Newt Gingrich hired his Iowa political director after the man, Craig Bergman, said this in a focus group for The Iowa Republican:
“There is a national pastor who is very much on the anti-Mitt Romney bandwagon,” Craig Bergman said. “A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon…There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”
That was just last week. But then Bergman’s “cult of Mormon” comment went viral, and now Gingrich has asked him to resign.
It’s not entirely surprising that Bergman, who identifies as a dispensationalist Christian, would consider Mormonism a cult. Christianity has had a strain of antagonism toward Mormons since Joseph Smith founded the church 181 years ago. And as I mentioned in October, after a megachurch pastor supporting Rick Perry said Mormonism was a cult, “During the last election cycle, Romney’s Mormon faith was a big sticking point for a lot of Republican believers and evangelicals said he was not ‘guided by God.’”
But what is surprising, as Joanna Brooks notes, is that Gingrich wouldn’t look for a man with a little more political touch to head such an important part of his presidential campaign:
But most revealing is the fact that Gingrich entrusted a key position in an important and volatile primary contest to Bergman—a passed-over political operative who talks like a tobacco-chewing member of a nineteenth century midwestern anti-Mormon mob.