Anti-Trump protests at FBC Dallas draw spotlight

FBC Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress appeared on Fox Business' "Varney & Co." Nov. 15 in reaction to anti-Trump protesters who have picketed outside his church.Protesters picketing First Baptist Church in Dallas will have no effect, pastor Robert Jeffress said Nov. 15 on national TV.

"Look, these people, these protesters, aren't opposing me or our church," Jeffress said of the 50 or so protesters who picketed the church for a second night Nov. 14 because of the pastor's apparent public support of Trump during the contentious presidential campaign. "When I see these protesters, it kind of reminds me of a flea striking its hind leg against Mount Everest, saying I'm going to topple you over.

"Ultimately, they're protesting the eternal Word of God, and guess what, they're not going to be successful in toppling the Word of God."

Jeffress defended Trump on the Nov. 15 edition of "Varney & Co." on Fox Business.

"I think it's very ironic that these people are so upset about Donald Trump becoming president," Jeffress said on the broadcast. "Donald Trump is the only Republican nominee who has ever even acknowledged the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community in his acceptance speech. I'm not sure exactly why they're so upset."

One of the protest organizers, Dallas ordained Baptist minister and community activist Dominique Alexander, characterized First Baptist Dallas as "the mother mecca of the hate that lives inside of Dallas" in comments to the media Nov. 12, the first night of the protests outside the megachurch of 12,000 members.

Jeffress told Baptist Press that both he and Trump are being unfairly characterized as racist.

"Donald Trump has been unfairly labeled as a racist simply for wanting to secure our borders and stop the flood of illegal immigrants entering our country," Jeffress said.

On "Varney & Co.," Jeffress focused on the LGBT community, saying he has gay friends.

"We're not a hateful church at all. My wife and I have many friends who are gay. We welcome LGBT people to attend our church," Jeffress said on Fox. "But just because we hold the position of Judeo Christianity for thousands of years that marriage should be between a man and a woman, just because we hold that position, suddenly we become haters. That is rank hypocrisy."

The protesters have said they may congregate outside First Baptist on Sundays as well.

Jeffress is a member of Trump's 25-member Evangelical Executive Advisory Board with at least seven other Southern Baptists. While he never officially endorsed the real estate mogul, he vocally supported Trump as the candidate with the best chance of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton. On the church's website, Jeffress has clarified that he did not encourage his church to vote for any particular candidate.

"First Baptist Church of Dallas does not endorse or oppose any candidate for political office," a press statement reads on the church website. "Instead, any information, videos, appearances, posts, etc. related to any political topic are provided for informational purposes only, and represent the personal views or opinions of the individual expressing them, but do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of First Baptist Church of Dallas."

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP (bpnews.net) reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.

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