'I'm Listening to God, Not the WHO': Pastor Robert Jeffress Rejects Holiday Restrictions

Pastor Robert Jeffress, a White House Faith Initiative member and staunch President Donald Trump supporter, said he's only listening to God and not human health officials, as he and his megachurch congregation prepare for Thanksgiving.

Jeffress, a Fox Business contributor, told the cable network Sunday morning that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's October executive order restricting houses of worship is "not only inequitable, it's unconstitutional." Jeffress and host Lou Dobbs warned Republicans that "elections have consequences" as they said Democrats like Cuomo are doubling down on curfews and Thanksgiving gathering quotas. The pair railed against Thursday remarks from a World Health Organization (WHO) regional director in Europe who suggested outdoor gatherings or virtual celebrations should be pursued during the holiday season.

"I think I'm going to listen to God's word rather than the WHO when it comes to worship," said Jeffress, a senior pastor at the 14,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. "We can be socially distanced, we can practice good safety matters, but we can't shut down. And as the Bible says, we need to obey God rather than man. A pastor has a responsibility to keep his church safe, but also to keep it open."

Jeffress said a fellow pastor is instructing their congregation to label Thanksgiving celebrations a "funeral for a turkey," because the government is less likely to enforce attendance restrictions on a funeral than a religious service.

Cuomo and Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO's Europe office, were two of the "leftist" leaders included in the Fox Business duo's complaints Sunday. Cuomo is currently embroiled in a Supreme Court challenge by the Roman Catholic diocese of Brooklyn for places attendance restrictions on churches while keeping "essential" businesses such as grocery and big-box stores open. Dobbs claimed the WHO is trying to get Christians to "follow Muslims and Hindus" in their European orders to "cool it with celebrations over the holidays."

"Governor Cuomo actually doubled down in his appeal to the Supreme Court on why he ought to be allowed to ... put oppressive restrictions on churches," Jeffress said Sunday. "Look, the answer is simple, what Cuomo is doing is not only inequitable, it's unconstitutional. There is no First Amendment right for a liquor store to be open. But the Bible, or the Constitution, gives an absolute right for churches to be open."

Jeffress, a Texan, agreed with Dobbs that Cuomo would be "run out of the state of Texas" if he tried to limit or shut down houses of worship in the Southern state. He touted Trump for ending the COVID-19 pandemic "sooner rather than later" through Operation Warp Speed's development of a vaccine. Jeffress said he wants to "make sure the Constitution is a survivor and not a casualty of the China virus."

Dobbs reiterated to Republican Party viewers that "elections have consequences" as he accused the Democrats of being the party of regulations, even if for public health purposes. Just prior to Election Day, Jeffress urged evangelical Christians to get out and vote for Trump, claiming that people of faith who don't vote are committing a "sin against God."

Newsweek reached out to the First Baptist Church in Dallas as well as Cuomo's office Sunday morning.

pastor robert jeffress thanksgiving restrictions
Pastor Robert Jeffress, a White House Faith Initiative member and staunch President Donald Trump supporter, said he's only listening to God, and not human health officials, as he and his megachurch congregation prepare for Thanksgiving. Screenshot: Fox Business | YouTube