UPDATED Oct. 8, with reaction from Planned Parenthood Controversial Texas pastor Robert Jeffress introduced presidential candidate Rick Perry to the stage at
Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/07/MahurinReligion_Thumb.jpg*UPDATED Oct. 8, with reaction from Planned Parenthood*
Controversial Texas pastor Robert Jeffress introduced presidential candidate Rick Perry to the stage at this year’s Values Voter Summit, telling a jam-packed ballroom that the Texas governor deserves the presidency because he has a “strong commitment to biblical values.”
“He is committed on the sanctity of life and on the sanctity of marriage,” Jeffress said. “He is the most pro-life governor in the United States of America right now.”
As evidence, Jeffress cited the anti-abortion bill signed by Perry that requires women to have a sonogram the day before their scheduled abortion. Key provisions of the law were blocked by a federal judge on Aug. 30, two days before the law was to go into effect, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed the decision, a move strongly **supported **by Perry at the time.
Jeffress brought audience members to their feet when he said that Perry stood up “to defund that slaughterhouse for the unborn, known as Planned Parenthood.” (The American Independent has previously written about the impact Perry’s policy is expected to have on Texas women.)
“It is clear Rick Perry is far out of the mainstream when he brags about his decision to deny health care for women by undermining Planned Parenthood health centers’ ability to provide care in Texas,” Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye told TAI in an email, reacting to Perry’s speech and Jeffress’ endorsement. “Perry’s decision has resulted in 300,000 Texas women losing access to preventive health care such as birth control, cancer screenings, and annual exams. This is not what Americans are looking for in a leader.”
When he took the stage, Perry thanked Jeffress for his words, saying “he knocked it out of the park” and praising the pastors work with children.
Following Perry’s speech – which emphasized job creation and welfare-spending reduction as moral values – the pastor formally endorsed the governor for president.
“I believe [Perry] has the attributes conservative evangelical voters are looking for in a candidate,” Jeffress told TAI. “When the smoke clears it is going to be a Perry-Romney fight, and those of us in the evangelical community prefer a Christian incompetent leader to a competent non-Christian leader,” implying that because former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is a Mormon, he is not a Christian. Jeffress assured TAI that the idea that Mormons are not Christians is a mainstream view, and he said if Romney were to win the GOP nomination, President Obama would be re-elected.
Jeffress, a senior pastor at First Baptist Dallas, recently made news for controversial statements he made last month on the anniversary of September 11.
The Dallas Observer reported that on that Sunday Jeffress gave a doomsday sermon, saying “America’s demise is inevitable.”
Asked to comment on such statements, Jeffress told TAI he stands by his words.
“I believe America’s days are numbered, because the world’s days are numbered,” he said. But, he cautioned, America can delay its inevitable collapse by following Christ’s teachings.
“It could be another hundred years,” he said.
Media Matters has previously reported on Jeffress’ inflammatory rhetoric, which includes trying to ban books about children with gay parents in 1998, comparing tobacco to homosexuality, and suggesting that Islam “promotes pedophilia.”
Jeffress has also publicly endorsed Texas state Senate candidate Tom Leppert, who is a member of First Baptist Dallas.
“There is no voter in America who is not a values voter,” Perry said in his speech, echoing Family Research Council President Tony Perkins’ words from the summit’s morning session. “It’s just a question of whose values.”
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