As Donald Trump threatened North Korea this week with “fire and fury,” one of the Republican president’s closest allies from the faith community argued that God has extended His approval to the White House launching a deadly attack. According to USA Today which reported that:
Texas pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers, said that God has given the president “full control” to take out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
In a statement to CBN News Tuesday, the First Baptist Dallas pastor wrote that a biblical passage in the book of Romans endowed “rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war – to stop evil.”
“In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un,” Jeffress told CBN News.
Some backstory is probably in order. As regular readers may recall, Jeffress, a far-right mega-church leader in Texas, first rose to national political prominence during the 2012 presidential campaign, when he partnered with then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) candidacy and had some unkind words for rival Mitt Romney.
Specifically, Jeffress targeted Romney’s faith, saying the Republican was “a member of a cult.”
A controversy soon followed, and much of the country learned of Jeffress’ record of over-the-top extremism on issues throughout the so-called “culture war,” with the Texas pastor having lashed out at everyone from gays to Mormons to Catholics.
As recently as two years ago, Jeffress insisted that Christians in the United States are persecuted in ways comparable to Germany’s treatment of Jews before the Holocaust.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) once said to associate with Robert Jeffress was “beneath the office of president of the United States.”
Trump, however, doesn’t seem to care.
Despite the warnings and the record, the president has cozied up to Jeffress as a key ally, including the right-wing pastor in Trump’s inaugural festivities, and even welcoming him into the Oval Office.
In July, Team Trump threw together an impromptu White House evangelical prayer meeting, in which Jeffress was a featured guest.
Now the Southern Baptist pastor is making the Biblical case in support of a strike on North Korea.
To be sure, many American presidents have sought counsel from prominent religious leaders of the day, but those figures from have traditionally come from mainstream faith communities, not fringe radicals. The alliance between Donald Trump – a secular, thrice-married casino owner, who’s never shown any meaningful interest in matters related to faith – and Robert Jeffress is a match made in somewhere unpleasant.
As for why anyone should care what Jeffress thinks about North Korea and supernatural endorsements, my friend Rob Boston’s take rings true:
Jeffress, of course, is free to believe what he wants about how to interpret the Bible, other faiths and the people who hold beliefs that differ from his own. But when a man with such radical views has the ear of the president of the United States and is filling it with a fundamentalist spin on geo-politics, we ought to be alarmed.
North Korea is a rogue state that oppresses its people. The United States certainly has an interest in what kinds of weapons that unstable country can access. But our response must be carefully considered and not influenced by an intolerant fundamentalist pastor’s interpretation of a passage that was penned during a time when Emperor Nero was in power.
I’d just add that Jeffress claimed a few years back that President Obama is “paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.” I’d be eager to hear if he still believes that.