Robert Jeffresss does not have a lick of political sense. You do not, in this day and age, to a gaggle of reporters after introducing a Presidential candidate to a crowd, say that the candidate’s opponent belongs to “a cult.”You just don’t. It doesn’t matter what you believe.Robert Jeffress lacks political skills. But he is not a politician. Robert Jeffress is a pastor and witness for Jesus Christ. He is highly effective at what he does.Mitt Romney’s supporters are trying now to “Jeremiah Wright” Jeffress right out of the mainstream. Romney himself wants Rick Perry to repudiate Robert Jeffress.As Bryan Preston notes,
The Perry campaign did not select Rev. Jeffress; the Summit selected him and got a perfunctory sign-off from the campaign. Rev. Jeffress’ remark that Mormonism is a cult was not made in his introduction to Gov. Perry, but in remarks made to reporters later. As soon as he was aware of Jeffress’ remark, Perry did in fact disassociate himself with them entirely.
Romney wants to play the victim and is, as are most Mormons, terribly insulted. Romney is not just upset at Jeffress’ characterization of Romney’s faith, he is also upset over Jeffress’ supposed “religious test” wherein Jeffress declared evangelicals should vote for the Christian over the Mormon.First, I would note that the “religion test” in question in the constitution applies to the state, not individuals. Individuals are free to vote for or against someone because of their religion. People do it all the time. In fact, I won’t vote for someone who belongs to a liberal theological church or for an atheist because of what that says about the person’s world view in relation to my own.I absolutely have a religious test and I suspect most people do.
Second, I would note that while I am appalled at Robert Jeffress’ impertinent comments and disagree with him on Mormonism’s “cult” status — Christianity too was once considered a cult but at some point a religion becomes too widespread to be considered a cult or fringe element — Jeffress is not some wacko, nut, or fringe person on the outer edge of Christianity.Robert Jeffress leads one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in America. His church’s outreach to the poor and unchurched serves as a good example for other churches to follow. His theology and religious views are wholly within the mainstream of Christianity in this country and, more precisely, within evangelical circles, including refusing to embrace the idea that Mormons are just another Christian denomination. Heck, his view is the mainstream, majority view of Catholics, the Orthodox, and Protestants.If the Romney campaign wants to pick a fight or have conservatives shun a mainstream theologian because, whether Romney likes it or not, the pastor expressed a very commonly held view among Christians then while I disagree with Jeffress on Mormonism being a cult, I’ll proudly stand with him against those who want him in some way repudiated.Jeffress is no Jeremiah Wright and we should not treat him as such.