, Jeffress has frequently denounced Islam, calling it an "evil religion" that "promotes pedophilia" because the Prophet Muhammed married a 9-year-old girl. (Many modern Muslim scholars disagree about her age.)
Jeffress' beliefs about other faiths -- that they are heresies and will not result in salvation -- are shared by many evangelicals. But the stridency of his condemnations sometimes confound fellow conservatives. "His sound bites are often incendiary, but his convictions — including the exclusivity of the gospel and the belief that homosexual behaviors are sinful — are clearly within the mainstream of American evangelicalism," R. Albert Mohler, a leading Southern Baptist, said in 2013, after former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow backed out of an event at Jeffress' church. But Jeffress' denunciations of gays and Muslims often stretch beyond the realms of sin and salvation. He has called homosexuality "degrading," and linked it to pedophilia, alcoholism, depression and suicide, while insisting that his remarks are rooted in concern for gays -- a way of showing them the true path to salvation. In a 2008 sermon, he urged his congregation to demonstrate compassion toward gays, even as he condemned their "filthy behavior." Likewise, Jeffress has said that Islam incites violence and is "inspired by Satan himself," while also arguing that "it is our love for Muslims that demands we speak the truth about Islam." On occasion, Jeffress has taken aim at evangelicals themselves. "I am getting sick and tired of these namby-pamby, pantywaisted, weak-kneed Christians who say they're going to stay home (on Election Day) in November out of moral principle," Jeffress said last year. On January 3, Jeffress tweeted that he had met with the incoming president in Trump Tower, and predicted he will be "the most faith-friendly president in our nation's history."