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February 2nd, 2011
11:32 AM ET

Mitt Romney on politics of Mormonism

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog co-editor

As Mitt Romney eyes a 2012 presidential bid, he is facing the so-called Mormon question again, just as he did during his unsuccessful bid for the 2008 Republican nomination.

Embarking on a media tour to promote his new book - and, in the process, testing a potential White House run - the former Massachusetts governor is reprising lines on his Mormon faith from his last bout as presidential contender.

Here's what Romney told CNN's Piers Morgan Tuesday night when asked whether his Mormon beliefs would be a potential stumbling block with voters should he seek the presidency:

I can’t judge the politics - I don’t know the answer to that. My experience so far both in Massachusetts running as a Mormon guy in a state that’s overwhelmingly of other faiths is it didn't seem to get in my way there. Most people in country recognize that in fact the nation itself was founded on the principle of religious tolerance and freedom. We respect other people beliefs and in a lot of cases people who honor faith and try and be true to it.

A late 2007 Pew poll found that one in four Americans admitted to being less inclined to vote for a Mormon candidate for president.  Pew said that among those who were generally less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate, Romney was significantly less popular.

Another possible sign that Romney's Mormon faith hurt him politically was his loss to the Mike Huckabee - a Baptist minister - in a handful of 2008 presidential primaries in the Deep South. In one of the bigger flaps of that election season, Huckabee told the New York Times "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

Mormons blasted the remark as patently false and the former Arkansas governor later apologized.

Romney addressed his Mormonism publicly in a major 2007 speech called Faith in America.

"I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it," he said. "My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they're right, so be it."

One big question is whether the "Mormon question" would be less an issue for Romney in 2012 because the nation has already considered it in 2008.

Your thoughts on that?

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (390 Responses)
  1. Liquid Detox Diet

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  3. Artist

    I wonder if Mitt was wearing his Mormon Underoos?

    June 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  4. rebecca

    ALL individuals who let the FUNDAMENTAL teachings of ANY religion dictate their path are dangerous candidates for the Presidency. I am talking FUNDAMENTAL. Mormonism is very all or nothing. One doesn't just drop in every once in a while to an LDS church and still expect to be considered a viable member of the church. (No rebuttal here you silly mormons. Don't care about your strange beliefs, or your rambling explanations, any more than most or the rest of the world's odd beliefs.)
    So stop throwing out these ridiculous religious comparisons to other presidents, who unlike a mormon, have simply established their religious LEANINGS, as opposed to their religious FUNDAMENTALISM. Mitt Romney is a nice guy but he is FUNDAMENTALLY flawed.

    June 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  5. NoWay

    Putting personal beliefs above all else is not what I want in a president. At lest be consistent in public ramblings.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  6. G. Jones

    As I read all these earnest stories about whether the great American electorate will vote for someone from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I find myself asking this question:
    Just what is the big deal about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism?
    The implication is that the LDS is some sort of weird sect filled with wackos. They’re not like us – they don’t go to Starbucks, they have those funny white churches, they’re just a bit too friendly!
    Seems like one of their kind can’t be trusted to lead the free world, unlike, say, someone from a mainstream Christian denomination, a Jew (remember Joe Lieberman?) or one of the cuddlier Islamic folks (hey, they believe in only one god, just like us!).
    Whatever happened to good old tolerance? After all, we’re very good at that when it comes to considering some of the, er, quirks among the so-called established religions and denominations.
    Think the Mormons are strange? Consider these:
    1: One of the basic beliefs of Mormonism is that founder Joseph Smith stumbled upon some gold tablets in an upstate New York field, which he, um, copied before they somewhat conveniently disappeared. Kinda wacky? Probably just about as madcap as a couple or three of the core claims made for Jesus Christ: that his mother was a virgin, he walked on water and that he woke up from the dead before heading out of his tomb.
    2: Another odd thing about Mormons is that they used to permit polygamy. And some, in a splinter group, still do. The veiled message: If Mitt’s in the White House it’ll be time to lock up your daughters! But would we be asking the same questions, especially among the politically correct, if a Muslim were running for president? After all, Islamic rules allow up to four wives. Is Islam a cult? Try taking that to Mecca (or to the PC crowd). And, talking of strange marital traditions, how ‘bout them unmarried Catholic priests who can’t seem to keep their hands off the choirboys? Hardly an advertisement for the benefits on non-marriage.
    3: And then there’s the fact that Mormons wear some kind of funny underwear and don’t drink alcohol or coffee. They must be crazy! A cult! Meanwhile, no one bats an eyelid over those little beanies, those white scarf things and that kosher-food thing favored by a whole bunch of Jews.
    All to say, of course, that one religion (and the various departments thereof) is just about as good as another. Which is to say a form of magic that should have disappeared along with cavemen (or at least when Darwin published his book).
    Of course, the fuss that would arise if a self-declared atheist somehow made a legitimate run for the presidency would make the rumblings about Romney seem like a whisper.

    June 2, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  7. Billy

    Mormons are required to do a 2 year "mission" is that not correct? They are not allowed to say no to it, and only men do it. Is that not correct? If you do not do a 2 year mission you are kicked out of the religion, again, is that not correct?

    Sounds to me like the mormon church owes its members. If they cannot say no to a "mission" what can they say no to? Mitt Romney has to pick up the phone if they call him and WILL do what they tell him to do. Its dangerous.

    March 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Kyle

      "Mormons are required to do a 2 year "mission" is that not correct?"

      No, that is not correct. I know many Mormons who have not served missions, even men in high offices. Even some of the Apostles of the Church (the men in Salt Lake City who lead the Church) did not serve missions. So you are misinformed there.

      "They are not allowed to say no to it, and only men do it. Is that not correct?"

      Sorry, not correct. Many say no to missionary service, and they even end up in very high positions later in life. And thousands of women are serving missions right now, though you may be correct on a technicality: Women do not serve 2-year missions. They serve for 18 months.

      "If you do not do a 2 year mission you are kicked out of the religion, again, is that not correct?"

      Again, that is not correct. See above examples. I have seen many young men and women turn down missions, and they are never kicked out. They are not even disciplined by the Church. Some people may argue that they are seen as "lower-class" members, but that is not true. Maybe some self-righteous Church members do that, but it is a minority and most certainly against the teachings of the Church to do so.

      In short, all of your assumptions are false, so your argument is invalid.

      March 29, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • 23drums

      Your an idiot. It's your way of thinking that caused the Jews to kill our savior.

      May 2, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Yud-Nt Noh

      Why call people idiots, isn't this supposed to be a friendly blog about Christianity?

      June 6, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • dustyfun

      haha dear Billy iam mormon. I love how you know everthing about my church yet dont go to it :) to clarify you ramblings no mormon is requed to go on a mission it is a totally a PERSONAL choice, and by no means are the mormons going to ban them from their church. so Billy if want to become an expert and throughly explain the bilifs of the church become a member and go on mission.... hope that helped :)

      December 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  8. whbkboy

    By their works ye shall know them . . . How about we look at all the thousands possibly millions of lives blessed through the humanitarian and service aid of the Mormon church. How about we look at the values and teachings associated with the church . . . Those are the essence of Romney and true members of the church . . . Honestly true Christians should hold those same qualities and not try to destroy anothers belief in Christ . . . Simply put everybody should strive to live a Christ like life, then we would have peace and strength as a country no matter the denomination.

    March 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  9. Wren

    As a fifth generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lives in Utah I earned my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel as taught in the Church not from my forefathers-mothers and neighbors, but through many hardships in my life that literally brought me to my knees. It surprises me to read outright lies and criticisms about my faith from people who evidently have never put any valid research into the subject. What is so wrong about electing a president who is honest and economically knowledgeable enough to lead us out of the mess our country is now in?

    March 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  10. TruthWillSetYouFree

    I personally believe that Mitt Romney is a good and moral man; however, I could not vote for him because he is a Mormon. That doesn’t mean I am an intolerant, mean-spirited person. Our country was founded on the freedom of religion, and I believe everyone has the right to exercise that freedom. But Mormonism has its beginnings in the Occult, and well that just personally bugs me. Joseph Smith was involved in the Occult. He was a money digger who used divination rods and peep stones to hunt for treasures. In fact, the BOM didn’t originate as a religious book. Smith was looking to sell it as a historical novel. But that would only give him money, when what he really wanted was power, and his lust for power later resulted in treason against the United States, polygamy and other illegal activities and eventually led to his death. Mormonism is always evolving. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that true MORMONISM is a THEOCRACY, and do we really want that?

    March 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Will

      @ TruthWillSetYouFree

      You and I both know Joseph Smith didn't seek power and money. Obviously he wasn't perfect and it's our choice to believe his story or not. It's our choice to believe what he saw was true or not. But one thing is clear: one cannot possibly believe he gave his life and accepted to be murdered for the sake of his faith – if it was just a smear to earn money.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • whbkboy

      All I can say is it's one heck of a history novel . . . Just curious what other history novels you know also has a similar following? Perhaps the Bible? . . . Maybe there's a conection there . . . I also don't know of many other "history novels" to have it's popularity grow so incredibly fast since it was published 180 some odd years ago . . . Maybe it's truth "did set it free" and that why it keeps growing!

      March 22, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  11. Eddy

    Wow, it's very surprising to read so many ignorant comments about Mormons, here in the USA. Personally, I can now say, Americans are simply to ignorant and bigots to elect an honest and intelligent man, who happens to be a Mormon. I had always thought, Americans, of all people, would appreciate a drug-free, hard-working, family-man, and super intelligent, financially independent, successful individual to govern them, who by the way, would NOT, as he said, govern with religion but with the law, but I was wrong. Americans are simply too ignorant, too pro-gay everything, and too liberal to see a good person when he's staring right at them. Being a naturalized American, I feel somewhat dumb-founded by what this country has become in a short 25 year span, the moral compass here is always pointing south anymore, too bad. Let's elect the next drug-addict, alcoholic, tax cheater, and non-entrepreneur guy for the most important job, yup, that's what today's Americans prefer, the losers, why? "...'cause we can relate to them" damn! America, like Europe, no more common sense anymore.

    March 3, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  12. mdub

    @ldean

    I am a Mormon. I wish to dispell some false information presented here... people have crazy ideas about what Mormons believe. It boils down to this: we believe Jesus Christ is our Savior. We strive to follow his teachings and love our fellow men in the hope that we can live with him and our families in Heaven some day. Yes, some of the things we do differ from Christian mainstream. But I assure you there is nothing of the insanity described.

    1. The Mountain Meadows Massacre is certainly a stain on our history. We do not deny this. We also do NOT believe the men who did what they did, while Mormon, acted under the authority of God. We believe they made an unbelievably serious misjudgement in the application of God's word. It is contrary to the nature of God to murder the innocent.

    2. BOTH Men and Women must be married to enter the highest kingdom of Heaven. Men cannot go alone, either. This is one of the reasons marriage is so important to us.

    3. I have been through all temple ceremonies myself. There are no separate, "higher" ceremonies for those who "earn" it. We absolutely do not swear a blood atonement. The promises we make in the temple are to respect ourselves, our families, and our Father in Heaven. We absolutely do not ever make a motion of slitting the throat. Period. NEVER.

    4. To say the "secrets" are revealed only to the highest priesthood holders is also not true. We believe the prophet and apostles receive certain guidance and direction pertaining to their callings, but to say they are revealed a certain set of "secrets" is patently false.

    5. Any man, woman, or child can have a revelation. The Book of Mormon is not updated every time someone gets a revelation. In fact, the only updates that have ever been made are to little things like changing "the" to "an." They do not affect the meaning and messages in the book.

    6. Yes, in the Book of Mormon the lamanites were cursed with a dark skin. However, we do not believe dark skinned people are filthy. Every man, woman, and child on this earth is a child of God. Race does not play into determinations of leadership, Priesthood, or anything else in the church.

    7. We do not believe in blind obedience. We believe each and every person is able to pray to God to find out if something is true.

    8. We do not worship Joseph Smith. We worship only God the Father in the name of his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. We believe in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and the word of modern prophets equally. We believe God spoke to prophets anciently, and he speaks to prophets now. However, the only person with the power to save us is Jesus Christ.

    I'm sure there are so many more things I could address. If you hear something about Mormons that makes you think we are absolutely insane, chances are it's inaccurate. As a general rule, we are good, hardworking, and generous people. We believe the church and the word of God to be true, but of course the members (and even the leadership) are human and thus subject to error. I would encourage people to become more educated on Mormonism by doing research from credible sources, like maybe straight from the horse's mouth at http://www.mormon.org. We are not that weird. The things we believe guide us to be decent and respecful human beings.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Kyle

      "6. Yes, in the Book of Mormon the lamanites were cursed with a dark skin."

      This is a common misconception, even among Mormons. The wicked Lamanites were cursed, but not with dark skin. They and their seed were cursed with many things that the righteous Nephites wanted to avoid.

      To distinguish the cursed Lamanites from the righteous Nephites, a mark was set upon them. In this case, the mark was dark skin. This manner of "coloring skin" applies only to this specific group of people, and it is not even implied that other people with dark skin are cursed people.

      It was important to distinguish between the two peoples, because "mixing" with a cursed person caused the curse to pass to the children. So to help the righteous keep their children blessed, they were able to distinguish the cursed from the blessed.

      Today, this mark has no meaning, particularly since the dark-skinned Lamanites were later blessed more favorably than the light-skinned Nephites.

      March 29, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  13. TrueBeliever

    I would not vote for Mitt Romney based on the fact he is Mormon. yes, it's true we are a country of religious tolerance in so far as one is allowed to practice whatever religion he wants to, without repercussion. However...and I am sure I will be slammed for this...Joseph Smith and his "prophets" believe that the Mormon religion is the "one true church" and wanted to take over the country and the world. This is evidently still their goal. Missionaries embark on their 2 year missions all over the world proselyting. This religion holds their Book of Mormon, the Doctrines and Covenants and other books of importance over the truth and importance of God's true Word, the Bible. Sure, they will use the Bible for reference and even quote from it, but their true belief is in Joseph Smith and his stories. They even believe themselves above certain laws, in certain areas of the USA. God's word ONLY is true, and the ONLY way a person can be saved is from ACCEPTING JESUS CHRIST as Saviour. Not by doing good deeds, not by marrying the right person and wearing sacred garments, not by populating the earth with children, not by sealing yourself to your spouse and family for time and eternity. It is physically and mentally impossible for a Mormon to separate him or herself from their religion enough to do their job effectively. If MItt becomes president, you can be sure he will correspond directly with the president of the Mormon church and work to procure a seat for himself in history. His church WILL come first. I have seen this happen in lesser situations, have seen this religion tear families apart, have see this religion make adults cry...and NOT in a good way. There is so much confusion within this church and it's followers that they have to hide their enjoyments-dancing, dressing, drinking the occasional glass of wine (which Jesus did drink-and true believers know that Jesus is the Man, NOT Joseph Smith). They hide behind smiles. They enjoy thinking themselves gods-in-the making (which is a blasphemy). No organized religion is perfect, and this one is not only imperfect-it's dangerous.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • TrueBeliever

      BTW-ex mormons are GREAT to talk to and/or be, for more info.

      February 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • ldean

      I'm not going to "slam you" because every word you wrote is true about Mormons. They are a cult hiding under the guise of a religion. They believe that dark-skinned people are the lamenites cursed by God for turning away from the "Chosen Mormons," God expressed his disgust with them by turning their skin dark. I wonder how many African Americans in this country would be swayed by that fact, or if they knew that blacks were not allowed into the priesthood until 1981 (All men become priests at the age of 12 – with the power to speak directly to God thru revelations). The neat thing about "revelations' in the LDS church is any man can have a revelation, causing the Book of Mormon to be "updated" / rewritten like it was in 1981. Just a few weeks ago, front page of the Salt Lake Tribune, it's being rewritten again to delete the references to dark skinned people being "filthy" – guess they are getting ready for 2012 – gotta change what is written publicly so they can "fit in."

      February 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  14. Slambo

    Mormans are all about hiding the truth. Ever been out to Utah? At least the scientologist had enough gumba to to create a whole new fantasy and not try and warp the Truth. Anyone living the morman fantasy has to be entirely mind whipped in the first place – and being in such a state would bring pause to any American voter who understands this. Of course with the direction this country is taking – guided by Hollywood – Mitt fits.! Lord please bring on the Rapture. I am ready.

    February 14, 2011 at 5:24 am |
    • Slambo

      As far non-intelligence goes – Joshua did not destroy Jericho – God did. Yes God did have the Isrealite army kill thousands – because He did not want them to infest the Isrealites with their pagan worship.It's the same way pennicillan kills infections in the body. Unfortunately Saul did not do them all in – and it came back to bite the Isrealites in the butt. Non-intelligences sounds like he or she might be of the moron faith too. Like I said in an earlier post – they like to "hide" the truth.

      February 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  15. Slambo

    So I guess MItt believes that he has become a god and this is his planet to rule!

    February 14, 2011 at 5:18 am |
  16. DocScott

    How hard is it to really imagine this scenario....1825 in a small town in Western New York where almost nobody else lives yet...a bored man who sees some issues with the Christian faith at that time and decides to develop a complicated code and engrave some new messages from God on some tablets, bury the tablets in ground and let it lay there for a few years to make them look worn and older, when the time is right...he happens to find the tablets, finds a few people in his small town to help him to translate it and witness these tablets and presto....you have the Book of Mormon, a completely new religion for the future of the United States. This story would be much more palatable and believable if there were at least some shreds of scientific evidence that suggests that this story at least could have happened and did not include a murder of another human being commanded by God! Beware, focus your faith in Jesus Christ and don't be deceived by the many false prophets spewing variations of what Jesus taught us.

    February 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Mb

      Murder of another human being? What anti Mormon book did you get your info from because all of that garbage you just said is anti Mormon garbage designed to simply smear us! Everything you said was a straight up lie! you warned to not be fooled and to stay tru to Jesus but where did Jesus say we need scientific evidence to believe? I think you're the one who needs to learn more about Jesus, not Mormons!

      February 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Intelligence

      Of the many gifts God has given to mankind, one of the greatest is intelligence. You've proven your misuse and neglect of the gift God has given you, DocScott, and you've also shown that you don't have faith or belief in the Word of God enough to study it.

      Your argument is that the Book of Mormon is not believable because in it God commands someone to kill another.

      1 Nephi 4:10 reads "And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; . . . "

      During the flood, God personally killed the entire human population, minus Noah and his family.

      The children of Israel, under direct commandment from God through a living prophet killed thousands as recorded in the Old Testament. As specific examples, the Israelite army, under the direction of Joshua, destroyed the city of Jericho and killed all of its inhabitants. There are many, many other examples that you can study on your own time.

      I believe in Jesus Christ and I follow His teachings. Your faith is lacking, and your comments are insulting. Don't speak about things you know nothing of.

      February 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • ldean

      @mb; as a descendant of one of the families slaughtered (120 Methodist men, women and children) at the Mountain Meadow Massacre in 1857 by the Mormons who believed they were being commanded by God. They would have to be able to believe that in order to crush the skulls of 7 year old little girls begging for their lives. If youre a Mormon you would know that it is called, "Blood Atonement," and members (including MItt Romey) have sworn an oath to blood atonement – yes, even in this day and age – in the SLC temple to kill if need be. When they silently take their index finger, place it under their left ear lobe, move the finger across the throat in a swift moment bringing it to rest under their right ear lobe. My friend, an ex-Mormon attorney went through the ceremony with Romney. I think I would vote for a Muslim before I would a Mormon – at least we believe in the same God, just a different name. Mormons believe God is of the flesh, as was Jesus and Satan and Mormon men will be given their own kingdoms at death to rule in the flesh as another God. Mormons are also a patriarchal religion; they believe a woman can only enter the celestial kingdom (highest level of a 3 level heaven) if she is married. The LDS church single-handedly killed the Equal Rights Amendment by sinking millions of dollars against the movement. Basically LDS is closer to Scientology than it is Christianity. Depending on what state of priesthood you have gotten to in your church, you would know all this. Secrets are only revealed to the highest priests/men.

      February 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • ldean

      @mb – here's a little "scientific" evidence for ya. Mormons are taught that they came to America 600 B.C. as one of the lost tribes of Israel, that they are the original American Indian (although extensive DNA testing has proved no connection between european LDS ancestry and American Indian). They believe that Lehi's group of 20 sailed here and were propelled by "furious winds" for 344 days. Math negates that. 344 days at only a mere 10 miles per hour would cover a distance of a little more than 82 THOUSAND miles – about 78 thousand more than the distance from Israel to America. In Book of Mormon, 6:1-20, Joseph Smith wrote about a great battle in New York (where LDS landed in 600 bc near Palmyra, NY) in 385 B.C. where "hundreds of thousands of people were killed" despite the lack of archaeological evidence – no brestplates, helmets, swords nor any signs of human remains have ever been found on that little hill. jiminey . . . I could write a book . . .

      February 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Mrs. Swanson

      Is there any scientific evidence that any of it is true? I enjoy my Sundays hanging with my dog and my husband. I don't feel a need to go anywhere to have somebody else tell me how to live my life. Religion has become so political. It is such a turn off.

      March 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Eddy

      @DocScott, I beg your forgiveness for what I'm a bout to say buddy, but you are simply an ignorant individual who happens to hate Mormons. All the comments here about Mormons being a cult and the like, show how ignorant these people are.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CHSVC2nAl8&w=640&h=390]
      I couldn't agree more with JFK, this is the reason why I came to this country...

      March 3, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Will

      @ Idean

      The Mountain Meadows Massacre is the most horrible mormon event in History. I just can't understand how people (living the faith I live by) could do such horrible things. I just don't understand it, and no matter how Iturn it around, it's a terrible tragedy. I wasn't there and I could never hurt a human being, but I still feel ashamed for what my people has done. I am so sorry for what happened to your ancestors.

      Concerning the oath and other strange covenants Mitt Romney supposedly has taken, they're false. I hold the same level of priesthood as him (High Priest) – which isn't that high of a level, by the way – and we do swear to be willing to sacrifice anything – and if it were ever needed, even OUR life if necessary – for the kingdom of God. But never, NEVER, is the possibility of killing anyone is or has ever been even slightly mentioned. It would be contrary to our core beliefs, theology and to Christ's teachings.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.