Trump hosts pastor who says 'Jews are going to hell' at White House Hanukkah party

The White House hosted an evangelical pastor who has said that Jews “can’t be saved” as part of the administration’s Wednesday Hanukkah celebration during which President Trump signed an executive order aimed at targeting anti-Semitism. 

Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas called Trump “the most pro-faith president in history” at the Wednesday event. 

“You’re on the right side of God,” Jeffress said of Trump. 

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Jeffress has a history of making offensive comments about Jewish people, as well as Muslims and Mormons. 

During a 2011 interview on Trinity Broadcasting Network, he said the Bible claims “every other religion in the world is wrong.”

“Islam is wrong, it is a heresy from the pit of hell. Mormonism is wrong, it is heresy from the pit of hell,” Jeffress said. “Judaism — you know you can’t be saved being a Jew.”

He also suggested Mormons, Muslims, Hindus and Jews will be sent to hell during a 2008 sermon

“Not only do religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism — not only do they lead people away from the true God, they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell,” he said. “Hell is going to be filled with good religious people who have rejected the truth of Christ.”

His comments resurfaced in 2018, after the White House chose Jeffress to lead the prayer at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. 

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He was called out for those remarks by Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRepublicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators aim to limit Trump's ability to remove troops from Germany MORE (R-Utah), who is Mormon, in 2018. 

“Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem,” Romney tweeted

During Wednesday’s celebration and signing, Trump said the Jewish religion is “a cherished part of our family.” He was joined by his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks Mueller investigation witness George Nader sentenced to a decade in prison in child sex case Trump World boils over as campaign hits skids MORE, who are Jewish, at the event. 

“I will always celebrate and honor the Jewish people,” Trump said. 

The executive order intends to target anti-Semitism on college campuses. It alters the protection of Jewish people, granting broader authority to the Department of Education to respond to anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

The controversial order, however, is opposed by some left-leaning Jewish groups that have said it raises concerns over limiting free speech. 

Trump has also been accused of anti-Semitism over his comments and actions. Lawmakers widely rebuked his reluctance to unequivocally condemn white nationalist demonstrators who chanted anti-Semitic slogans during a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Va. 

More recently, some Jewish groups slammed Trump last week for invoking anti-Semitic tropes during an Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida when he suggested they would have to vote for him in 2020 out of opposition to a wealth tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low MORE (D-Mass.).