Inflammatory pastor preached to Trump before inauguration
By Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor
The pastor, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, is a Southern Baptist who vigorously campaigned for Trump during the final months of the presidential election and is a member of his evangelical advisory board
. “I love this guy!” Trump has said of Jeffress
. Before the campaign, Trump, a Presbyterian, had no apparent connection to the pastor, who leads First Baptist Church in Dallas.
Friday morning’s worship service, held at St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House, continued a modern Inauguration Day ritual. With the exception of Richard Nixon in 1973, every president since Franklin Roosevelt
has attended spiritual services on Inauguration Day, many at St. John’s. The event is separate from both the inauguration itself and an interfaith service to be held Saturday at Washington National Cathedral, where an imam is among those who will offer prayers.
Usually the Inauguration Day service draws little notice, much less controversy. But offering Jeffress such a prominent pulpit is likely to irk religious minorities, particularly Muslims, many of whom were already angered by the President-elect’s stoking of suspicions about Islam during the campaign.