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The ADL, referring to the opening of the embassy, stated, "We need prayers of peace, hope, openness and respect".

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney decried the pastor that President Trump chose to pray at the historic ceremony for the opening of the US embassy for Israel in Jerusalem. "The spokesman [Raj Shah] said the pastor has a longstanding relationship with people on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill and his remarks are one with which the president does not disagree".

Robert Jeffress is the pastor of a Southern Baptist megachurch in Dallas and offered a prayer at the event in Israel Monday.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Jeffress criticized Romney's Mormon faith and labeled the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a "theological cult".

Big-name pastors also came to Jeffress' defense, including Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California. He serves on President Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a shadow over Israel's festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. "Without President Trump's determination, resolve, courage, we would not be here today", Jeffress added moments later.

In recent years, Jeffress has frequently denounced Islam, calling it an "evil religion" that "promotes pedophilia" because the Prophet Muhammed married a 9-year-old girl.

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"Historic Christianity, for 2,000 years, has taught that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The truth that I, together with tens of hundreds of thousands of evangelical Christians all over the world, proceed to espouse that perception, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy".

A 2008 recording from Hagee caught him proclaiming that Adolf Hitler was fulfilling God's plan to encourage Jews to return to Israel.

"God says in Jeremiah 16: 'Behold, I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave to their fathers". The message was clear but Hagee said his position was misrepresented and "the ugliest of lies".

Asked directly about Jeffress's past statements, Shah said, "I haven't seen those remarks, but obviously those aren't remarks that the president agrees with".

"Do you think it's appropriate for a person who thinks that - who said that Jews are going to hell to speak at the opening of our embassy in Israel?" a reporter asked. "This is another example of a promise made, promise kept".


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