An evangelical leader who once said that Obama paved the way for the Antichrist now says it’s time to stop the “demonization of public officials.”
However, he doesn’t believe those previous comments against Obama constitute “demonization.”
Dallas-based pastor Robert Jeffress made the request via Twitter after hearing about the gunman who opened fire on several Republican lawmakers Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia.
Jeffress, who preached a sermon for Trump before his inauguration, elaborated on the statement in a blog post:
The incident also highlights the fact that the unrelenting demonization of our legitimately elected political leaders could lead to tragedy, and I refer particularly to the mainstream media, our universities, and to Hollywood. Now is the time to tone it all down, embrace real tolerance, report objectively and stop provoking our nation to conflict.
Jeffress’ suggestion to not demonize elected officials sounds well and good, but it could be argued that he did just that in his 2014 book, “Perfect Ending,” in which he made a connection between the Antichrist and Obama’s support of LGBT rights:
For the first time in history a president of our country has openly proposed altering one of society’s (not to mention God’s) most fundamental laws: that marriage should be between a man and a woman. While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.
Jeffress also linked Obama to the Antichrist in a 2012 sermon, but he insisted he wasn’t claiming that Obama is the Antichrist or not a Christian.
“But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist,” he said.
Although saying a president is setting up the world for the Antichrist might seem like an obvious attempt at demonization, Jeffress doesn’t agree.
“I was clear that Obama was not the Antichrist, and that I continue to pray for him,” he told HuffPost. “There was no call for violence or a belief that he was an illegitimate candidate. I believe God put him in office.”
Jeffress also said he isn’t asking people to stop criticizing politicians they disagree with.
“I believe in the First Amendment,” he said. “But we shouldn’t associate it with violence.”