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August 4th, 2011
01:16 PM ET

Mormon presidential politics

(CNN)–America is not ready for a Mormon president, according to Christian author Tricia Erickson. On Wednesday she told CNN's Tom Foreman on In the Arena that she believes a practicing Mormon should not be president because of their theological views on the afterlife and governance.

CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi jumped into the fray on the topic with Foreman as well. He said while religious views shape Mormon politicians on a macro level, there is no evidence Mormon politicians have a "bat phone" to Utah and take orders from the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the church is formally known.

While the U.S. Constitution says "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States," Republican candidates for the White House Mitt Romney and John Huntsman – who are both Mormons – may have more ground to make up on this issue than previously thought.

Erickson, an ex-Mormon who has long been critical of the church, is not alone in her views.

Is America ready for a Mormon president?

A June poll by the Quinnipiac Poll found 36% of Americans would be somewhat or entirely uncomfortable with a Mormon president.

A June Gallup poll found 22% of Americans would not vote for an otherwise qualified Mormon candidate.

There may be a silver lining for Mormon candidates though. A July poll by the Public Research Research Institute and Religion News Service, found four of ten Americans know that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon and about half (46%) said they do not know his religious affiliation.

Of the 3,000,000 people who live in Iowa there are only 24,000 LDS members, according to the Deseret News' 2011 Church Almanac. The Deseret News is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, but is independently operated. The percentage breakdown of Mormons living in South Carolina is similar too.

With so few practicing Mormons in those early primary states, voters with questions about the tenets of Mormonism may not have many places to turn to ask impolite questions about the faith, allowing rumors and speculation to go unchallenged.

Explain it to me: Mormonism

This year the church has gone on a PR blitz with its campaign, "I'm a Mormon." It's goal is to break Mormon stereotypes and features a diverse group church members like a motorcycle builder, an African American couple, and Latinos. They bought an electronic billboard in Times Square just down the street from the Broadway Show the "Book of Mormon.” The satirical musical features the adventures of buttoned up and earnest white Mormon missionaries in Africa.

"Our Church is known for our efforts to share our message,” Richard G. Hinckley, Executive Director of the Missionary Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the Belief Blog when the ad went up. “This is one way to get to know us — through the lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

The campaign is set to expand to more cities this fall but The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday the church would not be buying ads in primary states to avoid the appearance of political meddling. "We know people will draw the wrong conclusions," Michael Otterson a church spokesman told the Journal.

We want to hear from you.

What do you think? Does a candidate's religion play into your decision to vote for them? What matters more to you policy or theology?


soundoff (318 Responses)
  1. Jorge

    Ross,After reading your most reecnt installment on this topic of transition out of mormonism, I have to say you are right about the local body of Christ having little understanding of what it means for a former mormon to leave the LDS and to embrace biblical christianity.I am so thankful for my own church, that has been a huge support to me thru this time of change in my life. They have made big efforts to answer my questions on doctrine, and patiently have held my hand many times thru tearful challenges with my still LDS husband. They have stood in the gap many a time and prayed for me and my family.God truly has led me to a body of believers that live out the Christian faith in such a beautiful way. They are not perfect people, but truly people sold out for the lord nd willing to stand in the gap. I only wish other former mormons could have the same.God bless,gloria

    April 1, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  2. Manuel

    I did too and for two years I did a lot of bad stuff. One day I decided to cngahe and went back to church. Now I'm married, got a beautiful boy, and I'm writing my own books. We all go astray but we can all return to church. Even if you don't, at least just lead a good life.

    March 31, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  3. Steve

    Can I call myself a Mormon yet deny that Joseph Smith was a prophet or that the Book of Mormon is God's Word? No, because the term Mormon associates a person with a body of teachings and beliefs. A Christian is more than someone who believes in "Christ". The Apostle Paul warned in 2 Corinthians that there will be "other Jesus, gospels and spirits" coming in into our communities. A Christian is a person who believes in the doctrines surrounding the original Gospel found in the Bible. Devout Mormons do not. For example, the Mormon Church rejects the Trinity, and thus that Jesus came to earth as the one and only God Emmanuel (God with Us). The idea of 2, 3 or millions of gods is completely foreign to the Judeo-Christian faith. The Bible only speaks of man-made false gods & idols and that we should only worship the one true and living God. In Isaiah 43:10 God says that "Before me no God was formed, neither shall there be after me." God knows of no other god, and even says that in the future no god shall be formed! A copy of this passage (and the entire Book of Isaiah) was discovered as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 and thus was not altered by an apostate church – with an agenda. The "Jesus" of the Muslims is not the same as the Jesus of Christians. The "Jesus" of the Mormons is not the same as the Jesus of Christianity!

    October 6, 2011 at 2:57 am |
  4. D-man5005

    I thought that this interview was actually very good. Tricia like many was attacking Mitt Romney for being a Mormon without many (if any) valid reasons to do so. Tom Foreman actually did a good job of making this clear, along with Eric Marrapodi, who both pointed out that the Mormon religion did not seem to greatly reflect in others political agendas. In the end, I actually think Tricia looked like an idiot trying to bash a religion without much reason.

    August 29, 2011 at 5:47 am |
  5. bstone81

    How about Yeah Samake, a Mormon, who is running for President of Mali, West Africa. If elected he'll be the first Mormon President of a country, beating out Romney or Huntsman for the honors. His campaign website: http://samake2012.com

    August 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  6. byuflorida

    "Bat phone to Utah." That comment made my day. The sad thing is people really believe Mormons do stuff like that.

    August 17, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  7. bstone81

    Mitt Romney isn't the only mormon running for president. At least not in the US. Yeah Samake, a BYU graduate and a Mormon, is running for president of Mali. Read more here: samake2012.com

    August 16, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  8. Obama

    Tricia you seem like you're very determined on making Mormons look bad. They are Christian and if you say they are not then you are a very small minded woman who clearly does not know what she is talking about . The presenter in that interview mocked you because you sounded so stupid and critical, especially on you're criticisms about aspects of the Mormon religion that have nothing to do with being in a position of political power. You claim to know all about the Mormon religion because " you grew up in the church" however you display a lack of knowledge about that faith and their teachings. From seeing this in this interview i defiantly will not be buying you're book as you seem to have a biased vendetta against the Mormon faith.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  9. Lea Fullwood

    Trish Erickson got owned in that interview . people should actually do their research on the religion before they start spewing their crap

    August 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  10. Tricia Erickson

    Mormons are NOT Christians no matter how much they think they are because their leaders are trying to convince them that they are. If you read my book, you will find out, in detial, why Mormons are as far away from being "Christian" as they can get. Mormons, if you think you are Christian, READ MY BOOK and free yourselves...your leaders are lieing to you.

    Here's an excerpt from my book...but the book goes into great detail to explain why Mormons are not Christians:

    Christianity: Christians believe, according to the Word of God, that Jesus came to earth as God in the flesh – that He is God incarnate.
    John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.

    John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Emphasis added)

    Mormonism: Mormon doctrine plainly contradicts this with their teachings in The Gospel Through the Ages, which state that Jesus is man’s older brother.

    “Jesus is man’s spiritual brother. We dwelt with him in the spirit world as members of that large society of eternal intelligences, which included Heavenly Parents and all the personages of who have become mortal beings upon this earth or who ever shall come here to dwell. In that spirit-creation, when we became children of God, Jesus was the “first born”, and so He is our eldest brother. 5

    Furthermore, according to their Doctrines of Salvation, they believe that Jesus is merely “a god” – not God incarnate. “Although he was a God, even the Son of God, with power and authority to create this earth and other earths, yet there was something lacking which he did not receive until after his resurrection.” (Emphasis added). 6

    August 12, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • *frank*

      Lol.

      August 12, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • chuck

      say what? You have most definatly lost the gift of the Holy Ghost/Spirit!!!

      August 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • D-man5005

      I can't help but laugh. Merriam-Webster: Christian-one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I dunno, but last I checked, the Bible and Book of Mormon talk about Jesus Christ and his teachings A LOT. You may as well tell a Muslim that the Qur' an is false and that Muslims aren't Islamic.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:51 am |
  11. Ali

    Isn't anyone who believes in Christ a Christian. So since they beleive in Christ, they are indeed Christian.

    As a non-religious transplant living in Utah, the biggest frustration with this particular faith, is how its allowed and accepted their influence is, on the local economy and government. The biggest concern: they should be taxed as a business if they are publicly giving opinions on politics here. Which they do in a "Silent"...or sometimes open manner.

    They also have a large media influence; they own a local TV Station, KSL and The Salt Lake Tribune. KSL TV station that does not air shows like Saturday Night Live. Even though they are "independently" owned. They own radio stations and retail businesses.

    They are constructing a massive retail center that will give them revenue in the millions, not forgetting that their version of the Goodwill here (called The Deseret Industry) has oddly high thrift store prices.

    More than 70% of the local goverment are active in their faith, which effects the tourisim as it affects the local liquor laws that are voted on; laughable in comparison to the rest of the US.

    Since moving here it's like moving into the 1950's and I plan to leave as soon as my contract is up.

    In my opinion, all candidates popping up all seem terrible, and wouldn't vote for any of them if I could, however, i will and when I do; it will be picking the lesser of two evils.

    August 10, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • nobody important

      I think you confused your newspaper- The SL Tribune is not owned by nor are they generally friendly with the LDS church. I think you're referring to the Deseret News.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      Mormons are not Christians,You have to be a Christian or familiar with Christianity and Mormonism to know the difference.That is not saying that Mormons are better or worse than any other people group,just that they are not Christian.They do not believe in the true Christ.

      August 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  12. Faith

    God designed Christianity(or the world) so that only honest humans can have the faith properly. Those who dwell in falsehood for the loyalty other than to the Truth get the due woeful consequences. Mormons, your reliance on filthy doctrines and on your own deeds will never get you to Heaven. You've been deceived. Wake up.

    August 8, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Reality

      And the "red-neck" lady with many aliases continues in her clouds of inanity.

      August 9, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Minininjatriforceman

      We believe in the bible as long as it is translated correctly. We believe that through divine revelation revised the bible. In my scriptures we do have The King James Version then bellow the page we have his revisions that give more clarification in what was happening. We believe in the bible as well as the Doctorine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price if you want to learn more about what we believe before going on rumors and misconceptions read up.
      http://www.lds.org
      http://www.mormon.org (made for non members)

      August 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • ErikN

      Faith please elaborate as which doctrines are filthy.

      August 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  13. Faith

    Authentic, honest reading and studying the WHOLE Bible – it sets apart true Christianity and all other false religions(whatever names claimed). Honest Christian denominations come to the SAME conclusions in ALL major doctrines. Mormonism doesn't because it is an religion to the cult instead to the Word of God.

    August 8, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Consider the Source

      Faith, that is so profound. You must be a great philosopher!

      August 9, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Texas

      Really? I have ready the whole Bible, many times in fact, and in several languages too. We truly believe that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. That he parted the red sea, spoke to Moses, and is the Creator of the world. We know he is our Savior, that he suffered in Gethsemane, died on the cross, and rose 3 days later. We believe that it is through this atoning sacrifice that all mankind may be saved, and that it is the only way to be saved. I am pretty sure that makes me a Christian.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  14. Faith

    Mormons should start reading the whole Bible if they know they are not categorized as Christian to find out the truth objectively. That's what honest humans do. The Bible says Jesus is God. Those who do not recognize Jesus as God are not Christian but pagans.

    August 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Sorry, but you do not know what you are talking about. Mormon doctrine states that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament – Jehovah.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Minininjatriforceman

      Abinadi is right we believe Jesus is the Christ that saved us all but we do not believe God as three people in one we believe them to be three separate beings.

      August 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • ErikN

      Sorry Faith, but I like many of Christ's true and whole gospel have read the Bible, the whole Bible and we are very confident inm our standing with God. We come by this by ourselves and not through our leaders. We read and most importantly understand the context. Granted there are still things that are mysteries, but through study and prayer our faith sustains us in knowing that God has a Holy purpose. Those who continue to decry LDS as non-Christians are clearly ignorant to the true meaning of what a Christian is.

      August 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
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About this blog

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.