Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisers who preached the morning of his inauguration, has released a statement saying the president has the moral authority to take out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary – including war – to stop evil,” Jeffress said. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”
Jeffress, who leads downtown’s First Baptist Dallas, said in a phone interview that he was prompted to make the statement after Trump said that if North Korea’s threats to the United States continue, Pyongyang will be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
The biblical passage Romans 13 gives the government authority to deal with evildoers, Jeffress said. “That gives the government to the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong Un,” he said.
He said that many pacifist Christians will cite Romans 12, which says, “Do not repay evil for evil,” but Jeffress says that that passage is referring to Christians, not to the government.
“A Christian writer asked me, ‘Don’t you want the president to embody the Sermon on the Mount?'” he said, referring to Jesus’ famous sermon. “I said absolutely not.”
In his sermon on the morning of Trump’s inauguration, Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, compared Trump to the story of the biblical leader Nehemiah who helped rebuild the city of Jerusalem.
The first step of rebuilding the nation, Jeffress said, was the building of a wall around Jerusalem to protect its citizens. “You see, God is not against building walls,” Jeffress said in his sermon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
Jeffress is no stranger to controversy. He has said in the past that former president Barack Obama paved the way for the antichrist and drew wide attention for calling Mormonism a cult during the 2012 Republican primary. Jeffress knows his comments on North Korea could be considered controversial, even among fellow evangelicals.
“Some Christians, perhaps younger Christians, have to think this through,” he said. “It’s antithetical to some of the mushy rhetoric you hear from some circles today. Frankly, it’s because they are not well taught in the scriptures.”
Attitudes about North Korea among evangelicals are unclear, he said.
“I think many evangelicals, like most Americans, really don’t pay attention to global affairs,” Jeffress said. “I believe we’re all going to be forced to soon if North Korea isn’t dealt with decisively.”
Jeffress last met with Trump in July when a group of pastors laid hands on the president in the Oval Office. He said now that health care is off the table, evangelicals are hoping for tax reform, though he didn’t have any specifics in mind.
Jeffress, who was was an early supporter of Trump, has said that after sharing Wendy’s cheeseburgers in Iowa, he believed Trump would be the next president and that it would be because God placed him there. In July, his church choir and orchestra performed a song called “Make America Great Again” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where Trump was in attendance.