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. Winston

    Cult: unpopular religion
    Religion: Popular cult.

    October 7, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  2. Bull Connor

    Those of you calling mormons Christian are truely benighted. You may as well call Muslims Christian using that definition. They claim to be of the same lineage, but neither is a Christian belief system. mormons believe that Jesus was here in the US, and the native Americans are one of the "lost tribes" of Israel - they think Indians are Jews. They also think they can become demigods, live in their current bodies forever on their very own planets, all sorts of loonie stuff.

    October 7, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  3. Kona

    I did not see the full quote from Jeffress over at FN....not surprising. I wish he would define what a competent christian is for me....and the rest of America. I think the IRS should look into FBC Dallas exemption status.

    October 7, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. El Cid

    Christianity is the cult of Jesus. Christianity made Jesus a cult leader. All Christians are cult followers. No Christian church (or cult) can proclaim to be the "true" Church of Jesus Christ. No body knows where that is; it does not exist. Probably the last thing Jesus wanted was to have a religion named after him. The only thing we know is that we do not know. So Pastor Jeffress continue to feed your flock biblical science fiction about Adam and Eve and talking snakes and let all the Christians Anonymous decide who should be the next president of the United States.

    October 7, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. religion hijacked christianity

    Here's one for the paster who is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Jesus was born in what is now Iraq. He was dark skinned, loved everyone and warned us against people like the pastor. Republicans are cult members, holier than thou devil worshippers I say. Love Jesus, embrace Christianity, reject religion. Amen...

    October 7, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Jason

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and to hear all of this nonsense that I don't believe Jesus Christ gives me the opportunity to set the record straight. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Master. It is through him and only through him that I can receive a remission of sins. He is my Savior. His Ministry and Teachings guide my life everyday. I am happily married to my wife (singular), and we have a beautiful daughter. Our family, while going through the same trials everyone else does, find peace in Christ and his Atonement. To anyone who truly knows and understands the church and our faith, member or not, would boldy declare our faith in Jesus Christ. That's the record. That's the Truth.

    October 7, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  7. Jim Walker

    Religion has no place in the formation of public policy in a pluralistic society built upon religious freedom and tolerance. Reading Jefress' ridiculous comments makes me want to go cleanse myself by rereading Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom.

    October 7, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  8. LRoy

    Mormon or not, it won't be Obama I vote for. Even Catholics don't recognize Mormon as a Christian faith because they have an invalid baptism.

    October 7, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  9. wharf_rat

    Actually, I think the good pastor said, "Don't vote for Romney because he's a moron."

    October 7, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  10. wade

    This article is so contradictory, claiming things with no support. Going to the site is a great way to gain clarity from the source. The name of the church is The Church of "Jesus Christ" of Latter Day Saints. No need to debate this one.
    Where else would he learn "morals" from? It's time America to learn for yourself and inquire about Romney and all he claims.

    October 7, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. clark1g

    what is the definition of a cult? would the invention of a different Jesus Christ and a different gospel count as a cult? if yes ... then the Mormons are a cult. Ask them to describe Jesus in detail. Then ask Protestants and Catholics to describe Jesus.

    October 7, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  12. John

    I've known many Mormons. I've looked all over their legitimate official  websites. How anyone can come to the conclusion that these people and their faith are not Christian is absurd. From my years of relationships and study, they're the most Christian I've ever come acrossed. The Mormons I've met are charitable, hard-working, fun people.  I've never met one with horns, a harem of wives, or a to-be-god complex. These false labels are a load.

    Robert Jeffress, I don't believe a man in your position, and with your lack of Bible-practicng behavior, should make these uneducated claims.  Live a Christ-centered life and offer some loving respectable contibutions to the human race, and I'll buy your book and give you some further study. Until then don't expect me to trust your recommendation for a presidential candidate.

    October 7, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  13. Jim

    I find this to be hilarious. Let the battle of the crazy religious people begin!

    October 7, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  14. IK

    So angry with this story. Religion and politics is the most dangerous game to be played. My concern is we are moving away from reason and laws to something far more sinister. We can't seem to connect as a nation and this much is obvious to everyone. I am saddened everyday with what I read on the news and what people are doing around the world. Our view is so narrow, we are afraid of everything, and we just don't know what to do with ourselves. W/e my voice is small, perhaps when I grow old and wise I could reason with more people.

    October 7, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  15. Yarmulke=Hijab

    Finally someone is telling the truth. Mormons must be the most severe kind of all the brainwashed Christians out there. South Park episode about mormons is the best guide to learn about these seemingly nice but disgustingly twisted creatures. 'Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb'

    October 7, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  16. Unknown

    Not that I support Romney, but I think the pastor is an idiot!

    October 7, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  17. Mark

    The right wingers don't care about the country, unemployment could be 20% with international relations in shambles and a crumbling infrastructure as long as a gays can't have equal right and abortions are illegal and a white hypo-christian is in office.

    October 7, 2011 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  18. Carl

    Those of us who need to be led should keep in mind that priests, prophets, politicians and unions use you for their own self interests and.have done so throughout time.

    October 7, 2011 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  19. Scott

    .. we have a Muslim in the White House now. A Mormon would be a huge step up.

    October 7, 2011 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  20. indyreader

    Bears repeating: 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 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  21. Heavyarms

    THe problem with Mormonism is that I don't think they hold up Jesus as their Savior & God.

    October 7, 2011 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  22. DHarrison

    So by Jeffress' own definition of a "theological cult" the Babptist church is a cult too. It like many splinter groups and protestant churches all began as regular men got together to decide on a way to interpret the bible.... so is it the pot calling the kettle black?

    October 7, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  23. Yvonne

    I heard the Reverend said Catholic are wrong because they are not following the New Testament. Guess who gave the New Testament to the world? Catholics.

    October 7, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  24. cmoore56

    I know! Don't vote for EITHER one of these losers! Vote for OBAMA!!!

    October 7, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  25. PastorRuss

    Whe you go to the First Baptist web site the staff pictures are all of white males (and one white female). Now THAT is a strange top down "diversity."

    October 7, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
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