T.D. Jakes, whose full name is Thomas Dexter Jakes, Sr., was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia.
Jakes is a Christian, which is probably of little surprise to readers who have even previously heard of this man. The church he ministers to, The Potter House in Dallas, Texas, is non-denominational. So successful has Jakes’ ministry become that he has received various awards and designations, including one of the top 10 religious leaders by PBS, and the country’s most influential religious leader by The Church Report magazine in 2005.
However, Jakes has considered issues of theology, and takes what some consider a controversial position regarding the Holy Trinity–or lack thereof. Jakes subscribes to the theology of Pentacostal “Oneness,” meaning that he considers God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be one entity rather than three. When speaking about it, Jakes actually gave himself a denominational designation, saying his mother was a Baptist and his mother was a Methodist and, upon considering his own theological positions, he became some sort of combination:
I ended up Metha-Bapti-Costal, in a way.
Jakes is very clear about his political leanings: he’s not going to get into it. He’s been pressured by interviewers on many occasions to disclose which side of the aisle he stands on, but he won’t. He has said:
I certainly do not [consider myself a part of the religious right]. I have tried to remain nonpartisan. And I think it’s very stereotypical to think that all Christians are religious right or left. There are many of us who have chosen to remain nonpartisan and chosen it as an opportunity to minister to both sides of the bird and to care about the whole country at large.
And he’s kept up his non-partisan position thus far. During election day, 2012, he tweeted:
…I have avoided any political affiliation because of the many assumptions and stereotypes that people would make.
This hasn’t stopped Jakes from being pegged by many as a Republican or a Conservative by a wide range of websites. This is mostly, as far as I can tell, because he didn’t disparage George W. Bush–which seems to be requisite for anyone except Republicans and conservatives. In fact, he had nice things to say about Bush before and during his presidency, saying he “takes his faith seriously,” and touring the Gulf Coast with the president after Hurricane Katrina.
This doesn’t mean Jakes isn’t political. See him discuss, for example, the Republican presidential nominees in 2012 in this video. Jakes displays a wide perspective and a good grasp of the issues.
He makes the point that a candidate’s faith is important, as is their character, but it’s a leadership position and leadership qualities should be considered above all. He points out that America is a diverse country, and the president will not only lead Christians or African Americans, but all Americans. And he expresses a deep concern that while issues having to do with the middle class and the wealthy are discussed in the national debate, poverty is not.
And interestingly, for those who really want to think Jakes is a Republican, he’s seems to have no issue pointing out the downfalls of various Republican politicians. All in all, Jakes is a diplomatic, intelligent individual who seems to have the public good foremost in his mind.