A senior evangelical pastor has said that 'God had given [Donald] Trump the authority to take out Kim Jong-Un' of North Korea, in a controversial statement issued as tensions are heightened between the two countries.
Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 12,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, told the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBS): 'When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary – including war – to stop evil. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un.'
He added: 'I'm heartened to see that our President – contrary to what we've seen with past administrations who have taken, at best, a sheepish stance toward dictators and oppressors – will not tolerate any threat against the American people. When President Trump draws a red line, he will not erase it, move it, or back away from it. Thank God for a President who is serious about protecting our country.'
The statement comes after Trump raised the stakes by saying that North Korea would be 'met with fire and fury like the world has never seen' if Kim Jong Un continues to threaten the United States.
The senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas was a member of Trump's evangelical advisory committee during the 2016 presidential election and since has attended several meetings of prominent evangelicals at the White House, including a dinner ahead of the National Day of Prayer at which he said: 'Mr President, we're going to be your most loyal friends.'
His reference to not backing away from a 'red line' was seen as an attack on the former President Barack Obama's handling of the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
Jeffress also recently hosted a Fourth of July concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, at which Trump pledged his support to the military and to people of faith.
First Baptist's choir and orchestra provided a musical rendition of Trump's campaign slogan, 'Make America Great Again'.