Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas said Monday that the media company who posted the advertisements for the church’s upcoming “Freedom Sunday” event called the billboards “anger-provoking,” and had them removed.
“According to the Dallas Morning News, they wrote this scathing article about this message calling me a bigot for saying that America is a Christian nation,” Jeffress said.
The Dallas pastor made it clear that he has no problem with the media company choosing to remove the billboards, but he believes that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings does not have the right “to weigh in on this, to disparage our church, and to directly or indirectly influence the billboard company.”
Scott Goldstein, a spokesman from the Dallas Mayor’s office said the mayor did not have any communication with the billboard company, and that the reporter “asked him his opinions about the billboard and he shared his thoughts. That was the extent of it.”
Jeffress said the article referred to him as a “bigot” and that Mayor Rawlings called the advertisement “divisive.”
According to Jeffress, the title of the billboard was taken from the words of John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, who said “America is a Christian Nation.”
“The gist of my message this coming Sunday is to point out the historical evidence that, in fact, our nation was founded by Orthodox Christians who believed that the future of our nation’s well-being depended upon our adherence to Christian principles.”
“The reason liberals are threatened by my message ‘America is a Christian Nation,’ is they know the evidence is on my side,” Jeffress concluded.
Dallas Morning News Columnist Robert Wilonsky wrote that Jeffress is a “divisive” voice among the Dallas community, and that there is nothing “unique or original” about his upcoming sermon.
“Deep history is behind the words on that billboard — a library full of argument. But all I saw Wednesday was someone telling me and everyone else who does not worship Jesus Christ that we do not belong here.”
Wilonsky cited the words of Mayor Mike Rawlings in his column when he said he doesn’t mind someone “being proud of the Christian tradition in America,” adding “But one of the strengths of Dallas is our faith-based community [and] it’s strength that makes us a city of love versus a city of hate.”
Jeffress told CBN News that another media company has offered to post 20 billboards in place of the two that were removed, and stated, “I thank Mayor Rawlings and the Dallas Morning News for helping us promote our message.”
“It’s not the Dallas I want to be — to say things that do not unites us but divide us,” Mayor Rawlings said Thursday.
“I never heard those words, that voice come out of Christ. Just the opposite. I was brought up to believe: Be proud of yours, but do not diminish mine.”