As rhetoric heats up between the U.S. and North Korea, President Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser says God’s got the president’s back should Trump decide to “take out” dictator Kim Jong-un.
“When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, 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,” Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress said in a public statement Tuesday. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-un.”
Jeffress has been invited to the White House multiple times and led a group of right-wing evangelical allies of Trump to issue a series of statements defending Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner against allegations of collusion with Russian officials during last year's election.
Jeffress, who heads the 13,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, specifically cited Romans 13 as Trump’s spiritual permission slip to go to war with North Korea. Romans 13 orders Christians to “be subject to governing authorities” and also to pay their taxes.
“[T]he one in authority is God’s servant for your good,” the passage from the New Testament reads. “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
Romans 13 essentially says you deserve punishment if you disobey the government, whose authority is ordained by God. Jeffress even takes it a bit further, arguing that if Trump wants to bring wrath to the “wrongdoer” (in this case, Kim Jong-un) then that’s also the will of God. By extension, Christians are thus compelled to comply with Trump’s will.
Jeffress later told The Washington Post that he was provoked to issue his Christian fatwa following North Korea’s recent threats to the United States. On Tuesday Trump said if Pyongyang didn’t back off from its threats it would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Tensions have risen between Pyongyang and Washington D.C. to levels unseen in years after North Korea recently tested two missiles in an effort to develop nuclear weapons that could reach U.S. mainland cities. After the U.N. responded with sanctions, Kim, on Tuesday threatened retaliation against the U.S. by striking the U.S. territory of Guam.
This isn’t the first time Jeffress has made controversial statements. In his 2014 book “Perfect Ending” he linked President Barack Obama to the Antichrist, and he once called Mormonism a cult. But he loves Trump, telling the Post that the president is “very measured, very thoughtful in every response.”