Senate candidate and former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney objected to the inclusion of Pastor Robert Jeffress in the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem.
Jeffress has been a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, who made the decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the USA embassy there from Tel-Aviv. "He's said the same about Islam".
In a tweet Sunday night, the former MA governor who is now running for a Senate seat from Utah criticized Jeffress for his remarks about Jews, Mormons and Islam. He said that Mormons, Muslims and Hindus "worship a false god", and that Islam is "evil" and "promotes pedophilia".
"Historic Christianity, for 2,000 years, has taught that salvation is through faith in Christ alone".
Jeffress, one of Trump's strongest evangelical supporters, also said that when evaluating candidates Christians should consider, "Is the candidate a Christian?"
"Those comments Mitt used were out of context, they were twisted, some were not accurate at all", Jeffress said, insisting that the fact that he and millions of other evangelicals believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven is "really not newsworthy and it certainly doesn't qualify me as a bigot".
Despite their comments about Jewish people, the two pastors are among the leading pro-Israel voices in the evangelical Christian world.More news: Ryan Reynolds Sounds A Bit More Hopeful About Deadpool 3 Now
In December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, infuriating Palestinians who seek the Israeli-annexed eastern sector as a capital. Palestinians and Israelis both claim Jerusalem as their capital.
Romney's rebuke of Jeffress drew the attention of NBC, which described the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas as "controversial".
The White House on Monday sought to distance itself from the pastor, with spokesman Raj Shah saying he did not know who invited Jeffress to give an embassy blessing. The message was clear but Hagee said his position was misrepresented and "the ugliest of lies".
Jeffress spoke out about Mormonism in the early stages of the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries. "No one comes to the Father except through me", Caner said, according to Fox News. Given such remarks, the choice of Jeffress to lead the prayer this day struck some as inappropriate.
A 2008 recording from Hagee caught him proclaiming that Adolf Hitler was fulfilling God's plan to encourage Jews to return to Israel.
More than 100 American Jews protested in the streets of Washington, D.C. Monday morning, calling the embassy move the "Embassy of Occupation".