Conservative pastor on Romney: Don't vote for a Mormon
October 7th, 2011
05:05 PM ET
9 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. Mel

    If the pastor wants to preach and influence politics from the pulpit then the church needs to saddle up and start paying taxes. If they want to keep their tax exempt status then they need to shut up.

    October 7, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Randy

    What an awful thing for this man to say. Jesus Christ would certainly be disgusted with this type of behavior,

    October 7, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. michael

    stay out of the following cults:
    and become/convert in to Orthodox Christianity like Greek, Egyptian, Ethiopian or Russian Orthodox

    October 7, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. John

    Oh here we go again, another story trying to portray Mitt Romney as a victim. If this was Orrin Hatch or some other Utah politician then this would not be a story but because Romney is a politician from the megalopolis (I should trademark that) it is a sign of religious bigotry. Try to at least understand why Evangelicals are skeptical about him: MORMONS DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE DEITY OF CHRIST. It has nothing to do with polygamy. That is just a Broadway fantasy. If Christ is not a deity then that means he just a prophet or teacher, therefore he can not save anyone from their sins. For me personally it is not the deciding issue but I can understand why Evangelicals would be skeptical and why a Evangelical pastor would say "don't vote for him."

    October 7, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  5. Reload

    As a Mormon, I really don't care that some evangelical mercenary thinks I'm not Christian. These mega-church leaders are just a bunch of con men masquerading as men of God. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." I wonder what kind of house this guy lives in and what model of Mercedes he is drives? Just another Jim Baker.
    WWJD? (What would Jesus drive?)

    October 7, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  6. Fenn

    at least he's not a moron like most of the other canditates

    October 7, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  7. LMC

    This is why our Founding Fathers pushed for the separation of church and state! Religious leaders have no business telling their "flock" how to vote.

    October 7, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  8. Tyler

    MORMONS ARE CHRISTIANS-ACTUAL NAME OF CHURCH: The Church of Jesus Christ of latter day Saints

    October 7, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  9. Lynne

    I'm not going to vote for Romney because I don't agree with his politics...I couldn't give a rip about his religion...and those that say their number one reason for not voting for someone is their religion are as bad as those that list someones skin color as the top reason. IMHO

    October 7, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. us1776

    Say NO to all these GOP/TEA nitwits.

    They are all frighteningly scary.


    October 7, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  11. Oscar

    It's refreshing that even this lunatic recognizes the importance of voting against Obama

    October 7, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Worried

    Aren't there more important things that the voters should be worried about? Education, job creation, etc. I don't care what religion the next president is as long as they can start solving the real problems in this country. Maybe I should add hate to the list of problems. I am really worried not only about where our country is headed, but how the people of this wonderful country are starting to act.

    October 7, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. Holly Harris

    I cannot believe that people of faith will openly oppose other "moral men" of faith simply because they are not of the same religion. We have had TOO many politicians who are adulterers and liars. I want someone -ANYONE- in office that has good moral values. I agree with the pastor, that "Romney's a good moral man.", but not only that, he knows a hell of a lot about business and economics! We need a person, Mormon or not, who can get this country back on it's feet and make us strong again.

    October 7, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  14. Jimbo

    Evangelicals blow up doctors offices, don't vote for Perry.

    October 7, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    CAREFUL: Ignore the nutjobs. This cuts both ways. It probably damages Mittens with the GOP/Teatrolls' fundamentalist "Krischun Nashun" base but playing into it may also buff Mittens' victim card antics...and you KNOW he'll be playing victim cards because it's a standard GOP operating procedure when the MSM reports on something negative about them. Just let the religious nuts have it out amongst themselves and don't pile on.

    October 7, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. Dave

    I could care less what church Romney belongs to. But Terrie Lynn Bittner wrote.........
    This pastor might be interested to know that he will never hear leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes nicknamed Mormons, refer to his religion as a cult or him as a non-Christian, simply because it would be un-Christlike behavior
    ....This is NOT true. The LDS Church teaches that they ARE the ONLY true church, and that every other Christian church is false. That is in their doctrine. While I do not believe the Baptist pastor is correct in telling his members how to vote, I dont see how LDS members can be offended when they indeed teach the same thing.

    October 7, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  17. Ed

    Please don't let this one guy be a reflection of all of Dallas. There may be 10,000 people in his church, but there are over 100x that many in Dallas who aren't! Mormons are Christians, just like Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Coptic Christians. The pastor should stop showing such prejudice and intolerance. If you are a religious person, how another person lives their life should be more important in judging them than what they label themselves or the specific beliefs and articles of faith they hold.

    October 7, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. Phattee

    Too bad, Teabaggers. This is the man you'll have to support if you want Obama to be a 1-term president.

    October 7, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  19. maria

    LDS members are the most wonderful people in this world.

    October 7, 2011 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  20. Philojazz

    To quote Mr Jeffress: "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." To paraphrase Mr Jeffress: "I don't hate Mr Jeffress. He might be a good, moral person," Philojazz told CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King. "But as one who believes in living a reality-based life, I have the responsibility to proclaim that what Mr Jeffress says is complet BS."

    October 7, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  21. FedUpRepublican

    "But as a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have the responsibility to proclaim what the Bible proclaims."

    So where exactly in the bible does it proclaim the Mormon faith to be a cult? As a Christian (non-Mormon) and a moderate Republican, I’ve had more than enough of these so called people of faith who justify their bigotry by hiding behind the bible. My vote will not be going to any candidate that supports this divisive brand of ignorance and hate. Furthermore, since the leaders of these so called mega-churches seem to enjoy the role of being political activists, I believe their church tax exempt status should be nullified immediately. Keep your religion out of our government!

    October 7, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Mormonism is a cult, they are not christians, and christianity is not a religion, it is a belief that Christ died for our sins, and through his sacrifice we are saved by grace and not of works. If Perry were a christian man he would feel the same way as this Pastor. Mormons believe they are going to rule there own planet and have many wives and be exhaulted to be a God, not thee God but a God. They believe that God was once a man like us and then was exhaulted to be God. They believe you baptize people for the dead to move them up in the three tier heaven. If you are mormon you know this to be true and if you are not look it up.

    October 7, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  23. clark

    and this lame excuse for a pastor is the leader of a mega church???? I don't feel he is a reliable religious leader when he spits out his prejudice against other cultures to his congregation as being the truth. Who follows this idiot?
    Had he done 5 minutes of research before opening his useless mouth by visiting he would know that mormons are in fact Christians.

    October 7, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  24. CommonSense

    FYI....the very definition of a cult is as follows:
    1) a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    2) an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
    3) the object of such devotion.
    4) a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
    5) Sociology definitions: a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
    but so what........religion should not be an issue

    October 7, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  25. StarlightJoJo

    Good. The right wing is eating each other alive.

    October 7, 2011 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
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