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. Anonymous

    My invisible friend is better than your invisible friend.

    October 7, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    This preacher needs to get his facts straight. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, is a good faith that does believe in Jesus Christ. I guarantee most Mormons probably live a better life than this joke of a preacher. I have seen this many times. Preacher gets a big congregation, Big paycheck, and a BIG head. Mitt Romney is as moral of a person as they come, and our country could learn from him.

    October 7, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. papanez

    Typical hipocritical non-christian christian yapping like a complete idiot. Is this Jeffress aware that Jesus is Jewish?

    October 7, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. Observer

    He makes a good example of why churches should have to pay taxes.

    October 7, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. PulTab

    All religions and churches are cults. Some are just bigger than others.

    October 7, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. ComSenseWiz

    This delusional, fiction brainwashed pastor better get ready to pinch his nose because Perry ain't gonna beat Romney for the GOP nomination. Bank on it. As for getting rid of illegal alien loving Obummer, ain't gonna happen without Romney as his opponent. Romney is the only possible person I would vote for in 2012 Presidential election. All others? No chance.

    October 7, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    One more reason why evangelicals are among the most ignorant people in the country.

    October 7, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. RV1982

    I am pretty sure the church just lost their tax-exempt status.

    October 7, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Any "Christian" pastor would NOT associate with a sleaze like Perry.....wonder what Perry's "contribution" to his church was...this is just another megachurch televangelist trying to get his name in the headlines....shame shame.....
    Mormons are Christians, just like Protestants, Catholics, and others, they each just practice differently..
    And for the record, Religon DOES NOT count if you don't have Faith.

    October 7, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  10. Name tunji12

    I donte think. Mitt rommey he is healthy choice for conservatives because he really looks sneaky

    October 7, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Arthur

    You guys can make the argument about whether religion is bad or not. I honestly don't care. I just really think Romney can do a better job than the rest. Because of his background. His religion? I'd never become a Mormon. Not because I agree with this bigoted pastor or everyone else here, I just don't believe in religion. Mormons in general? They are a fine group of people.

    October 7, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  12. grist

    So we have a guy who believes a man was born to a woman impregnated by a god, calling another person's religion a cult. Yes, Mormanism is crazy and clearly untrue as we know from studying genetics that native Americans are not the "lost tribes" . But it is no more unbelievable than mainstream Christian myths.

    October 7, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Roco1957

    I just don't get it. I am not a fan of Romney but doesn't America stands for the land of the free and home and the brave and any one could become President? Religion, color of one's skin, fat or thin, tall or short, male of female should not come into play. Something's very wrong with this guy and his way of thinking.

    October 7, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Evelyn

    Our pastor urges us to pray about our voting selections and then vote our conscience. If a pastor wants to endorse a particular candidate, he shouldn't do it under the umbrella of his/her church. He should do it as an individual. I'm sure the Rev. Jeffres doesn't speak for his entire congregation. He's wrong to do that. What he's doing is using his church to further his own personal agenda. If this tend continues I can see how churches would lose their tax exempt status. These pastors need to stop pimping Jesus and start being the ambassadors of Christ we are called to be.

    October 7, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. kayla

    your goose is cooked herman monster

    October 7, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Black FreeThinkers

    This guy is a joke.

    October 7, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. MTATL67

    That Pastor should be ashamed of himself. There was a time when the Catholic church would have that Pastor burned him as a heretic. Amazing how folks like that turn on another human being when they think they are on top.

    October 7, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Robert1962

    People should be skeptical against any so called "label" given by the Southern Baptist Convention. Who died and left them the sole authority on what is and what is NOT a cult.

    October 7, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. Ute Man 2010

    Sooo what !! I am a long time Baptist and he is my first choice in the race.

    October 7, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Dave

    I would think any kind of belief in a religion would label a man as incompetent to serve in office.

    October 7, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  21. willard

    I said mocked out of robert jeff so I ask him what about presdient obama was used musilim. To change his christain
    I'm belived that obama like brainwashed to change to christain from old his muslims

    October 7, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. theservant

    Jefferys is a foolish little man. And anybody who supports him is no better. I don't support Mitt Romney because he is an unprincipled robber barron. Besides, Jesus Christ would hardly recognize any "right-wing" so-called christian"
    who harbors the hatred that is readily an openly seen and espoused by them towards others. Callin' it like it is.

    October 7, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. Ben

    I guess it depends on what your meaning of Christian is. If you believe that Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world and you believe in the Bible, then yes, Mormons (I'm one) are Christians. If you have some other definition then we'd just have to understand what his definition is. Regardless, where is the separation of Church and State? People are worried that Mormons are going to vote Mormon, not the case. I'm Mormon, and there are two Republicans that are Mormon, and I'm voting for the true GOP Front Runner RON PAUL!!

    October 7, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. maxwell

    If ignorance is bliss, This Texas pastor must be very blissfull.

    October 7, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  25. Heidi

    If he is telling his parishioners how to vote, then his church's tax-exempt status needs to be revoked.

    October 7, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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