October 29th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

The shaping of a candidate: A look at Mitt Romney's faith journey

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

(CNN) – A cop arrived at the roadside wreckage of a June 1968 head-on collision in southern France, took one quick look at the Citroën’s unresponsive driver and, according to one of the driver’s friends, scrawled into the young man’s American passport, “Il est mort” - “He is dead.”

The man at the Citroën’s wheel was Mitt Romney, who may have appeared dead but was very much alive – as is his bid today for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Romney was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church, when tragedy struck. It was a time of turmoil both in France and in the United States. Protests against the Vietnam War raged on, as did French disdain for Americans. Robert Kennedy had recently been assassinated, as had Martin Luther King Jr. a couple months earlier. France was still reeling from a May marked by riots, student demonstrations and crippling worker strikes.

There were six people in the car Romney was driving when friends say an oncoming speeding Mercedes, driven by a Catholic priest, veered into his lane. Among the passengers was mission president Duane Anderson – Romney was serving as his assistant – and Anderson’s wife. Anderson was injured, and Leola Anderson, 57, was killed. Like her husband, she’d been a parent figure to the approximate 180 Mormon missionaries in the field - their surrogate mother away from home. Now, she was gone.

“I don’t think [Romney] went around blaming himself, but in talking about it he’d shed some tears,” remembered Dane McBride, a fellow missionary and Romney friend ever since. “It was a very heavy experience for a 21-year-old.”

The mission president left France for six weeks to bury his wife and heal. A gloom spread over the mission field. Conversions dropped along with Latter-day Saint spirits.

These young men and women, who were already deep in a trying spiritual rite of passage, had to grow up and prove themselves in new ways.

In spite of his grief and a broken arm, Romney and a missionary companion – they always work in pairs – took charge. They traveled around the country visiting the others. Romney lifted up deflated missionaries with silly made-up songs. He taught them to visualize all they could accomplish and challenged them to raise their expectations, McBride said.

Romney increased the conversion goal for the year by 40%, believing they could and would recharge. In the end they surpassed Romney’s goal of baptizing 200 new members into the church.

It wasn’t such a stretch, though, for Romney to distinguish himself. Throughout his life, he’s been rooted in a faith that – whether he talks about it or not – helped shape the man and GOP presidential frontrunner he is today.

‘An American running for president’

Romney hopes to get the nod that eluded him four years ago.

Back then, during his first bid for president, he faced opposition from candidates including Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister and favorite of evangelical voters who billed himself as the “Christian leader.”

Romney has faced questions about his faith since first getting into politics in 1994, when he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy, whose attack on Romney’s Mormonism failed to gain traction.

Since then Romney, who was later elected Massachusetts governor, has played down his faith on the campaign trail. But he addressed it in a December 2007 speech, hoping to stem voter concerns about his faith and how it might influence him as a president. It was a speech he likened to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech, when Kennedy was in the running to be America’s first Catholic president.

“Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president,” Romney said. “Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”

He said, “No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith,” and that if he were to be elected president, he would “serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest.”

“A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States,” he said. “I believe in my Mormon faith, and I endeavor to live by it. 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 are right, so be it.”

Whether Romney’s confession of faith did sink him was a subject of debate. He hoped to deflect the focus on his religion while not speaking to doctrine or specific beliefs. In the whole speech, he only mentioned the word Mormon once.

Just days later, Huckabee would stir the pot.

“Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” Huckabee said to a New York Times reporter. Huckabee later apologized for the remark.

This time around, Romney remains strong in the polls and counts among his backers New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who endorsed Romney shortly after saying he wouldn’t join the race.

But Romney also has been distracted by pesky background noise. After introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the recent Values Voter Summit, Pastor Robert Jeffress said Republicans shouldn’t vote for Romney because Mormonism is a “cult.” 

Despite such efforts to instill doubt in voters, a recent CNN/ORC International poll showed that a candidate’s Mormon faith made no difference to 80% of Americans, and that 51% believed Mormonism was a Christian religion.

Beyond condemning Jeffress’s comments and Perry’s association with the pastor, Romney’s campaign has made it adamantly clear that it doesn’t want to discuss his faith. Repeated attempts to speak with the candidate, his wife, his children, his siblings - and, really, just anyone – about Romney’s faith journey were denied by campaign headquarters. Even the reins it has on those outside the inner circle appear tight. A local LDS Church leader in Michigan, contacted in hopes of finding childhood friends, forwarded CNN’s inquiry to campaign headquarters - prompting yet another slap down.

“What makes no sense to me is how you continue to push forward in writing about Gov. Romney’s faith journey when we’ve made it clear in every way possible that this is not a story we want to participate in,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an email.

Mitt Romney -- with wife Ann to his left -- hopes to become the first Mormon U.S. president.

Without talking to him, it’s impossible to say exactly what Romney believes. But what Mormons generally believe is this:

They count themselves as Christian because they accept Jesus Christ as the son of God and believe people are saved through his atonement. They believe the Bible is the word of God, and that the Book of Mormon (subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”) is, too.

Opinion: Who says Mormons aren't Christian?

They believe The Church of Jesus Christ, which existed long ago, was restored by a prophet named Joseph Smith, who founded the LDS Church in 1830. Central to their belief system is that God still reveals truth to modern-day LDS Church prophets, as well as to individuals – Mormon or otherwise.

Explain it to me: Mormonism | Video: Mormonism defined

They attend weekly services in chapels, also referred to as “wards” or meetinghouses, while their large temples (accessible only to those deemed sufficiently faithful) are utilized for the most important and sacred ceremonies, including baptisms for the dead and celestial marriages - during which couples are “sealed” for eternity. Mormons with temple privileges wear special undergarments as a reminder of their faith, and those who are devoted abstain from alcohol, tea and coffee.

Through faith, prayer and service to others, they strive to be more like Jesus and get closer to God. Latter-day Saints place great emphasis on families, believing that through them – and not alone – people can find a place in the highest level of heavenly society.

Families, Mormons say, can be united forever.

Growing up while abroad

The 19-year-old Mitt Romney who showed up for missionary training was different than the rest.

“Mitt stood out from everyone else,” said Byron Hansen, who flew with Romney to France in July 1966. “He already spoke French pretty darn good, while the rest of us knew ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir.’ He immediately jumped out as a leader.”

Romney, like many of the other young men called by church leaders to serve, had finished a year of college before he got his missionary calling. But he’d gone to prestigious Stanford University and came from a privileged and powerful background.

He was worldly, not intimidated, and he was eager to interact with people of different backgrounds, said Hansen, now a car dealer in Brigham City, Utah. “All the rest of us from no-name Utah had never been more than 500 miles away from home.”

Despite the comforts he’d known growing up, Romney wasn’t spoiled. Some apartments that housed missionaries around France lacked heat and water, but had plenty of fleas. Those sorts of conditions likely made Romney appreciate all the more the luxuries of the mission home, located in the ritziest part of Paris, where he worked and lived during the latter part of his two-and-a-half year mission. He and the others there were fed by a Spanish cook and enjoyed the benefits of maids.

What’s more, said fellow missionary and friend Dane McBride, the young men learned what time of day to peer through windows to watch Brigitte Bardot walk her poodles.

The scenery aside, “it was the nicest office I ever worked in,” said McBride, now an allergist and immunologist in Roanoke, Virginia.

Throughout his mission, Romney was the first to get out of bed each morning, forever focused on his goals and the lessons he’d teach, and he stayed gung-ho even when others faltered, Hansen said.

Romney didn’t shy away from approaching anyone. On Saturdays, a free day for missionaries, he’d be done with his laundry by 9 a.m. and coaxing everyone else out the door for bike rides in the mountains, tours in new places or football games.

“He was never one to sit around,” Hansen said. “You had to run to keep up with Mitt.”

He was both pragmatic and creative when it came to sharing Mormon teachings, McBride said.

“Neither of us cared for knocking on doors much,” said McBride, referring to the typical tact for Mormon proselytizing. “But we did it. We did it a lot.”

However, Romney was a big proponent of what McBride called “creative contacting.” In lieu of going door-to-door, he preferred to encourage conversations by building sidewalk kiosks or inviting French locals to play baseball or attend evening parties with American themes – complete with Western wear and guitar strumming.

Being a missionary in largely secular France deepened Romney’s faith because it forced him to wrestle with challenges, steep himself in study and prayer and face plenty of rejection, McBride said. Like others, Romney was no stranger to doors being slammed in his face or getting his behind kicked while heading down apartment stairwells. These sorts of encounters, his friend said, help a person mature and grow.

Establishing a connection with others in the face of adversity is central to the missionary experience, and it’s a skill Romney carries with him today, McBride said.

“Mitt knows how to find common ground with people,” he said. “You learn that being a missionary. … And it’s how you get things done in politics.”

Religious roots that run deep and strong

The groundwork for Romney’s faith journey was laid long before he put on a suit and, armed with his Book of Mormon, boarded a flight for France.

He comes from a long line of Latter-day Saints. Those who like to highlight what makes him different might point to how one of his great-grandfathers fled to Mexico, about 125 years ago, amid U.S. government crackdowns on what Mormons refer to as “plural marriage.” But many multigenerational Mormon families have polygamists in their family tree.

Plural marriage was introduced by church founder Joseph Smith but was officially banned by the church in 1890. Some 38,000 people aligned with fundamentalist offshoots of the LDS Church still practice polygamy, but they are a far cry and completely separate from the 14 million worldwide members in Romney’s church.

Romney’s late father, George Romney, was from modest means. He was born in Mexico to monogamous U.S.-born parents and left during the Mexican Revolution when he was 5. He went on to be CEO and chairman of the now-defunct American Motors Corporation, governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate himself in 1968.

Mitt Romney with his father, George Romney, who made his own mark as a leader in business, the LDS Church and politics.

Growing up Mormon in Michigan made Mitt Romney a member of a distinct minority. There were fewer than 8,000 Mormons in the state in 1945, two years before he was born, according to the LDS Church. It’s been reported that he was the only Mormon in his high school. While Mormon students in Utah could simply stroll across the street from school to attend early morning seminary before the first bell, longtime friend McBride said Romney didn’t have that easy, built-in outlet to strengthen his faith amid peers.

“Neither of us had benefited from that,” said McBride, who also grew up as a Mormon minority in Iowa and North Carolina. “We had been called on in school to defend our faith many times. … I remember from fifth grade on needing to defend my religion.”

Romney’s family, though, was active in the church. In 1952, his father was named Michigan’s first stake president. A stake is comparable to a diocese and has under its umbrella multiple “wards” or congregations, much as a diocese consists of parishes.

The LDS Church does not rely on professional clergy. Instead, church members are called to serve as volunteer leaders while holding down paid jobs. Church leaders rely on other volunteers as advisers. For instance, a ward bishop has two counselors, while a stake president confers with a high council of 12.

Being Michigan’s sole stake president meant Romney’s father – in addition to his full-time corporate work – oversaw ward operations, was the spiritual guide for the Latter-day Saint community and relayed messages from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

Like many practicing Mormons, the Romneys enjoyed “family home evening” every Monday, a time reserved to pray, study and sing together, McBride said.

Romney has spoken publicly about how his parents took him and his three siblings on mobile American history lessons, McBride said, loading up the family Rambler for cross-country tours to national parks, with stops at places like Mount Rushmore, Valley Forge and Williamsburg.

But McBride said the family also likely visited LDS historical sites, including points along the path westward traveled by Mormon pioneers who followed the call of Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, and trekked through treacherous conditions to arrive in 1847 in what is now Utah.

While Romney’s parents made sure their children were deeply connected to their country and their faith, Romney didn’t reside in a Mormon bubble. He was part of a bigger and more diverse world.

Ann Davies, the woman he fell for and now calls his wife, was Episcopalian when he met her during high school, and he knew she was the one for him.

After he left for college and then his mission, she began studying Mormonism, attended church with Romney’s parents and converted. He returned from France and proposed to her immediately. After a civil ceremony in Michigan, the two were married and “sealed” for eternity in 1969 during a sacred ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple.

The couple returned to college and began a family at church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, before moving to Boston, where Romney earned law and business degrees at Harvard.

Serving his LDS community

Romney rose in local church leadership while making his corporate mark. Along the way he applied many of the skills he’d displayed earlier, including his knack as a young missionary for turning challenges into possibilities.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, he served as a ward bishop – or part-time pastor – and stake president for the Boston area.

Romney delivered sermons, counseled couples, and made middle-of-the-night hospital runs. He monitored budgets, weighed welfare needs of immigrants and others, and drove outreach to different faith communities. He showed up at the homes of Latter-day Saints in need of help, taking on tasks such as removing bees’ nests.

Philip Barlow, now the chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, served as a one of two counselors to Bishop Romney in the early 1980s.

Each Saturday, the counselors would meet with Romney in his home in Belmont, a suburb northwest of Boston. And while the work was serious, it didn’t mean Romney always was. Barlow recalled the time Romney busted out with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and did a formidable moonwalk across the floor.

“The media is always reporting that he can come across as too polished,” Barlow said. “But there’s a real person there.”

Romney also was the kind of leader who built bridges with those suspicious of Mormons. When a chapel under construction in Belmont burned to the ground amid ongoing anti-Mormon sentiment, he turned the perceived arson attack into opportunity.

Non-Mormon churches offered their buildings to accommodate the needs of the displaced Latter-day Saints during the chapel’s reconstruction. While it would have been easier to pick one place to call a temporary home for services, classes and meetings, Romney accepted every viable offer he received – thereby forcing a rotation of interaction with different faith communities.

“It was an inspired move,” said Grant Bennett, who at one time served as a counselor to Romney when he was a bishop and later served on the Boston stake’s high council under Romney when he was president.

Experiencing the kindness of strangers offered relief to Mormons who had been feeling “a little under siege,” said Bennett, who first got to know Romney through church in 1978 and worked with him for five years at Bain & Company, a global consulting firm that Romney eventually led as CEO.

“In a religious context, Mormons are very good at serving each other and are often hesitant to accept help,” he said. “I think Mitt had the fundamental insight … that we’d be better off and [the other churches would] be blessed by helping us.”

It was the sort of decision perhaps born of being in the minority in Michigan and learning early to honor religious pluralism, said Bennett, now president of CPS Technologies, a high-tech manufacturing firm in the Boston area.

On the campaign trail and with media, Romney hopes to focus on matters other than faith.

In his religious roles, Romney had to delegate and call others to serve. Sometimes he believed in people more than they believed in themselves.

Andy Anderson, a retired researcher and writer in Kaysville, Utah, first got to know Romney amid tragedy. It was Anderson’s mother who was killed in the 1968 car wreck in France, and when his father returned to Paris, Anderson, his wife and children went along.

When Romney later moved to Anderson’s neighborhood in Massachusetts, Anderson said he helped Romney and his family settle in.

In 1989, Anderson said he was minding his own research business when Romney, then the Boston stake president, called him for a meeting. A group of new converts Anderson described as “Cambodian boat people” – united formally as a “branch,” which is smaller and less developed than a ward - had suddenly lost its president without warning.

In shock, he listened as Romney said, “Guess who’s the next branch president?”

Anderson said he’d been raised to accept church callings. But between the language barrier, the cultural differences, the poverty and the responsibility, this one seemed too much. He begged and pleaded with Romney. He told him he was unqualified, that he’d “never been president of anything.” He said, “It sounds like a really bad fit, Mitt.” But Romney wasn’t swayed.

“Andy, you know where this comes from,” Romney answered, referring to the Mormon belief that God can reveal truths to individuals. “It’s not me. You go talk to Him and tell me when you’re ready.”

For the next three years Anderson said he oversaw the poorest people in the Boston stake. The overwhelming task “nearly killed me,” he said. But along the way he not only fell in love with the community, he learned to believe in himself and see that he could be a leader.

“I count Mitt as a friend, and it has been a real pleasure to work under him,” he said. “If he was a real pain to work for, I’d know it. I’ve worked for people in the church I couldn’t stand.”

Women’s view of Romney

The Romney reviews from Latter-day Saint women in the Boston area were more mixed.

In the early 1970s, as the feminist movement gained steam, a group of Mormon women began gathering in Cambridge to explore the history of women in their church. They were looking for role models, stories that would inspire them.

With the help of LDS Church historians, they learned about their female ancestors and wrote a book, “Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah.” They discovered that a women’s newspaper, Women’s Exponent, was published in the late-19th and early-20th centuries and featured women’s writings that Judy Dushku described as “very feminist in their views.”

“We were reading about women we’d never heard of before,” said Dushku, a Suffolk University professor of government with an interest in gender. She and other “founding mothers” were moved to start a new publication, now a quarterly magazine: Exponent II.

That decision, however, was not received well by the LDS Church, Dushku said. She said the fact that it was independent and had no stamp of approval from church higher-ups, all of them men, rubbed some - including Romney - the wrong way.

Dushku said Romney encouraged friends to tell their wives not to participate. He made it clear he didn’t want the women behind the publication holding meetings on church property. Dushku and the others suspected it was under his direction that copies of the magazine displayed in congregations got dumped in wastebaskets.

The LDS Church is patriarchal in nature. Only men can serve as bishops, stake presidents and in higher leadership roles, including the combined post of church president and prophet. Only men are welcome in the priesthood, which in Mormon circles means having the authority, for example, to perform baptisms and offer sacramental blessings.

Dushku decided she could live with this and remains a faithful Mormon.  She said she and the others simply wanted an outlet for women to discuss issues unique to them. And while what they created may have seemed “radical” back then, she says there are Mormon women bloggers today who push boundaries much more than Exponent II ever did.

What got to Dushku about Romney was less his reaction to the magazine and more how she saw him treat women he was in a position to comfort and support as a local church leader.

Dushku has told the story of a woman, a mother of four, who was pressured by then-Bishop Romney to go forward with a pregnancy despite advice from doctors that a medical complication made it too dangerous.

She also recalled the story of a meeting between Romney and a woman whose ex-husband had been excommunicated from the church because of numerous affairs he’d had while serving as a bishop.

The woman asked Dushku to accompany her to the meeting, where Romney encouraged the woman to forgive her philandering ex so he could be re-baptized into the church and marry another woman.

The problem, Dushku said, is that the husband had never bothered to apologize to the wife he’d hurt, a fact she said Romney didn’t seem to care much about.

Since speaking out to media recently, Dushku said she’s been flooded with responses from Facebook friends. Most of the reactions are positive, thanking her for her courage.

But some friends have suggested she back off.

“How can you blame someone who has so many responsibilities?” one friend wrote. “He was young,” said another. “People change.”

Dushku said she affords Romney the possibility he may have changed, that he might handle such situations differently today.

“But compassion is a character quality,” she said. “I doubt he’s much different now.”

Her take on Romney, though, doesn’t jibe with that of Helen Claire Sievers, executive director of Harvard’s WorldTeach program, which brings volunteer teachers to developing countries.

Sievers, who’s been involved with Exponent II on and off since its inception, was the Boston stake activity director when Romney was stake president. She recalled being at a meeting in Dushku’s house in Watertown, outside of Boston, when women began wondering aloud about how their local church might better empower women.

“Often leadership in the Mormon church tends to pull far to the right, to out-orthodox the orthodox,” said Sievers, who later proposed to Romney that he should meet with the Boston LDS women to hear their frustrations and suggestions. Romney was willing to have such a meeting, even though it bucked the comfort level of church headquarters.

“I was really impressed that Mitt felt strongly that even if he could get in trouble with the hierarchy, he really wanted to hear what the women that were under his stewardship had to say so that they would feel as comfortable as possible in church,” Sievers said.

As a result of the meeting, which drew more than 150 participants, Sievers said adjustments were made, including allowing women to say opening prayers at church meetings. Romney didn’t have the power to change church doctrine, but Sievers said he could and did bend the norm to make women feel heard and more respected.

“Many Mormon men wouldn’t make that choice,” she said.

Serving outside the stake and ward

In his fulltime work life, Romney showed that his commitment to serving others extended beyond those in his ward or stake. His religious values came through in business decisions – sometimes trumping opportunities for financial gain.

Robert Gay, who was once a managing partner at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm Romney founded, recalled how Romney refused to put investment dollars into a deal with Artisan Entertainment because he didn’t want to profit from R-rated films.

But of greater note to Gay - who once served on the Boston stake’s high council with Romney - was something Romney did for him in 1996.

After Gay’s 14-year-old daughter went missing for three days in New York, Romney shut down Bain Capital in Boston and flew about 50 employees to New York to help find her.

The girl, who lived with her family in Connecticut, disappeared after going to a concert in Manhattan. Romney and the other Bain Capital executives put their “$1 billion investment firm” on hold, created a “war room” at a hotel, paid to print 200,000 fliers, set up a toll free hotline number and enlisted the help of a private investigator, the Boston Globe reported at the time.

They canvassed streets and talked to runaways. The girl was found in a New Jersey home, “dazed from a disorienting dose of a drug,” the Globe reported.

It’s not a story Gay likes to retell, though he did record a video testimonial about it during Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. Today, Gay would rather offer other insights, including the time another Bain Capital partner suddenly fell very ill and was hospitalized. Romney was the first person to show up for a visit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Gay now lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, and manages an equity fund with Jon Huntsman Sr., father of another GOP Mormon presidential hopeful. Gay called Romney “a devout Christian,” someone who has always been committed to “leading a good and purposeful life.”

What faith means for future

Romney, like the other prospective candidates for president, will remain under the microscope in the months ahead.

His past will be combed, his policies scrutinized, his record examined.

How much his Mormon faith plays into his political journey remains to be seen. But whether he likes it, whether his campaign can control it, the fact that he may be on track to become the first Mormon president in U.S. history will garner attention.

It’s a reality that Romney friends like McBride acknowledge, even if it disappoints them.

“The issues of his church are not the issues of this country. Those are personal issues,” he said. “I hate to see further articles [about his faith], but, on the other hand, what do you do?”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (2,731 Responses)
  1. Colin

    Which of the following is a story even young children know not to take seriously and which is a "cherished religious belief" that must never be criticized or questioned?

    Harry Potter stared into the big black hat. Inside were magic gold tablets – which nobody else would ever see- which told Harry the secrets of the Universe, of life, death and the afterlife. They explained to him how, if he wore certain magic underwear, he would be protected from evil spirits in this life and in the end times.

    Joseph Smith stared into the big black hat. Inside were magic gold tablets – which nobody else would ever see- which told Joseph the secrets of the Universe, of life, death and the afterlife. They explained to him how, if he wore certain sacred underwear, he would be protected from evil spirits in this life and in the end times.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  2. Peggy

    "Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?' Huckabee said to a New York Times reporter." As a former Mormon, I have the answer to that question - "Yes, they DO believe that!", because Joseph Smith TAUGHT that, and the Mormon Church (aka "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints") STILL believes and teaches that to their members.

    But you don't have to believe me, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH and you will find the answer for yourself.

    There's one other thing you should know, however - given the choice between barack obama's POLICIES and the political policies of Mitt Romney, I would pick Romney OVER obama, despite Romney's religious beliefs!!

    October 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • The commenter

      The Dead Sea Scrolls MENTION the war in heaven. (By the way, we believe in pre-mortal existence where we were born as spirit children, which we also believe in every living thing having a soul two but anyways thats not revelant...) Which was when they were at the "drawing board" of the plan of Earth and everything and how they were going to do everything i.e. who was going to be the savior (because every body needs an atonement so we can go back and repent). And Lucifer proposed that he would force every body what to do, so they couldn't sin. But a lot of people didn't like that and Jesus proposed that we have free-agency (where we don't do what "Simon-says") and make our own choices knowing the consecquences that followed.

      Well, that's it, full explanation, nothing distorted, no mystery. Yes, I believe they were brothers.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  3. HRP

    Religion has no place in politics period. George Bush's faith based policies set science back at least a decade.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  4. AGuest9

    The Republicans are such a mess right now, none of this will matter. They don't have a single candidate who's not a whackjob.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Peggy

      "AGuest9" == Thanks for the Democratic point of view!

      October 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  5. jason

    His smile looks so fake. And how many wives does he really have?

    October 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • The commenter


      November 1, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  6. Charles R. Schmitter, Jr.

    Another great story, Jessica

    October 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  7. Dubya

    When the average Christian Republican looks at Romney's record and his religion, they won't support him.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  8. Dubya

    Seriously though, the GOP field is a joke.

    The reason for this is that the Republican party has moved so far right, only lunatics and swindlers have any chance of getting nominated.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  9. Rmax

    CULT? GO BACK TO HISTORY -- Christians were regarded as a cult during the Roman times. The Romans were crucifying the Christians for their belief. Fast forward - it is the Mormons being ostracized by the "Roman Christians" who think they are the true follower of Christ. Are they, really, maybe, kinda? Who are we to judge?

    October 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Colin

      Yes, RMax, you are right.

      The belief that an infitely old, all-knowing sky-god, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, will cause people to survive their own phsical deaths and live happily ever after in heaven, if they follow some random laws laid down in Bronze Age Palestine = Judaism.

      Judaism + a belief that the same god impregnated a virgin with himself to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to negate a rule he himself made = Christianity.

      Christianity + a belief that aliens from other planets mated with humans who will one day be gods, that Jesus and Satan were brothers, that the Israelis colonized America and that magic underwear will protect you = mormonism.

      They are all silly cults. Fables built on mythology supported by superst.itions.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Robert

      Well that was 2,000 years ago...this is going on today

      October 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Jafinha

      Mormons who ostracized blacks and now ostracize people because of same gender attraction? I have no sympathy for your kind. Try again.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  10. Bob

    Mormonism is a seriously nutty religion.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • curious

      The Devil is not a Christian.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  11. Gorgo

    Romney's strategy is to sit on his 20% while the other GOP contenders split the vote and destroy each other.

    Bachmann and Santorum need to stuff their egos, get off the stage, and endorse Cain.

    At stake: The future of the conservative movement – and our country.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Dubya

      The "conservative" movement has no future as is clearly illustrated in this batch of clowns that the GOP is putting forward for nomination.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  12. R Burns

    I have no objection to the moral tenet that adherence to Mormon tenets instills. This is one of the strengths of this and other religions. However, I do question the direction a Mormon leader would take the country when he is involved in a religion which lies to the public and to it's followers. If you were raised with a knowledge of Christ's teachings and have 2000 years or more of solid history and scholarship under your belt you would know the difference! If you were raised without religious education of any kind, including your own study, or raised within the Mormon religion, you wouldn't have the strength of this core knowledge to know the difference. Just because a religion heavily relies on moral teachings to support is extracurricular doctrines does not make it true to Jesus' teachings in the whole. Be careful if investigating the Mormon church, as what you are told up front changes after acceptance, and it's hard to understand why Mitt Romney or any other person of strong faith and leadership would continue to participate. We want our leaders to be real, even if we don't agree with personal belief systems. The Mormon church is big, but it is not real.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  13. Penny

    If you want to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit http://www.lds.org
    Find out for yourself and not just based on what others said who also might be listening from others. If we really is a cult church then we would not lasted for so long and membership growing though currently standing at 14 millions worldwide. Give everyone a chance to choose for themselves.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      Or just Google the following:

      "mormon celestial polygamy"
      "the planet kolob"
      "mormon underwear"
      "posthumous mormon sealing"
      "mormon blood atonement"
      "posthumous baptism"
      "Mountain Meadow Massacre"

      October 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Jafinha

      "If we really is a cult church then we would not lasted for so long and membership growing though currently standing at 14 millions worldwide. "

      There are like 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, by 2030 there will be about 2.2 billion. I am sure that means they are the right church of god too right... or something...

      October 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      Like PT Barnum said, there's one born every minute...

      October 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • R Burns

      Why go to the Mormons to find out what they say about their own organization? I would ask those who have left, or study the differences between Mormon doctrines and Christ's teachings. There is a big difference! The Mormon structure relies heavily on family and peer pressure, just as other cults. It teaches strong moral values, but other than that what it teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven directly conflicts with what Jesus told us about it. I want to go to the next realm without fantasy expectations, and I trust Jesus to have given us the tools. Why shrug those off in favor of Mormonism?

      October 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Robert

      14 Million members...Most in countries where polygamy is legal...why do you think they go to missions in other countries?

      October 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Tim

      I can't imagine even for a second The United States having a Mormon president and don't believe it's possible. Mormonism is another cosmos in our world. LDS is the area of weird hierarchy ruled by their monarchs. The lower levels have no idea what's going on in the upper grade, they are not allowed there. I looked through the comments and most of them written by Mormons for sure. One shouldn't educate yourself reading web info about LDS church. There is no help in that reading. You need to get to know this world by some other ways. We would get back hundreds years back from civilization by giving our country and our liberties to these people. Don't they have enough billions of $$$ in their businesses? They occupied all media, insurance and financial, travel and hotel businesses, food and services. Aren't they happy spreading their "teachings" everywhere in the world? They make people in other countries laugh at us, especially in Europe. Missionaries unsuccessfully trying to convert Catholics and Orthodox Christians in to Mormons. How funny is that? Europeans think these little imbeciles knocking on their doors are the best youth of America. Please people stop even discuss this Mormon topic already. Don't make the world laugh at us.

      October 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  14. Mark H

    If Americans has ay idea about the inane beliefs of the Mormons they would consider anyone that believes it without question to have serious cognitive dissonance issues. And before you say "All religions blah blah blah..." you should do your own research and spend serious time investigating the mind control this religion exercises over it's people. It's nothing like traditional Christianity in the way it is practiced today. If they Pope said jump, I guarantee you the vast majority of Catholics wouldn't even take notice (I'm one of them, 4 years with Franciscans, 4 years with Dominicans), but if the LDS Prophet said jump, you better believe every church going Mormon is jumping – and they won't ask why, just how high and how long – they'll do it blindly like robots. I spent considerable time in Utah going to an LDS ward and I was fascinated by the blind allegiance and cognitive dissonance that pervades these people.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Colin

      They do seem to be able to suspend common sense to a stunning extent! They are rivaled only by the Scientologists in the nonsense they believe.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  15. Darwin was right

    JUST what America needs! Another believer in DEVILS, angels, witches, talking snakes, talking donkeys! I suppose he – like most Mormons – rejects EVOLUTION and believes that the world is only 6000 years old? Why can't we have an ATHEIST CANDIDATE for President who doesn't believe in all that nonsense?

    October 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  16. JonahFields

    Google: Mitt Romney and the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  17. Colin

    How about a President who does NOT believe in Iron Age Palestinean mythology (whether Americanized as Mormonism or in its original format as Judaism or Christianity).

    What this country needs is an atheist President.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  18. Jeb

    Romney's major strength:

    He's the most intelligent and the least crazy of all the major GOP candidates.

    Which isn't saying much.

    Besides, intelligence and sanity are not valued qualities in the Republican party.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      Bishop Romney believes in celestial polygamy and he will be coming to take your late wife to Mormon heaven as his own. 😉

      They've already done it to millions of holocaust victims.


      October 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Jafinha

      I really don't think he is the most intelligent. Well, unless you're only comparing him to Cain, Perry, Bachman, and Santorum. Huntsman is by far brighter than Romney. I would actually vote for Huntsman, and I am a liberal.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      Umm, Huntsman wears magic underwear too – and he'll be coming after your terrestrial wife in heaven to via posthumous sealing and baptism.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • wahid kassar

      GOD will bless America if Romney elected for president , because he is from JESUS CHRIST later days saints church, and his ordination as Bishop is from GOD. Iam not sorry for those who elected the muslim hussain obama and they lost their Jobs, house,family, peace of mind... this is their punishment from GOD.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • chrisg

      wahad, its because of crazy people like you that this country is soooo divided

      October 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Rmax

      TO Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad: WHITE UNDERWEAR IS BETTER THAN PINK. I am sorry, you must be wearing pink.
      Nevertheless, I respect you for for what you wear.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  19. Robert

    Mitt Romney Flip Flops because he makes a decision that usually makes sense...Then he gets a call from the "Prophets" of the LDS church and changes it with no question...is that who you want in office...look at the issues he flipped on...every one of them was changed to an LDS point of view.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  20. Robert

    I'd vote for a Mormon, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, white guy, black guy, woman, gay, midget – anyone who can get results. Romney is Harvard law + Harvard MBA, CEO of intl strategy fim, governor of MA a tough state, puled out Olympics in Salt Lake. Family man who seems to get results in whatever he does.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Rmax

      AMEN. I will vote for Romney because of his credentials. The others is just questionable with many issues.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:52 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.