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Rick Perry supporter Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor repeated his belief that Mormonism is a "cult" at a religious gathering Friday, while several Republican nominees dodged the issue.
Rick Perry supporter Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor who described Mormonism as a "cult" at a gathering of evangelicals and other social conservatives on Friday, backed up his comments Sunday by referring to it as a "false belief" during a Sunday sermon.
Jeffress stole the spotlight from Republican White House contenders Friday at the annual during the first day of the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington by describing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a "cult," CNN reports.
After introducing the Texas Governor, Jeffress — a TV evangelist and prominent religious leader — said Republicans shouldn't vote for White House hopeful Mitt Romney because he's a Mormon.
On Sunday, Reuters reports, Jeffress told his congregation of about 2,000 at the First Baptist Church of Dallas: "I have not changed my position."
Perry, an evangelical Christian, "rejected the comments by Jeffress and said he did not believe Mormons were a cult," Reuters reports.
Several GOP contenders, meantime, downplayed Jeffress' comments.
“To make this a big issue is just ridiculous right now because every day I’m out on the street talking to people, this is not what people are talking about,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said on CNN’s "State of the Union."
"None of us should sit in judgment on someone else’s religion," former House Speaker Gingrich said on CBS.
While Herman Cain, also appearing on "Face the Nation," said: "We're not running for theologian-in-chief. We're running for President of the United States of America."
However, neither Cain nor Bachmann would say Sunday whether they believe Mitt Romney is a Christian, CNN reports.
"He's a Mormon," Cain said on "State of the Union." "That much I know. I am not going to do an analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity for the sake of answering that. I'm not getting into that."
Jeffress remained defiant Sunday, telling Reuters after his remarks at the pulpit:
"Absolutely, Mormonism is a false religion. It was invented 1800 years after the establishment of Christianity."
Another Republican presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah and a longtime U.S. diplomat, is also a Mormon.