A bit of Anti-Catholicism, with a Side of Republican Politics

A bit of Anti-Catholicism, with a Side of Republican Politics October 24, 2011

Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, gave a sermon (no date given) denouncing the Catholic Church as the Babylonian mystery religion:


It is the usual mash-up of Reformation and 19th century nativist anti-Catholicism, though I love the mistranslation of “Pontifex Maximus” as “Keeper of the Bridge” between Man and Satan.

A southern Baptist pastor dabbling in anti-Catholicism is not news.  However, in this case, Dr. Jeffress is identified as Rick Perry’s pastor.   I am not going to hold Perry responsible for his pastor’s remarks, but it will be interesting to see if and how he responds.   Will the media pick up on this?  Will he distance himself as Obama did from the Rev. Wright?  Should Perry distance himself?


Update:  It is not clear if Dr. Jeffress is actually Perry’s pastor.  He was so identified on the CathNewsUSA mailing list where I got the video, but a subsequent search cannot confirm this.  He is, however, a very public supporter of Perry, including having introduced him at the Values Voter Summit earlier this year.  Also,  it appears that Perry has already attempted to distance himself from this quote.  As posted on the website Right Wing Watch,  Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is quoted as saying:

Last night, I discussed the flap over Rev. Robert Jeffress with Chris Matthews on “Hardball.” While I made it clear that the anti-Catholic comments made by Jeffress must be roundly condemned, I also stated that I was not blaming Gov. Rick Perry for what the pastor said. One of the reasons I said this was because I was assured by my friend, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, that Perry would never countenance any scurrilous remarks about the Catholic Church.

When I got home, I received a phone call from Gov. Perry. Catholic activist Deal Hudson, who has a history of forging good relationships between Catholics and evangelicals, intervened in this matter and arranged for the phone call. Perry and I spoke candidly about the Jeffress incident, and about religion, in general. He spoke sincerely: nothing that Jeffress said about Catholicism represents his views.

I very much appreciate Gov. Perry’s interest in getting this issue behind him in a responsible manner. He succeeded. Case closed.




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