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Republicans headed for ‘civil war,’ says Trump ally and Dallas megachurch pastor Jeffress

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Dallas Baptist Church in Dallas, is declining — for now — to endorse former President Donald Trump.

Prominent Dallas evangelical leader Rev. Robert Jeffress, an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, said he will hold off on endorsing the former president before the Republican party nomination.

Jeffress, pastor of Dallas’ First Baptist Church, called Trump “a great friend” and “our greatest president since Ronald Reagan” but he said he wants to stay out of Republican infighting during what he predicts will be a combative primary.

“I think Republicans may be headed for civil war, and I see no reason to get involved,” Jeffress told The Dallas Morning News. “If he is the nominee, which I fully expect him to be, I will happily and enthusiastically support him.”

Trump announced his candidacy for 2024 in mid-November from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where he said he wanted to “make America great and glorious again.”

Jeffress was among the first prominent evangelical leaders to endorse Trump in 2016 and was credited with helping him win over the evangelical vote.

Trump held on to that support. In 2020, roughly 71% of white Americans who attended religious services at least once a month voted for Trump, according to the Pew Research Center.

Jeffress has served as lead pastor of First Baptist, an influential Southern Baptist church in downtown Dallas with membership in the thousands, since 2007. But he has gained wider notoriety through his daily television and radio shows and on Fox News, where he is a regular contributor.

During Trump’s presidency, Jeffress was a frequent visitor to the White House and was at Trump’s side for the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in 2018. At White House Christmas parties, Trump often invited him to say a few words about the holiday and lead a prayer.

Then last year, Trump attended a Christmas service at First Baptist at Jeffress’ invitation.

But following two disappointing elections for Republicans in 2020 and 2022, Jeffress said the party must decide who can best take on President Joe Biden or another Democratic nominee.

“In the end,” he said, “I think Republicans will turn to Donald Trump.”

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