- (Photo: Courtesy of First Baptist Dallas)
Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas has said that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is failing to engage the evangelical voter base by refusing to talk more on social issues.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," Jeffress began in an interview with CNN on Thursday. "Up to this point, the Romney strategy has been to focus on the economy. Well this isn't working out well for him, is it? Because the economy is improving, and it fails to recognize that many of the Republican base, many of them are social conservatives who care about the economy, but we also care about the moral and spiritual deterioration of our country."
Jeffress, who leads a 11,000-strong congregation, had previously warned Christian voters against siding with Romney, a Mormon, but subsequently conceded that he is "the lesser of two evils" compared to President Barack Obama. The pastor has urged fellow evangelicals to back the former Massachusetts governor.
"I believe that Romney needs to speak out and show the distinction between the democratic platform , which has embraced gay marriage, which doubled-down on abortion, which waffled about whether or not to include God in the platform – there has never been a time when there has been a more stark contrast between the Democratic platform and the Republican platform," the megachurch pastor continued. "I'm afraid that if Romney doesn't stand up and run on the Republican platform, a lot of evangelical voters may sit this one out."
Jeffress also commented that unlike the GOP platform, Romney believes that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape and incest – which the pastor is against.
"I'll have to let him decide what he believes about (life)," Jeffress said. "My personal view is that murder is murder – and except in the case of the life of the mother being in danger, you don't have the right to take a child's life because of the way it was conceived."
The pastor noted that evangelicals vote largely 3-to-1 Republican, and that they care about other issues in addition to the economy.
"In [the] debates next week, if the issue of life comes up, if the issue of marriage comes up, my advice to Romney is to state clearly what he believes, and I believe he can energize evangelical voters," Jeffress concluded.
While supporting Romney, the First Baptist Church pastor made it clear at this month's 2012 Pastor Appreciation Luncheon, however, that voting for Romney does not mean endorsing his religion.
"And so those of us who have said yes (to Romney), we're going to support him as the lesser of two evils, but at the same time, we're making very clear that we're doing so realizing Mormonism is not Christianity," Jeffress noted.