Dr. Howard Rodney-Browne, the Pentecoastal pastor who runs the The River at Tampa Bay church, held a Newt Gingrich rally on church grounds. After the completion of that pro-Newt rally, Dr. Rodney-Brown explained to Florida voters that they can overlook Newt's affairs but they cannot accept Romney's faith:
After the event, Howard-Browne said that the marital infidelities of Gingrich, like all sinners, could be left in the past.'We've got to hold people accountable. But if they say they've asked for forgiveness then we have to go with what the word of God said - we have to forgive.'He expressed grave reservations, however, about Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.'Mormonism is a cult and that's the problem,' he said.'Mormonism, if you study the whole history of it, and I'm not trying to create a problem, but they had death squads that would go around kill everybody that wasn't a Mormon.'Mormons, he said, were 'very honourable people, very clean-married, godly, family' and their faith had 'been doctored up and painted nicely.' But the 'problem is the additon to the scripture, which is the book of Mormon, and all the other additives that Joseph Smith brought to the table.'Howard-Browne said he was not aligned with any candidate, though he left the church grounds in Gingrich's bus afterwards. Gingrich was not present for his prayer.
Dennis Prager, a well known Los Angeles conservative talk show host has this to say about those who believe Romney's faith is a cult or a bizzare religion:
This kind of rhetoric about a candidate's religion has no place in any political campaign. Pastors like Robert Jeffress and Dr. Howard Rodney-Browne are preaching a dangerous, false and dark idea that a candidate's faith is more important than his values.
The good news is that other religious leaders have publicly stated that Christians can vote for a Mormon. Influential Christians like Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen , Richard J. Mouw, Reverend Franklin Graham and Reverend Rob Schenck have all stated that Christians can vote for a Mormon. The truth is that a candidate's values is more important than his faith.
I recommend my readers to watch a debate between attorney Jay Sekulow and Pastor Robert Jeffress on Mitt Romney's religion because they discuss whether or not a candidate's faith or values is the primary issue voters should be using when deciding to vote for a candidate. Its a powerful and educational debate that every voter should watch.
Newt Gingrich is trying to play the same old tired strategy of playing passive-aggressive with Mitt Romney's faith. This strategy started with Mike Huckabee who employed this trick during the 2008 Presidential election. Other candidates like Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry have attempted to employ this tactic in this election before dropping out of this race.
What is so interesting is that Newt Gingrich, along with other 2012 candidates, denounced Pastor Robert Jeffress who supported Rick Perry and called Mormonism a cult. When Craig Bergman, who used to be the Iowa campaign director for Newt Gingrich's campaign called the LDS religion a cult, the Gingrich team quickly dispatched a spokesman to repudiate Craig Bergman's statement:
"He made a comment to a focus group prior to becoming an employee that is inconsistent with Newt 2012's pledge to run a positive and solutions orientated campaign," said R.C. Hammond, press secretary for Gingrich.
Another Iowa Gingrich campaign staffer emphasized that Newt did not agree with Mr. Bergman's statement:
Linda Upmeyer, the chairwoman for Gingrich’s Iowa campaign, reached by telephone for reaction this afternoon, said she’s never heard Gingrich himself say anything negative about Mormonism.“I’ve never had any discussion that resembled that with Speaker Gingrich,” Upmeyer said. “I have no doubt there are people that reject Mormonism but I’ve never engaged in a conversation regarding that, ever.”
Is this part of a new desperate strategy to defeat Romney by employing a passive-aggressive strategy against Mitt's religion? So far, there has been no response from Newt Gringrich's campaign. They haven't rushed out to repudiate Dr. Howard Rodney-Browne's statements about Romney's faith like they have with Pastor Jeffress or Craig Bergman. I hope and expect that the Gingrich campaign issue a statement distancing themselves from Rodney-Browne's statements about the LDS faith very soon.