Robert Jeffress, the evangelical pastor of First Baptist Dallas, when asked by a news reporter about Mormonism, said that Mormonism is a cult. This happened after he introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit Friday.
There is no doubt that a great many evangelical Christians believe that Mormonism is a cult. We should be reminded, however, that throughout the ages Christians have often pointed to other Christians and proclaimed that "the others" were cults or worse. The point of this article is not to debate Christian theology.
According to the Values Voter Summit web page, the following American conservative organizations sponsored this "Summit," which was about the upcoming American Presidential election, not a Christian theology debate:
American Values, The Heritage Foundation, Liberty University/Liberty Counsel, Young America's Foundation, and FRC are sponsors only of the educational portions of the Values Voters Summit.
These organizations are not sponsoring the appearance of any candidate for public office, nor do they support or oppose any candidate for elective public office.
The reporter was setting a trap for Jeffress and either Jeffress willingly walked in with hopes of garnering some attention, or he fell in with both feet firmly planted in his mouth.
Instead of using the Values Voter Summit as his theological band wagon, he could have pointed out that his theology wasn't what this Summit was all about. But he didn't!
Here's an excerpt from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney denounces 'poisonous language' against his Mormon faith by Lou Gulino
Jeffress' told Fox News that Mormonism has never been considered a part of main stream Christianity, "Mormonism was invented 1800 years after Jesus Christ and the founding of Christianity, and it has its own founder, Joseph Smith, its own set of doctrines and its own book, the Book of Mormon. And that, by definition, is a theological cult, that's all I'm saying."
Jeffress added, that if the race for president came down to a contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, he'd vote for Romney. "I personally would rather have a non-Christian like Mitt Romney who embraces principles than Barack Obama," he said.
Jeffress didn't do Perry any good. He didn't do Romney any good. Most of all, Jeffress didn't do evangelicals or his own denomination any good.
Here's an excerpt from The evangelical case for Mitt Romney —and against Robert Jeffress by David French. I'm not using this excerpt in support of Romney in particular. I'm using it because what Mr. French has written so well applies to how we Americans should evaluate all of our candidates.
In my years as an evangelical conservative lawyer and activist, I have learned (and lived) the painful reality that we evangelicals are all too often no better - and sometimes much worse - than the very people we seek to convert. If God’s strength is truly made perfect in weakness, then we surely give God many occasions to show his power. The gracious gift of knowledge of God and relationship with Him should fill us with humility - not arrogance.
In short, self-identification as evangelical should be irrelevant in presidential politics - neither an asset nor a liability. When voting for president, we should judge candidates by their competence, character, and ideas. Indeed, those are the very factors that drove me to support Mitt Romney for president in the 2008 cycle (when I helped found Evangelicals for Mitt) and to redouble my efforts for 2012, when our nation is in even greater distress.