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?”
Americans generally and American Christians specifically have lost their moral compass. Except for that Christian denomoniation called the Mormons. Anyone who has travelled to Utah can see the inextricable link between clean, moral and upright (comparatively speaking) Utah and its Mormonism. If electing Romney somehow extrapolates that conservative, winning lifestyle on the rest of American, then he has my vote.
As long as he can do so without trying to use CHristian ideals to run the country. Religion has NO place in politics and to call this a Christian nation is the same as the Taliban running Afghantistan. This is a nation of many faiths, NONE of which have any place in the law making process.
I love Utah, and their Mormons. In the West, its said that you want Mormon neighbors. Respectful, chean, honest, helpful, concerned, happy, non-profane, sober, modest, there when you need them. We all could learn much from them.
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.
I sometimes wonder if we really are advancing as a species or just layering our silly superst.itions.
Colin – Did your religious training come from a comic book? Did you have any religious training at all? If not, perhaps you should seek some out so you can comment on these topics and not seem like a fool...
908Patriot – please feel free to tell me what I got wrong.
hmmm....I was raised Mormon and I was never taught those things. Maybe you can enlighten me on my religion which I obviously know nothing about.
Aliens....really man. I think you might be mixing ancient meso-american mythology with mormonism. Why don't you go to mormon.org or lds.org to get some information straight from the source. I'm pretty sure mormons know what they believe better than non mormons. If you want to learn about molecular biology you don't go to history professor – go to a specialist in the field you want to learn about, not just any specialist.
He has been conditioned since birth by that phony cult and they own him.
Are you referring to Obama?
George, you can apply your statement to anyone who grows up in an environment permeated by ANY religion. It's an uncomfortable truth for Christians in the U.S. but the truth none the less.
There is no god... Now stop worrying and enjoy life :)
And I should believe you because? There is as much or more evidence that there is a God as that there is not, so keep your agnosticism to yourself and let people believe what they will.
What evidence is there that there is a god? NONE NADA ZERO!
--------------Matt look in the mirror for proof.
Matt – perhaps there exist no God in your life because you are to blind to see. For other that is not the case and they pity you as your life is empty and shallow. Sorry, just the facts...
What evidence is there that there is a god? NONE NADA ZERO
Matt what evidence do you have that there is no God?
Ok, have you seen "God"? How do you know if there aren't more than just one? If you haven't seen this God, then how can you tell if there is one? The evidence we have there isn't a god is, WE HAVEN'T SEEN THE GOD!! Show me the God then we may believe. :P
He doesn't want to be questioned about his church because once he is in the White House he does not want anyone to know that his church elder will be running the country.
romeny took the Blood of Atonement Oath in the Temple in the late 1980s – He has sworn his first allegiance to the church.He is regaled and powerful in the church because his gggg grandfather, Parley Pratt, was a founding member. IF you look him up in Wikipedia, he's a saint – the Church has removed his history about being arrested for Treason and Murder in the 1840s.
Having been a member for over 50 years, and a long line of relatives as members, I can tell you that what you are posting is hogwash and you know it. Thou shalt not bear false witness. No one is asking you to vote for Romney, but you should not soil your reputation with such lies.
In the book of Revelations it states that in the last days there will be a false prophet that leads the people into the breaking of the 5th seal. Good luck world.
And this seems like sound advice to you? It's exactly this kind of screwed up reasoning that makes a perfect example of why we shouldn't allow faith based reasoning to influence decisions in the political landscape.
The Book of Relevation also talks about armor-clad locusts with teh face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of scorpion wearing tiny little crowns.
Seen any of them around?
LDS didn't allows backs in their church until the late 70s or early 80s. Having said that...have any of you guys who are thinking of voting for Romney read about the core beliefs of Mormons? It's got me a bit hesitant.
Seriously? Do your homework. Blacks have never been denied membership. Only the priesthood was withheld after Brigham Young. Times were different. Did you know that 4 million Evangelicals were registered with the KKK? Which church do you think had a race problem?
You're right – black people weren't denied membership.
They just had to accept that their dark skin is a curse from God, marking them as spiritually inferior to lighter skinned people.
Also, black people were not permitted to participate in ordinances performed in the LDS Church temples, such as the endowment ritual and temple marriages and family sealings.
The only reason the church began to allow ethnic clergy is because it was part of a business plan.
In the late 70's, they decided to expand the Church beyond the United States and built a temple in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Brazil is a very ethnically mixed country and the Mormon hierarchy couldn't apply the same racist rules of clergy selection if they wanted international Temples – so they conveniently had a divine revelation.
@ ShellyGirl: You speak weasel words very well and do a good job of trying to deflect the topic
The Mormon church didn't allow black people until as late as 1978. They weren't allowed to enter the Temple and black men were not allowed to mission or hold the priesthood. However, they were allowed to function as servants, maids, and nannies (thus you will hear Mormons insist they were "allowed" in)In 1978 – more than 10 years after the civil rights act, the IRS finally threatened to take away their tax-free status.Man! Did the "prophet" ever have a quick "vision" to allow people of color (not only Blacks were excluded).It's simply amazing what the power of money can do.
Ironic that a Missionary says these words “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.”. So it is okay for Romney to disrespect others faith when is entices them to convert to his magic underwear religion. The worlds most intolerant religions are Christianity & Islam. No suprise both these religions were spread by the power of the sword, forcible unfair taxation and supporting missionaries who proselyticised the king/emperors faith.
I've heard Romney quotes about his flipping back and forth on one simple issue, the Environment. I really don't see what he gains from being indifferent and idiotic about the issue, but for the mere fact he can't make up his mind whether humans are a cause behind global climate changes makes me think this guy isn't fit to run the country. Only a tunnel visioned idiot Republican like Romney can waffle on such straightforward issues like this. We also do not need a Mormon in the oval office, we've never needed one, in fact.
cult, cult cult.
Saying that 3 times will bring back Joseph Smith and then we're all in big trouble.
Cult? If I am correct, the definition of cult is a religious system whose devotion is directed to toward a particular figure. So if Mormons, who devote themselves to Christ is a cult. Then are Catholics, Methodists, and any other religion who adores Christ a cult?
Abso-tively posi-lutely !!!! Now you FINALLY see the message .. they are ALL cults .. each and every one .. what's the difference between a cult and a religion? The number of followers. That's it nothing more nothing less
Wow. This is very good writing. At first it really does seem as if you are against Romney, but gee you just can't get over the fact that he really is a swell guy. I guess we ought all to vote for him.
Little sarcasm, there, Skeptic? This country has gotten sooooo cynical, it frightens me. I think the majority of the population would like to vote for someone like Howard Stern or Jack Black, someone with an outrageous, vulgar sense of humor who can do 3-Stooges routines with dignitaries when they visit the White House, have big slumber parties with half-naked chicks with a live feed on the internet, you know, fun stuff like that. God forbid (to coin a phrase) anyone should be genuine and have heart and actually believe in a higher power and and a track record that proves he is dedicated to helping others. Take a look in the mirror, name ten, no let me make it easier, name five people you know who can say the same thing.
The article makes it sound like Romney did some of these actions out of the goodness of his heart but leaves out that the LDS church demands these services and gives instructions on them.
Additionally Romney's faith, since he lives by it, is very relevant to how he would govern. He ran for gov. in MA as a pro-choice candidate who supported gay rights. He had a meeting with elders of the Church towards the end of his term and switched to a pro-life candidate who did not support gay rights.
The church ordered him to switch his politics and he did. This sounds like his religion would be extremely relevant as the elders of his religion seem to call the shots on his political opinions.
The LDS church does not require their members to serve full time missions like Governor Romney did in France. So that statement is false.
Stop lying. The church did not order him to do anything. This kind of gossip is far worse than any good deed you may lay claim to. Seriously, find the real Christian within you.
Really? Isn't it time for you people to study the publications of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) yourself,to find out what they REALLY believe? I have never read such outrageous and ridiculous claims in all my life! Really, I am amazed anyone would believe the garbage I have read in these comments this morning.
What a typical misleading response.
You don't post which posts you think are ridiculous because then you could be caught in a lie. You just generally post something pretending that none of these posts are true.
Sorry, but there are a LOT of ex Mormons out here who know EXACTLY how the church works...so nice try.
Mormonism a.k.a. Judaism Lite
Stephanie, you're right. Lots and lots of misinformation and downright malice in these comments. It lets us know bigotry isn't dead. (You want examples of false claims, Mr. Ex-Mormon? Well, for one there is the guy who claims that if Romney is elected "his church elder will be running the country." That's so stupid it hurts. Then there are all the bigots who refer to "magic underwear." We do wear sacred garments, and we're not the only ones who do so. If you see someone in a yarmulke, do you call it a magic beanie? People need to grow up.)
LMA – let me ask you this question, please. Have you been given a temple pass by your Ward Bishop yet? Have you participated in any temple ceremonies?
That is typical Mormon spin response. Why can you not answer the hard questions?
1. Do you believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers? Do you teach that to your children?
2. Why must an LDS Mormon be required by the church to give 10% of their income to the church on a regular basis as a requirement for a temple pass from your ward Bishop?
2. Do you believe that God and Jesus are made of flesh and bone and that man is like them/equal to them.
3. Do you believe that God is married and we were once all spirit children of that marriage before coming to this existence?
4. Do you believe God and Jesus live on adjoining planets and when an LDS man (who has obeyed the church and its leaders) dies, he gets his own planet to rule equal in all things with your God.
5. Do you believe in modern day prophesy and with it The Book of Mormon can be changed/edited/updated.
6. Do you believe in three levels of heaven with the highest being "Celestial" that no unmarried/single woman can enter?
7. Do you believe Baptism for th dead/baptism by proxy as prophesied by Joseph Smith for the purpose of allowing non-Mormons into heaven (and that it takes a 'gentile" 3 years to get their named removed from the Mormon church roles after having being baptized into the LDS church)
8. Why does the LDS church not recognize the symbol of the cross; instead choosing the statue of Moronie the angel who spoke to Joseph Smith to sit upon the spires of its temples? If it is recognized by the Mormons, why will they not allow crosses to be placed on the graves of the 120 men, women and children the Mormons slaughtered at the Mountain Meadow Massacre on September 11, 1857?
9. Did MItt Romney avoid Viet Nam (receive a deferrment) while he served as a "Mormon minister of religion" for his two years in France?
Yes, and while you at it read the official publication of North Korea to find out how great they really are too.
Good god, more religion guiding politics. That's the last thing your country needs. How about the people just telling them what to do and they actually do it, there's a novel idea. Leave church and whatever god they believe in out of it.
Question to Dave G. That is why the Abrahamic religions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) consider LDS to be a stand alone religion; why Mormons are considered by most to not be Christian. Unlike any other religious group – The Book of Mormon and tenets/teaching of the LDS can change. Abrahamic religions believe the Old Testament, New Testament and Koran are not open to edit, because we do not believe in modern prophesy – Hell, if we did, Oral Robers would have rewritten everything by now cuz to hear him tell it, it basically lives in God's kitchen with Him 24/7. Mormons believe in modern prophesy and messages from God, so The Book of Mormon and teachings of the church have the ability to change. i.e., polygamy (only prophesied as wrong once it became a condition of statehood . . . blacks in the priesthood, only prophesied as wrong once it became politically incorrect – 1978?). LDS still teaches African Americans are a cursed race, but since Romney is running for president, suddenly there is an emphatic re-write going on.
... to summarize the difference. LDS teaches racism in its Doctrines and Covenants, The Book of Mormon – its basic tenets and beliefs of the church. The racism that exists in only religions comes from an individual's choice to see another as inferior. It is not a tenet of the Old or New Testament and it is not taught to as a religious tenet.
Ignoring any supernatural mumbo-jumbo, the plain fact is that the LDS is a racist organization.
"The Juvenile Instructor" is an LDS tome used to indoctrinate children.
Here is an excerpt from an early edition:
"We will first inquire into the results of the approbation or displeasure of God upon a people, starting with the belief that a black skin is a mark of the curse of Heaven placed upon some portions of mankind. Some, however, will argue that a black skin is not a curse, nor a white skin a blessing. In fact, some have been so foolish as to believe and say that a black skin is a blessing, and that the ne.gro is the finest type of a perfect man that exists on the earth; but to us such teachings are foolishness.
We understand that when God made man in his own image and pronounced him very good, that he made him white. We have no record of any of God's favored servants being of a black race...every angel who ever brought a message of God's mercy to man was beautiful to look upon, clad in the purest white and with a countenance bright as the noonday sun. (Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, page 157)
100 years later, LDS followers became more "tolerant" and published statements like this:
"I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Neg.ro. Dar.kies are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church."
– Joseph Fielding Smith, Look magazine, October 22, 1963, page 79
In 1947, Dr. Lowry Nelson – a Mormon himself – sent a letter to the Mormon First Presidency questioning the official racist doctrines.
The reply he received said, in part:
"From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel.
"Furthermore your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Neg.ro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous."
– George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay
Finally, in 1978 the Mormons had a revelation allowing blacks into the priesthood – conveniently at the exact time that they were expanding beyond the U.S. into countries full of "cursed" people, like Brazil.
Today, while there is no official policy of segregation, the old prejudices still exist.
Black LDS church member Darron Smith wrote in 2003:
"Even though the priesthood ban was repealed in 1978, the discourse that constructs what blackness means is still very much intact today. Under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, the First Presidency and the Twelve removed the policy that denied black people the priesthood but did very little to disrupt the multiple discourses that had fostered the policy in the first place. Hence there are Church members today who continue to summon and teach at every level of Church education the racial discourse that black people are descendants of Cain, that they merited lesser earthly privilege because they were "fence-sitters" in the War in Heaven, and that, science and climatic factors aside, there is a link between skin color and righteousness"
Mormon scripture specifically referencing race includes (from the Book of Mormon):
1 Nephi 11:8
1 Nephi 11:13
1 Nephi 12:23
1 Nephi 13:15
2 Nephi 5:21
2 Nephi 30:6 (1830 edition)
3 Nephi 2:15
You are making the mistake of judging historical events by modern morality. It is true that white church leaders in the 19th and early 20th century considered people of African descent to be inferior. This was the PREVAILING OPIONION AMONG ALL WHITE AMERICANS AT THE TIME. Mormons do not consider their leaders to be divine or infalible. It has been my opionion that the mormon church did not open its priesthood to blacks prior to 1978 was not because Gd doesn't love all of his children. It was because He understands that his imperfect children, and their imperfect society were no where near ready to accept black people on an equal standing. Thankfully, the culture has changed and many of the HUMAN (not divine) prejudices have been overcome. Many other religions simple split into black and white versions (Baptists vs. Souther Baptists)
Anyone and anything can be made to look bad if one fails to apply the correct historical context.
so, just to see what you were talking about i looked up 1Nephi 11:8. this is exactly what it says "And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow." and you were interpreting that quote about race? so that quote isn't talking about a light that was so bright and likening it to the brightness of snow?
It's my understanding that until as recently as the early 1970's the Mormon church taught that black skin is the mark of Cain. A Mormon minister's wife told me in 1960 that when Cain "Went to the land of Nod and took a wife", that he married an ape and that's where black people came from.
That is correct.
The passage in question reinforces just how WHITE Mary was and how all that is good, wise and holy is WHITE.
Dig the Jacob passage:
" Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; ..... O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God."
So you consider 1978 to be ancient history, eh?
Into what historical context should I put the current century if I cannot consider 2003 modern?
One more time:
Putting the final kibosh on religion to include Mormonism and therefore this blog. The moderators will now have to find a new job/Job.
• There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
• There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.
• There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.
• There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.
• There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.
• Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.
• Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
Getting tired of the same stories held by all religions: Example a tidbit about "HELL"
The New Testament uses the Greek word Hades to refer to the temporary abode of the dead (e.g. Acts 2:31; Revelation 20:13).Only one passage describes hades as a place of torment, the story of Lazarus and Dives (Luke 16:19-31). Here, Jesus depicts a wicked man suffering fiery torment in hades, which is contrasted with the bosom of Abraham, and explains that it is impossible to cross over from one location to the other. Some scholars believe that this parable reflects the intertestamental Jewish view of hades (or sheol) as containing separate divisions for the wicked and righteous.In Revelation 20:13-14 hades is itself thrown into the "lake of fire" after being emptied of the dead.
The Bottom line is, the Christian took previous stories and molded them to meet there own ideology.
Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.
Aww shut up. Lots of religions are associated with good genes and morals. True or not they are better existing that not existing, If you like facts that much.
And you are basis your comments on? At lest we don't use "Simons Says' " or see Jesus in a potator chip either!
@richunix; I don't know what Bible you are reading, but the King James Version in Acts 2:31, Revelation 20:13 and Luke 16:23 doesn't use the word "hades" to describe hell. Hell in those verses is described as hell, not hades
@ Disciple ... you're an IDIOT..... do you really think the babble ... oops I mean buy-bull ... sorry bible was written in ENGLISH???? The majority of the NT was written in Greek, and Hades actually was just the Greek name of the afterlife place. No fires, no dam-nation ... simply where souls go after Charon ferried them across the river Styx.
How can people say a persons belief should not matter when running for president? Crazy beliefs lead to crazy decisions!
You're right. Beliefs inform decisions, so anyone who believes in a higher power and its a$$ociated dogma allows those beliefs to affect their choices. That's why there is so much prejudice aimed at gays, pro-choicers, stem cell researchers, family planning or followers of other belief systems.
ANYONE who feels they need to "consult" a 2000 year old book filled with 3000 year old stories in order to decide what to do really needs help. That book certainly did not tell us where we've been, how in the heII can it tell us how and where we're going? If you think that book holds the answers, you don't deserve to be city dog-catcher, let alone anyone in a position of any legitimate authority
Boggles the mind, doesn't it? Look at some of the comments.. there are tons of people who think belief doesn't matter. It's absolutely scary that we allow people who talk to invisible people to run our country and make decisions. Bush believed God was guiding him. It's time for us to stop voting in kooks to office.
Belief in myths and fables, and a life lived full of wish thinking and fear, should disqualify people from holding public office (if not put them in a mental hospital),
It's time we left behind all these silly, nonsensical ideas of gods and religion if we are to move forward as a species...
What beliefs are "crazy" that Romney beliefs in? That he believe Christ is the redeemer of the world? That he should do his best to live a Christ like life?
Off the top of your head, what religions were all 44 president? Times up. You probably couldn't do it without googling it any way. If you did a search and included associations and fraternal order, etc. each was involved in, you'd discover Mormonism is pretty tame. Oh and flamers and trolls, go frag yourselves because I'll never read your responses anyway.
Actually, you're wrong about one thing... there haven't been 44 Presidents, only 43 .. check your history if you're going to tell me that Obama is the 44th man to serve as CinCUS (Commader in Chief United States)
The overwhelming majority were at least nominally Protestant, there have been a couple of born-agains, and one Catholic.
1 Catholic, one born again, and the rest are either Baptist or Protestant. It's not a hard question....
Mormonism stands in opposition to the Word of God. It is a cult that has deceived countless millions. Please...if you are a mormon, please read God's word...the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, not the work written by Joseph Smith in 1830. God's Word is Truth.
No, it isn't. You are as deceived as anyone else who thinks that book is "divine" in ANY way. Instead of ancient societies saying that everything has its god, you say that one god has everything. Same myths, different packaging under a new name. All you've done is taken the god of peanut butter, combined it with the god of chocolate, and now it's called "Reese's". If you really believe in talking snakes, planetary floods, the dead physically ascending into a "spiritual realm", please, seek therapy. ALl of you make these claims, and the only "evidence" you ever produce is a 2000 year old book filled with 3000 year old stories. Just because a book claims to be true, you think it IS true. But no one, NO ONE, can verify anything in it.
Sayz whu? UR a dum a an nos nuthin.
Are you referring to me, or Timber?
Anyone who can believe the bible is a fict.itious god's truth has no idea as to the meaning of the word truth or at least has never moved out of the bronze ages.
Good morning TruthPrevails .. glad to see you haunting the halls here
Anyone who can believe the bible is a fict.itious god's truth has no idea as to the meaning of the word truth or at least has never moved out of the bronze ages. As much as christians spew on about how the mormons are not real christians, they fail to understand that the Book of Mormon still takes on its roots from the same bible they foolishly believe in...nothing like hypocrites to enlighten the mind and prove our point further. You really do have to love those who think they are the true christians when every single one of them puts their own spin on what each individual scripture apparently means. Thinking for ones self is impossible when it comes to belief in god no matter what flavor of religion they fall for.
@Mirosal: Good morning...always nice to see a person of reason and logic on here defending reality. (My original post didn't look like it posted initially....oops. :-) )
But you're not supposed to think for yourself when you follow that bronze-age book lol .. if you do they get MAD!! Just ask Gallileo and Copenicus and Martin Luther and a host of others who DARED to question religious "authority". It should NEVER have authority of any kind. If it does have some over a person, then that person is just a mindless drone spewing out what was progeramed into him from birth.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just like Mitt Romney. Just yesterday in church, I taught a Sunday school lesson to children about the Apostle Peter from the New Testament. We read the bible, and we are Christians. Please stop getting all of your information from anti-Mormon websites and word-of-mouth. Go to actual publications put out by the LDS Church (mormon.org). You might learn few things.
Thank you for telling us that you indoctrinate kids to not think for themselves from birth. They'll never be able to think for themselves now, becuase all religion seems to do is put fear in them. "oh no I can't do that god will punish me and I'll be sent to a place of fire and pain and torture and anguish" .. yea, thanks for making kids afraid to LIVE their life.
We paint ALL supersti.tious beliefs with the same brush. Other Xians may use the No True Scotsman fallacy directed at Mormonism, but we just see crazy across the board.
Mitt. Romney will be the President of the United States in 2016 AD. There is no vacancy in the White House in 2012. This is not a political statement but a divine and esoteric declaration for the records. God bless the United States of America.
I am a bigot and like to flame other people and their religions because I have a small wang chung.
How is it possible for the USA to be blessed by a fict-itious character? You might as well be asking Cinderella or Santa to bless the country...you'll get the same results.
Actually I want everyone, and i mean EVERYONE..... to write-in on their ballot for "god" ... let this "god" win the election .. go ahead .. then we'll see who or what shows up on Inauguration Day .. go ahead, I DARE you
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.