Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) on Sunday night denounced the pastor expected to speak at Monday’s ceremony celebrating the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Romney, who is running for the Senate, wrote on Twitter:
“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.”
Jeffress, a Dallas-based pastor and known supporter of President Trump, said over the weekend that he would be leading the prayer at the dedication of the new embassy. Trump announced in December that he was relocating the embassy to Jerusalem, a move that drew international condemnation and sparked concerns of a widening conflict in the Middle East.
Jeffress has made derogatory remarks about Islam in the past, calling it “a religion that promotes pedophilia” and a “heresy from the pit of hell.”
He has also called Mormonism “a cult” that is not a true part of Christianity and said “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,” according to a report from Haaretz.
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 pastor has repeatedly defended Trump in the midst of numerous controversies, including allegations that the president had an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
“Evangelicals know they’re not compromising their beliefs in order to support this great president,” he told Fox News in March. “And let’s be clear, evangelicals still believe in the commandment ‘thou shalt not have sex with a porn star.’”
“However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him,” he said.
The U.S. delegation, which includes White House senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, arrived in Israel this weekend ahead of the embassy opening. Celebrations began in Jerusalem on Sunday.