A key evangelical ally during Donald Trump's administration says he will not endorse the former president for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, visited the White House during the Trump administration and often appeared on radio and television shows to defend the former president's policies.
But Jeffress says he will remain neutral for the 2024 GOP race.
"Donald Trump was a great president, and if he becomes the GOP nominee in 2024, I will happily support him," Jeffress told Newsweek.
He added that "the Republican Party is headed toward a civil war that I have no desire or need to be part of. My priority is being pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas and preaching God's word to millions of people each week on our television and radio broadcasts."
Jeffress made the remarks after Trump announced he was again running for president.
Jeffress, in January 2021, labeled Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence the "most pro-life and religious liberty President and VP in history!"
Following the 2020 election, Jeffress also was one of the first evangelical leaders to recognize Joe Biden as president-elect. In a Fox News column shortly after Election Day in 2020, Jeffress urged Christians to pray for Biden.
Human governments and rulers, Jeffress wrote, "change at God's direction and design." Jeffress did not believe that the election was stolen.
"Our faith and our salvation lie not in any human ruler, but in the ruler of rulers, the King of kings," Jeffress wrote in November 2020. "We have to remember that even though the occupant of the White House is changing, the One who occupies the throne of Heaven hasn't changed. The fact that God has established authorities means that by obeying the government, we obey God.
"... We should condemn the things [Biden] does wrong. And above all, we must pray fervently for our president," Jeffress wrote in 2020. "If President Biden succeeds, we all succeed. May God bless Joe Biden, and may God bless the United States of America."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Tom Pennington/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.