A pastor who has a long history of making incendiary remarks about Muslims, LGBT people and other Christian denominations will preach to Trump and his entourage at a traditional spiritual service for the President-elect before the official inauguration begins.
Trump’s inauguration committee have selected Pastor Robert Jeffress, leader of the First Baptist megachurch in Dallas, and frequent Fox News guest, to lead the service.
The highly controversial choice of preacher has previously called Islam and Mormonism heresies “from the pit of hell,” suggested that the Catholic church was led astray by Satan, and accused Obama of “paving the way” for the Antichrist.
Jeffress has spread false statistics about the prevalence of HIV among LGBT people, who he said live a “miserable” and “filthy” lifestyle, which inevitably leads to depression and alcoholism.
He also made headlines for a service he led in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, in which he attacked Islam as a “false religion” “inspired by Satan himself.”
Jeffress was a vocal supporter of Trump on the campaign trail, and helped the President-elect shore up the Evangelical vote.
Before the election, he told a talk radio show he would rather vote for Trump than a pacifist candidate who was more like Jesus himself. Jeffress said his Bible study supported his demand for a “strong man” in the White House, who would “exterminate Isis”.
“Obama had paved the way for the Antichrist” -Pastor Robert Jeffress
Mr Trump, who is a Presbyterian, had no known connection to the pastor before his presidential bid.
Around 300 people will attend the private event at St. John’s Episcopal Church, across the street from the White House. The service has become an important part of the Inauguration Day ritual, and every president since Franklin Roosevelt, apart from Richard Nixon, has observed the tradition.
Jeffress told Fox News that his sermon would center on the figure of Nehemiah, an Old Testament Patriarch, as an example of “why God blesses leaders.”
But the similarities between Nehemiah and Trump might not end there. The Biblical leader is credited with building a large wall around Jerusalem in order to keep out foreign groups such as the Sumerians, who Nehemiah regarded as enemies of the Jewish people.
An official affiliated with the Trump campaign told CNN: “Pastor Jeffress is a unifying figure representing a diverse spectrum of Americans. Any attempt to vilify this religious leader is deeply disappointing and misplaced.”
Culled from: Independent