Jeffress’ Conveniently Incoherent Bible Interpretations

Baptist megapreacher Robert Jeffress is upset with churches that take in undocumented immigrants in need of food and shelter. In fact, he thinks that they’re going against the word of God. What would Jesus do? He’d turn them over to the government, Jeffress says.

Jeffress said that he would not check the immigration status of every person who came to First Baptist Church in Texas, “but we’re also not going to harbor illegal immigrants who are criminals like some of these churches are doing.”

“Look, a lot of these liberal churches that harbor illegal immigrants who are criminals say they are following the example of Jesus, the only problem is they are following the Jesus of their imagination rather than the Jesus of the Bible,” he insisted. “Jesus was not this wimpy little guy who walked around munching sunflower seeds and saying nice things to people.”

“The real Jesus of the Bible said ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,’ that is obey the government,” Jeffress continued, adding that the “real Jesus” cared more about American citizens who were victims of violent crimes committed by immigrants.

So Jesus didn’t really mean it when he said “whatever you do to the last of these, my brethren, you do unto me also.” This is how casually and conveniently Jeffress reads his own political beliefs into the words of Jesus, but he also does this hypocritically. Here’s the proof:

Pastor Robert Jeffress, who signed the letter and leads a 12,000 member congregation at First Dallas Baptist Church, compared himself to Martin Luther King for his civil disobedience.

“That may mean we experience jail time, loss of tax exempt status, but as the scripture says, we ought to obey God rather than man, and that’s our choice,” Jeffress told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Jeffress said when he announced to his congregation his decision to take a stand on the issue, they gave him a standing ovation.

Cases of legal punishment for bakers and florists who refused to serve gay weddings have fueled this fear. In Washington state, an elderly florist named Barronelle Stutzman was sued by a gay couple for discrimination after she refused to arrange flowers for their wedding.

Funny how quickly his interpretation of “render unto Caesar” changes instantaneously depending on which law is being broken. When it gives him an excuse for treating immigrants like shit instead of doing what Jesus explicitly commanded over and over again and care for the poor and the hungry, it is an impregnable barrier to being compassionate in the name of never, ever disobeying the government. But when it involves gay people and anti-discrimination laws, suddenly civil disobedience is an absolute moral necessity and bakers and florists are not just allowed to disobey the government but are required to do so. How very convenient for you, Mr. Jeffress.

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  • eric

    Its not incoherent at all. His theology coheres perfectly to the conservative GOP platform.

  • Synfandel

    If Mr. Jeffress is keen to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” I assume his church will be relinquishing its tax-exempt status.

  • Dr X

    Gee, what a surprise, a conservative Christian will turn in immigrants for the crime of trying to have a little better life without papers. No moral weighing of other considerations such as you might be responsible for deporting an otherwise law-abiding spouse, a breadwinner, the parent of legal minors or maybe someone who grew up in this country, brought here by their parents, because give to Caesar what is what is Caesar’s. Never mind, as you point out, Christians think it’s fine to break an assortment of laws they dislike, while also fuming about taxes non-stop. Oh, and let’s not forget Christians who talk secession.

    They just make this shit up as they go along, and the shit always rolls down on brown people, gay people and poor people. But they’re not bigots. It’s so mean and wrong that you call them bigots.

  • whheydt

    Re: Synfandel @ #2….

    (Yes, I know what you mean, but I’m going to go with a comment taking it as a serious expectation.)

    On the contrary, they’ll pry the tax exemption from his cold, dead hands after he appeals it all the way to the Supreme Court, and then condemns the court for siding with the IRS.

  • busterggi

    The whole render unto Caesar thing is defunct since Sid died back in 2014.

  • John Pieret

    J.C. said ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,’ not ‘render unto brown people or gays the things that are brown people’s or gay’s.’

  • raven

    It’s always nice to see that good old time religion. Sectarian hate.

    Jeffress list of hates is as long as anyones. He hates Catholics, Mormons, and Mainline Protestants.

    In Romans, it says to obey the rulers since they were appointed by god and pay your taxes. That means today in the USA,…Obama. I’m sure Jeffress is capable of ignoring that one too. After all, hypocrisy is one of his three main sacraments.

  • Modusoperandi

    The NT would be a lot shorter if If, upon finding that Herod was looking for Him, Mary turned in baby Jesus.

  • howardhershey

    Moreover, I bet Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus were undocumented immigrants to Egypt. Shouldn’t the Egyptian government have sent them back to Herod? Even if they faced persecution or (certainly for Jesus) death? [Yeah. I know. There is no non-Biblical record of such a massacre of infants and it was likely a fabrication produced to analogize Jesus to Moses.]

  • llewelly

    Since sunflower seeds are native to the Americas, it seems likely the only Christians who believe Jesus munched sunflower seeds are Mormons. After all these years of faithful cooperation with the conservative white Baptists, the Baptists still can’t resist a dig at the Mormons. (In truth I doubt Jeffress knows either where sunflowers are from, or that Mormon Jesus came to America. Nonetheless he probably does hate Mormons, and their attitude toward immigration. )

  • grumpyoldfart

    What would Jesus do?

    If they belong to the wrong denomination he’d chuck them in the ocean and drown them:

    If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

  • CJO, egregious by any standard

    Anyway, the idea that the point of the “render unto Caesar” line is “pay your taxes” in any kind of unproblematic way is ridiculous. Jesus sets up the ambiguous response by asking to see a coin and asking whose image is engraved on it. Then, remember, he doesn’t just say “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” he continues by saying “give to God what is God’s”. Which by analogy, is whatever has God’s image on it, which is every human being, obviously including the questioners. So there’s a barb on the response: an ancient Judaean would hear “in his arrogance, Caesar makes graven images of himself, while you are made in God’s image and should give yourself to God.” It rather makes the original question moot.

  • Synfandel

    @8 Modusoperandi, Ooo! SNAP!!

  • moarscienceplz

    Robert Jeffress’ comments make perfect sense … if his middle name is Caesar.

  • Taz

    There was a time in my life when I used to eat a lot of sunflower seeds and so did the people around me. We were working pipeline construction in 100 degree heat and sweating our asses off. It’s a good way to replenish your sodium.

  • frankgturner

    @ eric #1

    Yeppers, consistent with the conservative GOP platform that the Bible is the big book of multiple choice that means whatever you want it to mean at the moment.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    To be fair, Jeffress is being pretty consistent in his views — in both cases he supports treating an oppressed minority whom he hates like shit.

  • Ichthyic

    Interesting to compare someone like Jeffress to someone like Carter…