Richard Land is head of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission at the Southern Baptist Convention and he doesn’t mince words. He  has been deluged with interview requests since Friday when the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of one of his largest churches, introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voters Summit.   “Do we want a candidate who is a good moral person, or do we want a candidate who is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ?” Jeffress asked. “In Rick Perry we have a candidate who is a committed follower of Christ.” And later, specifically of Mitt Romney, Jeffress would tell reporters that, “Momonism is not Christianity. It’s not politically correct to say, but Mormonism is a cult.”

Richard Land, a larger-than-life character who wields enormous influence, not only over Southern Baptists, but conservative evangelicals as well, was not happy. He was particularly concerned about the use of Jeffress as an introducer and the impression Jeffress would leave about Southern Baptists. If he were Perry? “I would shoot the guy who allowed [Jeffress] to introduce him,” he says with a chuckle. Later, he added: I wouldn’t say what [Jeffress] says or the way he says it. I don’t call religions evil (as Jeffress has said of Islam). Only actions are evil.”

Land said he had not discussed the issue with Jeffress but that he would bring it up only during “a private conversation.” To speak by telephone, according to Land, would be “counterproductive.”

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