Jeffress, a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, warned evangelicals at a conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend not to be “fooled” when Democratic 2020 presidential candidates talk about their faith.
“When they talk about God, they are not talking about the real God — the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who revealed Himself in the Bible,” Jeffress said Saturday, according to The Christian Post. “These liberal Democrats are talking about an imaginary God they have created in their own minds: a god who loves abortion and hates Israel.”
Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas and an evangelical adviser to the president, was delivering a speech on the final day of the Faith & Freedom Coalition policy conference, an event that highlights evangelical voters’ top issues. The Faith & Freedom Coalition plans to spend at least $50 million on get-out-the-vote efforts ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
During his speech, Jeffress offered an analysis of Democrats’ attempts to reach faith-based voters. Democrats have realized that they have a “God problem,” Jeffress said, and are trying to solve it by talking more openly about God and their personal faith.
Some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have talked about how their religious beliefs inform their political views. During a progressive faith conference last month, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) spoke about how the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to help a stranger in need has shaped her views on public policy.
And during the first Democratic presidential debates, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, called out Republicans for moral hypocrisy over the White House’s treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, insisting that the GOP “has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”
The Democratic Party has also recently hired Rev. Derrick Harkins, a senior vice president at New York’s Union Seminary, as its new religious outreach director.
Jeffress claimed Harkins was a “Trump-hating pastor” and that Union Seminary was a “liberal seminary that is filled with liberal professors who couldn’t find God if their life depended on it.”
The pastor claimed that Democrats’ God talk ultimately falls flat because of the party’s commitment to ensuring women have access to safe and legal abortions.
“Do you think God has any feeling about the 52 million children that have been butchered in the womb through abortion since 1973?” Jeffress asked at the conference.
Restricting abortion access is a key moral issue for evangelicals. But that hasn’t always been the case. During the 1960s and 1970s, evangelical leaders were ambivalent about abortion and often thought of it as an issue that concerned Catholics, their theological rivals. The Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination Jeffress belongs to, actually passed resolutions in the 1970s that encouraged members to actively support legislation that allowed abortion in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal deformity, and damage to the emotional, mental and physical health of the mother.
In the 1980s, the rise of the Moral Majority, a Republican political action group that sought to mobilize evangelicals, helped cement abortion as a decisive moral issue that united evangelicals and Catholics.
Today, white evangelical Protestants are the only major religious group in which a majority (56%) believe that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion, was decided incorrectly, according to the Public Religion Research Institute.
Jeffress’ comments on Saturday reflect his belief that there is only one way for Christians to think about abortion.
“The true God of the Bible, the real God, is a God who hates abortion and loves Israel,” he said at the conference.