Dr. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas pastor and leader of the Southern Baptist Convention introduced Rick Perry before a nearly full crowd at the Values Voter Summit in Washington Friday.
He also gave Perry his formal endorsement. After Perry’s speech, Jeffress expounded to reporters about his belief (and the formal position of the SBC) that Mormonism is “a cult.”
That’s right — he went there.
Jeffress told TPM after the speech that Perry welcomed his endorsement in person, but he stressed that he doesn’t know if Perry endorses his view on Mormonism which, of course, happens to be the faith of Perry’s chief rival for the nomination, Mitt Romney.
“I did not talk about my Mormon views [with Perry], and I’m no insinuating that the governor shares those at all — he may not share them at all,” Jeffress told TPM.
Jeffress is not some rogue kook. As he pointed out, the SBC has “officially labeled Mormonism a cult.”
“So this is not some right-wing extremist view,” Jeffress said. “This is the view of the largest protestant denomination in the country and the world.”
In his speech introducing Perry, Jeffress repeatedly referred to him as someone who “genuinely worships Jesus Christ.”
The Hill’s Cameron Joesph was in the same gaggle following Romney’s speech TPM was, and he caught this deeper criticism of Romney’s Mormonism from Jeffress:
“I think the decision for conservative Evangelical Christians right now is going to be, do we prefer somebody who is truly a believer in Jesus Christ or somebody who is a good moral person but is a member of a cult? And it’s not politically correct to say but it is true, Mormonism is a cult.“
Poltico‘s Alex Burns reported that when asked if Romney is a Christian, Jeffress said “no.”