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.