Gov. Rick Perry is distancing himself from Rev. Robert Jeffress, the Dallas pastor who introduced him Friday at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., after Jeffress told reporters that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's Mormon faith is a cult.
"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," said Jeffress.
With those remarks, Jeffress set off a wave of controversy this weekend. And his choice for president is not backing his stance. Perry said he doesn't think Mormonism is a cult.
Jeffress is the senior pastor at Dallas' First Baptist Church. Sunday morning in front of his congregation, Jeffress did not shy away from the issue.
"Given the events of the last 48 hours, you deserve some explanation of what has happened," said Jeffress to thunderous applause
The audience clapped for him several times during his remarks and some even gave him a standing ovation.
"I stand by my comments. Everything I said about Mormonism is true," said Jeffress.
Jeffress said he endorses Perry because the governor is a committed Christian, but Jeffress admitted he would still vote for Romney over President Barack Obama.
"Because I do believe it's preferable to have a non-Christian like Mitt Romney who at least embraces some Biblical principles, as opposed to a professing Christian like Barack Obama who embraces unbiblical positions," said Jeffress.
Jeffress said his endorsement of Perry for president is his personal endorsement, not an endorsement from the church.
"As the pastor of this church, we support him," said church member Reggie Jacob.
And some church members said Jeffress' comments should come as no surprise.
"He is the pastor of First Baptist Church, and it is obvious what he believes and what he stands for," said church member Amber Volbeda.
Romney has not publicly responded to Jeffress' remarks.
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