- (Photo: REUTERS / Scott Audette)
Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, has caused a firestorm over comments he made Friday about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney not being a Christian because he is a Mormon. During his discussion with CP, Jeffress also said that President Barack Obama must be "unseated" at all costs.
"I think that it is a spiritual imperative that we unseat Barack Obama," he told CP. "He is the most pro-abortion, most pro-homosexuality [president] in history. So if I look at the landscape of Republican candidates, I believe that eventually it will come down to a choice between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, and I think a confident Christian like Rick Perry has a consistent record of conservative values."
Perry is a preferable candidate to Romney, Jeffress added in his commentary of the two Republicans.
"Historically, evangelical Christianity has never embraced Mormonism as a branch of Christianity," the Baptist minister said. "Mormonism has always been treated as a cult."
"In fact," he added, "the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the world, officially labels Mormonism as a cult, since it does not follow historic evangelical Christianity closely enough."
Jeffress added that Mitt Romney is a "good" and "moral" person, but "that does not make him a Christian."
"A Christian is somebody who embraces the beliefs of historical Christianity," Jeffress told CP.
The pastor said that he had not discussed this issue with Perry, and that he had no idea what the Texas governor thinks.
Perry has reportedly said that he does not believe that Mormonism is a cult.
Jeffress announced earlier Friday that he will vote for Perry in the 2012 presidential election. He officially endorsed the candidate earlier in the day, having introduced the Texas governor at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
A survey conducted by Lawrence Research in September suggested that a whopping 86 percent of American voters are confused when it comes to Mormon beliefs, and the issue of polygamy. The two Mormon presidential hopefuls, Romney and Jon Hunstman, could suffer at the polls because of that confusion.
Of those who correctly answered that Mormons do not practice polygamy, 39 percent would definitely consider voting for a Mormorn candidate, compared to an average 26 percent among the remaining participants, according to the poll.
In July, "Fox & Friends" co-host Ainsley Earhardt also stated that Romney was not a Christian. She said at the time that the former Massachusetts govenror's faith should increase Perry's chances, if he entered the race.