Robert Jeffress, a right-wing pastor and longtime ally of Donald Trump, wrote an op-ed in Fox News this week stating that Joe Biden is the legitimate president-elect and encouraging Christians to accept that reality.
"When Joe Biden becomes president, we should commend him for the things he does right. We should condemn the things he does wrong. And above all, we must pray fervently for our president," Jeffress wrote. "If President Biden succeeds, we all succeed. May God bless Joe Biden, and may God bless the United States of America."
Jeffress was not entirely thrilled by the prospect of a Biden presidency. In his op-ed he admitted that Trump's loss was "a bitter pill to swallow" for "millions of Christians across our nation."
"President Trump's strong policies on life and religious liberty would have seemed, from our vantage point, to be a better path for our country's future," he wrote. "Many of you may be asking: What is God doing in this outcome? Why would He allow this to happen?"
Still, he wrote, "human governments and rulers change at God's direction and design."
"The fact that God has established authorities means that by obeying the government, we obey God," he added.
Jeffress' op-ed appeared to be a response to widespread distrust among Republicans that Biden won the election. Among other things, they have pushed debunked lies about voter fraud, filed lawsuits challenging mail-in ballots, demanded unnecessary recounts, and even suggested that Republican legislatures change electors to overturn the will of the people.
Other evangelical leaders are taking cues from Trump and the GOP and also refusing to accept that Trump lost, with people like Paula White — one of Trump's spiritual advisers — claiming God would eventually overturn the election results.
"God, we just declare that you will keep the feet of POTUS in his purpose in his position right now," White said in a sermon, according to Right Wing Watch. "We stop, and we override the will of man for the will of God, we override the will of man for the will of God, we override the will of man for the will of God."
Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, a former Trump faith adviser, laughed maniacally at the media for calling the election for Biden.
That makes Jeffress' column all the more notable.
Jeffress, for his part, is a major Trump supporter who has been invited to numerous White House events since Trump took office.
He's made a number of discriminatory comments in the past, claiming that Jews can't go to heaven, that Mormonism is a "cult," and baselessly linking the LGBTQ community to pedophilia. He also said NFL players should be glad they're not "shot in the head for taking a knee."
Jeffress has also defended some of Trump's worst behavior, including Trump's decision to pay hush money ahead of the 2016 election to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an extramarital affair with a Trump.
"Evangelicals know they're not compromising their beliefs in order to support this great president," Pastor Robert Jeffress told Fox News in March 2018. "And let's be clear, evangelicals still believe in the commandment 'Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star.' However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.