Last week — on Tuesday, Jan. 26 — we pointed out the ridiculousness of the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, traveling to Iowa to introduce GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump at a political rally, and then telling the crowd how he couldn’t really endorse Trump because that would endanger his church’s tax-exempt status — all the while, endorsing Trump.
Well, it appears we weren’t the only ones to notice the hypocrisy of it all. Now Jeffress’ own Baptist colleagues are calling him out. In an editorial dated Jan. 28, Marv Knox, editor of The Baptist Standard, criticized Jeffress’ actions. Knox wrote:
“As Americans prepare to choose a new leader, they will be tempted to say and do all kinds of things. And sometimes, words and deeds contradict each other. Such was the case with one of Texas’ most visible pastors, Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas.”
In his non-official non-endorsement, Jeffress told the rally crowd he wouldn’t be there “if I were not absolutely convinced that Donald Trump would make a great president of the United States. Most Americans know we are in a mess, and as they look at Donald Trump, they believe he is the one leader who can reverse the downward death spiral of this nation we love so dearly.”
But for Knox, the “downward death spiral” is one of hypocrisy. He wrote:
“So, Jeffress wasn’t endorsing Trump. He just said Trump can walk on political water. To paraphrase a line from an old movie, ‘His lips said, ‘No, no,’ but his presence said, ‘Yes, yes!’’
“And Christians wonder why unbelievers think we’re all a bunch of hypocrites.”
Knox goes on to say that Jeffress can back whichever candidate he wants for president; it’s not the idea of a preacher supporting Trump with which he is taking issue. The problem, plain and simple, is a preacher that lies:
“… the issue is straightforward: It’s problematic for a Christian — particularly a high-profile preacher — to say one thing and do another. Jeffress absolutely endorsed Trump, even if he ‘officially’ denied it. What’s to stop unbelievers from projecting such questionable ethics upon everything Jeffress says he believes? And since he frequently goes on TV and gets quoted by the media as representing Baptists and other Christians, what’s to stop unbelievers from thinking all Baptists and other Christians behave that way?”
He then concluded:
“… the presidential primaries and the run-up to the general election are going to be harsher and more trying than what we’ve experienced for years and years. We’ll all be tempted to say and do things that do not reflect the Spirit of Christ. Politics isn’t worth the risk of ruining Jesus’ reputation.
‘Maybe Jeffress thinks a Trump presidency is worth that risk.
‘And maybe the ‘downward death spiral’ is pulling on the church more than it’s pulling on America.”
There you have it. I do wish Marv Knox had seen fit to call Jeffress out on his rampant and unChristian homophobia and anti-gay hatefulness, and all the lies he tells to support his homophobia, and all the damage he does to LGBT people in the process. But that’s probably too much to ask for.
Still, it’s nice to see someone inside the Baptist “establishment” is willing to point out that Jeffress lied, and that he is doing neither his church nor his Christ any favors by doing so.