UPDATE: Chief Brown issues statement after meeting with LGBT leaders

Chief David O. Brown

Police Chief David Brown

As he promised yesterday (Tuesday, May 31), Dallas Police Chief David Brown has issued a statement regarding his appearance in April at a press conference staged by the Rev. Robert Jeffress, anti-LGBT pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, and Jeffress’ offer of counseling services to Dallas police officers, and on his meeting yesterday with LGBT leaders.

Brown did not, in his statement, specifically acknowledge that his appearance with Jeffress caused harm to the LGBT community, as Resource Center CEO Cece Cox said Monday afternoon was expected. He did, however, stress that his department “values the LGBT community” and is committed to working with the community to improve communication and enhance safety.

Here is the statement, released about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, in its entirety:

The Dallas Police Department values the LGBT community and is committed to improving communication and working together to enhance public safety. The Department takes the role of protecting our entire community seriously.

Today, the Dallas Police Department met with members of the LGBT community to listen to their concerns and to acknowledge their hurt associated with Pastor Jeffress’ comments. The discussion started with the main concern regarding the perceived relationship with First Baptist Dallas, which held a Back to Blue event on April 17, 2016.  The event was to show support for the Dallas Police Department and offer free services to officers and their families. Chief Brown reiterated that there is no agreement or relationship with First Baptist Dallas. Attending this event was not an endorsement of anyone’s views or religion. The purpose was the acceptance of support to help our officers. The discussion continued with an update on the investigations of criminal offenses in the Oaklawn area, efforts to improve communications, and the dedication of police resources.

The meeting was very productive and everyone agreed to work together to continue to grow the trust in the community.

—  Tammye Nash

Community leaders meet with Police Chief Brown

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Resource Center CEO Cece Cox talks to reporters Tuesday after meeting with Police Chief David Brown, as Cannon Brown of Stonewall Democrats looks on. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox and a team of six other LGBT community leaders attended a meeting with Dallas Police Chief David Brown this afternoon (Tuesday, May 31) in which the chief “acknowledged that standing up with [anti-LGBT First Baptist Church pastor Robert] Jeffress has harmed the LGBT community,” Cox said.

In mid-April, at a press conference attended by Brown and former Mayor Tom Leppert, Jeffress announced that his church was offering counseling services to Dallas police officers, as well as offering summer camp scholarships — presumably to the First Baptist Chuch camp — to the children of police officers and holding weekly Sunday School classes specifically for officers. The church also honored Brown at an April 17 morning service.

Jeffress is widely known  for his anti-gay sermons and his condemnations of every religion other than his own. The same weekend that Resource Center opened it’s new building, Jeffress made statements declaring transgender-friendly businesses to be a bigger threat than ISIS.

Resource Center officials had asked for a meeting with Brown last week after issuing a statement condemning Jeffress’ anti-trans comments, according to the center’s communications and advocacy manager, Rafael McDonnell. McDonnell said they had received word Saturday that the chief wanted to meet with them, but did not know until about 10 a.m. today that Brown wanted to meet with them this afternoon.

Others attending the meeting were McDonnell, North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Vedda, Dallas Gay and Lesbian Association President Patti Fink, Stonewall Democrats President Jay Narey, and Stonewall Democrats board member — and Young Stonewall and Take Back Oak Lawn member — Cannon Brown. City Councilman Adam Medrano was also there.

Cox said about 14 members of Brown’s staff were also present.

Cox said that while “We don’t agree on every single thing that got said today,” she and the other community leaders “felt heard.”

Cox said that while Brown did not agree to “step away” from any association with Jeffress and First Baptist, he did agree to issue a statement acknowledging that he understands how that association could be harmful to the LGBT community.

Cox said Brown told the community leaders that he and the police department as a whole have a responsibility to the entire community, and that it is their job to “ensure everyone has free speech.” He also said that he doesn’t turn down invitations from any segment of the city’s population.

Cox said she and the other community leaders addressed the “18-plus unsolved attacks” that have happened in the Oak Lawn area since last September, and that the chief is committed to solving those crimes, as is the community. The chief and community leaders are also “all committed to continuing the dialog.”

“Oak Lawn has become dangerous in a way it has not been in decades,” Cox said, noting that many community members — for a variety of reasons — are reluctant to report crimes and if they report them, follow through by cooperating with police in the investigation. She said she believes Brown understands that and is committed to addressing those problems.

Cox said Brown acknowledged that the city’s crime rate has been rising, due largely to spikes in crime in Oak Lawn, in domestic violence and in drug-related incidents. He said the police force — which is shrinking in size and is one of the lowest-paid departments in the area — faces a number of barriers in addressing those increases.

“Dallas needs to get with the program and solve some big issues, micro and macro,” Cox said.

Cox said that she and other community leaders are working to find ways to offer resources other than those available through First Baptist, and that Tuesday’s meeting is just the beginning of what needs to be an ongoing dialog.

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Cannon Brown of Stonewall Democrats, Patti Fink of DGLA and Jay Narey of Stonewall Democrats

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North Texas GLBT Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda speaks to reporters

—  Tammye Nash

Baptist Standard editor calls out Jeffress for hypocrisy

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Harv Knox, left, and the Rev. Robert Jeffress

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.

—  Tammye Nash

Jeffress says he can’t endorse Trump — as he endorses him

Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas

First Baptist Church Pastor Robert Jeffress

Churches and their pastors can’t endorse political candidates without risking losing their tax exempt status. But that didn’t stop the So-Called-Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of Dallas megachurch First Baptist, from making sure that everyone knows Donald Trump is his man. (See video below.)

Jeffress, who wasted no time making a name for himself as an anti-gay crusader when he moved to Dallas from Wichita Falls in 2008, flew to Iowa over the weekend to introduce the GOP’s leading presidential contender at an appearance at Dordt College. (This is at least the second time Jeffress has introduced Trump; he also did so at a rally in September at the American Airlines Center. And as the Dallas Morning News reported here, later in September, Jeffress joined Kenneth Copeland and some other right-wing hatemongers at a gathering at Trump Tower in New York City to lay hands on The Donald “in prayer.”)

In Iowa, Jeffress acknowledged the limitations placed on pastors when it comes to politics, but then continued on with what basically amounted to a “screw that, I am endorsing Trump anyway” moment: “Although as a pastor I cannot officially endorse a candidate, I want you to know I would not be here this morning if I were not absolutely convinced that Donald Trump would make a great president of the United States,” Jeffress said.

He also warned that only Trump could save the U.S. from its current “death spiral,” and that the country would not survive “another third term of Barack Obama in the form of” Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

He wound up the intro by describing Trump as “a great leader, a great visionary and a great American.”

Now, I am not endorsing any candidate for president. But I will say this, if the idea of a candidate that gets Robert Jeffress’ backing scares you — and it should — then you need to make sure you are registered, and you need to MAKE SURE YOU VOTE.

—  Tammye Nash

Responses to Pastor Jeffress comparison of gays to Nazis on Fox News

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Rabbi Jack Moline

Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance made up of representatives of 75 faith traditions, recently sent a letter to Robert Jeffress, the anti-LGBT bigot heading First Baptist Church objecting to the pastor’s comparison of LGBT people to Nazis.

“The honest disagreements that people of faith in this country have about public policy issues are hardly the beginning of a path towards genocide,” he wrote.

Using Jeffress’ logic, if today’s Christians are Germany’s Jews, then everyone else — including the Jewish community — are Nazi sympathizers.

Here’s the letter Moline sent to Jeffress followed by other comments I’ve received:

Dr. Robert Jeffress
First Baptist Church Dallas
1707 San Jacinto
Dallas, TX 75201

June 12, 2015

Pastor Jeffress,

Religious persecution is a significant problem around the world. Many people live in fear for their lives because of their faith, Christians included. You and I and everyone should do more to remedy the situation.

However, your recent comments on Fox News comparing your experience as a conservative Christian to Jews living in Nazi Germany show disrespect to the victims of the Holocaust, and do a disservice to the critically important cause of ending real religious persecution. The honest disagreements that people of faith in this country have about public policy issues are hardly the beginning of a path towards genocide.

Let’s understand the full import of what you are saying.  If Christians (as you define them) are the Jews of pre-Holocaust Europe, then the rest of us are the Nazis and their sympathizers. It serves your rhetorical purpose to demonize those with whom you disagree, but it shows that you lack a true understanding of what the term “Nazi” means or the history that led to their crimes. And in the practice of hyperbole, you reduce the progress and expansiveness of American values of inclusiveness and equal rights to a plot to steal the rightful dominance of people who are most like you.

You have a reputation for complaining that other faith traditions are evil, false and cultic. That is your right and, as strongly as I disagree with you, I will defend your right to be wrong. Ironically, the provisions of the Constitution, which extend that right to you, have been dismissed by you in the name of religious exclusivity. You owe the American people an apology. We are a nation that celebrates diverse beliefs and views and we are undeserving of the allegation you have made.

Someone once told me, “The first person to use ‘Nazi’ always loses the argument.”  You have proven her point.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jack Moline
Executive Director
Interfaith Alliance

Other comments:

“Jeffress’ prejudice is only equaled by his ignorance and hatred.”

— Rabbi Stephen Fisch
Congregation Beth El Binah

“I make this comment as a member of the Jewish community, but I think it would be said by any logical member of the human community: Gays were slaughtered in the Holocaust. Someone who works hard to deprive the LGBT community of equality doesn’t get to analogize himself to the victims of the Holocaust, but rather, to the perpetrators.”

— Steve Rudner
President of Equality Texas Foundation Board but speaking as a member of the Jewish community

“So much irony in this statement. He is absolutely correct that it took the Nazis time to marginalize and ‘other’ Jewish people. Just as it has taken decades of conflating homosexuality and transgender identity with pedophilia…decades of insinuating that LGBT people are ‘other’ and ‘not like us’…decades of reframing this as a debate about whether one group of people is as human as the rest of us, and therefore as deserving of equal protection under the law. Jeffress and his predecessors have had to marginalize LGBT people over time, and they’ve done a damn good job of it. Unfortunately for them, America has woken up and started to change its mind en masse. They don’t like that, so they’re doing the classic rhetorical flip from aggressor to victim.”

— Jessica Jackson Shortall
Managing director. Texas Competes

—  David Taffet

Jeffress is out of line on Holocaust comment

Robert JeffressPastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas recently made the following statement on the Hannity show on Fox News:

“I want to remind people that, you know, the Nazis weren’t able to take the Jews to the crematoriums immediately. The German people wouldn’t have allowed for it. Instead, the Nazis had to change public opinion. They marginalized the Jewish people, disparaged them and make them objects of contempt.”

Jeffress was talking about the impending doom of same-sex marriage coming to the remaining 13 states. He considers that persecution of Christians is equal to 12 million people being killed during the Holocaust (some of them, by the way, gays and lesbians targeted because of their sexual orientation).

While others in the area have tried to unseat him and take the top spot, Jeffress has been the Dallas LGBT community’s public enemy No. 1 since he plastered a “Gay is not OK” sign on his downtown church.

How should we respond? The LGBT community needs to just sit back for a few minutes on this one. Let’s let the Jewish community respond. I’ll add responses here as I get them.

 

—  David Taffet

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings defends visit to anti-gay First Baptist Church

Dallas-mayor elect Mike Rawlings and his family were led in a prayer by the Rev. Steven C. Nash of Mount Tabor Baptist Church following his victory speech on Saturday. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and his family bow their heads in prayer at his Election Night victory party in 2011. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he chose to attend a service at the anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas on Sunday because he believes in tolerance.

Rawlings joined Texas Gov. Rick Perry and others at the service to dedicate First Baptist’s new $130 million facility downtown. Robert Jeffress, First Baptist’s senior pastor, is well known for his extreme anti-gay views and has called homosexuality “unnatural,” “filthy,” “perverse” and “abnormal.”

Rawlings, whose support for the LGBT community has been tepid since he took office in 2011, told Instant Tea on Monday afternoon that he does not agree with Jeffress’ teachings about homosexuality.

“I’ve prided myself on really being a tolerant person of people who don’t live the same way that I live, or think the same way I think, and that’s one of the factors of me being there yesterday,” Rawlings said. “We’re in a different place. I’m a Christ-driven human being but do not read Christian dogma the same way they do. … I think we’ve got to reach out and have dialogue with people we’re not in the same place with, and that’s one of the reasons I was there.”

Rawlings added that his wife grew up going to First Baptist and said the church is an important part of the city. Unlike Gov. Perry, Rawlings did not speak at the service. The mayor, who is a member of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, said he sat next to City Councilman Sheffie Kadane, who is a member of First Baptist.

Rawlings acknowledged that although he believes in tolerance, he probably wouldn’t meet with Kim Jong-un or Adolf Hitler. However, he said he would attend a service at a mosque even though Islam is misogynistic.

“Tolerance should be our No. 1 focus on this, and we should tolerate people that have different points of view than we have,” Rawlings said. “And if we don’t do that, we are speaking, I think, in a hypocritical fashion.”

Asked whether we should tolerate intolerance, Rawlings said: “I’m not here as mayor to judge people. I’m here to bring the city together, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

—  John Wright

Gov. Perry, Mayor Rawlings visit anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, greets pastor Robert Jeffress as he exits the stage at First Baptist Church of Dallas on Sunday. (Via WFAA-TV)

The bigoted views of Robert Jeffress may be too extreme for the likes of evangelical NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who canceled a scheduled appearance at Jeffress’ First Baptist Church of Dallas last month.

But Jeffress’ views, as it turns out, are not too extreme for Texas Gov. Rick Perry — and they’re not even too extreme for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Both Perry and Rawlings attended a dedication of First Baptist’s $130 million expansion project on Sunday, with Perry delivering a speech that amounted to a sermon in which he appeared to reference homosexuality while using coded language.

“I do believe it is right, under the purview of Scripture, for the church to judge certain behaviors,” Perry said. “But that is totally different from judging fellow sinners. … We must love all.

“We cannot condemn certain lifestyles while turning a blind eye to sins that, in God’s eye, are just as grievous,” he added. “We must love all… welcome all … and be a model for Christ.”

WFAA says Perry’s comments “reflect a shift from previously-stated beliefs,” referring to his anti-gay record, but I wouldn’t go that far. If anything, it was an attempt by Perry to put some space between himself and the extremism of Jeffress — who has called homosexuality “unnatural,” “filthy,” “perverse” and “abnormal” — as he prepares to run for president again in 2016. Unfortunately for Perry, it’s more than a little hypocritical to stand at a place like First Baptist — led by one of the most hateful anti-gay preachers in the world — and talk about God’s love.

As for Rawlings, we’ve reached out to his chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, for a comment on his decision to attend the event. Blackmon did not immediately respond, but we’ll update if she does.

Let’s just hope Rawlings isn’t going down the same road as his predecessor, Tom Leppert, who became a member of First Baptist in an effort to pander to conservative Republican Primary voters as he prepared to run for U.S. Senate. How’d that work out for you, Tom?

Watch Perry’s remarks at First Baptist below.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Jeffress compares gay sex to plugging cord in wrong outlet

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Did First Baptist of Dallas Senior Pastor Robert Jefferss learn nothing when NFL quarterback Tim Tebow canceled his appearance at the church last month?

Tebow, known for how vocal he is about his faith, canceled his April visit to the anti-gay church after a media firestorm over his attendance because of Jefferss’ anti-gay sermons and comments.

But Jeffress is at it again.

Last week he explained that gay sex is like plugging a TV cord into the wrong voltage outlet in an interview with Trinity Broadcasting Network, Right Wing Watch reports. The comparison came after explaining that sex is intended for heterosexuals in marriage.

“He [God] gave the equipment to enjoy [sex] with. And said here is how it operates. It ought to be between a man and a woman and it should be in the security of a marriage,” he said.

Jeffress said disregarding how God intended people to have sex is ignoring the Bible, which he called the “instruction manual for us.”

“Well, it is my TV to do what I want to with it, but I’m going to blow that TV to smithereens if I put it in a 220 outlet!” Jeffress said. “The manufacturer made it, he knows how it operates best. The Bible is God’s instruction manual for us.”

Meanwhile, Tebow spoke at Liberty University last Friday about his faith an encouraged students to continue to serve God in all that they do. The anti-gay university is the largest Christian college in the country.

Watch a video of Jeffress on TBN below.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Robert Jeffress reaffirms anti-gay stance after Tebow controversy

Robert Jeffress

Robert Jeffress

First Baptist Church of Dallas Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress refuted comments that he’s anti-gay Sunday while addressing his congregation about Tim Tebow canceling his April visit.

Tebow canceled last week after a media firestorm surrounding his visit because of the controversial evangelical pastor who has made anti-gay and anti-Semitic remarks in his sermons. He tweeted that “new information” led him to cancel the appearance. But the church released a statement that Tebow wanted to avoid controversy and said he would plan a visit to the church at a later time.

Jeffress said it’s been “a wild week” during his sermon Sunday, adding that the cancellation wasn’t because of him but rather the scripture he preaches about.

“It’s not about me. It’s not even about our church. It’s about the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Jeffress said.

“It’s amazing to me that we’re called anti-gay simply because we say sex ought to be between a man and a women in marriage. Somehow that’s construed to be anti-gay,” he said, later joking that several of the articles made him seem like a terrible person. “Really I never realized what an awful person I was until I started reading these articles about myself.'”

However, Jeffress said the controversy wouldn’t diminish “the excitement we have in going into our new campus that God has planned for us.” The church’s downtown campus has undergone a $130 million expansion and will have a monthlong celebration during April.

Jeffress said he recommitted himself to God during the week and would continue to lead the church according to the Bible. Translation: He’s still going to be anti-gay.

“As long as I am the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, we are not going to kneel before the alter of political correctness in convenience,” he said. “We are going stand up and boldly proclaim the grace of God and the truth of God without compromise so help me God. That is my commitment.”

Watch the video below.

—  Dallasvoice