Photograph by Brendan Smailowski/AFP/Getty Images.
The growing list of conservative evangelical Christians supporting Mitt Romney's GOP bid now includes megachurch leader Rev. Robert Jeffress, who called the all-but-certain GOP nominee's Mormon faith a "cult" at the 2011 Values Voter Summit last fall.
Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas told the Associated Press Wednesday that he'd support Romney in November, and so should conservative evangelical Christians, "in spite of his Mormon faith." Jeffress said he still doesn't think Mormons are Christian, but noted that Romney abides by what he characterized as Bblical principals, meaning he's against abortion and gay marriage, among other things. Given the choice between Obama and Romney, Jeffress wants Romney.
For those who don't recall Jeffress' remarks last October, here's a refresher. At the time, the reverend, a Southern Baptist, supported Rick Perry, who was then still in the running for the nomination. While introducing Perry to attendees of the Values Voter Summit Jeffress said:
Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.
Jeffress isn't the only Southern Baptist drumming up support for Romney in the wake of Santorum's exit from the race. Last week, Southern Baptist Convention public policy chief Richard Land told CNN reporters that he thought the media, along with Obama's campaign, would go after Romney's Mormon faith in order to try and sway independent voters. Echoing Jeffress's remarks, Land said that most evangelical Christians “know what Mormonism believes and most of them are prepared to vote for Mitt Romney in a general election against Barack Obama in spite of his Mormonism."
Land was taking a move from Orrin Hatch's playbook. Earlier this month, Hatch (a Mormon), also suggested that the Obama campaign would use Romney's Mormon faith against him.