Pastor Robert Jeffress, who delivered a blessing at the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, is a bigot, former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrote on Twitter on Monday.
“Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.’ He’s said the same about Islam,” wrote Romney, who is running for a Senate seat representing Utah. “Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.”

The Anti-Defamation League also criticized Jeffress on Twitter, writing: “Today is a day of celebration as the US Embassy opens in Jerusalem.

The choice of Pastor Robert Jeffress to offer a prayer sends exactly the wrong message.

Jeffress has a history of bigoted comments about LGBTQ people, Jews, Muslims, Christians and other religions.”

Jeffress is a pastor at a Dallas Southern Baptist megachurch, a staunch supporter of US President Donald Trump and a member of his evangelical advisory panel.

He preached for Trump and his family at a private service on the president’s Inauguration Day in January 2017.

The pastor took to Twitter to respond: “Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.”

Jeffress’s comment that “you can’t be saved by being a Jew” indicates that he believes all Jews who have not accepted Jesus will go to hell.

In 2012, Jeffress called for Christians not to vote for Romney for president because he is a Mormon. He has said that Mormons, Muslims and Hindus “worship a false god” and that Islam is “evil” and “promotes pedophilia.”

The pastor has also come out against the Catholic Church, saying it is following Satan’s path, and said former US president Barack Obama was “paving the way” for the antichrist.

In his prayer on Monday, Jeffress said: “Israel has been [a] blessing to the entire world, through her innovations in technology... but mostly by pointing us to You, the one true God. Thank You for Your providing protection from all that would seek to destroy this nation, which you call the apple of your eye.”

The pastor said Israel is the fulfillment of God’s “promise to ingather your people in this promised land,” and he thanked God for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump.

Christians United for Israel founder Pastor John Hagee delivered a closing blessing at the ceremony.

In 2008, a recording surfaced of Hagee seemingly saying that Adolf Hitler was fulfilling God’s plan to encourage Jews to return to Israel. In response to criticism, Hagee said his position had been misrepresented and called it “the ugliest of lies” to claim he supports Hitler or the Holocaust.

A Chabad rabbi from Cedarhurst, New York, Zalman Wolowik, also delivered a blessing.