The head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is calling for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to cut any and all ties to Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, over comments Jeffress made last September that are considered to be “anti-Catholic” in nature and for his recent Mormonism is a "cult” comments.
Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, which defends Catholicism, issued a statement Wednesday denouncing the Baptist pastor.
“Where did they find this guy? When theological differences are demonized by the faithful of any religion – never mind by a clergyman – it makes a mockery of their own religion. [The] Rev. Jeffress is a poster boy for hatred, not Christianity,” Donahue stated on the group’s website.
At the Values Voter Summit in Washington Oct. 7, Jeffress told a reporter that Mormonism is a “cult” and that he would prefer Americans elect a Christian over a non-Christian.
Donohue spoke with The Christian Post on Thursday and offered his comments on Jeffress comments and on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, President Obama, Perry and other elected officials.
CP: Last Friday Jeffress said Mitt Romney was a good and moral family man, but he was not a Christian and that the faith to which Romney subscribes, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a cult. Do you agree with that statement?
Donohue: No. That’s simply an ignorant statement. All religions started out as a “cult.” Mormons have been around for a long time, so I wouldn’t consider them a cult any longer. Now whether we agree with their views – I think that’s a debate we can have at another time, but I don’t believe we should call Mormons a cult. I do think Jeffress is a bit different, but I wonder why he projected himself in this way.
CP: What exactly are you asking Gov. Perry to do?
Donohue: Unless Jeffress changes his stance – and I personally don’t think he will because he has shown no remorse over his statements and he likes to be on television too much – I think Perry should say, “He didn’t speak for me then, and he doesn’t speak for me now.”
Listen, this goes back to 2008 and what John Hagee had said about Catholics. Hagee had a long history of making horrible comments, but after several conversations and some reasoning, Hagee came into my office to meet with me, he offered an apology and today I consider him a good friend. But personally, I don’t expect to hear from Robert Jeffress.
CP: Pastor Jeffress said that he would prefer to vote for a Christian over a non-Christian, but if Mitt Romney were the Republican nominee, he would probably vote for Romney over President Obama. Would you support a Catholic over a non-Catholic and what would you do if Romney and Obama were running against one another?
Donohue: I would vote for the person most qualified to lead our nation. There is no question I have a long history of opposing President Obama. I could never support someone who is such an enthusiast of abortion-on-demand and who opposes most every position of the Catholic Church including same-sex marriage.
Romney’s positions on abortions are disturbing to me too. He supported abortion-on-demand when he was governor of Massachusetts but has now said he changed his position. It is concerning that his mother is a supporter of abortion-on-demand and he has made statements that he would do what his mother tells him to, but I would rather have someone who is willing to change his views on abortion than someone who won’t.
As for supporting a Catholic over a non-Catholic, listen, I think Nancy Pelosi is a disgrace to the church and that [New York Gov.] Andrew Cuomo is a disgrace to Catholics. Everyone knows he (Cuomo) is living an adulterous lifestyle, is pro-abortion-on-demand and implemented homosexual marriage without even first holding a public hearing. What Cuomo sells in New York won’t fly with the rest of the country but you can bet he thinks he’s going to be president of the United States one day, but I wouldn’t support him. I think Ronald Reagan (was) the greatest president of my lifetime and he wasn’t a Catholic.
At the heart of the issue are comments Jeffress made on his Pathway to Victory radio show. Last year, (the) Rev. Jeffress said the Roman Catholic Church was the outgrowth of a “corruption” called the “Babylonian mystery.” He continued, ‘Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn’t come from God’s word. It comes from that cult-like pagan religion. … Isn’t that the genius of Satan?
CP: If Gov. Perry distances himself from Jeffress and convinces voters he does not agree with his comments or positions, do you think Perry can move forward and potentially run a successful campaign?
Donohue: Yes, I think he can, but I think he needs to do it soon. Today is better than tomorrow, but if he doesn’t do something by the end of the week – and we are almost there – then I think his campaign will be in serious trouble.