Commentary: Perry's preacher Jeffress drives his point home

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramOctober 28, 2011 

Southern Baptists and Mormons are really different.

Was anybody not clear on that?

Just in case, the Rev. Robert Jeffress of Dallas has been on every TV network lately except Animal Planet, explaining that Southern Baptist doctrine calls several faiths a "cult" and claiming that he wasn't just trash-talking Mitt Romney to help Rick Perry win the Republican presidential nomination.

"I'm not the first person who has ever said that about Mormons," he said Thursday after preaching as a guest of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

After telling students that both Mormonism and Islam are "false religions" that depend on a "new revelation," Jeffress, 55, senior pastor of the hallowed First Baptist Church of Dallas, said he doesn't regret his comments this month after a Washington political rally.

Of course he doesn't.

Jeffress has banked three weeks of book sales and publicity, all because he told reporters, "It's not politically correct to say, but Mormonism is a cult."

Before several hundred students in Southwestern's historic auditorium, Jeffress called it "unreal and surreal" to hear Romney calling his name in a debate and pushing for an apology from Perry, a Methodist who attends a Southern Baptist megachurch.

"Here I am driving along, and here's Gov. Romney talking about 'Pastor Jeffress,'" he said.

"I almost ran off the road."

In the day's lesson, Jeffress said the issue was not politics but whether Southern Baptists should resist the idea that there are other paths to heaven.

That argument has him in hot water with conservatives who want to unite Mormon voters with evangelical Christians.

On a recent Real Time With Bill Maher, Jeffress even said his worst criticism came from conservatives "who have been after me with a meat cleaver."

(Maher and Jeffress high-fived.)

Jeffress told the seminary students that Southern Baptists should witness to Mormons just as to Muslims, saying both Islam and Mormonism rely on "new angels" for their teachings.

He quoted Galatians: "If any man preacheth unto you any Gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema."

"Literally," Jeffress said, "let him go to hell."

Or Washington.

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