Mark Harris, the former pastor at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church and a Republican candidate for the U.S. House, said in a 2011 sermon that there would be no peace in Jerusalem until Jews and Muslims convert to Christianity.
The content of the sermon and others that warn against Islam and the threat of Islamic rule were first reported by CNN on Friday, just days before Election Day on Tuesday, where Harris is locked in a tight race against Democratic candidate Dan McCready. Harris, 52, beat incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger in the GOP primary for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.
Both campaigns declined comment about the CNN story when contacted by The Charlotte Observer on Friday afternoon.
Harris’ sermons about the role of women attracted media attention earlier in the campaign.
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Many of Harris’ sermons remain on the internet, including ones from 2010, 2011 and 2014 in which Harris talks about Islam. CNN linked to videos and audio of the sermons. Harris resigned as pastor of First Baptist Church in 2017 to run for Congress.
In a sermon on Jan. 16, 2011, Harris discussed a recent trip to Israel. He said people there often asked him to pray for peace in Jerusalem.
“When will we understand that just as Jesus shared in the days when he walked on this earth, there will never be peace in Jerusalem until the day comes that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? To the glory of God the father. that’s what it’s going to take,” Harris said.
“We can have all kinds of political decisions and we can have all kinds of compromises and those are good and those are necessary and those are great but Jesus, when he went into Jerusalem, said, ‘I am the vine. I’m the true vine.’ And until those that are called in Islam realize that and until those that are called in Judaism realize that, for that matter until those that are caught in the religion of Christianity and are missing the personal relationship with Jesus Christ, realize that, there’ll never be peace in their soul or peace in their city.”
In other sermons, Harris preached about the evils of Islam.
“There is a satanic trinity of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. Satan is always a counterfeit,” Harris said in a November 2010 sermon, according to CNN. “Listen to me, that is why the religion of Islam is so dangerous. It is the great counterfeit of our generation.”
Christians are the largest religious group in the United States with 70.6 percent of the population identifying as Christian, according to the Pew Research Center. Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the population.
In 2017, there were 3.45 million Muslims living in the United States, according to an estimate from the Pew Research Center, a number that could grow to 8 million in 2050.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, called on the North Carolina Republican Party to condemn Harris’ comments.
“Mr. Harris’s inaccurate and inflammatory sermons against American Muslims and Islam endanger the lives of Muslims and must be repudiated by the Republican Party of North Carolina,” said Robert McCaw, CAIR’s director of government affairs.
In a June 2014 sermon, during President Barack Obama’s second term, Harris discussed many political issues facing the United States — complaining about the legalization of marijuana and gambling in several states, the federal government’s intrusion into several industries and the growing federal debt.
He then talked about a “spiritual wave” that threatens the U.S., warning about the country’s declining Christianity.
Harris then showed a video, saying it showed “some cold-hard facts that need to be exposed.” The video warned of Muslims taking over Europe, claiming that birthrates among European women in the European Union and heavy migration from Islamic countries threatened to change the continent.
The same thing, the video said, is starting to happen in Canada and possibly the United States. The video warned there could be 50 million Muslims living in 30 years.
“The world that we live in is not the world in which our children and grandchildren will live,” the narrator of the video said.
After the video, Harris was critical of what he said was a sustained effort to remove God from the U.S. military.
It is not the first time statements about Islam have landed a North Carolina pastor in the headlines.
In 2017, Canadian officials expressed concern about a visit from Franklin Graham for his past comments calling Islam “a very wicked and evil religion” and for proposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States, according to The Charlotte Observer.