"I believe the preservation of America depends on pastors," said Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas. "This is no time for God's men to be passive. It's time to stand up and push back against all the evil in our country.

"Tell your people that they have a choice: to cast a vote for righteousness or vote for unrighteousness."

Jeffress urged the capacity crowd at the A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa to use their pulpit time this Sunday to stress the importance of voting for the candidate who supports the "biblical values" of the sanctity of marriage, sanctity of life and religious freedom.

Stay silent, he warned them, and you're no different than German Lutheran pastors who didn't speak out against Hitler's growing influence in the late 1930s. That lack of action led to the Holocaust, he said.

Jeffress, who has a national radio and television show, stopped short of endorsing Republican candidate Mitt Romney, but he said in an interview afterward that "people can connect the dots. It's clear which candidate shares our views."

That doesn't mean Jeffress has changed his public stand on Romney's Mormon religion.

"It's absolutely a cult," he said. "Mormonism is not part of Christianity. We clearly differ on theology, but we embrace the same values."