Mitt Romney said Sunday that a prominent Baptist minister and supporter of President Donald Trump should not give the prayer that opens the US Embassy in Jerusalem because he is a "religious bigot."


WHAT: Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee who is running for US Senate in Utah, in a tweet cited Robert Jeffress' past remarks about the damnation of Mormons, Jews, and Muslims.

​According to Media Matters, Jeffress made the remarks in a 2011 speech at the conservative Values Voter Summit.


The Jerusalem Open House followed up Monday with criticism of the choice of Jeffress to , saying he had called gay rights promoters “pedophilia activists” and homosexuality a “perversion.”

Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, a Southern Baptist megachurch, strongly backed Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign and later joined his evangelical advisory board. He was chosen to give a prayer at the opening of the US embassy Monday in Jerusalem, which Trump ​controversially moved from Tel Aviv -- thrilling Israelis and outraging Palestinians and much of the world.  


Jeffress fired back in a tweet Monday, saying he stands by his belief that “salvation is through faith in Christ alone.”

WHY: The Trump administration's choice of Jeffress to participate in the ceremony underlines the appeal of the embassy move to Christian conservatives. Some critics have characterized Trump's relocation of the embassy as a cynical giveaway to such people, who often support Israel on a biblical basis and ​constitute an important part of the president's political base. 


They blame Trump for Palestinian violence and diplomatic retrenchment in response to the December announcement of the decision -- along with US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 


But the Trump administration and Israel have maintained that as the president said in the announcement: "This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done." As such, they have said that the move makes peace more, rather than less, likely.