First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress appeared on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight a week ago to confirm what we have known all along: He will always be there to shill for Donald Trump.
In discussing the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ ban on non-religious chaplains from conducting prayers, Jeffress said: “Lou, that’s why this next election is so important. President Trump is appointing, I think, 180 — so far — appellate judges who are going to interpret the law by what the Constitution really says, not by what liberals wish it said.”
He continued, “Thank God for judges like this, thank God for a president like Donald Trump who will appoint judges like this.”
These remarks received widespread attention a few days later when Trump himself tweeted non-verbatim excerpts of the above quote:
“We hold that legislative prayer is government speech not open to attack via those channels.” Third Circuit, Court of Appeals. “Lou, that’s why this next Election is so important, the soul of America. They want to take religion out of American lives. Thank God for judges like....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2019
.....this (Judge Thomas Ambro, Majotity Opinion), and thank God for a President like Donald J. Trump, who will appoint judges like this. He will soon have appointed 180 new Federal Judges, not even including two great new Supreme Court Justices.” @robertjeffress @LouDobbs— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2019
Before Jeffress’ praising of Trump and his judicial appointees, he called the Democratic Party “a godless party” and opined that “the Democrat Party passes a resolution saying ‘we enthusiastically support the values of the religiously unaffiliated in America.’ ‘Religiously unaffiliated’ is code for godless! They are truly becoming a godless party by their outreach, and certainly by their beliefs.”
Of course, plenty of people would be compelled to decry Jeffress’ remarks and sling vitriol his way, but the pastor deserves credit where it is due: He has managed to pull off an impressive con job by convincing his followers that evil, conniving liberals are plotting to strip them of their religious liberties, and that Trump is leading the crusade in fighting them.
How long Jeffress can keep this con up is uncertain, but with 13,000 members, a show on Trinity Broadcasting Network and frequent guest appearances on shows such as Hannity and Fox & Friends, he has certainly achieved a zealous following and has helped Trump gain some solid footing with evangelicals. That is no small feat.
Jeffress has made prodigious strides in his career and has obtained more social capital thanks to his allegiance to Trump, and this sycophancy is almost too cartoonish to seem authentic and non-transactional. Jeffress composed a hymn titled “Make America Great Again,” and had the First Baptist choir sing the composition at the Celebrate Freedom Rally in Washington, D.C. When asked about the Stormy Daniels scandal, Jeffress said it was “totally irrelevant to our support of him.” He also called evangelical opponents of Trump “spineless cowards” and said that Trump-supporting evangelicals “knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy.”
Whether you agree with these points or not is irrelevant — these remarks are part of a theatrical performance, and Jeffress has a vast audience that is increasing over time. To disprove these claims with even the most penetrating hermeneutical analysis would be a losing battle, because Jeffress has already won. He has been rewarded greatly for making such politically charged statements, and he is helping a powerful media apparatus sell evangelical voters on Trump’s supposed piety.
Even with easily debunked falsehoods does Jeffress manage to win the argument, and everybody else loses. Jeffress’ followers lose because they have been conned. Jeffress’ opponents lose because they are the targets of Jeffress’ followers. Jeffress’ followers are also Trump’s followers. Jeffress’ opponents are also Trump’s opponents. Jeffress’ followers think unconditionally supporting Trump is godly. Jeffress’ opponents are seen as ungodly in the eyes of Jeffress’ supporters. The dichotomy is clear.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
And while a bloody quarrel between both contingents ensues, Jeffress hops on his hot-air balloon, lands atop a lofty skyscraper, walks down to the penthouse suite and drinks champagne with bigwigs as they pass around opera glasses and take turns watching the fight. When Sunday morning rolls around, Jeffress goes down to 1707 San Jacinto St. and riles his followers up for another battle as they line up to give him their money.
After services, his supporters leave with less money in their pocket and ready for combat as they come face-to-face with their true oppressor: the car in front of them on the intersection of San Jacinto and North St. Paul with a “Coexist” bumper sticker on the rear window.
Watch Jeffress talking about Trump AGAIN on Lou Dobbs: