Robert Jeffress was correct when called Momonism a cult, but he could not be more misguided in some of his latest comments.
I a piece run by Fox News, influential pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX, is telling evangelicals to be patient in the GOP primaries—not terrible advice in itself. His general reason is admirable: that we should not “abandon principles for pragmatism.” Indeed. But his applications and interpretations of that reason for Iowa and New Hampshire border on libel.
By engaging in just the kind of campaign nonsense that’s almost-libel but so common it gets a media pass, it’s Jeffress himself who is abandoning principle for pragmatism.
He claims that the current “three front runners” provide “a sorry lot to choose from.” He explains:
One is a Mormon candidate who has been all over the map in his beliefs about abortion and same-sex marriage. Another is a Southern Baptist-turned-Catholic with three wives, two divorces, and numerous accusations of immorality who has been equally inconsistent when it comes to key issues. And then there’s the Baptist obstetrician with weird ties to neo-Nazis and anti-Semites, not to mention a foreign policy approach which blames the United States for the 9/11 terror attacks.
Jeffress is only 33% correct here. He’s right about Romney, hands down. The info about Gingrich is correct also, but irrelevant because Gingrich is not in the top three, according to latest polls from DeMoines and PPP. Instead Santorum has surged to third with such short notice that his big-spending, special interest side is just beginning to come out.
But most egregious is Jeffress’ nonsense about Ron Paul. While rumors and questions have swirled in the effort find dirt on Paul, claiming that Paul actually has “ties” to neo-Nazis and anti-Semites is irresponsible and dishonest. And claiming that he “blames” America is to sully the pulpit by joining a smear campaign.
Say what you want about Paul and whether or not you support his views, but don’t resort to misrepresenting those views or the man in order to do so. These lies that have been debunked over, and over, and over, and over. Of all people, a conservative Christian pastor touting “principle” and “character” ought to exemplify accuracy and honesty in his representation of another’s positions—especially a fellow Baptist!
Finally, Jeffress calls us to heed the words of John Jay, the nation’s first chief justice of the Supreme Court, who said, “It is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
True, but Jeffress does not supply the important context. It would have been helpful, probably, had he read the whole letter from Jay to John Murray, October 12, 1816, because in that letter, Jay elucidates Ron Paul’s foreign policy and individual rights as moral law enjoined upon all mankind. Here’s the rest of the quotation:
It certainly is very desirable that a pacific disposition should prevail among all nations. The most effectual way of producing it is by extending the prevalence and influence of the gospel. Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war.
Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers whom they do not elect, and who are not always wise or virtuous. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
The emphasis on “real” Christians was in Jay’s original. The reader can decide who today shares that real Christian view of war and foreign policy.
It’s no wonder then that the media labels Paul the “anti-war candidate” noting the massive voting block for that position,
Voters who are weary of endless war may have no choice at the presidential level next November. This is a very large group to be denied a vote on a key issue.
A CNN/ORC poll released in November found that 68 percent of Americans opposed the war in Iraq and 63 percent are against the one in Afghanistan. Yet, we keep hearing that only hawks have a chance to be elected president.
And when Evangelical leaders get their head on straight, they’ll realize that much of this block would prefer “extending the prevalence and influence of the gospel” to the endless wars they hate so much.