CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The nation's 16-million Southern Baptists belong to a Protestant denomination that officially classifies Mormons as members of a cult or sect that denies or redefines "any or all essential Christian doctrines." And the Baptists could pose a huge problem for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon and hopes to appeal to religious and social conservatives.
Baptist pastor-turned-politician Mike Huckabee, a Romney rival who trails in the polls, says religious credentials are important in the race.
"I think it it fair game to ask a person about his or her faith. I mean, I'm asked about mine all the time. I don't find that offensive."
Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee made the comment in a interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, which pointed out that the Southern Baptist Convention considers the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, a cult.
Huckabee hasn't said whether he personally considers the faith a cult.
"I don't know enough abut the Mormon faith. I rally don't know that much about it, other than I know Mitt's a nice guy."
But in the weeks and days ahead, you can bet that others will have a lot to say, and they can point to the Baptist's Web site for ammunition. That's where the church's North American Mission Board has its list of "Major Cults and Sects in North American." Who's atop the list? The Mormons.