ADL Calls on Presidential Candidates to Reject Bigotry After Pastor Calls Mormonism a 'Cult'

New York, NY, October 11, 2011 … In response to the remarks of a Texas pastor who suggested that voters shouldn't elect a president who is not "truly a believer in Jesus Christ," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on each of the Republican presidential candidates and other political leaders to reject appeals based on religion and to condemn religious, racial or ethnic bigotry during the campaign.

In remarks at the Values Voters Summit after introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas told reporters that voters were being given a choice to vote for "someone who is truly a believer in Jesus Christ," or "someone who is part of a cult."  Jeffress added later that he would prefer "a competent Christian to a competent non-Christian like Mitt Romney," who is a Mormon.

"If voters are to take Pastor Jeffress literally, then candidates who are not sufficiently Christian would not be welcome in the presidential race," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "There is no place in our society for divisive appeals based on a person's religious faith, and that is especially true of candidates for high office.

"The Constitution explicitly states that there is no religious test for public office in the United States, and each of the presidential contenders bears a responsibility to make clear that appeals to ethnic or religious bigotry have no place in this campaign," he added.   "We urge each of the Republican candidates to use the upcoming debates as an opportunity to reject appeals for votes based on religion as offensive and anathema to the values of religious diversity we hold dear."

As a 501c3 non-profit corporation, ADL takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.