Conservative pastor on Romney: Don't vote for a Mormon
October 7th, 2011
05:05 PM ET
10 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," 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. Jason Knight

    There is no place for religion in politics. Why complicate matters further by having to take into account religious beliefs. So archaic.

    October 7, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  2. BENJI

    If Obama loses, I hope Romney wins just so I can laugh at all the teabaggers who have a problem with them.

    October 7, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  3. Jayce

    WHO ..........REALLY ...............CARES

    October 7, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  4. TMNYG

    It's like I always say, Evangelicals would not be so bad, if they would just keep it to themselves.

    October 7, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  5. Reverend Horton

    Cult? nope... Christians? not even close.... ask them how one may become a god in their own right when they leave this world.. I really don't remember JC saying anything like that.. in fact the Bible is quite adamant that GOD alone is the ONE.. and all that crud that the BIG GUY entrusted 14 pound Golden Tablets the lost writings were on to e mere boy.. and then the stupid teen goes and loses them? really does anyone think God would trust a teen with even a to-do list, let alone the supposed truth.... they crack me up..

    October 7, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Jesus Christ is a Deity just as much as God the Father. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know He is my Savior and Judge.

    October 7, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. Brad5013

    I LOVE it when the GOP bigots fight among themselves. 2012 is gonna' be fun!

    October 7, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. DoNotWorry

    LOL, I used to work across the street from First Baptist in Dallas. They think the leader of the Mormon Church is the Antichrist. I kid you not.

    October 7, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  9. DC

    A man's religion is between him and his version of God and it is no one else's business. Evangelical Christians do not have a monopoly on God. Their version of God works for them, but Mr. Romney is free to believe in whatever he chooses. His religion has nothing to do with his ability to run the nation. Religion should be kept separate from government, both to protect the religion and to protect the government. Read Thomas Jeffersons thoughts on religion and government. . History has shown us the dangers of mixing religion and government. That combination gave the world the Spanish Inquisition, ethnic cleansing, global terrorism and many other atrocities, all in the name of religion. America was colonized largely by people tryig to live free from a government infused with religion. Lets keep religion our of our government.

    October 7, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  10. MSman

    Robert Jeffress is absolutely crazy! I know two guys that ride bikes, wear white shirts and ties that would love to sit down with him and show him that "Mormons" ARE Christian! What a nut case! Get real Mr. Jeffress and stop showing your ignorance! Visit for more info.

    October 7, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  11. NauticalMan

    There are too many ignorant, prejudiced people who call themselves Republicans and Christian in my book. Will I vote for Mitt Romney? No, but not because he is a Mormon, My reasons are that having had him a a Governor here in Massachusetts, I remember him as a progressive, moderate person, who passed a health care bill which now covers over 96% of adults and 98% of children. Now he sounds like the rest of the Know Nothings in the GOP, a throwback to the worst of times. Mitt is in the wrong political party, which is why he will never get nominated by these extremists.

    October 7, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  12. Mitchel Johnson

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We speak of Christ. He is my Lord and Savior. You can believe what you want but please don't tell me what I believe.

    October 7, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  13. Roberto

    All I can say is don't forget about us schmucks out here in middle-America. And please, if a Republican gets elected, PLEASE!!!!, don't make us go to church. Don't make us commit to Jesus. Just leave us alone with your religion. PLEASE?????? PLEASE!!!!! KEEP YOUR RELIGION TO YOURSELVES! I don't care at this point who gets elected. Just don't bring religion into the equation. PLEASE!!!!!!!

    October 7, 2011 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  14. Buzz

    Who needs Palin and her followers for political humor when you have Perry and his followers? And to think I was worried about who I'd get to laugh at when she announced she wasn't running. What was I thinking? And yes, I'm from Texas. I know what I'm talking about.

    October 7, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  15. james

    One of the biggest differences between evangelicals and mormons is " who is Jesus?" Mormons believe he is a created being. Evangelicals believe He is God. So from an evangelicals point of view, if you say jesus is merely a goo,d sinless man, and not deity, you totally missing what the bible teaches. There are many verses that say that the Father and Son are One. As is the Holy Spirit. And while Jesus was on earth, he was 100% God, 100% man. So there really is a big difference between the 2 beliefs.

    October 7, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  16. Utahmom

    Kindness begins with me

    October 7, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  17. J

    Well people I can't believe I have actually taken the time to read these. I am even more surprised I am taking the time to write this. I just wanted to say that religion will always be a part of politics. Religion is what people believe. Yes people will argue they are not part of an ORGANIZED church, but they still have beliefs. Something I respect about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that not one leader in their church is paid. From what I understand most leaders of churches are paid. The leaders of the LDS faith are not making a living from church service. These other men or women are and will do anything to destroy Mormon church's credibility because it is a fast growing religion. Hence taking their followers away. Most people want to do good, so why are we not uniting to do good! Lets work together and get something done, instead bickering on the CNN website!

    October 7, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  18. jo an

    I am not Mormon...and I will vote for Obama but I like Romney...I would not vote for a BAPTIST...I was one, long ago and they have become more and more offensive. Never heard this 'craziness' from the minister when I was growing up. The Baptist Church was 'taken over' by extremists...NO WOMAN CAN GIVE A 'SERMON' in their church....A SCARY BUNCH.

    October 7, 2011 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  19. TMNYG

    Michael, I have one better for you. Get a clue that religion no longer necessary as a part of human culture. Organized religion as run it's course. The reality is God if a figment of human imagination and was only created because people are frightened of the unknown, most notably people are afraid of death. When you get that death is a part of life and that there is nothing else after the brain stops functioning you realize you have no need for a god and all this BS and aruguing about who's right who's wrong has been an incredible waste of resources and time!

    October 7, 2011 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Thanks god I am atheist!

    October 7, 2011 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  21. Nacho1

    No more comments...don't want to bring myself down to the level of Pastor Robert Jeffress....he is simply one of the "little people". Since I am a Dallas TX resident his very existence offends me after that comment by him!

    October 7, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  22. Semiahmoo

    Mormonism is a cult but less offensive than the Jehovah's Witnesses or Scientologists.

    October 7, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  23. wharf0rat

    Actually, this is just one big misunderstanding. The good pastor really said, "Don't vote for Romney because he's a moron."

    October 7, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  24. LeeRoy

    Jeffress suggested the selection of Romney as the lesser of two evils? Obama being the other? Excuse me? What specifically is evil about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; the Church named after Jesus Christ? Please elaberate Mr. Jeffress. I'm confident 100% of our 19 – 25 year old Missionaries could counter each and every incorrect point you make. So can our web-sites. Of course, the spirit that you are motivated by will not invite the truth to enlighten you. Why must you be so hateful sir? Very sad.

    October 7, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  25. Luke

    I knew this would come up eventually, and you know the media has been salivating for it. The race so far is a bore (but sure to be great entertainment eventually), and this is just the kind of thing that satisfies CNN's fetish for pitting one conservative against another - that they are religions is a bonus - and FOX's need to portray the religious as victims (seriously, $10 says that's where this goes on Fox). This, as they say, is a story with legs.

    October 7, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
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