Rev. Robert Jeffress, who introduced Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voters Summit last Friday, reiterated that he views Mormonism, the faith of Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, as a "cult" on Monday's edition of "Hardball With Chris Matthews" on MSNBC.
Jeffress didn't back down from the eyebrow-raising suggestion and sought to clarify his remarks. He signaled he sees Mormonism as a "theological cult," rather than a "sociological cult," like the group led by Jim Jones, who founded the Peoples Temple. The Baptist pastor added that he believes that Mormons are not Christians.
Jeffress said, "all things being equal," he preferred a Christian to a non-Christian in the White House, though he would vote for Romney over President Barack Obama in a hypothetical general election match-up. He signaled his belief that Obama's a Christian, but supports "unbiblical positions like abortions."
When asked about the banning of a religious test to hold office in the Constitution, Jeffress said the government cannot impose a test, "but you can impose any kind of test you want to." He said that this is not "bigotry, but a preference we are allowed."
"But to your question, is there a higher authority than the Constitution for me as a Christian, as a Pastor, the answer is yes -- it is the Bible," he concluded.
Last Friday, Jeffress said in taking shots at Romney, "In a few months, when the smoke has cleared, those of us who are evangelical Christians are going to have a choice to make." He added, "Do we want a candidate who is skilled in rhetoric, or one who is skilled in leadership? Do we want a candidate who is a conservative out of convenience, or one who is conservative out of deep conviction? Do we want a candidate who is a good moral person, or do we want a candidate who is a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?" After taking the stage, Perry said that Jeffress "hit it out of the park."
During an appearance on CNN on Monday, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, another Mormon candidate in the race, called Jeffress a "moron."
The Dallas-based Baptist pastor endorsed Perry. The Perry campaign has signaled the Texas governor does not see Mormonism as a cult.
Below, full video of what Jeffress had to say on Monday.