WASHINGTON — Senate candidate Mitt Romney of Utah says a prominent Baptist minister shouldn't be giving the prayer that opens the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem because he's a "religious bigot."
In a tweet Sunday night, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee criticized Dallas minister Robert Jeffress for his remarks about Jews, Mormons and Islam.
Romney said, "Robert Jeffress says 'you can't be saved by being a Jew,' and 'Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.' He's said the same about Islam."
The liberal group Media Matters reports on its website that Jeffress made the remarks cited by Romney in a 2011 speech at the conservative Values Voter Summit.
Jeffress responded in a tweet of his own by defending his view that "salvation is through faith in Christ alone."
"Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy,: Jeffress said in the tweet,
The role of Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, a Southern Baptist megachurch, underlines the significance of the Jerusalem event as an appeal to Christian conservatives, part of President Donald Trump's base of supporters.