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May 12th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

With or without Romney, D.C. a surprising Mormon stronghold

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Alexandria, Virginia (CNN) – A few hundred Mormons filed into a chapel just outside the Washington Beltway one recent Sunday to hear a somewhat unusual presentation: an Obama administration official recounting his conversion to Mormonism.

“I have never in my life had a more powerful experience than that spiritual moment when the spirit of Christ testified to me that the Book of Mormon is true,” Larry Echo Hawk told the audience, which stretched back through the spacious sanctuary and into a gymnasium in the rear.

Echo Hawk’s tear-stained testimonial stands out for a couple of reasons: The White House normally doesn’t dispatch senior staff to bare their souls, and Mormons hew heavily Republican. It’s not every day a top Democrat speaks from a pulpit owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And yet the presentation by Echo Hawk, then head of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, is also a perfect symbol of a phenomenon that could culminate in Mitt Romney’s arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next year: The nation’s capital has become a Mormon stronghold, with Latter-day Saints playing a big and growing role in the Washington establishment.

The well-dressed crowd gathered for Echo Hawk’s speech was dotted with examples of inside-the-beltway Mormon power.

In one pew sits a Mormon stake president – a regional Mormon leader – who came to Washington to write speeches for Ronald Reagan and now runs a lobbying firm downtown.

Behind him in the elegant but plain sanctuary – Mormon chapels are designed with an eye toward functionality and economy – is a retired executive secretary of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A few pews further back, the special assistant to the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan sits next to a local Mormon bishop who came to Washington to work for Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and now leads a congressionally chartered foundation.

Mitt Romney, who would be the first Mormon president if elected, is the son of a Cabinet secretary under Richard Nixon.

“In a Republican administration, there will be even more Mormons here,” whispers the bishop, Lewis Larsen, pointing out prominent Washingtonians around the chapel. “Every Republican administration just loads up with them.”

Regardless of which party controls the White House, Mormonism in Washington has been growing for decades.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

When Larsen arrived in Washington in the early ’80s, there were a just handful of Mormon meetinghouses in northern Virginia, where he lives. Today, there are more than 25, each housing three separate congregations, or wards, as they’re known in the LDS Church.

“There’s been an absolute explosion in Mormon growth inside the beltway,” Larsen says before slipping out of the pew to crank the air conditioning for the swelling crowd.

The LDS Church says there are 13,000 active members within a 10-mile radius of Washington, though the area’s Mormon temple serves a much larger population – 148,000 Latter-day Saints, stretching from parts of South Carolina to New Jersey.

Signs of the local Mormon population boom transcend the walls of the temple and meetinghouses.

Crystal City, a Virginia neighborhood just across the Potomac River from Washington, has become so popular with young Mormons that it’s known as “Little Provo,” after the Utah city that’s home to church-owned Brigham Young University.

Congress now counts 15 Mormon members, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That means the 2% of the country that’s Mormon is slightly overrepresented on Capitol Hill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, is the highest-placed elected Mormon in Washington.

Even many Latter-day Saints joke about Washington’s “Mormon mafia” – referring to the number of well-placed LDS Church members across town – though they cringe at the thought of being seen as part of some cabal. (Echo Hawk, for his part, left the Obama administration a few weeks after his chapel presentation for a job in the LDS Church hierarchy).

“No one talks about Washington being an Episcopalian stronghold or a Jewish stronghold,” says Richard Bushman, a Mormon scholar at Columbia University. Talk of “Mormon Washington,” he says, “represents a kind of surprise that people who were thought of as provincial have turned up in sophisticated power positions.”

Bushman and other experts note that, despite Mormons’ growing political power, the official church mostly steers clear of politics. It’s hard to point to federal legislation or a White House initiative that bears distinctly Mormon fingerprints, while it’s easy to do the same for other faiths.

For example, the White House’s recent “compromise” on a rule that would have required religious groups to fund contraception for employees was mostly a reaction to pressure from Roman Catholic bishops.

Nonetheless, Mormon success in Washington is a testament to distinctly Mormon values, shedding light into the heart of one of America’s fastest-growing religions.

And though the official church is mostly apolitical, most rank-and-file Mormons have linked arms with the GOP. Romney’s own political evolution mirrors that trend.

Such forces help explain why Mormons’ beltway power is poised to grow even stronger in coming years, whether or not Romney wins the White House.

‘A ton of Mormon contacts’

For many Washington Mormons, religion plays a key role in explaining why they’re here.

Larsen, who sports a brown comb-over and tortoise shell glasses, arrived in Washington in the early 1980s as an intern for Hatch, also a Mormon.

He landed the internship courtesy of Brigham Young University, his alma mater. The Mormon school owns a four-story dorm on Pennsylvania Avenue, not too far from the White House, which houses 120 student interns each year. It’s the school’s largest such program in the nation.

“Part of our church’s tradition is to be connected with civic life, to make our communities better,” says BYU’s Scott Dunaway, who helps place students on Capitol Hill, at the Smithsonian and other Washington institutions. “We don’t believe in being reclusive.”

It’s a perfect characterization of Larsen. He grew up in Provo, in the shadow of BYU, and wanted to prove he could make it outside of Utah.

“Kids growing up in the LDS Church have been told, ‘Go ye out in the world and preach the gospel of Christ - don’t be afraid to be an example,’ ” Larsen said, sitting in the glass-doored conference room of the foundation he runs on K Street.

“So we are on our missions, converting people to Christianity,” he continued. “And coming to Washington, for me and probably for a lot of people, came out of that interest. We see it as our career, but also we’re going out to preach the word of Christ.”

For Larsen, that usually means correcting misinformation about Mormonism or explaining Mormon beliefs and practices – you really don’t drink coffee, ever? – over lunch with co-workers or at business functions, rather than on-the-job proselytizing.

He learned about integrating work and faith from Hatch. He was initially shocked to discover that the senator prays in his office each morning. Larsen and Hatch developed what the bishop calls a “father-son” relationship, with the intern rising up through the ranks to become Hatch’s chief Washington fundraiser.

“We would go on trips, and I’d quiz him on the plane: Why did the church do this? Why didn’t the church do this?” Larsen said. “He was like a tutor to me.”

Now, as the head of a foundation that educates teachers about the U.S. Constitution, the bishop helps other young Mormons with job leads and introductions. Larsen was appointed to the role by Hatch and the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Much of Washington’s Mormon professional network is still anchored by BYU, which operates a handful of big, well-connected alumni groups with major Washington chapters. The most prominent is BYU’s Management Society, a global organization whose biggest chapter is in Washington.

At the chapter’s recent alumni dinner, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the guest of honor. She has strong ties to the Mormon community and has hired Mormons as top aides. Says Larsen: “Condi’s got a ton of Mormon contacts.”

Patrice Pederson also knows how to work a Rolodex. A lifelong political activist, she moved from Utah to Washington last year and soon tapped into BYU’s local network.

Pederson served as the U.S.-based campaign manager for Yeah Samake, a Mormon running for president in the West African nation of Mali.

Samake traveled frequently to the U.S. to raise money and build political support, so Pederson enlisted the help of BYU’s Management Society and other groups to host events for the candidate.

Both in Washington and across the U.S., many Mormons are watching his candidacy.

“Members of the church on Capital Hill were anxious to introduce the candidate to other members of Congress,” says Pederson, sipping an herbal tea (Mormons eschew black leaf teas) in a strip mall Starbucks near her apartment in Alexandria, Virginia.

“It’s cool to have a member of the church running for president in Africa.”

Beyond making connections, many Washington Mormons say the LDS Church provides an ideal proving ground for careers here.

Unlike most churches, it has no professional clergy; from the bishop to the organist, each role is filled by everyday Mormons, most of whom have other day jobs. As a result, Mormons take church leadership roles at an early age, speaking publicly at Sunday services almost as soon they learn to talk.

“My kids grew up in the church, and we get together for three hours on Sundays, and each member needs to get up and speak,” says U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “By the time they graduate, they have all these speaking assignments that other teenagers just don’t have.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, says Mormonism provides ideal training for aspiring politicians.

“For those who grow up in the Mormon church, they are taught skills that allow them to be successful in a tough city like Washington,” says Chaffetz, who converted to Mormonism shortly after college.

Young Mormons also hone leadership skills by serving missions away from home. The missions last from one and half to two years and happen when Mormons are in their late teens and early 20s and often include intensive foreign language training.

“Young Mormons are more formidable in public settings and international settings than others,” says Terryl Givens, a Mormon scholar at the University of Richmond. “Normally you would have to acquire more age and work experience before you feel comfortable and useful at NGOs and think tanks.”

Chaffetz, whose son is serving a mission in Ghana, says the experience is the perfect preparation for political careers.

“They learn rejection early on,” he says. “If you’re going to be in politics, that’s a pretty good attribute.”

Christina Tomlinson served her mission in nonexotic Fresno, California. But working with the Laotian community there, she acquired the foreign language skills that landed her first internship at the U.S. State Department.

“I look back at that and it’s nothing but divine providence,” Tomlinson says one night at an office building-turned-chapel in Crystal City, after a weekly discussion about Mormon teachings. “I would have never made those choices.”

When she arrived at her foreign service orientation in the late 1990s, Tomlinson was surprised to find that a half-dozen of her State Department colleagues were also Mormon. The thriving LDS community at State even runs its own e-mail list server so Latter-day Saints can find each other wherever in the world they’re stationed.

Like former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who used the Mandarin language skills acquired through a Mormon mission to Taiwan to help secure his job as President Barack Obama’s previous ambassador to China, Tomlinson leveraged her mission to get ahead at State, where she now serves as special assistant to the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“I’m basically the chief of staff for the president’s representative charged with implementing U.S. foreign policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she e-mailed on a recent plane ride back from the region.

Language skills acquired on a Mormon mission helped Christina Tomlinson get her start at the State Department.

At the point of a bayonet

Like many Mormons, Tomlinson says her professional life is driven by a faith-based patriotism that sounds old-fashioned to modern ears: “I just really wanted to serve my country.”

But that distinctly Mormon patriotism was hard-won. From their very beginning, Mormons had tried to forge a special relationship with Washington. And for decades, they failed.

Joseph Smith, who founded Mormonism in the 1830s, petitioned the U.S. government to protect his fledgling religious community from the violent persecution it was experiencing, even meeting repeatedly with President Martin Van Buren.

But Washington refused, provoking Smith – who Mormons consider their founding prophet – to run for president himself in 1844. He was assassinated by an anti-Mormon mob in Illinois well before Election Day.

In the face of such attacks, Mormons fled west, to the territory that’s now Utah. But they continued to seek ties with Washington, dispatching representatives to the capital to lobby for statehood.

Congress refused to grant it. Instead, Uncle Sam disincorporated the LDS Church and sent the U.S. Army to police Mormon territory.

In the eyes of Washington, Latter-day Saints were flouting federal law by practicing polygamy. The feds saw the LDS Church as an undemocratic rival government that threatened Washington’s power.

Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founding prophet, ran for president in 1844 but was killed before Election Day.

Mormons would eventually ban polygamy, paving the way for Utah statehood in 1896. But Congress nonetheless refused to seat the new state’s Mormon senator, who also served as a top church official.

For four years, the U.S. Senate held hearings to grill U.S. Sen. Reed Smoot and other church leaders, alleging that Mormons continued to practice polygamy despite promises to the contrary.

“The political trial was as much a galvanizing cultural moment as was Watergate,” says Kathleen Flake, a scholar of Mormonism at Vanderbilt University in Tenneessee.

When Smoot was eventually seated – after the LDS Church took further steps to stamp out polygamy – he managed to become a Washington powerbroker. He would chair the Senate Finance Committee and act as a presidential adviser.

“He was Mr. Republican,” says Flake. “For a while there, he was the Republican Party.”

Smoot’s unflagging pursuit of legitimacy in Washington, despite the city’s bias against him and his faith, symbolizes what many call a uniquely Mormon appreciation for American civic life. It helps explain the Mormon fascination with Washington to this day.

It may seen counterintuitive, but Mormons’ early exposure to persecution at the hands of other Americans – aided, Mormons say, by the U.S. government – wound up strengthening their patriotic streak.

In the face of attacks, Mormons clung to the U.S. Constitution and its unprecedented guarantee of religious freedom. They distinguished between the document and those charged with implementing it.

Mormon scripture goes so far as to describe the U.S. Constitution as divinely inspired, establishing a unique environment in which Mormonism could emerge.

“Mormons are superpatriots,” says Columbia University’s Bushman. “Joseph Smith said that if the government was doing its job as laid out in the Constitution, it would protect Mormons from their enemies.”

Mormons began to shed their Utah-only siege mentality and fanned out in the early part of the 20th century. Their patriotic streak, which translated into military enlistments and applications for government jobs, led many to Washington.

That wave included J. Willard Marriott, the hotel chain founder, who launched his business career by opening an A&W root beer stand here. He would go on to forge the kind of deep political connections that would help make Willard “Mitt” Romney his namesake.

Washington’s Mormon community got another boost in the 1950s when President Dwight Eisenhower appointed a top church official, Ezra Taft Benson, as his agriculture secretary.

“Mormons took it as a sign of maybe, just maybe, we’re being accepted,” says Flake. “It signified a cultural acceptance of Mormonism. People thought Mormons believed weird things, but also that they were self-reliant, moral and good neighbors.”

As Mormons became more accepted, they became more upwardly mobile, landing in parts of the country that could sustain careers in commerce, academia and government - another reason Washington was a big draw.

By the time there were enough Mormons in the eastern U.S. to justify the construction of the first Mormon temple east of the Mississippi River, the church chose a site just outside Washington.

The temple opened in 1974, shortly after another high-profile Mormon – George Romney, Mitt’s father – left his post as Richard Nixon’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

“The Washington temple served as a symbol of the triumphant return of Mormonism to the east,” says Givens, the University of Richmond professor. “Mormons left from the point of a bayonet in the 1800s and the temple is this gigantic symbol that says ‘We’re back – and we’re back in the nation’s capital.’ ”

The Mormon temple outside Washington was the first such temple built east of the Mississippi River.

Unlike Mormon meetinghouses, where members meet for Sunday worship, temples are grander buildings reserved for certain rites, such as proxy baptisms for the dead.

To this day, the first monument many Washington visitors see isn’t a federal landmark. It’s the massive Mormon temple, its Georgian marble towers and gold-leafed spires looming above the trees on the Washington Beltway like an otherworldly castle.

The temple houses a J. Willard Marriott-financed mural of Jesus Christ’s second coming, which features a picture of the Washington temple itself in the background.

“Are you implying that the millennium will begin in Washington?” a temple visitor once asked Marriott, referring to Jesus’ return.

Replied Marriott: “What better place is there?”

Good at organizing

These days, the Mormon impulse toward Washington is often as much political as patriotic.

Patrice Pederson - the campaign manager for the Mormon running for president in Mali - made her first foray into politics at 15, hopping the bus from her home in the suburbs of Salt Lake City into town to intern with a Republican candidate for the U.S. House.

“I remember that when Bill Clinton was elected, I wore all black to school that day,” says Pederson, who was in junior high at the time. “I was mourning the death of liberty.”

When then-Vice President Al Gore visited Utah, Pederson protested his speech with a homemade poster that said “Blood, Guts & Gore – Healthcare’94.” (She can’t recall the poster’s exact meaning).

Pederson’s activism as a “total hardcore right-winger” continued into her 20s. She put off college at BYU to start a “pro-family” advocacy group aimed at lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations. The work brought her to Washington so frequently that she decided to relocate last year: “I had more friends here than in Utah.”

Pederson’s path to D.C. speaks to the growing Mormon/Republican alliance since the 1960s, driven largely by the emergence of social issues such as abortion and gay marriage and the rise of the Christian Right.

“In the 1950s and ’60s, Utah became Republican,” says Bushman. “It’s partly about being anti-communist, but it’s also a response to the 1960s and the decay of old-fashioned moral virtues. It’s an anti-1960s movement, and the Republicans seemed to be the party of old-fashioned virtues.”

Pederson’s roommate, Kodie Ruzicka, grew up squarely in that movement, with her mom heading the Utah chapter of Eagle Forum, a conservative Christian group founded by rightwing icon Phyllis Schlafly.

In the 1970s, when the Catholic Schlafly led a successful grassroots campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have made gender-based discrimination unconstitutional, she enlisted the help of Mormons.

To its opponents, including the LDS Church, the ERA was the work of radical feminists who wanted to upend traditional gender roles.

Much of Schlafly’s organizing was among evangelicals, and “given the sometimes hostile evangelical line on Mormons, [Schlafly’s] Mormon outreach was kind of revolutionary,” says Ruzicka, who now works at the Justice Department. “But we’re good at organizing, and we have a lot of useful structures for it, so that was useful to her.”

Today, Mormons head Eagle Forum chapters across the West, including California, Arizona and Nevada, as well as Utah.

Bridge-building between Mormons and the conservative movement helps explain the Reagan administration’s push to hire many Mormons into the White House - which further cemented the alliance. That bond continues to lure Mormons to D.C.

Ruzicka, for one, continued in the political footsteps of her mother, arriving in Washington in her mid-20s to lead a nonprofit that promotes safe haven laws, which allow young mothers to legally abandon young children at fire stations.

Beyond hot-button social issues, U.S. Rep. Chaffetz says the Mormon faith engenders support for limited government.

“The church is very adamant about personal responsibility, and for people to voluntarily participate in service,” the Utah Republican says. “There’s this feeling that service is not something that should be mandated by government.”

The LDS Church, for its part, insists it is politically neutral and that it avoids pressuring Mormon elected officials to tow a church line. “The church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians,” the church’s website says.

Mormon experts say the church’s support for a relatively strict separation of church and state is born of the U.S. government’s refusal to help Mormons in the face of early persecution.

And after being accused of setting up a rival government around the turn of the last century, the church is loath to be seen giving marching orders to LDS politicians.

The church did, however, play a leading role in passing Prop 8, California’s gay marriage ban, in 2008. Church officials called it a moral cause, not a political one.

Plenty of critics disagree. But neither Mormon bishops nor church officials are known to lead the kind of church-based legislative lobbying efforts that Catholic bishops or evangelical leaders do.

Mitt Romney himself embodies the reluctance of Mormon politicians to connect their religion and their public policy positions, in contrast to politicians of other faiths.

That reluctance also appears to be born of anxiety over Americans’ lingering questions and doubts about Mormonism. When Pew asked Americans last year what word they associated with the Mormon faith, the most common response was “cult.”

In recent weeks, Romney’s newfound position as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has produced a mix of excitement and worry among Mormons. That’s especially true in Washington, where politically savvy Latter-day Saints send out frequent e-mail round-ups of Mormon media coverage to their LDS networks.

“A lot of us know it’s ultimately a good thing, but it’s hard to feel like it’s a good thing because so much of the publicity is about things you wouldn’t talk about in polite company, like my underwear,” says Pederson, referring to the enduring fascination with Mormon undergarments.

Like many conservatives, Pederson is suspicious of Romney.

“I don’t like his waffling, to put it gently, on life and family issues,” she says. “But if it comes down to Romney versus Obama, hand me the pom-poms. I’ll be president of the Romney-Is-the-Best-We-Can-Come-Up-With-for-President Club.”

For now, Pederson is working with the National Right to Life Committee’s political action committee to raise money for the Romney effort, even as she makes up her mind about how actively she wants to promote his candidacy.

Some of her calculus is about weighing political reality against her conservative idealism. And some of it is about her next professional move. It’s a very Washington place to be.

Video by CNN photojournalist Jeremy Moorhead

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • DC • Jon Huntsman • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (3,419 Responses)
  1. John the Historian

    Where do non-mormons go after death ? Do they get another planet ?

    May 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Hollie8

      that's up to God, as with all of us. You have quite a lot of disrespectful things to say.

      May 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • peter

      holle–the god you worship is a false and cursed christ–the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ written by the cursed man joseph smith in the 1800s–it's not up to your false christ-the book of mormon is either true or you worship a false god–a cursed one at that-Mormons are cursed even to the 7th generation–but you can break the chains of darkness and slavery–reject the cursed god of joeseph smith

      May 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Mormon magical underwear

      They go to the planet skidmark where they are doomed to make the morman magical underwear!

      May 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Postino

      Hey John the Historian. Where do you think people go when they die? Magical heaven clouds where we're all issues fancy wings? And where are these heaven clouds? The strongest telescope in the world can see 102 Billion light years out and all it can see is planets and stars. I wonder where your heaven is if it's not a planet. Who believes in silly things now?

      Maybe you don't believe we go anywhere except back to the earth and die. Maybe you believe in the big bang theory too. Well, where did the matter come from that banged into itself. Where did the energy come from to initiate the reaction? It had to come from somewhere, but where did that somewhere come from?

      So John the Historian, enlighten us as to your wisdom. Where are we going after this live, and how did it all start? Do tell oh wise man, for living on a planet, after we've already lived on this planet, just seems too crazy to comprehend.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  2. John the Historian

    What do mormons believe about where non-mormons go to after death ? Do they get some other planet ?

    May 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Postino

      Hey John the Historian, what do you believe in, let's make this a fair fight. You rip on my beliefs and I rip on yours. Catholic, Atheist, Protestant, or just Ignorant. I'm sure I know a lot more about your beliefs than you know about mine since I studied all of these before I was converted to The Church of Jesus Christ.

      So how about it John, what is your faith so I can return a few questions for you to answer? Same goes for all you cowards who attack another's beliefs on this blog while remaining in secret. But I'm guessing you won't because most of you won't share, because you were raised "christian" by your parents and deep down you know Christ never ridiculed anyone, thus rendering you anything but Christian.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  3. John the Historian

    That mormon bath house in Salt Lake City where all the Gay mormons go are they punished every time they waste their sperm ?

    May 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Postino

      Ah, makes sense now. You are gay and all your attacks must stem from you hating Mormons for supporting proposition 8 and us wanting to keep traditional marriage between a man and a woman. I know it's difficult to comprehend, but men and women were made to make children. Male lions go with female lions. Male donkeys (like yourself) go with female donkeys, and so on. That's how it works, and how God designed us, so it stands to reason that you have to remove God from our minds so we can accept your perverse way of thinking. How sad.

      May 15, 2012 at 2:10 am |
  4. John the Historian

    Are the descendants of Brigham Young and Jospeh Smith are they now leaders of the mormon cult ? I mean they had so many wifes and children ? Can mormons be sperm donors ?

    May 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  5. John the Historian

    What happens to mormons when they marry a Jew ?

    May 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  6. John the Historian

    Did Romney get punished by cutl mormon elders because he had so few kids ? Or are there secret wifes and secret temple wedding ceremonies for the other wifes ?

    May 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  7. John the Historian

    What happens to mormons who get married to non-mormons in Christian Churches ????

    May 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Hollie8

      nothing much happens except the regular decisions that have to be made between man and wife who come from different backgrounds etc. concerning how they raise their kids and what their goals are in life together... so many of you Americans have a warped idea about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And you come across quite rude and uneducated when you speak of it.

      May 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Postino

      I think John the Historian is just a big child who gets his kicks off antagonizing others. The bible is full of people like him, and they always get theirs. He is from the same cloth that mocked Jesus, they have been around for centuries spending their time attempting to hurt others rather than uplift others. These are the ones selected by the devil himself, the miserable who love company.

      May 15, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  8. John the Historian

    Is Nauvoo, Illinois going to be the new capital under the unlikely event Romney get elected ? But why are the majority of people in Nauvoo Catholic ????

    May 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  9. Mormon trickery

    I voted for santorum too,I am sitting this one out also,until we can get an honest christian candidate for the gop I will not cast my vote for a cult Bishop

    May 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Postino

      Obama spends $5T in 3.5 years and you are sitting this one out? Four more years of this spending, no border defense, nuclear Iran, nuclear North Korea, growing China, growing Russia. In four years we will be in some serious stuff. Pull your heads out and suck up your ignorant pride. Do it for America if nothing else. usdebtclock.org shows us how fast our debt is rising, and it is at .25 percent, imagine what it will be like when we are at 2% on $18T dollars. We will be paying close to 50% of our paychecks in taxes. You don't vote and you are what is wrong with America, not Romney. That guy is successful, and his only drawback is that he believes in something that you don't. Unbelievable.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Postino

      .25 and 2% are referring to the interest we are paying on our $16 trillion debt. Americans are becoming slaves to our debt and our comfortable world is about to change drastically.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  10. Mormon trickery

    Step right up folks Bishop Romney is giving our some MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR on his next campain stop,you will recieve the book of mormon,mormon magical underwear,A picture of Joesoph Smith, and a free ticket to PLANET KOLOB TO MEET GOD! CMON FOLKS YOU KNOW YOU WANT SOME OF THAT BISHOP ROMNEY PROMISES ROFLLL

    May 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • peter

      I voted for santorum in the primary and will be sitting out the gen election-

      May 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Postino

      @ Peter, a no vote from Romney is a vote for Obama. $5T of debt added in Obama's first term. $16T in debt and a divided congress? If America defaults on it's debt the Fed will have to increase the interest rate to bring investors into the bond market, and the $160K that each American now owes will go up significantly with a higher interest rate.

      Point is, you don't vote for Romney, and you help seal America's fate as a people enslaved to debt. This really is the most important election in our lifetime.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  11. Mormon trickery

    Mormons are like the Heavens Gate cult,they think they will go to planet kolob,will you all go on a ufo to get there like heavens gate did lol.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • peter

      mormons believe that the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ written by a man named joeseph smith in the 1800s is the word of God–The jesus christ that joeseph smith wrote and preached about is false and not true–Joeseph smith is a cursed man like the false christ he preached–The holy ghost -mormons speak of is the evil one–Mormors are cursed to even the 7th genereation– reject the vil joeseph smith cursed among men

      May 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Hollie8

      yep, the Jesus Joseph Smith worshiped was definitely false- He taught about a Jesus of love and mercy and forgiveness and kindness and not judging...oh wait, that Jesus sounds familiar. You guys have no idea. Read the Book of Mormon before you be so unkind and speak of things you have no idea about. Then tell us that that Jesus is false. God never said the Bible was the only record that would ever be kept. He isn't a respecter of persons remember?? Why wouldn't He visit and teach other children other than in the Holy Land?? That's all the Book of Mormon is- another record of Christ teachings. If you really loved the Bible and understood it, you would embrace the Book of Mormon.

      May 14, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • peter

      Hollie8–the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is either the word of God or it is not–I submit the truth to you–That the jesus christ in the book of mormon is false and not true–that your god is the evil won–that the holy ghost you speak of is not true but the evil one-cursed is your book of mormon and the christ that is it it forever and ever

      May 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Postino

      Hey Peter, what do you believe? Are you Godless or do you actually believe in something? If so, do tell. I'm curious to know what is true. Since you know for sure that the LDS church is wrong I'm interested in knowing what is so right. Please share if you're not ashamed to share your faith with us all.

      May 15, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  12. just sayin

    Sorry Mormons cannot be trusted. Thieves, dishonest and down right evil to those not Mormon. FACT

    May 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Postino

      Sure, that's why the CIA/NSA/FBI recruit so heavily out of BYU and the UofU, because Mormons cannot be trusted. Whatever you hater. Mormons are possibly the most trustworthy people on earth. It's you gossipers and haters the world should avoid.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  13. GodFreeNow

    2 words: Magic underwear

    May 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Postino

      2 words: Godfreenow idiot

      May 15, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  14. intel

    There is a direct link to the official Mormon website at the top of some of these Belief pages. I just clicked on it. it describes the early days of Joseph Smith. Oddly, there is no mention of the fact that he was jailed several times on fraud charges because he duped people out of money. You can also access the Mormon view on race. It says all colors are welcome. But it doesn't reveal that this wasn't the policy until 1978. The section on polygamy is a riot. It says a Mormon elder had a vision to end polygamy in 1890. It doesn't mention that the United States Army was prepared to enter Utah and put an end to polygamy. In short, the official LDS website is a fraud. Can a Mormon on this board respond to these comments, please?

    May 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • momoya

      Why do you think "Kolob" is any more stupid than "Heaven?"

      May 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Mormon trickery

      You cannot go to a mormon websight to find out the truth,they hide and cover up anything that may make them look bad.They will try to make their cult look normal and its members sweet as pie.We all know better and bottom line the mormon cult is sick with a bunch of weirdos worshipping their god on planet kolob lol.They pervert christianity,they worship a con joesoph smith,they molest women and kids,pre arragned marriages,they brainwash their members too.These are not sweet innocent church goers like they say they are,they are an evil cult and Romney happens to be a bishop.I am a christian conservative from the south but will not vote for Romney knowing his religion and knowing he may appoint more mormons in the gov.Can you immagine if he appoints 100s of cultists in the top teirs of government lol.

      May 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Postino

      You've really filled your head with hatred. Can you imagine Jesus saying the things you just said?

      May 15, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • souptwins

      Mo trickery– you are so full of BS it's ridiculous!! Please, feel free to attend a Sunday service at an LDS meeting house near you. Just do so respectfully and see what you learn. Blacks could always be members of the LDS church, they just didn't hold the priesthood untill 1978. How many churches allowed blacks and whites to mix in congregations before the civil rights movement? Women and children are revered and honored. If there is isolated abuse, it's just a random sicko who is NOT living what they've been taught. No Mormon claims their underwear is "magic". I could go on but you get the idea. You're nothing more than a shallow man stirring a pot with bigoted lies.

      May 15, 2012 at 3:40 am |
  15. Mormon trickery

    The mormons twist and pervert the biblical teachings,they control women and children brainwashing them,they abuse them,they molest them,these mormons are a twisted bunch that use religion to hurt their followers if they step out of lline.The LDS is a very secretive group that believes in sisterwives,control and molestation,arranged marriages sometimes with kids.They will of course deny this ,but do you really expect them to tell the truth and admit it fearing they may be jailed.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Eric

      Who is this unstable person? So if we refute anything you say it is because of fear of being jailed? Wow. I think most of the Western United States has enough Mormons that most everyone knows one or more and I think if you ask them you would find that your views are beyond extreme and false. What is your agenda? Actually, forget it. It's clear what it is with that screen name.

      May 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Hollie8

      wow. I am a Mormon in Australia and a woman and I have never heard of the things you speak of. You have many things mixed up I'm afraid. There's so many things I could say but you will probably just spit on them but I will just say that I have never met any men that are more respectful to me than those who live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I firmly believe latter-day saints do, not perfectly but as best they can. Husbands are taught to put their wife (just one wife) before all else. Our general presidency present talks to the men at least twice a year about loving and respecting and revering the women in their lives. Please, do your homework before you are so viscous.

      May 14, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • intel

      Hollie, are you aware of the truth about Joseph Smith? Do you know he was jailed on fraud charges?

      May 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Postino

      I know there was an executive order by Governor Boggs in Missouri that it was okay for "Christians" to kill Mormons. That law wasn't removed until the 1980s. Joseph Smith was jailed on fraudulent charges by people in power like Governor Boggs. Ignorant Christians who don't get that Christ would never setup a law to kill anybody. You people picked on the minority religion when Mormons were in Missouri, you pick on the minorities when Jesus was teaching in Jerusalem, and you pick on them now. You aren't Christians, you're bullies, and the bible is full of people who mock God's people, from Noah being mocked down to Joseph Smith and even today on this blog.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  16. John

    Mitt Romney God will bless you, your family and America if you stand not to support man to man, woman to woman civil recognition of such marriage and you will win Obama easily. Let Obama die for the sake of his stupidity action.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  17. John the Historian

    Mormons please read Mark Twain on Brigham Young. Why do mormons have statues to that polygamist Brigham Young. No one even knows if there was a Moses or Solomon. Why are so few American Indians mormon if Jesus Christ preached to the American Indians ??? Explain !!! Did you you all watch Bill Maher on mormonism. It is so funny. Even the republicans laughed.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Which God?

      Why did Bigham Young ordera wagon train of non-mormons slaughtered when they wer going through Utah? BY was not a good person either, but a cutthroat and tryanical cult leader.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Which God?

      Why did Brigham Young order a wagon train of non-mormons slaughtered when they were going through Utah? BY was not a good person either, but a cutthroat and tryannical cult leader. He should be revered as much as pile of trash.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  18. John the Historian

    Actually red wine is very healthy that is why the French and Italians rarely get alzheimers so I guess that is why Romney was not very successful in France. Alcohol in moderation is very good for you. And caffeine has been shown to be very good for you too. I wish mormons would not censor themselves and read what Mark Twain said about Brigham Young.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  19. intel

    Can a Mormon on this board please explain planet Kolob to us? Please? Legitimate question.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Postino

      @ Intel - To answer your question about the planet Kolob.

      Our strongest telescopes can see 102 million light years away and it shows us stars like our sun, and planets. That said,
      Mormons believe God chooses to make planets, which is why He made the one we live on (earth). The planet Kolob is just the name of another planet that is near the planet God lives on. While I know this is hard for some to grasp that after we die we may not float to some cloud in never-never land called heaven, but we Mormons believe it will be an actual planet like the one we live on now, but much more beautiful. The planet God lives on is heaven.

      May 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • momoya

      @Postino

      Don't worry about intel, he thinks that if you switch the letters around suddenly miracles and magical realms are the most sensible thing in the world.

      May 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  20. Mormon magical underwear

    Planet kolob? mormon magical underwear? the book of mormon? Joesoph Smith? Does not sound ver christian to me does it? You people are wackjobs that brainwash people in your cult and it is sickening you distort the bible like you do.Bishop Romney has no place in the Gov. with ideals like this and should go back to planet kolob with his skidmarked magical underwear!CAPTAIN SKIDMARK ROMNEY WE DONT WANT YOUR CULT GO HOME TO KOLOB YOU SICK TWISTED MAGIC SKIDMARK MAN!!

    May 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Postino

      Kolob is similar to the word Heaven
      Book of Mormon is similar to the Book of Luke
      Joseph Smith was a prophet, similar to the prophets Noah or Moses

      Sounds pretty Christian to me. As for the underwear, it's just a reminder to be good people.

      May 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I'm with you on the magical underwear. It's funny though that most christians find this laughable, but still believe in magical prayers, magical floods, magical burning bushes that speak, magical talking snakes and magical men who lived to over 900 years old.

      May 14, 2012 at 7:47 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.