By Hemant Mehta
One month ago, Vice President Mike Pence visited First Baptist, the Dallas megachurch of Pastor Robert Jeffress, for an event called “Celebrate Freedom Sunday.” If you heard anything about it in the news, it may have been because we learned after the event that several members of the church’s choir and orchestra had tested positive for COVID before Pence gave his speech. (They weren’t at the Sunday event, but who knows how many people caught the virus from them?)
But one of the more problematic aspects of the event was the introduction given by Jeffress. While he has routinely promoted Donald Trump during appearances on FOX News, speaking for himself, he’s not allowed to endorse candidates from the pulpit thanks to the Johnson Amendment which Trump has repeatedly tried and failed to repeal. If a pastor tells his congregation how to vote, the church should lose its tax-exempt status.
And yet that’s precisely what Jeffress did with Pence in the audience:
Mr. Vice President, I know I probably shouldn’t say this — but my congregation knows that has never stopped me before. Mr. Vice President, there are millions of Christians in this country just like me who are hoping and we are praying that when you have finished your term as vice president — in 2024… We are praying that when you have finished your term in 2024, we don’t want you moving out of the West Wing. We just want you to move down the hall a few doors and continue to build on the legacy of the most faith-friendly president in history!
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