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Entries in Pastor Robert Jeffress (1)

Friday
Oct072011

Rick Perry Endorser Calls Planned Parenthood 'Slaughterhouse'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Presidential candidate Rick Perry spoke at the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of hundreds of social conservatives in Washington, on Friday, but the evangelical pastor who introduced him stole the show, sparking a controversy in the process.

It was no ordinary opener from the prominent Southern Baptist Convention leader, Pastor Robert Jeffress, who endorsed Perry on Friday. Jeffress praised Perry for defunding Planned Parenthood in Texas, calling the provider of women’s health and abortion services, “that slaughterhouse for the unborn.”

He also lauded Perry’s “strong commitment to biblical values.”

“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 a conservative out of deep conviction?” Jeffress said. “Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person — or one who is a born-again follower of the lord Jesus Christ?”

Jeffress called Perry a “genuine follower of Jesus Christ.” The pastor did not mention Perry’s rival Mitt Romney by name, but he told reporters after his remarks on Friday that Mormonism was a “cult.”

Jeffress’ comments and his endorsement of Perry threatened to inject some tension into what has been a relatively quiet year for religion on the campaign trail and the Perry campaign sought to quiet the uproar.

The campaign’s official comment on Jeffress evolved quickly on Friday afternoon. When initially asked by ABC News whether Gov. Perry agreed that Mormonism is a cult, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said: “The governor doesn’t judge what is in the heart and soul of others. He leaves that to God.”

Miner would also not immediately say whether the governor believed it was wrong to call Mormonism a cult. “It’s not his decision to judge that,” the spokesman said. He added that conference organizers decided who should introduce Perry at the summit, not the campaign.

But minutes later, Miner called ABC News with a new statement: “He does not believe it is a cult.”

Rather than distance himself from the pastor’s introductory remarks on Friday, when Perry took the podium, he thanked Jeffress for a “very powerful introduction.”

Perry added, “He knocked it out of the park.”

UPDATE: The Rick Perry campaign initially said that the introductory speaker was chosen by event organizers, not by the Perry campaign.  But it turns out the Perry campaign “signed off” on Jeffress:
 
"Pastor Jeffress was suggested to us as a possible introductory speaker because he serves as pastor of one of the largest churches in Texas.  We sent the request to the Perry campaign which then signed off on the request,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement to ABC News. (The Family Research Council is the lead organizer of the three-day event.)

"The views expressed by speakers are not necessarily the views of the event sponsors.  We do not pre-screen any speeches at the Values Voter Summit.  We look forward to hearing from Governor Romney tomorrow, as we have done each of the previous five years," Perkins added.

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