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. Joe

    Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas...thank your for telling the truth about Romney..about Mormonism's secret handshakes amd secret words to get into heaven and religious underwear and all those child brides and how Romney's family is still hiding in Mexico......MORMONISM ISNT CHRISTIAN .....know your Bible and solid Theological teachings..

    October 7, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  2. Brandon

    Mr. Jeffress,

    If you mean Mitt Romney is not a Christian like you... you're absolutely right. He's an actual Christian.

    October 7, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  3. GABO GABO

    BE A Mormon or what ever they are, they all will be slaves to AIPAC.

    October 7, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  4. bspurloc

    the christian taliban spreading its ways of peace and luv via hate for all that dont answer this correctly "U R EITHER WITH US OR U R AGAINST US"

    October 7, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  5. steve00187

    I'm native American Indian (23), mormon religion was violently brutal and insanely out of control for my people years ago! Today I am frustrated and annoyed with current policies for current native Americans (all of us), an ashamed of who feel $ will fix peps problem neglecting the true needs of people in respective to date

    October 7, 2011 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  6. mahnomen

    Ah, another confederacy of dunces.

    October 7, 2011 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  7. JD

    Although I would normally tend to disagree with just about everything a pastor like this would have to say, I think he has a point about Mormons' beliefs not being consistent with true Christianity. Mormons in fact believe that those in the faith who live lives that are deemed worthy can ascend to godhood, reigning over their own planet which is populated by their "spirit children". This belief is basically pantheism and not "one God forever and ever."

    October 7, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  8. Sharp

    The Republicans; the party of privilege, the party of corruption & the party of bigotry.

    October 7, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  9. Ramesh Shrestha

    This is insanity in the air! All these biased haters are fools. The pastor, who might like to stand ahead of Jesus and have people worship him rather than HIM, is crazy! I know many pastors of his breed; they are the ones who are running cults in the name of Jesus. Get church our of the way of politics! We should not vote Mitt Romney because of his policies and position on issues, but not because of his religion. The GOP is a clownhouse; they backstab their own! Some Mormons who posted their comments here defending the Church lack critical thinking. Unless they say 'I know' before their argument, what they say does not make sense. The LDS Church, which is my church too, is a Christinan church not because the official name bears the name of Jesus Christ, but He "is the cornerstone of our religion". We believe in Jesus Christ. May all know well!

    October 7, 2011 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  10. Murphdogz

    Oh perfect, let's allow another nutjob, who doesn't have a mind open enough to actually allow others beliefs to be accepted, into the public scene. I respected and considered Perry a fine candidate until this. You can't have such closeminded associates. All this Christian backbiting and criticism is really bludgeoning any hope we have of a positive movement forward amongst people of faith.

    October 7, 2011 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  11. xmegz

    bahahahahaha i love that CNN put a picture of them hugging on the front page with this headline. first the racist rock and now this– perry's campaign is falling apart. thank goodness.

    October 7, 2011 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  12. MAL

    so much for separation of church and state, right? Frankly, I'd prefer an atheist over anything, at least they wouldn't feel the need to "pray" for the right decision for the country and they wouldn't have any churches, temples, etc. giving money to pass bills that are not relevant to the job of running this country. Religion is for the home, not for outside your front door or the front door of your church, temple, etc.

    October 7, 2011 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  13. Bob

    First, I live in Dallas, and I can tell you that Jeffress is not considered influential around here. The downtown Dallas church has been on a decline for years, long surpassed by churches in the suburbs. I'm not sure most locals could tell you the name of the pastor of the church except for his shock value statements like this. Second, there is much debate in the Christian community about "WWJD" in many areas, and there seems to be so many conflicts. He would feed the poor who needed it, but he would oppose abortion. So it's difficult to stand on either side as a true follower.

    One last point, for those calling for First Baptist to lose it's tax exempt status. He did not make his comments in his pulpit. Also, before you can get to this church, you would have to close down almost every African American church in the south, because they are used almost constantly for political purposes, and mostly for the Democratic party.

    October 7, 2011 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  14. CallingHimOnIt

    Rev. Jeffress is not doing Perry any favors. I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we do not call First Baptist Dallas a cult. He should return the favor, but I'm not holding my breath. I don't how much more Christian we could be, believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died and rose the third day. Was there another Jesus Rev. Jeffress had in mind?

    October 7, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. loops08

    Perry's pastor has already gottem more coverage from CNN that Obama and Wright. Go figure.

    October 7, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  16. Christopher

    I will go one further. Don't vote for Perry, he's Christian. Instead vote for someone with a brain who does not believe in an imaginary space fairy.

    October 7, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  17. Paul

    Wonderful to see a man like this pastor stand for biblical principles even he's painted as unpopular. Oh, that we had such a person running (or acting) as President. I'm not sure any of the current candidates fit that definition.

    Oh, and Mormonism IS a cult. It is not Christian. Jesus Christ plays a big role in Islam, too, but I don't know a single Muslim who claims to be a Christian because of that.

    October 7, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  18. Ian

    Dear Dr. Jeffress, please educate yourself with our beliefs. You may come to find that the gospel of Jesus Christ that is found within the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints is in harmony with your goal- to bring people spirituial peace in this world of unrest, and bring people closer to Jesus Christ. Let us help one another to lift eachother up and not tear one another down.

    October 7, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  19. evensteven

    If churches are getting involved in politics, then it's time to remove their tax-exempt status.

    October 7, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  20. James

    By the way, the Nephites are not frmo Israel. Blood tests proved it.

    October 7, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  21. AJ

    I am a Mormon and have been to Dallas many times. I don't think the Pastor is a reflection of the good people of Dallas.

    October 7, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  22. Erin

    Why is it so near the end of the article that the quote the spokesperson for the LDS church who clearly says that Christ is central to the LDS faith? That should be near the beginning. Saying Romney isn't Christian is misrepresentative in so many ways and it should be refuted right of the bat.

    October 7, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  23. jp

    Perry is very good at throwing the rope over the rafter and allowing the media to tie the knot. On election day, voters will kick the chair and Perry will swing. His own tongue will do him in. He needs no help from us. Just sit in front of the TV and watch the comedy.

    October 7, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  24. Flashdog2

    Wow. One cult calling the other cult non-christian...Only one believes in magic underwear...Both believing that there is an imaginary man in the sky...You got to love it...

    October 7, 2011 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  25. jaintn

    Here is the church and here is the steeple, open the door and here are the sheeple. It's really sad that billions of human beings with seemingly functioning brains need someone to tell them how to think, how to feel, what to do, when to do it....... Organized religion just highlights how weak the human race actually is.

    October 7, 2011 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
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