One Cheer for the Catholic League

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Credit where credit is due. The Catholic League has gone after Rev. Robert Jeffress, noting that hostility to Catholicism (along with hostility to Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism) is part of his stock in trade. Taking Jeffress to task for (literally) demonizing theological differences, Pres. Bill Donohue calls Jeffress “a poster boy for hatred, not Christianity.”

The real issue, however, is not who Jeffress thinks won’t be saved. (In his book, Jews won’t be either.) Uncivil as it is to say such things in a public forum, Christian exclusivism of one sort of another is normal for that religious tradition, and it’s as American as apple pie. What’s not so American is Jeffress’ overt appeal to vote on religious lines. Here, just to be clear, is the relevant portion of Jeffress’ introduction of Rick Perry at the Values Voters Summit:

Those of us who are evangelical Christians are going to have a choice to make…Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person, or do we want a candidate who is a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? Rick Perry is a proven leader, he is a true conservative, and he is a genuine follower of Jesus Christ.

It is this call for sectarian voting that Perry should be asked to renounce, not Jeffress’ theological dismissal of other faiths as false.