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. sck

    A religious test for elected office is unAmerican, no wonder Fundie Christians demand one.

    October 7, 2011 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  2. cgs

    Perry and his cronies have showed themselves to be bigots! All Christians believe outrages things so who cares about Romney's beliefs? Noah and the flood? Angels that are half human, half bird? Moses and the red sea? etc.

    October 7, 2011 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  3. Kevin C

    Looks like both CNN and average Republicans are following their stereotypical scripts.

    October 7, 2011 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  4. beamerguy

    I am too a born again christian. I am from the mid west and lived in Utah for a couple years and studied the religion. I don't think we as christians should judge him for being mormon. I do believe that yes, in my eyes mormon religion is wrong. the bible said at the end that nothing is to be added, the word of god is written. Also, beware of false prophets. this is just what joseph smith was. he found followers just as jum jones, or david crush in waco. how ever I do not feel that again as a christian he should be judged as the bible says "do not judge others as god will judge you for doing so." At this point I just hope obama is out! Laid off 3 times in past 3 years due to work slowing down do to the economy that obama was to fix in his first term as he put...

    October 7, 2011 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  5. Susan

    Very disappointed in all the religious bs. I'd leave to find freedom from religous dogma but there is no where to go to hide. In another 20 years or so it ought to be pretty clear mankind isn't going to have a very bright future anywhere in the world. That 2000 year old 'bible' is more trouble then it is worth in a moderant tolerant world.

    October 7, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  6. Jeff

    Ummmm........I am a Mormon, went to church in the last few weeks. I sung a song about Jesus Christ, and my small children learned about Jesus Christ. I also had a lesson about how Jesus Christ was a compassionate man to the poor, and how we should follow his example. I was taught how to be a better husband and father. are correct Pastor...we don't believe in Jesus. LOL.

    People don't care which religion our President is. This is why Romney is way ahead of Perry in every poll out there, even though he belongs to our so called "cult".

    October 7, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  7. "He's Dead Jim."

    Yes, it seems that the greater majority of churches throughout spew a bunch of high pressure air around about how "theirs" is the only true religion and god. It's all a load of transparent man-made controlism.

    October 7, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  8. truthspeaks

    Well Rick Perry is a war monger, what else is new?

    October 7, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  9. Metron

    "I would rather have a non-Christian who at least supports biblical principles..."

    Except, Southern Baptists don't support biblical principles either. In Genesis, God made the Sabbath Holy, not Sunday. Southern Baptists worship on Sundays, not the Sabbath as God intended. Therefore......yea.

    October 7, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  10. @CitizenPierre

    Well it looks like Republican HATE and Intolerance is catching up with itself. It wont be long before poor under educated whites realize that the party doesn't care for them either.

    October 7, 2011 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  11. Smokey

    Mormons are Christians, and Romney's gonna be President so folks should just start dealing with it now.

    October 7, 2011 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  12. Steve

    Southern Baptists is also a cult.

    October 7, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  13. yeah?

    What a disgrace to humanity, in the end we all come from the same place, get over yourself...

    October 7, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  14. JRDobbs

    Hmm, someone's looking to have their non-profit status revoked.

    The evangelical movement really needs to watch out that they aren't taken over as a political tool. Keep those money-changers out of the temple, y'hear? JC doesn't approve of that.

    October 7, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  15. Snow-blind

    Dave. You are partially correct, however, Mormons don't say other religions are false. What they say is that other religions don't contain the full truth. There is a big difference! It would be similar to me telling people you weren't fully informed on an issue. That's my opinion and you might be offended by it but the situation would be worse if I called you an IDIOT! That's the same kind of message/insult the good pastor is trying to convey with his comments. Pure hatred. Shame on him.

    October 7, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  16. bernie

    The definition of a cult usually means that a group of people follow a charismatic human. Sounds like This particular mega pastor , (who no doubt makes a lot money of fleecing his huge flock) while pointing a finger at the other religions , just pointed three fingers back at his self. Main stream religion does not like smaller religions usually because they expose the lies and hypocrisy of individuals like him. Jesus was very specific about not getting involved in this worlds political arena. Just because the Southern Baptists declare other religions a cult, simply does not make it true. Mr. J just wants control and money and uses God to get it. He will be called to account for his actions according to the Bible. you can't lie and use God to make money and have grandiose power and get away with it. Truth is free and pregudice and politically free. Unfortunately, Jokers like this make belief in God and his Son repulsive to many people. frustrated rant over. Thanks

    October 7, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  17. Terry Gloege

    Let the crusade begin. It was only a matter of time before this sort of talk found it's way to the light of day.

    October 7, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  18. Erick

    The Godfather of the Tea Party

    October 7, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  19. Maryabb

    How deep did CNN have to dig to find this disgusting fountain of bigotry? Let the man have his religion. It's as good as many others and it's a matter of his spiritual life, not his politics. I'd vote for him just because of this sort of thing and hope he wins and all the bigots may rot under the blanket.

    October 7, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  20. Lewy

    If the election comes down to a Mormon and a black, I'll take the Mormon.

    October 7, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  21. Brandon

    Mr. Jeffress, how unwittingly Pharisaic you sound. As you may recall Jesus himself was accused of not being Christ-ian throughout his whole ministry. I guess Mr. Romney is in good company.

    October 7, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  22. Len Claypool


    If any Religion can't seem to come together amongst THEMSELVES, how can they ever hope to TEACH the non-believers?


    October 7, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  23. TJeff1776

    Romney was Governor of Massachusetts for four years and that State is still in existence. The Southern Baptist preachers also denounced John Kennedy when he was running for Prez. They Stated that the Pope would be running the United States. It proved completely false. The Mormon Church practices a strict code of NOT meddling in secular
    matters. Preacher Jeffress is just another backward individual preaching hate- a hangover from the Kennedy days. He will be no more successful than his ignorant forebears.

    October 7, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  24. TomCA

    "described the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a "cult.""
    Stupid preacher by definition all religions are cults. Some people consider cults to small groups by that definition the Mormon church is not a cult with more than 13 millon baptised members.

    October 7, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  25. Teaneck

    Mormons are NOT Christians. They believe Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. Their religion is based on the same
    teachings at Masonry. Even Joseph Smith's decendants repudiated his vision from the Archangel Maroni. If you
    are going to comment, do your research, please!

    October 7, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
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