From Politico (and closely modeled elsewhere):
Rick Perry backer Robert Jeffress:
Mitt Romney not a Christian
So the Ayatollah Jeffress, introducing Rick Perry to the Values Voter Summit, drew the contrast between Perry’s born-again Christianity and (by clear implication) Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Afterwards, speaking to reporters, Jeffress expressed the long-standing Southern Baptist view that Mormons aren’t Christians but members of a “cult.”
What else is new? As a matter of comparative religion, it’s not silly to distinguish Mormonism from (the rest of) Christianity. While Mormonism has more of its theological DNA in common with Cathlolicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism than with frankly non-Christian denominations, Mormon beliefs are also, in important ways, at variance with historical Christianity. Since Mormons consider themselves Christians, what Jeffress said was rude, but it wasn’t clearly wrong.
But here’s Jeffress’s peroration, after which Perry said that Jeffress had “hit it out of the park”:
Do we want a candidate who is a good moral person, or do we want a candidate who is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ? In Rick Perry, we have a candidate who is a committed follower of Christ.
Later, speaking to reporters, Jeffress doubled down:
I think Mitt Romney’s a good, moral man, but I think those of us who are born-again followers of Christ should always prefer a competent Christian to a competent – to a competent non-Christian like Mitt Romney.
So why are reporters asking Perry and his rivals to opine about whether Mormons are Christians or cult members? (Naturally, Rick “Profile in Anything But Courage” Perry chose to duck, though he seemed happy enough with the introduction when Jeffress gave it. His campaign says he didn’t choose Jeffress as his introducer, but the organizers say that Jeffress’s name was cleared by the campaign two weeks ago, and Jeffress – who has expressed similar views of Mormonism before – was one of the sponsors of Perry’s stadium-revival-cum-campaign rally.)
The question that casts light on their fitness for the Presidency is whether sectarian bigotry has a place in the polling booth.
Of course, the Value Voters Summit was being held, for the third consecutive year, on one of the Jewish High Holidays – what a coinky-dink – so there were no even slightly observant Jews present. But someone should ask Eric Cantor what he thinks about a principle that would exclude him from office. Or, for that matter, any of the professional Jews who have sold out to the Republicans for a mess of capital gains tax exclusion and Arab-bashing.
What was any candidate for the Presidency doing at this annual festival of hate? Oh yeah, I forgot: they were all angling for the votes of the dominant faction of the Republican Party.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.