With tens of thousands of young people set to descend this weekend on the nation’s capital in a protest organized by survivors of a Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida, a Southern Baptist megachurch in Texas is planning a march of its own.
Parishioners of First Baptist Church in Dallas will make their way through downtown streets bearing a large illuminated cross in a Palm Sunday evening “March for Eternal Life.” Pastor Robert Jeffress described the demonstration as “not contradictory to” but rather “complimentary” to Saturday’s March for Our Lives organized by teenagers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“On Saturday, thousands of people will be marching for gun control to try to end the epidemic of violence in our country,” Jeffress said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
“We’re not against that,” Jeffress said. “Certainly legislation may be part of a solution, but it’s not the ultimate solution.”
“To try to solve the violence problem through laws alone is like putting a Band-Aid on a cancerous tumor,” Jeffress told CBN News senior correspondent Gary Lane. “You’re not dealing with the root problem.”
Jeffress said “there is nothing political” about the Palm Sunday march, but he went on to comment about recent criticism of Christians in the public square.
“There has been a recent attempt in our country to silence Christians from openly expressing their faith,” Jeffress said. “We’ve seen Christians like Vice President Mike Pence, Larry Kudlow, Sarah Sanders, being shamed for openly proclaiming that Jesus Christ has made a difference in their life.”
ABC’s The View host Joy Behar recently apologized for joking on the air in February in response to a former White House aide who said the vice president “thinks Jesus tells him to say things.”
“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus,” Behar said. “It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct, hearing voices.”
After weeks of protests, Behar apologized March 13 in an article in the Washington Post.
“I was raised to respect everyone’s religious faith, and I fell short of that,” she said. “I sincerely apologize for what I said.”
On March 15 MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle mocked Kudlow, President Trump’s new senior economic adviser, for trusting “God’s will.”
Kudlow had referenced his faith the day before in commenting on his departure as a commentator on CNBC. “However this thing works out, it will be God’s will,” he said. “If there’s an opportunity when my service is complete, I hope very much to come back and help CNBC.”
“That’s an interesting way to talk about being the national economic adviser to the president,” Ruhle observed. “God’s will?” She later apologized.
“As a reporter, a mom and a Catholic, I know words matter and I want to clear something up,” Ruhle tweeted March 17. “I meant no offense when discussing Larry Kudlow’s White House appointment. I apologize if my comments came off as dismissive of his faith. I would never question another person’s belief in God.”
Comedian Jim Carrey recently slammed White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in an unflattering painting resembling her with the caption: “This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!”
Her father, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, responded by calling Carrey a “pathetic bully, sexist, hater, bigot and Christaphobe.”
“What would be [the] hypocritical Hollywood reaction if he called someone a ‘so-called Muslim’ or ‘so-called Jew?’” asked the former Arkansas governor who was a Southern Baptist pastor and past president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention before getting into politics.
Jeffress, a Fox News contributor and spiritual adviser to Donald Trump, made headlines recently for saying whether or not the president had an adulterous affair with an adult film actress is “totally irrelevant” to evangelical voters.
“Evangelicals understand the concept of sin and forgiveness,” Jeffress said March 8 on Fox News. “We are all sinners. We all need forgiveness. That forgiveness is available through Christ for anyone who asks. Whether the president needs that forgiveness for this particular allegation, whether he’s asked for it, is between him, his family and his God.”
In his CBN interview, Jeffress also commented on a rise in activism going on across the political spectrum.
“I think people are frustrated,” the pastor said. “They see things like these school shootings or the bombings we had recently in Austin, Texas, and they say ‘what can we do to solve this problem?’”
“Ultimately, the problem of evil can only be solved by spiritual means,” Jeffress said. “It doesn’t mean we don’t pass laws. Government has a role, God says, in society, but government cannot provide the ultimate solution. Only the church of Jesus Christ can do that.”