Sometimes I wonder why a lightning bolt doesn’t just vaporize all of them, but God’s mercy is infinite. Talk about taking His name in vain…
Dr. Robert Jeffress, the influential pastor of a Dallas-based megachurch, offered his formal endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. Friday, shortly before he explained why Perry’s opponent atop the GOP field, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is a cultist.
Jeffress introduced Perry before he addressed the annual gathering for social conservatives, making a special point to emphasize Perry’s Christian faith–as opposed to Romney’s, who a Mormon, which Jeffress said was a “cult.”
“We understand Mormonism is not Christianity and thus the difference between somebody who’s moral and good like Mitt Romney and a true born-again follower of Christ,” Jeffress said after Perry’s speech, adding that Perry had welcomed his endorsement. “I really think the decision for conservative evangelical Christians right now is going to be, do we prefer somebody who is truly a believer in Jesus Christ, or somebody who is a good moral person but he’s a part of a cult.”
We all know that cults are bad scary things. They make people believe in the supernatural, do rituals and hand over their money. Not like religions. Here’s a definition of ‘cult’ from Merriam Webster Dictionary…
Definition of CULT
: formal religious veneration : worship
: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : the object of such devotion c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion
Maybe it’s in the pronunciation. You have to say ‘cult’ in a hissing manner from between clenched teeth while sneering.
This is something that our great Democracy protects–the freedom to practice your own religion and the freedom to call other religions ‘cults’. I don’t think it is seemly or dignified for a minister to do this, but I can ignore them. It’s harder to ignore this kind of talk in a presidential race. Religion should not be used to attract voters or scare them away from opponents. I think most Americans are too sensible to be swayed by these tactics, but if they don’t vote their future will be decided by church vans full of the faithful.
Mitt Romney has the disadvantage of belonging to a minority religion. Smaller religions are more vulnerable to the label ‘cult’. It might be a weapon in the political fray, but it’s bad for the country. I’m glad that Obama adviser David Axelrod banned the word, ‘weird’ from being used to describe Romney, because it’s too easily seen as a covert attack on his religion.
The words ‘weird’ and ‘cult’ kind of go together, ‘weird’ being less open but plausibly a ‘dog whistle’– covert reference to how Mormonism is seen by the majority.
I think I am more likely to run into Elvis at the Mall than to see a Mormon presidential candidate whose politics I like, but if I did I would vote for him or her. A Mormon progressive who made it to the presidential race would be a real maverick. Religion or lack of should not be a factor. The only thing that should matter is the candidate’s platform and record. What they have done, and what they say they’ll do. Knowing their religion does not give us a window into the deep recesses of their character. It’s even happened that dishonest people have pretended to be religious to advance their personal interests. Really. It’s in the New Testament.
I wish Robert Jeffress and everyone else would stop using the ‘c’ word to attack candidate’s religion. The collateral damage is our democracy, where we cherish the ideal that every citizen is equal under law and respected for the merits of our actions and our contribution to society.