Senate candidate Mitt Romney of Utah says a prominent Baptist minister shouldn't have been tapped to give the prayer thatbecause 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.
"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. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem," Romney tweeted.
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.
During his remarks at the embassy opening, Jeffress expressed "gratitude for our tremendous President Donald Trump" the "strong leadership" of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and "pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
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.