.- Catholic League president Bill Donohoe praised Texas Gov. Rick Perry for distancing himself from Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress and his controversial remarks on Catholicism and other religions.
“Perry and I spoke candidly about the Jeffress incident, and about religion, in general,” Donohue said in an Oct. 14 statement. “He spoke sincerely: nothing that Jeffress said about Catholicism represents his views.”
Jeffress' comments first made the news after the Value Voters Summit on Oct. 7 in Washington, D.C., where several members of the U.S. House of Representatives spoke about the importance of defending life, marriage and religious freedom.
Jeffress, pastor of the The First Baptist Church of Dallas, introduced Gov. Perry at the summit and spoke derisively about the Mormon faith of candidate Mitt Romney, calling it a “cult.” Two days later, he said that Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are “false religions.”
Adding to the controversy, Rev. Jeffress was quoted last year as saying that the Roman Catholic Church was the outgrowth of a “corruption” which he called “Babylonian mystery.”
“Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn’t come from God’s word,” he said. “It comes from that cult-like pagan religion. Isn’t that the genius of Satan?”
Donohue reacted strongly to the news on Oct. 12, calling Rev. Jeffress “a poster boy for hatred, not Christianity.” He then said that although he didn't blame Gov. Perry for Jeffress' comments, the Texas governor should nevertheless “make an explicit statement renouncing any ties he has to Jeffress.”
“Any man of the cloth who entertains the despicable views Jeffress does about Catholicism, as well as many other religions, should be shunned by candidates for the presidency,” he underscored.
Donohue explained on Oct. 14 that Catholic activist Deal Hudson, “who has a history of forging good relationships between Catholics and evangelicals,” intervened and arranged for the phone call Thursday night.
“I very much appreciate Gov. Perry’s interest in getting this issue behind him in a responsible manner,” Donohue said. “He succeeded. Case closed.”