Jeffress: I’m not ‘Rick Perry’s Jeremiah Wright’
October 10th, 2011
12:25 PM ET
11 years ago

Jeffress: I’m not ‘Rick Perry’s Jeremiah Wright’

(CNN) – Baptist minister Robert Jeffress drew ire Friday for his comments equating Mormonism to a cult and discouraging Republicans from voting for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at the Values Voter Summit–after he introduced Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

And Monday, he attempted to distance himself from another minister famous for inflammatory remarks that stirred up controversy for an–eventually successful–White House hopeful.

When asked to describe his relationship with Perry, a contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Jeffress responded, "We are just acquaintances."

"You know, there are people who would like to try to make me the Jeremiah Wright of the right, or Rick Perry's Jeremiah Wright," the head of a Dallas megachurch and leader in evangelical circles said during an interview on Fox News.

President Barack Obama publicly distanced himself from Wright, the minister he'd once seen as mentor, on the 2008 campaign trail when racially charged comments made by Wright during sermons drew unwanted attention to the then-senator's presidential campaign.

But Jeffress insisted there is no such relationship between him and Perry whom, he asserted, he only knew from a distance.

"Rick Perry has never listened to a sermon of mine, he's certainly never been a member of my church. We are just acquaintances," Jeffress pointed out, in a not-so-subtle allusion to the relationship between the Obama and Wright, the head of another large church to which the president once belonged.

Perry responded Friday to Jeffress' comment, saying "no" when asked whether he believed Mormonism was a cult. His spokesman, Mark Miner, stated that Jeffress was chosen to introduce Perry by the Family Research Council, and not the campaign. The summit organizers said the campaign was told of his selection to introduce the governor about two weeks prior.

Jeffress made similar remarks back during the 2008 campaign, when Romney made his first run for the presidency.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Rick Perry • Values Voter Summit
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Woman In California

    Here is the problem. Why on earth would you tell people who like you not to like you? It does not mean you agree with what they're saying but it just does not make sense?

    President Obama was faced with this same situation In 2008 when Hillary asked him to not take an endorsement from the Black Panther Party. Candidate Obama then asked her – what do you want me to tell them – not to like me? That was a good question and it holds true today. No sane person would ask anyone not to like them when they do. He is not saying these things – his supporters are and I am not a supporter of Rick Perry but this is ridiculous.

    October 10, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Joe

    Perry deserves to have problems with right wing 'ministers." Let's remember that huge CHRISTIAN camp meeting he staged a while back where he did everything but scream "I'm not a Mormon." What goes around comes around, Governor.

    October 10, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Marcel

    Perry's Jeremiah Wright

    Good! When you're running for president/ Presidential nomination you better be prepared to be scrutinized, even about your religious affiliation. Perry, obviously has another problem on his hand. Of course Robert Jeffress is Perry's 'Jeremiah Wright' and he better distance himself from him in a huge way, before this cancer spread any worse. It won't make much of a difference anyway!

    You see? when we point one finger of accusation at another, the other four fingers on the same hand automatically point back at us. Perry has another headache to address atop of all the rest. This can be the end to his bid for the white house, and what else is in the pipeline? No one knows. Now for Perry it's not just raining it's pouring in barrels.

    This is a poof that neither Perry 'the controversial figure' nor Romney the 'flipflopper' is ready for the Teapublican party nomination. This leaves us with Herman Cain who is a sure loser to Obama even before the gate opens.

    No need to mention, Gingrich 'the immoral one'; Huntsman 'the political opportunist'; Bachmann 'the gay converter'; Paul the 'renegade apostle'; Sontorum ' the anti-gay military activist', and? and? and ?

    Good! for the Teapublicans.

    October 10, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. davec.0121

    What ever happened to the Constitutional restriction on religious tests? What about the First Amendment? (Oh, right, another one of the speakers at this conference said it doesn't apply to non-Christians, as defined by him.) In the second decade of the 21st Century and the third century of the American Constitution, it is incredible that a candidate's religious beliefs are regarded as a legitimate campaign issue, and that people oppose candidates solely on the basis of their religion. This is so counter to the American spirit of tolerance and acceptance as to be, for lack of a better word, Un-American. The "Family Values Conference" and it's organizers and supporters seem more than willing to trample on a large part of American history and Constitutional principles in their zeal to impose their (but not my) "Family Values" on an unwilling America. The toadying of the GOP candidates to such a reactionary, intolerant, Un-American organization is just one more reason I can't vote Republican.

    October 10, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Evangelicals are amusing. And blinded by their own hypocrisy. It is time, perhaps, to begin taxing ALL churches - their various spokespersons certainly are willing to jump into the political arena at a moments notice - no matter their denominational affiliation, or spiritual beliefs. But, to answer the question ... Should Perry be held accountable for something said by another? No more than Barack Obama should have been held accountable for Jeremiah Wright. Somehow, I don't see either Perry or Romney addressing the nation as candidate Obama was forced to do during the Wright controversy. Both Perry and Romney have for years supported congregations spewing the same nonsense Rev. Wright spewed - Perry as a evangelical, and Romney as a Mormon follower of the prophet Joseph Smith. In the end, both will be forgiven for the sake of tolerance. Mr. Obama? Not so much.

    October 10, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. hmmmm?

    I did a little digging on the origins of the Mormons and Jehova's Witnesses...maybe on to something there, both founders were high ranking 33rd degree masons, what a coincidence. I don't like Perry at all, just saying that the minister has a point worth looking into.

    October 10, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. John

    is Perry's minister any different than Obama's preacher when he was running. if you compare the two,
    Perry and Obama are from similar backgrounds. Same controversy same story. If it didn't hurt Obama why should it hurt Rick Perry?

    October 10, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. coy4one

    Does Perry's camp not have a say in who introduces Perry at events? Is it not common practice to at least review the introductions in advance? Seems to me that Perry is just showing how inexperienced he is and maybe its time for him to think about running in 2016 and just using 2012 as an experience-gathering lesson. I would hate to see him in the WH making these same mistakes at the expense of the American People...

    October 10, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Dixie Independent voter

    GET RELIGION OUT OF POLITICS! Perry, himself, introduced religion. If Jeffress caused Perry trouble so be it.

    October 10, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |

    He won't win but this is the same type of crap all presidential candidates will go through, just the way it is. In this case Jeffress is wanting to be in the spotlight or his church in the spotlight if true that Perry is no more than an acquaintance and has never attended the church. I love it when crap comes down on their, maybe they will think before they open their mouths and talk crap on POTUS, SHOW IS ON THE OTHER FOOT NOW.

    October 10, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. PandoraDoggl

    I can't believe how ready everyone is to call Jeffress Perry's Jeremiah Wright when the left obviously didn't have a very big problem with Jeremiah Wright, or they never would have overlooked the poison he was spewing. There is no comparison between asserting that Mormonism meets the theological definition of a cult according to Jeffress's own ideology and asserting that America deserved 9/11. There is no comparison between being introduced by a man at an event and attending a man's church for years. I don't even like Perry – but this isn't fair, and you all know it.

    October 10, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. John Herzog

    Jeffress should explain what makes "his version" of Christianity better than Romney's.......Interesting how everyone is an expert on someone else's Christianity, when by "dissing" the other person, they emphatically prove that they are not coming close to acting like Christ would.....80-20 rule in full force, with the 80 being the hypocrites.

    October 10, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. Ancient Texan

    Perry didn't solicit the pastors endorsement nor is he in any trouble because of it. All of this Liberal outrage is unfair and prdictable.

    October 10, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    I think the real question that should come out of this controversy is how these "ministers" are able to host political events and retain their tax-exempt status as "religous" organizations. Seems like an excellent setup to dodge paying taxes to me, because some of these groups *own* capital producing businesses, which they inject into the political process.

    October 10, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Ancient Texan wrote:
    Perry didn't solicit the pastors endorsement nor is he in any trouble because of it. All of this Liberal outrage is unfair and prdictable.
    Perry did solicit the pastor's attendance at that rally Perry hosted for Christian Fundamentalists several weeks ago. Liberals and moderates are not outraged by the pastor's comments, though. They are simply shaking their heads in disgust. The SBC has been riddled with bigots for decades. It is why they split from ABC, American Baptists, and became Republicans after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    October 10, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. Howard

    CNN where were you when obama spent TWENTY YEARS in the congregation of the anti-American racist, jeremiah wright ???

    October 10, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. Lindsey

    So who is a "good enough Christian" for these self-righteous, tiresome vangie/fundie types?

    *sigh* Not even Jesus Christ himself.

    October 10, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. thomas

    Go Tigers !

    Perry , Texas is part of America , America is not part of Texas !

    Perry / Enron 2002 ?

    October 10, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. diridi

    This one is a total Idiot. He is bringing Religion, church, into politics, all BS....I don't have any respect for this idiot...o.k,

    October 10, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    Another crazy Texas evangelical that needs to be put in his place. Anyone remember Rev. Hagee 3 years ago, and how he hated Catholics? Actually, I hope he keeps attacking Romeny, and we have a ole' religious war going on inside the GOP. It would serve them right for encouraging these idiots over the last 36 years.

    October 10, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The problem is that Perry is a part of Christians that want to take over the government and business among other aspects of modern society just to get it ready for their perceived god's return. He follows Dominion Theology which can be found on The problem that Perry is having is that not everyone likes living in a theocracy. It is not what the founding fathers really wanted. As far as I am concerned that is a bigger problem than having a religious leader like Wright who points out the problems in the society and uses poor words to describe them.

    October 10, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. jeff kelly

    Ron Paul said we should not be having this discussion rather we should be focusing on how to save the economy, how to get Amercians working again, we should be discussing how to win the White House in 2012! A religion should have nothing to do with a person running for political office. Ron Paul is the only real alternative to the status quo which Perry and Romney represent. We are in a major economic crisis, we need new leadership, with new ideas on how to run the economy! Ron Paul offers the alternative to the status quo. We must change course, we must unite behind Ron Paul for 2012. Ron Paul

    October 10, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. glm

    The Baptist preacher Jeffress isn't the candidate yet he's getting more articles than the candidates! CNN and other corporate news media needs to focus on the candidates, please!

    October 10, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. Roguey

    That an evangelical Christian should call Mormonism a "cult" is ironic at best.
    Look up definition of a "Cult". All religions are cults.

    October 10, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    coy4one asked:
    Does Perry's camp not have a say in who introduces Perry at events? Is it not common practice to at least review the introductions in advance?
    Perry was given two weeks advance notice as to who would be introducing him at the conference. Jeffress made similar remarks during the 2008 campaign about the Mormon faith. Perry can play dumb all he wants, but he looks dumb doing it.

    October 10, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
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