Conservative pastor on Romney: Don't vote for a Mormon
October 7th, 2011
05:05 PM ET
8 years ago

Conservative pastor on Romney: Don't vote for a Mormon

(CNN) – A pastor of a mega church in Dallas said Friday that Republicans shouldn't vote for White House hopeful Mitt Romney because he's a Mormon and described the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a "cult."

"I think Mitt Romney's a good, moral man, but those of us who are born again followers of Christ should prefer a competent Christian," said Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, which has a congregation of about 10,000 and has long been considered a highly-influential church in evangelical circles.

Jeffress, who's endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry and introduced him at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, told CNN Political Correspondent Jim Acosta that the Southern Baptist Convention "has officially labeled Mormonism as a cult."

In fact, a website maintained by the Southern Baptist Convention lists the Mormon faith under its "New Religions and Cults" section, which also includes Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Scientology.

"That's why I'm enthusiastic about Perry," Jeffress said, later adding: "I again believe that as Christian, we have the duty to select Christians as our leaders…Between a Rick Perry and a Mitt Romney, I believe evangelicals need to go with Rick Perry."

Perry distanced himself from the comments Friday night, telling reporters in Iowa he doesn't think the Mormon church is a cult.

This isn't the first time the Dallas pastor has hit Romney over his religion. During the 2008 campaign, he made similar comments.

But if it came down to a contest between Romney and President Barack Obama, Jeffress said he'd still vote for Romney, although holding his nose at the same time.

"I would rather have a non-Christian who at least supports biblical principles than a professing Christian like Barack Obama who embraces unbiblical positions," he said.

When asked for a comment, Perry's team said it was the event organizers–not the campaign–who asked Jeffress to introduce the candidate.

"The governor does not believe Mormonism is a cult," added Mark Miner, Perry's national press secretary.

Michael Purdy, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declined to comment on a statement "made at a political event."

"But those who want to understand the centrality of Christ to our faith can learn more about us and what we believe by going to mormon.org," Purdy said in a statement.

The Romney campaign said it will not have any comment to the remarks made by Jeffress.

Meanwhile, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which helped organize the event, said on CNN's "John King, USA" that his group gave Perry a heads up approximately two weeks ago that Jeffress would be introducing the governor.

"We sent it to the campaign. They signed off on it," Perkins said. "I don't think there was any other communication beyond that. The campaign did not know what he would say. We did not know what he would say."

Jeffress made his comments about Romney in a conversation with reporters, not in his introductory speech for Perry.

Later on Friday, he stood by his comments, saying it was his job as a pastor to support a candidate of the Christian faith.

"I don't hate Gov. Romney. He's a good, moral person," Jeffress told CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King. "But as a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have the responsibility to proclaim what the Bible proclaims."


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (493 Responses)
  1. BW

    Well, it's all out there now. The one thing that no one wants to talk about concerning Romney's bid for the White House: the extreme tendency for LDS to engage in political involvement. One need only look to the battle for Prop 8 in California, and the various loopholes in political funding that LDS used to slant the race, to know that LDS is going to buy the White House. While there are many special interests that attempt to buy political office, this is a time when a religion is trying to do it. It also points to the long historical battle between Mormons and Baptists. This maybe the best news for Obama.

    October 7, 2011 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  2. joesnopy

    So, why are you people shocked. A huge part of the GOP are racist and a huge part are made up of racist and hate all other religions. Not sure why you are shocked people. Just do your research and you would know. So, Jeffress will vote for a person he believes belongs to a cult before he will vote for a black man. Plus, as that nut the right question about Jews. It will scare the H out of Jews. A reporter needs to know what to ask and how. Jeffress will try to lie about his true feeling about the Jews but if a reporter ask the right question you will be shocked again.

    October 7, 2011 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  3. Randy Butler

    And people didn't like Kennedy becuase he was a Catholic, now we admire him as one of our greatest Presidents. Vote for the man, his values, and what he offers the country.

    October 7, 2011 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  4. tim

    ok, and Obama's friends hate America. I think I can live with with Perry's friends.

    October 7, 2011 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. Kman821

    Most Christians wouldn't be considered Christians by Christ ... he'd call them hypocrites.

    October 7, 2011 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  6. Capper

    This is not news. Nobody Christian or otherwise is surprised by this. There is one reason only for CNN to continue to post this type of stuff. It is their quest for a post Christian world. That by itself should get you to turn off this website, stop reading and realize that CNN in its own way is putting forward its beliefs in a continuous manner.

    October 7, 2011 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  7. Jaydee

    Mormon or not, Catholic or not, Protestant or not, Muslim or not...it doesn't matter. They should all keep their religion to themselves. Religion of any sort has NO business in our government.

    October 7, 2011 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  8. MormonChristian

    Why is a Pastor endorsing a politician in the first place?? There should be separation of church and state. Politicians don't say which religion they favor and Pastors should not be in the business of picking our leaders and inviting candidates to speak in their churches. Anyone who does that should lose their tax exempt status. Mormons emphatically do not endorse politicians.

    And no Pastor has the right to tell me I am not Christian. It's not like God is going to trick us and not allow 99% of his children into Heaven. It matters most what kind of people we are, not who we think God is.

    October 7, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  9. Brad

    Here we go again. In 6,000 years of human existence we're no better for the experience.

    October 7, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  10. Proud Indian

    India in just over 60 years of independence has had a Sikh Prime Minister, a Muslim President, a Woman Prime Minister and President, besides Hindu Prime ministers.
    The US is quite backward as a country when it comes to secularism. Grow up folks.

    October 7, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  11. William Sutherland

    Robert Jeffress' comments are a disgrace to Christianity. It's too bad religious bigotry continues to this day and even religious leaders who should know better and should exemplify God's love make such hateful comments. No wonder so many people are being alienated from religion since too many hijack it to justify prejudice and hate. 😦

    October 7, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  12. Brent

    "MegaChurch Pastor" sounds like someone who is into religion for the cash to me. Why should anyone care what he says about Mormons, Muslins, or anyone else?

    October 7, 2011 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  13. Norm

    This is all such a dog and pony show for the uneducated masses.
    Obama will serve another term.
    Politics has become so showbiz.
    They think that's what the people want.
    The modern day equivilent of saying "let them eat cake"
    It's all about money.
    Capitalism has destroyed our country from the insdie out.

    October 7, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  14. Dr.K.

    I would just like to have a President who makes political decisions based upon knowledge, logic, and critical thinking, regardless of their religion. All these right wing politicians who wear their religions on their sleeves, along with the scary voters who insist that they do, scare the crap out of me. They are the American Taliban.

    October 7, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. SteveinPA

    Apparently Mormons are only valuable when they are siding with the Republicans, voting FOR them, and shouldering a lot of the heavy lifting for issues of mutual interest such as Prop 8 in CA. When they want some mutual respect and expect support for a candidate who follows the Mormon religion then they find more of the separate but equal treatment Republicans are famous for. Despite my own feelings about Mormonism, Romney would have a far better shot at getting my vote than Perry ever would. Perry barely rises above Santorum in my eyes, and they would only get my vote to be the dog catcher on an island inhabited solely by rabid pit bulls.

    October 7, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  16. MormonChristian

    Dave,

    Mormons believe there is truth in many religions, and that they can help people return to God.

    October 7, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  17. Jeff

    I am not a Mormon but i live by some and their nice people some aren't but one told me the church is true some people aren't.

    October 7, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  18. Nare

    People like this "pastor" are the same who lament the fact that Christians aren't going to church or are leaving the church becoming more secular. Wonder if they ever begin to consider that it's on them.

    October 7, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  19. Sean

    Robert Jefferies was pastor in our town for very long time. If you want to see his influence look up..Wichita Falls,Tx. Other Priest and Pastors did not like or agree with him! He divided this town only to leave for MONEY! ..not religion

    October 7, 2011 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  20. revolting peasant

    Scary. These idiots want politicians who share their same limited beliefs. Its funny how it is better to be Mormon than black.

    October 7, 2011 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  21. revolting peasant

    In the past election everyone was hoping that Obama would distance himself from Rev Wright. I hope Perry choses to distance himself from this genious.

    October 7, 2011 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  22. Pastor Ross

    Jesus Christ is my Savior and my church belongs to Southern Baptist. If I am going to choose between Gov. Perry and Gov. Romney, I would choose Gov. Romney. If I am goinng to choose between Speaker Newt and Gov. Perry, I would choose Speaker Newt. If I am going to choose between Senator Rick and Gov. Perry, I would choose Senator Santorum. If I am going to choose between Congresswoman Michelle and Gov. Perry, I would choose Congresswoman Bachmann. The bottomline, this is not religion or denomination, this is principle and convicition of being the right person in the job and I don't see Gov. Perry as ready yet. This pastor is trying to influence conservative, evangelicals, Bible Fundamentalists and non-denominational Christianity. If GovPerry becomes the nominee, I see him as another Senator McCain.

    October 7, 2011 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  23. Paul

    the republican party is becoming more hillbilly and stupid by the day. used to be a good, practical party prior to the religious nuts taking it over. As bad as obama is, I cannot vote for the GOP b/c of their increasingly wacko socially conservative positions. I just cannot drink that tainted kool aid. GOP, get away from the religion, gay bashing, and rabid pro life stance. then maybe you will win the presidency if your tent is bigger.

    October 7, 2011 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  24. R B

    Why does the atheist party, DNC, even bother to comment? Shameful.

    October 7, 2011 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  25. Tim

    This guy is a veritable chimpanzee. Actually, I think most chimps have more intelligence than this idiot. But this is a wake-up for those of who think Perry doesn't have a chance. If he is elected, clowns like this will have a field day. The damage these religious zealots make every time they open their vile mouths is incalculable. God save us from religion.

    October 7, 2011 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
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