DALLAS — The head pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas never backs down from offering his opinion, but his most recent comments are causing controversy.
At the weekly "Ask the Pastor" event on August 22, Dr. Robert Jeffress shared his beliefs on Islam. He was asked how he would respond to someone who equates the Muslim Jihad to the Christian crusades.
"It's an oppressive treater of women," he said. "It is a religion — and here is the deep, dark, dirty secret of Islam — it is a religion that promotes pedophilia... sex with children."
The pastor referenced an article he had read. He stated that the article's author, "a defender of Islam," mentioned the young age of the Islamic prophet Muhammad's bride, Aisha.
"It is an evil religion, an oppressive religion, and it is a violent religion that has incited attacks around the world and attacks against our country," Jeffress said.
North Texas Islamic leaders contacted by News 8 said Jeffress crossed the line.
"It's unfortunate that he made those types of statements," said the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Mustafaa Carroll. "I expect more from the clergy."
Khalid Shaheed is the imam at Masjid Al-Islam, the oldest mosque in downtown Dallas. He said Islam does not promote sex with children, adding that Jeffress lacks understanding of the teachings of Islam.
"I think he is fanning the flames of hate, and it's absolutely wrong," Shaheed said. "It does not represent the core of Christianity."
On Sunday, Jeffress told News 8 he stands by his recorded comments and feels there is no need for an apology.
"I believe it is the truth, and I think the record is clear," he said. "Again — not all Muslims are evil, not all Muslims incite violence — but this is a religion that is responsible for the oppression of women around the world."
But for Shaheed, Jeffress' comments are irresponsible in a multi-religious society. He said all leaders, of all faiths, should preach tolerance.
"I think we can meet, talk and work together," Shaheed said. "I think we can expel ignorance then."