Fox News contributor and leading Donald Trump surrogate Robert Jeffress wrote in his new book that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, is one of the “servants of Satan.” Jeffress also wrote that Jews, Catholics and members of other faiths have embraced “lies” on a “highway to hell.”
The Dallas Morning News recently described Jeffress, a Dallas pastor, as “the lead, unofficial religious supporter of” Trump. Jeffress “said Trump sought him out in August and began to cultivate a relationship.” A spokesperson for the Trump campaign said that “Jeffress has attended many campaign events and is a great person and supporter.” After Jeffress introduced Trump at a September rally, the business magnate said, “What a good guy. ... I love this guy.”
Trump has embraced Jeffress despite his incendiary history. Jeffress has attacked LGBT people as leading “miserable” and “filthy” lives, called Catholicism a “cult-like, pagan religion,” Islam an “evil, evil religion,” and said Judaism and Hinduism lead people to “an eternity of separation from God in Hell.”
Jeffress courted controversy during the 2012 presidential campaign when he attacked Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, calling the religion a “cult.” Numerous Republicans condemned Jeffress at the time. Romney is now a vocal opponent of Trump's candidacy.
Jeffress has continued his attacks on Mormonism this campaign season. In his new book Not All Roads Lead to Heaven, Jeffress writes that Mormon church founder Joseph Smith and the prophet Muhammad are servants of Satan because they offer people an alternate path to God:
Don't underestimate Satan's resolve to win this war for the souls of human beings. He is determined to lead as many people as possible off the spiritual cliff to eternal death. Jesus referred to Satan as a murderer and a liar (John 8: 44) whose sole purpose is “to steal and kill and destroy” (10: 10). Satan's strategy is to confuse and distract people from following the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, by creating a number of other spiritual lights that deceptively offer a way out of humankind's dilemma.
No wonder Paul describes Satan as one who “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11: 14). The apostle goes on to say that Satan accomplishes his spiritual deception through religious people who act as Satan's servants by offering alternate paths to God:
Therefore it is not surprising if [Satan's] servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11: 15)
These servants of Satan who “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” include:
- the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, who claimed to have received a divine revelation from the angel Moroni.
- the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, who also claimed that an angel spoke to him about the way to ensure eternal life.
- the religious leader wrapped in beautiful clerical robes who says that faith in Christ is important but not sufficient by itself to obtain the forgiveness of sins. the evangelical pastor who preaches that although he personally believes that Christ offers the way to heaven, sincere followers of other faiths will also be welcomed into God's presence. [Not All Roads Lead to Heaven, pp. 28-29, Kindle edition]
Jeffress also writes that Jews, Catholics, and others have embraced “lies” and are on a “highway to hell”:
The road that leads to destruction is deceptive because it is so wide and has so many people traveling on it. “How could so many people be wrong?” ask people who struggle with the idea of Christ offering the only way to heaven. After all, the vast majority of the world's population are not Christian. All the people who are on this “highway to hell” -- including Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, and atheists -- share one characteristic: although they may have embraced different lies, they have rejected the same truth.
What is that truth? It is that narrow belief that faith in Jesus is the only way a person can enter into heaven. And just in case anyone was confused about what that narrow gate is, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14: 6). [Not All Roads Lead to Heaven, pp. 110-111, Kindle edition]
Trump has had trouble getting traction in polling for the March 22 primary in Utah, which is 60 percent Mormon. BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins wrote that “skepticism of the billionaire -- which, polls suggest, predates Romney's emergence as an anti-Trump champion -- is rooted more deeply in Mormon culture and politics.” He pointed to Trump's anti-immigration and anti-Muslim stances as likely culprits. The Salt Lake Tribune also reported that Mormon voters are turned off by “Trump's tabloid-ready personal life to his exclusionary policies on immigration and Islam. Mormons also see him as an unsavory candidate who doesn't respect other religions, according to Matt Miles, a political scientist at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University-Idaho.”