ThinkProgress filed this report from the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC.Today at the Values Voters Summit, presidential contender and Texas Gov. Rick Perry was introduced to the crowd by one of his most prominent supporters, Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. Jeffress is well-known for his bigoted views about gays, Muslims, and Mormons. During his introduction for Perry, he called Planned Parenthood “that slaughterhouse for the unborn.”
Speaking to reporters after Perry’s speech, Jeffress reiterated his well-known view that “Mormonism is a cult” which should essentially disqualify Mitt Romney from consideration among true Christian voters. “As evangelical Christians, we understand that Mormonism is not Christianity,” he said. “The decision for evangelical Christians right now is going to be do we prefer someone who is truly a believer in Jesus Christ or someone…who is a part of a cult.” He admitted “it’s not a politically correct thing to say.”
In response to questions from ThinkProgress about the booing of a gay soldier at the last GOP debate, Jeffress said “there’s good reason for keeping the tradition of not having homosexuals serve in the military.” He made the patently false claim that “70 percent of the gay population” has AIDS. “It’s a fact that it’s a gay disease so there’s a reasonable reason to exclude gays from the military,” he explained, suggesting that gay service members are more likely to spread disease. Watch it:
It’s pretty ludicrous to suggest that there’s a tradition of not having gays in the military — gay service members have simply not been allowed to serve openly and been forced to conceal their identities for fear of being dishonorably discharged.
In the past, Jeffress has claimed that Islam “promotes pedophilia” and that violence by Muslims is “in accordance with what the Quran teaches” because it’s a “violent religion.”
Perry spokesman Mark Miner said in a statement that Perry does not believe Mormonism is a cult.