Republican presidential candidates Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich spoke out Sunday against a Dallas pastor and Rick Perry supporter who recently disparaged Mormonism as "a cult" - noting that "We're not running for theologian-in-chief."
In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," Cain (who was joined on the show by Gingrich) argued that while it was fine to question candidates on their principles and values, he did not support getting into "the specifics of your chosen religion."
"We're not running for theologian-in-chief. We're running for President of the United States of America," he said.
The Texas megachurch pastor, Robert Jeffress, has come under scrutiny in recent days after likening Mormonism to a "cult" while speaking to reporters at a conservative gathering where he introduced the Texas Governor.
"Rick Perry's a Christian. He's an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ," Jeffress told reporters at Friday's Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., after making his introductory remarks for Perry. "Mitt Romney's a good moral person, but he's not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity."
At an event in Iowa, where Perry flew after his speech, the Texas Republican
"No," Perry said. And, "No, I've already answered that back there. I told him no."
Nevertheless, Perry's association with the pastor could prove politically damaging.
"I think that none of us should sit in judgment on somebody else's religion," Gingrich told CBS' Bob Schieffer on Sunday. "I thought it was very unwise and very inappropriate."
When asked if he thought Mitt Romney could be defined as Christian, Gingrich's response was, "I think he's a Mormon, and they define themselves as a branch of Christianity."
Cain concurred: "I believe that they believe that they're Christians, based upon their definition," he told Schieffer. "But getting into whether or not they are more Christian than another group, I don't think that's relevant to this campaign.
"While I believe that the American people want to know, what are your values? What are your principles? Because your values and your principles may impact how you make decisions, but not get into the specifics of your chosen religion," Cain said.