Dallas evangelicals find ally in Trump

Politics and religion: Pastor Robert Jeffress on Trump

DALLAS - About 300 members of First Baptist Dallas made the trip to Washington D.C. last week to meet with lawmakers and tour the capitol. But nothing surpassed the main event, "The Celebrate Freedom Concert" Saturday night where the church's pastor Robert Jeffress welcomed President Donald Trump to the stage.

"He considers me a friend, and I'm happy to have his friendship," Jeffress said.

The concert, held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, was organized by the Dallas-based church to honor veterans and promote religious liberty, something Jeffress says evangelicals have been under attack over the last few decades.

"We've allowed secularists and liberals to perfect the first amendment into something our founding fathers never intended," Jeffress said.

President Trump returned from a vacation to attend the evening event and thanked Jeffress for his loyalty throughout the campaign and the early days of his presidency. Jeffress was a vocal Trump supporter well before other religious leaders backed the eventual commander in chief, and Jeffress now helps advise the President on religious issues.

However, not all evangelicals warned to Trump so quickly. Mark Lavvorn is a member of First Baptist and traveled to Washington D.C. with his wife for the five-day trip.

"I didn't know what kind of President we were going to get," Lavvon said.

Lavvorn says he understands some criticisms of the President but left assured Trump was an advocate for evangelicals after Saturday's event.

"As our pastor said we're not electing a Sunday school teacher or a pastor even. We're electing a leader who will fight for our rights," Lavvon said.

The Saturday event was full of religious references and Christian hymns. Jeffress says this is a sign that President Trump and the political world are starting to welcome Christianity into the public and political spheres in a greater way.

"This was founded as a Christian nation. Those are just facts," Jeffress said.

Jeffress, who has endorsed Trump for over two years, says his loyalty is as strong now as ever. He believes Trump is the President who will push the religious right back into the middle of American life. 

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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