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. Terry

    And the script is set. And now live from America's Heartland, it is "Cult vs. Cult". The Mormons face off against the Tea Party. Film at 11!

    October 7, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  2. Austin Swafford

    I just have to laugh, honestly. That he can call the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints an un-Christian cult shows how far he's willing to think this through. It's not a cult. They are Christians. If you don't want to vote for him because you disagree with his religion, that's your business. But saying he's not Christian because you disagree with him is just plain bigotry. This is why Republicans need to stop associating with these groups.

    October 7, 2011 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  3. Joshua

    Mormonism is in fact a cult, they deny the central tenants of Christian teaching.

    October 7, 2011 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  4. Nancy

    Anyone that thinks the Mormon Church is a cult, should take a Sunday ride and go sit in a Service. Crazy what people think!

    October 7, 2011 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  5. "He's Dead Jim."

    Motive: see third paragraph in article.

    October 7, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  6. Theodyn

    Christians... always a wondrous source of entertainment. We'd have colonies on the moon by now if it weren't for them and their angry Hebrew god holding humanity back.

    October 7, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  7. Q-TIP

    this pastor should open a ministry in iran where he can be with the other fanatical religious morons

    October 7, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  8. Bob

    Dave, The LDS church teaches that Christ established HIS church on the earth, and it was later lost during an apostasy. The LDS Church teaches that God restored that same church in our day. So yes, the LDS church teaches that they are the only TRUE church (with ALL of the restored gospel of Christ). However, you will NEVER NEVER NEVER hear the LDS Leaders or Church come out and say someone is not a Christian, or that they don't believe in Christ. There is a difference.

    October 7, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  9. el flaco

    Republicans are not going to nominate a Black man, a Mormon, a woman, an adulterer, or loopy old Ron Paul.

    Hello Perry.

    October 7, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. conoclast

    Oh yeah, let's vote in another god-wants-me-to-be-president Texas blowhard - and this time let's get one who denies the Climate Crisis and believes men lived alongside the dinosaurs! That'll make us great among nations again for sure!
    (note to the tea-baggers: the sarcasm light is ON)

    October 7, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  11. mountainDude

    Meh. I was more or less expecting this. Evangelicals have considered Mormonism to be a cult for decades if not longer. Romney did a pretty good job as governor but they don't care, I doubt a Mormon will be able to take the South for another generation or two. Is what it is. I'm a southern Buddhist and they pretty much consider that to be a cult too.

    October 7, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  12. Michael Cornwall

    The opinion of this Baptist minister exemplifies the ignorance and narrow-mindedness that has driven this country to the brink of ruin. I am not of the Mormon faith, but for 20 years I worked side by side with dozens of hard working, patriotic and honest members of the LDS church. Their dedication to country, family, community and faith showed me that Mormons must be doing an awful lot right. Maybe Mr. Romney's Mormon faith and the good things it represents are exactly what this country needs. Crawl back under your rock Mr. Jeffress and let some real men fix the problems in the U.S.A.

    October 7, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  13. michael

    Why does CNN give this overbearing, egotistical "clown" a voice? Who cares what he thinks? Where is the christian compassion?

    There have many "fundamentalists/ evangelicals" that have come before him with this very narrow minded perspective – only to fall short when really challenged and put under closer scrutiny. He is one individual in 300+ million that "thinks" he has the answer.

    I am more concerned how he has convinced 10,000 people to join his congregation. Are there really 10,000 individuals that truly subscribed to his thoughts? If so, I would humbly submit that this is a cult.

    October 7, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  14. chip

    How could he be so mean! Mormons don´t discriminate against anyone!

    October 7, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  15. DEEJ

    Religion has its place, and fortunately that place is not politics.

    October 7, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  16. Joshua

    Even a muslim could claim to "follow Jesus" does this mean that their doctrine is Christian?

    No ... they deny salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

    October 7, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  17. re

    This is why separation of church & state is important to preserve. Send this pastor to pastor – Saudi Arabia! There he is allowed to beat people that don't live up to his personal irrational standards

    October 7, 2011 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  18. Melissa

    Doesn't anyone wonder why the Morman church is throwing around so much money on billboards, radio and tv ads "I'm a Morman. Is the church trying to make him main stream. That concerns me. If he were elected how much influence will the church have in him?

    October 7, 2011 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. DK

    What an absolute bigot.

    October 7, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  20. Dukesmom

    Here we go again on the religion thing. Last time it was all about a young catholic from the east. People were afraid of the Pope calling the shots in the white house.

    October 7, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  21. jeffbo

    Unless something really extraordinary happens to Perry's reputation and hidden ideas, I doubt that Romney will get elected. And if he does become the runner, in that case Obama will beat him... And if Perry becomes the runner and again if something really extraordinary happens to Perry's reputation and hidden ideas, Obama will win.

    October 7, 2011 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  22. IronCelt

    Are the evangelicals who're afraid of a Mormon also afraid of a conservative Catholic (Rick Santorum)? Just asking.

    October 7, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  23. snow

    aww gee.. And this is a country that boasts "Freedom of Religion" and shows "no discrimination based on one's Religious faith".. Ah the joke..

    Besides the mainstream mormoms USED to follow polygamy.. just like your average Christianity USED to approve slavery and USED to support the inqusitions.. so whats the difference between them on this day and age?

    October 7, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  24. tom

    a cult is a small group of people who believe in something. It is not a religion. Wow! need more background check.

    October 7, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  25. Bobby Los Angeles

    Anyone who believes that Gays are sinners is going to Hell.

    October 7, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
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