It seems to me that his decision to endorse Perry and grant media interviews for a solid 3 days was part of an orchestrated church media campaign. Let me explain.
On the morning of Sunday August 21st, Jeffress announced to his church the beginning of a two-month long "media campaign" that would involve radio and billboards. Included in the media campaign was the issuance of yard signs like those shown in the picture, to all church members as they left church on August 21st. Jeffress himself requested that all members place the signs in their yards for the months of September and October in support of the coming media campaign.
So is it any wonder that Jeffress went back on his word to not endorse a presidential candidate? He told his church on August 28th that he would NOT endorse any political candidate so as to protect his church's tax-emempt status, and to not alienate members of his politically diverse congregation.
Then, five weeks later, right in the middle of the two-month long media campaign, he pops up at the Values Voter Summit pounding his fist on the podium declaring Rick Perry to be the best candidate because of his faith in Christ. In the media interviews immediately following, he raised the Mormon issue heightening further the media's interest in Jeffress and his church.
Then all over the country he was the media star for 72-hours. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, was THE headlines on all the news media. He was on every possible news outlet. You can't buy that amount of media publicity that he received.
Why would I think that his endorsement of Perry and comments about Mormonism was a slick maneuver to bolster his church's "media campaign?" Because as soon as his mug was on every TV station, the church put the video clips up on the church website! There is a YouTube channel hyperlinked on the front page of the church website with a "Pastor On Air" icon. Their site even features an icon linking to a site about the evils of Mormonism, as shown in the picture of their website at the right.
The church website even proudly displayed the video clip of Jeffress' endorsement of Rick Perry! So not only did Jeffress endorse Perry, but his church endorsed his endorsement - despite their disclaimer that the church does not endorse Perry.
Also, if Jeffress was truly interested in helping a Christian get elected, why go to bat for Rick Perry? Herman Cain is a believer. Michelle Bachmann would probably be a great choice as well if you're looking for a Christian president. But Jeffress knows the targets of his church media campaign are Rick Perry supporters! Get people to come to your church by going on the record as the preacher and church that backs Texas governor Rick Perry for president!
To those who don't know much about First Baptist Dallas and Robert Jeffress: over the past year they have begun a massive $115 million construction project of a brand new downtown campus. Jeffress preached to his peeps the need to get on board and give large gifts to the construction project, even recommending that members "slice off a big hunk of your personal assets" to give to the building program and to improve your spiritual health. As often happens when a church embarks on a construction project, the giving to the capital fund for the construction has eaten into the First Baptist Dallas budget giving. Thus, as many mega churches do, they spend money on "media campaigns", purchasing radio and TV ads, billboard spots, and in this case the clever issuance of yard signs - all in an attempt to attract more people to their church and ultimately raise revenue. I don't think Jeffress could pass up the attempt at gaining free media coverage by endorsing Rick Perry - even though he said he would not - and raising the Mormon issue immediately afterwards.
Why does Jeffress say he changed his mind and endorsed Perry and then went on the media circuit over the weekend? He told his church Sunday:
"As a private citizen and as an American, I felt like I ought to use personally, whatever influence I might have, to try to elect a godly leader and place him in the White House...now since that time, since Friday afternoon, God has opened many avenues of opportunity for me in the media to be able to do what I'm called to do as pastor, and that is to point people to Jesus Christ."
Maybe Jeffress is sincere, but he is smarter than that statement. If he thought this out, he must know his actions this past weekend will not at all help to elect a godly leader. His actions will probably will end up hurting Rick Perry, and ultimately if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee the media and Democrats will do just what Jeffress has done. They will play the "Mormonism is a cult and a threat" mantra to the hilt, trying to scare people into not voting for Romney and giving us four more years of Obama.
The fact is Romney DOES embrace and will uphold many of the biblical values that are important to evangelicals - and he is a proven leader and a gentleman and statesman. We don't need Jeffress helping the media to scare people away from Mitt Romney.
So while this weekend Jeffress did not help elect a godly leader, Jeffress' actions at least might help his church in their media campaign and draw more red-meat conservatives to his church, that are looking to follow a nationally-known megachurch pastor.
And that is what I think this past weekend was all about.