Robert Jeffress said his views on Mormons are widely held by evangelicals.
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and ERIK ECKHOLM
Published: October 7, 2011
WASHINGTON — A Texas pastor introduced Rick Perry at a major conference of Christian conservatives here on Friday as “a genuine follower of Jesus Christ” and then walked outside and attacked Mitt Romney’s religion, calling the Mormon Church a cult and stating that Mr. Romney “is not a Christian.”
The comments by the pastor, Robert Jeffress of Dallas, injected a potentially explosive issue into the presidential campaign: the belief held by many evangelicals that Mormons are not Christians.
And it raised immediate suspicions that the attack might have been a way for surrogates or supporters of Mr. Perry, the Texas governor, who has stumbled in recent weeks, to gain ground by raising religious concerns about Mr. Romney. Mr. Jeffress similarly attacked Mr. Romney and his faith during the 2008 campaign.
The Perry campaign sought to put some distance between Mr. Perry and Mr. Jeffress, stating that the governor “does not believe Mormonism is a cult” and that Mr. Jeffress was chosen to speak by the organizers of the event, the Values Voter Summit, which was put on by the Family Research Council, the American Family Association and other evangelical Christian groups.
But in a statement, the Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins, said the Perry campaign had approved using Mr. Jeffress to introduce the governor. “Pastor Jeffress was suggested to us as a possible introductory speaker because he serves as pastor of one of the largest churches in Texas,” Mr. Perkins said. “We sent the request to the Perry campaign which then signed off on the request.”
Aides to Mr. Perry did not respond to a number of questions, including whether he was aware of Mr. Jeffress’s record of calling the Mormon Church a “cult” and denying Mr. Romney’s Christianity; whether he has ever talked with Mr. Jeffress about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and the nature of their relationship.
kudos to Pastor Jeffress. wish more SBC pastors were like him and less like Ed Young Jr. and Rick Warren and Perry Noble
btw, considering Governor Perry's support for the NAR cult peddlers, I am not surprised he tried to side-step the question on Mormons
Governor Perry needs a backbone and the gift of Discernment big time