Dallas pastor and longtime Donald Trump ally Robert Jeffress is lashing out at fellow evangelicals who are critical of the president.
Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas and an evangelical adviser to the president, didn’t mince words during an appearance on Fox News commentator Todd Starnes’ radio show this week.
“Let me say this as charitably as I can,” Jeffress said in an interview published online Wednesday. “These ‘Never Trump’ evangelicals are morons. They are absolutely spineless morons, and they cannot admit that they were wrong.”
Jeffress said he doesn’t understand why evangelicals, many of whom are opposed to abortion, wouldn’t support Trump. Jeffress has often referred to Trump as “the most pro-life president in history.”
“This is an issue of life and death. This is so black and white, so much about good versus evil. I don’t get it,” Jeffress said. “It really goes to the core of who we are as a country and what kind of a country we have in the future, and if we can’t get this issue of life right, I just don’t know where we’re going to go down the road.”
The Trump administration has targeted abortion providers and women’s ability to access abortion through judicial appointments and agency regulations. Trump has recently started using graphic imagery about late-term abortions to mischaracterize efforts in Virginia and New York to loosen restrictions on the procedure.
During the radio interview, Jeffress compared the movement for abortion rights to the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany.
“We cannot afford to be like German Christians who, in the rise of the evil reign of Adolf Hitler, just remained neutered. They remained silent. And you saw what happened there,” Jeffress said. “I think there’s a similar wave of godlessness that is rising in our country right now, and we must push back against that tide.”
Doug Pagitt, a progressive evangelical pastor from Minneapolis, told HuffPost he believes pastors like Jeffress are “more concerned with criminalizing abortion than they are in reducing the number of abortions.”
“The best way to limit the number of abortions is change the conditions that make keeping a pregnancy so difficult,” Pagitt told HuffPost. “There are also many people of Christian faith who argue that the ending of a pregnancy is not a moral wrong, and they support the right of a woman to have access to this procedure.”
Pagitt was part of a group of progressive evangelicals who toured the country last year seeking to persuade their co-religionists to consider issues other than abortion ― such as immigration, health care, poverty and care for the environment ― when deciding how to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.
Trump is expected to make abortion a wedge issue in the 2020 presidential campaign.
Among evangelicals, particularly white evangelicals, the legality of abortion is still a critical concern, studies suggest. More than 6 in 10 (64%) white evangelical Protestants say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a 2018 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute. White evangelicals were also the only major religious group in which a majority (56%) believe Roe v. Wade ― the 1973 ruling that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion ― was decided incorrectly and should be overturned.