Southern Baptist Convention leader Pastor Robert Jeffress urged evangelical voters to back Gov. Rick Perry for President, declaring today GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney is not a Christian and his Mormon religion is "a cult."
There have long been whispers that part of Romney's failure to runaway with the nomination is because the powerful evangelical wing of the party looks upon his religion with disdain and does not trust his flip-flop from pro-choice to pro-life on the contentious abortion issue.
At the powerful Value Voters Summit in Washington, the leader of the influential First Baptist Church of Dallas introduced Perry as a "genuine follower of Jesus Christ" who unfunded the "slaughterhouse for the unborn," Planned Parenthood of Texas.
"Rick Perry's a Christian. He's an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ," Jeffress told reporters after he introduced Perry at the conference. "Mitt Romney's a good moral person, but he's not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult."
Mormons insist they are Christians, and the Perry campaign distanced itself from Jeffress's hardline position.
"The governor doesn't get into the business of judging other peoples hearts or souls. He leaves that to God," Perry spokesman Mark Miner said in a statement.
Jeffress's endorsement was not planned by the Perry campaign and it was the summit leaders who chose him to introduce the governor, the campaign said.