Dallas pastor criticized for sermon denouncing Islam

DALLAS (FOX 4)- After the terror attacks in Paris, Pastor Robert Jeffress from First Baptist Dallas denounced Islam, calling it an evil and false religion.

This isn't the first time he's made headlines for fiery rhetoric, and that's why one of his critics calls him "bad for Dallas."

On Tuesday, FOX 4's Richard Ray spoke to the pastor, who sticks by those statements.

Jeffress says he is faithfully teaching the word of God, and that it's politically incorrect to say the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ, but it's God's truth.

"It is impossible to separate what these eight suicide bombers did from their faith, their religion that inspired them do to do this," said Jeffress.

First Baptist Dallas is 12,000 members strong.

"These terrorists were not acting in opposition to the teaching of Islam," said Jeffress. "They were acting according to the teaching of Islam."

Jeffress' comments sparked a scathing blog post by Dr. Robert Hunt at SMU's Perkins School of Theology, entitled "The Darkness in the Heart of Dallas."

"It's certainly the case that members of the Muslim community here in the DFW area perceive that Dr. Jeffress' speech is hateful toward them," said Hunt. "And, so I think it's fair to call it hate speech."

In his blog, Hunt accuses Jeffress of systematically attacking tolerance and respect for religious minorities.

"I believe all false religions, whether it's Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, are deceptions by Satan to lead people away from the one true God," said Jeffress. "To tell people that the only way to heaven is through faith in Christ is a message of hate but a message of love…what you've got is a liberal professor at a liberal seminary that really doesn't believe what Jesus said. They don't believe that Jesus was telling the truth that there's only one way to heaven."

"That's flat wrong," said Hunt. "I hear that accusation all the time, but the reason is because pastors like Robert Jeffress and his followers simply believe that there's only a binary world. You either agree with them or you disagree with them. This is not an either or; you're either with Jeffress or you're against him. It's a matter of asking that he show the dignity and respect for other religions that they deserve and for other religious people that they deserve."

Mike Ghouse of American Muslim Institution has been down this road before. In 2010, he and another Islamic leader met with Dr. Jeffress at First Baptist after similar remarks from the pulpit.

Ghouse says Jeffress has a flawed understanding of what Islam's Quran actually says.

"Whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Hinduism, God doesn't hate his own creation," said Ghouse. "God doesn't tell anybody to hate someone else."

Jeffress has written 23 books. His latest, "Not All Roads Lead to Heaven," will be out soon.

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