Dallas megachurch Pastor Robert Jeffress, who's one of President Donald Trump's spiritual advisers, admitted Wednesday that there has been "a failure on the part of the Church" and conservative Christians to denounce racism and called on churches to condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Jeffress, who pastors First Baptist Dallas and made headlines recently for saying the president has the biblical authority to take out North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, appeared as a guest on CBN News' "Faith Nation" to comment on the remarks the president gave at Trump Tower in New York City Tuesday in which he blamed "both sides" for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"Let me say very clearly, white supremacy, neo-Nazism, these are ideas that are totally repulsive and totally contradictory to the teaching of God's word. These ideologies ought to be denounced but I also think we need to recognize that these repulsive ideologies are just two manifestations of a bigger problem," Jeffress stated. "The problem is racism and racism comes in all shapes, all sizes and yes, all colors. If we are going to denounce some racism, we should denounce all racism. I think that's the point the president was making and one we ought to all get behind."
During the interview, Jeffress was asked about comments he made on twitter last Saturday in response to the Charlottesville violence in which he wrote that "racism is sin." The 61-year-old pastor added that the Church has had "some catching up to do" when it comes to matters of race.
"I believe God is our Creator and He has created all of us. Paul said that in Christ, there is no Jew nor Greek, nor male nor female, nor slave nor free. We are all one in Christ. I believe that to treat somebody badly because of their color, I think it is just absolutely abhorrent and I think we as Christians need to be very, very strong about that," Jeffress said.
"In our church — First Baptist Dallas — we have a number of people of diversity, diverse races, economic backgrounds. And, I believe quite frankly, there has been a failure on the part of the Church, even a failure on conservative Christians in decades past, to denounce racism, to embrace segregation, which is so wrong," Jeffress continued. "I think we did have some catching up to do but I think that in this environment, we need to say clearly, that racism is abhorrent in the eyes of God."
David Brody, CBN News political correspondent, responded to Jeffress by saying that "you are saying that the Church obviously has a responsibility to speak out and you feel that they have neglected that at times." Brody then asked: "What is the Church's responsibility then in this?"
"That is exactly right and I think in situations like this, we need to denounce the ideologies — neo-Nazism, my gosh, that is demonic. ... I think anyone who plays around with or identifies with neo-Nazis is doing the devil's work," Jeffress contended. "So, I think we need to speak out clearly about that."
Many Christian leaders have been vocal in their disgust with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and far-right extremists following the events that unfolded last weekend in Virginia.
Exclusive Op-eds from the Presidential Campaigns
Russell Moore, president the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote his response in an op-ed this week titled "White supremacy angers Jesus, but does it anger his church?"
"In a time like this, Christians might ask whether we should, in fact, be angry. Should we not instead just conclude that this is what a fallen world is like and pray for the final judgment to come?" Moore wrote. "If you are feeling distressed and heated, you have reason to be. White supremacy makes Jesus angry."
More than 350 Christian ethicists released a statement this week condemning white supremacy.
"White supremacy and racism deny the dignity of each human being revealed through the Incarnation," the statement reads. "The evil of white supremacy and racism must be brought face-to-face before the figure of Jesus Christ, who cannot be confined to any one culture or nationality."
Popular evangelist Greg Laurie will talk about the need to address racism and racist ideologies at his upcoming SoCal Harvest 2017 revival event on Friday through Sunday in Anaheim, California, which about 100,000 people are expected to attend.
"There is no place in our society for prejudice and racism.When people carry crosses to defend a racist ideology, that is a complete contradiction of scripture," Laurie wrote on Facebook. "Nazis were anti-Semitic and anti-Christian and to invoke any imagery from that era is reprehensible. Jesus Christ can break down all barriers. At the SoCal Harvest you'll see folks that differ in race and yet stand united in Jesus. We're part of a global family."