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My Take: Romney should take reporters to church more often
Mitt Romney and his family attend church last weekend.
August 21st, 2012
09:20 AM ET

My Take: Romney should take reporters to church more often

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Mitt Romney’s team invited reporters to go to church with him last Sunday, and The New York Times is reporting that the upcoming Republican presidential convention will showcase Romney’s faith in an effort to humanize him. So are we finally going to get a Mormon candidate for president?

Romney has been widely criticized for running against his past - against what he did at Bain Capital and as governor of Massachusetts, and against his prior views on abortion and health care. And while he hasn’t flip-flopped on his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he has been loathe even to mention it in public.

In his 2008 “Faith in America” speech, Romney boldly proclaimed his religious heritage. “I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it,” he said. “My faith is the faith of my fathers - I will be true to them and to my beliefs.”

But in recent years he has been hiding that faith under a basket. In fact, in a much anticipated speech to evangelicals at Liberty University in May, he never used the M-word.

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The concern is there is little to be gained (and much to be lost) by emphasizing his Mormonism.

Latter-day Saints founder Joseph Smith was assassinated during his run for president in 1844, and anti-Mormonism has a long and sordid history in American life. Today many on the secular left and the religious right alike are wary of a Mormon president, and according to a recent Gallup Poll roughly one in six Americans say they would not vote for an otherwise qualified Mormon.

For all these reasons, Romney's campaign strategy so far seems to have been two-fold:

1. Whenever possible, avoid talking about Mormonism.

2. When pressed, speak of the importance of religion in general and emphasize the common moral values shared by Mormons and evangelicals.

3. Emphasize the American heritage of religious liberty.

I have been arguing for months that this strategy is not sustainable. What self-respecting debate moderator wouldn’t jump at the chance to ask Romney about how his Mormonism might affect his policies on taxation or food stamps or war with Iran?

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

And is it really plausible to do the two-step around the religion question all the way to November when the candidate in question may well be the most religious candidate in U.S. history - someone who spent two years as a missionary, followed by decades of church service, first as the Mormon equivalent of a Methodist pastor and then as the Mormon equivalent of an Episcopal priest?

It made sense for John Kennedy to draw a sharp line in 1960 between his private Catholic faith and his public life since he came from a Democratic Party that followed Thomas Jefferson arguing for the strict separation of church and state.

But Romney’s GOP has spent a generation attempting to overthrow the Jefferson/Kennedy consensus by bringing religion ever deeper into U.S. public life. So it just doesn't make sense for this Republican nominee to try to cordon off his private faith from his public policies.

CNN Explains: What’s Mormonism?

For all these reasons, I have argued repeatedly that Romney would be well advised to take the initiative - to define his faith in his own terms rather than awkwardly and defensively fielding (or fumbling) questions about it.

Now it seems like a faith offensive may be in the offing, not least at the upcoming convention.

But how to talk about Mormonism without unearthing all the awkward stuff - the history of polygamy and theocracy, the Mormon underwear?

One way, of course, is to try to emphasize the values similarities between evangelicals and Mormons - on questions like abortion and gay rights. But an even more effective way may be simply to invite reporters to church.

Like any religion, Mormonism has changed over time. And today Mormon services don’t look all that different from Methodist worship. In fact, the common theme coming out of much of the reporting about Romney’s church service Sunday seemed to be how unremarkable it was.

In Buzzfeed, reporter McKay Coppins, who also happens to be a Mormon, referred to that service as an example of “the fundamentally un-exotic Mormon experience.”

Admittedly, they serve bread and water rather than bread and wine, but Latter-day Saints worshippers praise Jesus in song as their “Redeemer” and send prayers up to their “Heavenly Father." And when their worship service is over they march off to Sunday school.

For generations, scholars of religion focused their research almost exclusively on Scriptures and belief. In recent years they have shifted their collective focus to religious practice. Perhaps that is the strategy of the Romney campaign, to shift the focus from the eccentricities of the Book of Mormon and the heterodoxy of Mormon beliefs to the ho-hum of hymns sung at 10 a.m. on a New Hampshire Sunday.

If I have the tune right, the message seems to be that Romney is one of us, and his religion is not so different from whatever yours might be.

Will that message resonate?

It depends. It depends on what Americans know about Mormonism and about their own creeds. However, it also depends on how much they think faith should matter in presidential politics. Ironically, if voters follow the Republican line on that one, Romney might well lose. If they follow Jefferson and Kennedy, he has at least a fighting chance.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Church and state • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Opinion • Politics • United States

soundoff (1,105 Responses)
  1. HeavenSent Blog

    Welcome HeavenSent Enthusiasts! Wow, what a great job you are doing. Thank YOU for making this HeavenSent event a huge success! Our HeavenSent engineers are working around the clock to make your HeavenSent experience the best ever.
    Stay Carnal!

    August 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Boldt move there Scotty.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  2. loki

    @otherdavid, Um yeah, ok, so where are these golden plates now? returned to their angelic guardian.How convenient! Really man? How bout the other stuff like Jesus in america and all that? American indians the lost tribe of israel, Really dude! Wow, a sucker born every day, Pass the plate man!

    August 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • otherdavid

      @ loki: isn't the whole point of eye witnesses to validate the truth of some situation in the past? the plates are not here that I know of...but why should that really matter?

      As to your 'jesus in america' comment. Please prove he didn't visit ancient america. Since you are so convinced that mormons are wrong I assume you have a copy of Jesus's itinerary after he died and went to heaven. Unless you can produce proof I am left to use your same level of cynicism against you.

      I gave you proof of the book of mormon plates and you ignored it. I suspect you would do the same with other evidence.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Court

      More proof of the plates. The book of Mormon is a translation of the plates. Read it, and find out for yourself. It's on line with the Bible and other scripture @ http://mormon.org.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Court

      Loki, what are your beliefs?

      August 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • David

      funny coming from a guy using an screen name from Norse mythology

      August 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  3. David

    Why can't people realize that religion is already embedded in our laws and society. Our laws are based on Judeo-Christian laws. For many many people, religion is the avenue through which they formed their moral code. Other people formed their moral code through other avenues. These two people, one religious, and one not, can share the fundamentally same beliefs about what is right and wrong. Being "religiously neutral" is not the same as being morally neutral. By asking Romney to ignore his religion when it comes to governing is ignorant beyond belief. If Romney tries to make Mormonism the official religion of the US, and impose Mormon law, yeah, that would be messed up (and illegal). But he doesn't want to do that. However, he can use what he learned over the years from religion and life as guiding principals for how he would govern. There is nothing wrong with that, and anyone who thinks there is, is off their rocker, and as intolerant as they claim others to be.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      David, why can't you realize that we have no use for religion and our agenda is to CHANGE the staus quo?

      August 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheese Makers

      "Why can't people realize that religion is already embedded in our laws and society."

      And therin lies the problem David.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Just don't forget that Romney's important religious lessons include the inherent spiritual inferiority of anyone with a melanin count highter than his own.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      There you have it David. An overt admission that there exist a segment of American society determined to undermine and overthrow the traditions and standards on which the country was founded. Hope and Change.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheese Makers

      You are twisting it again Bill.

      Name one thing that is exclusive to religion that is incorporated into our laws and is a positive law that doesn't restrict freedom.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • David

      my point is that our laws aren't exclusive to religion or non-religion. There are aspects of both. There always have been. Deal with it. Beliefs that are based in religion and standards by which our laws are created are not always mutually exclusive. There is no agenda to create a theocracy. And if you think the majority or republicans or conservatives have that agenda, you are horribly mis-guided. Separating the basic tenets of major religions from our laws is virtually impossible because they are one and the same

      August 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • David

      Cheese Maker:
      Honor thy Father and thy Mother.
      Thou shalt not kill.
      Thou shalt not commit adultery.
      Thou shalt not steal.
      Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
      Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
      Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

      Yep ... THATs the problem. Are there things written in religious text that when taken literally no longer fit in today's world. Absolutely. Should we be skeptical that all major religious text was written by men? Sure we should. Do the basic commandments listed above, which exist is Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have no part in our law? I sure hope not.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @David

      Only stealing and murder is in our laws. And if you want to stretch false witness you could make case for purgury laws. What you also should realize is that those laws are also higly practical for any society to live in at least a semblance of cooperation.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • David

      Alien. Who is "We"? You obviously have no idea what religion means, or what Christianity means. Millions of people around the world benefit from charitable causes spearheaded through religious based initiatives. I'm sure they people that come to soup kitchen my church runs every week don't need the food. I'm sure the clothes they get from our clothing drives are just for show. I'm sure the programs run for disadvantaged youth in my town are unnecessary. Do you really think its all about "praising the lord" and converting people's life style? Are you that bigoted and ignorant? The great thing about my Christianity, Alien, is that it doesn't need you either.

      But one day you might need a helping hand, and a good Christian might just be there to extend it, without judgement, without animosity. And they aren't going to ask you if you believe in God before they help you out.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • David

      @hawaiiguest

      you're absolutely right. But guess where they showed up first. Religion, and if you believe the scriptures, religion from over 3000 years ago. There are valuable lessons that can be taken from religious texts that can and should be applied to every day life, and in-fact, already are whether people are aware of it or not. Again, my point is that these things are not mutually exclusive, and they never have been. If people don't want to believe in God, then fine. But don't sit there and tell me nothing from religious text is valuable and "we don't need it".

      Why do we KNOW its not ok to murder? Because someone taught us that. We are not born inherent with that morality. Who cares if the Bible taught you or your atheist buddy down the street. I love how the religion bashers on here somehow think through their own intolerance, they are on the path to bringing people together.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      That's a lovely strawman that you've built from my post. Does it make you feel good to refute an argument that I didn't make?

      August 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      When will this nonsense: "Our laws are based on Judeo-Christian laws." end?

      You don't need a burning bush and graven tablets to figure out that killing, cheating, stealing and lying are wrong.

      I challenge you to name more than three commandments (kill, steal, lie) that are represented in the law across the US.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @GOPer –

      David may be correct that "religion is already embedded in our laws and society", but what he doesn't understand is that progress is predicated on ferreting-out and remove those very same components. I lived in Colorado for a while – one of the states that retains "Blue Laws", and let me tell you, when you can't buy a six-pack of real beer on a Sunday afternoon, something is wrong!

      August 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • David

      Well you certainly weren't supporting me. And if you read the other replies to my post, you'd know my response references all of them (sorry I didn't @ everyone). I'm not sure what argument you were trying to make. Those laws are common sense laws? Sure they are. Couldn't agree more. My contention is that those laws, and derivatives of those laws, developed both from religion and years of trial and error. We didn't wake up own day and say "oh .. we probably shouldn't do these things." I used the 10 Commandments as an example because they represent 3 major religions in their simplest form. It all may seem like common sense now. Maybe it wasn't 3000 years ago.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Really-O?

      David –

      To whom are your replying? Starting your post with "@[user]" is a good way to direct your replies to other posters.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheese Makers

      David,

      Do you really think stealing, lying and killing were just figured out were wrong when the Jews came up with it?

      My question was 'what LAW that only a religion came up with and is EXCLUSIVE to a religious teaching that is a positive law?'

      Honor your mother and father? Not if they are abusive and not a law.

      Adultery? not a law.

      Coveting? not a law.

      August 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Snow

      People tend to forget that there was time before JC.. and there was time before jewish god made appearance and there are many many countries in the world with thriving civilizations where people lived on the right side of the rulers law.. Do you think the countries like India, China and Japan where JC didn't make appearance for a looong time did not live by the law? that stealing and adultery and murder was an everyday game? grow up!

      August 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  4. Who invited me?
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    August 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Lucifer's DNA (shown in actual size).

      August 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • truth be told me so

      Why thank you! I printed it all out. It will make fabulous trim for the kids birthday party!

      August 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Cindy

      That's real intelligent there.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  5. TomVIO

    I don't care if Obama is muslim or Romney is mormon. For me, religion is not what the presidential election should be about.

    People, including presidential candidates can follow any belief they choose to. I do not have any opposition about any religion. However, I do think that Politics (Government or State, whatever people want to call it) should not be mixed with religion. The government and our policies should not have any ties with any religion at all. We have state laws and policies which should be followed by everyone in the country and then everyone who chooses to follow some of the religion's laws, could do so in addition to state laws.

    Don't want to drive a car or watch TV on saturday because your are Jewish? Then feel free to obey that rule. But as far as electing a president based on what religion he/she comes from is WRONG!

    August 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      "I do think that Politics...should not be mixed with religion."

      Neither do I. That is why there should be no religous people elected to the top office in the country. We need need sane, intelligent people.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So Alien, you would apply a religious litmus test to candidates and exclude the ones who didn't line up with your views? Is that what I'm hearing? Retard.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      That is incorrect Bill Deacon, I am simply saying we should not VOTE for retards. Any retard can run for office.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  6. JC

    At least Romney showed to us his true religion unlike the other guy, won't even admit what his true religion is.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Huebert

      Obama admits that he is a christian.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • squidbilly1

      who cares????

      August 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Cindy

      Obama is a Christian in name only. He has no clue what it really is about.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Cindy

      How amazing that you can apparently know EXACTLY what a person really thinks. How nice it must be to have this superpower.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  7. Hashem

    Having a Mormon president would actually restore credibility to the Office of the President. Obama hasn't DONE ANYTHING pertaining to his job as president since August 2011. He's been campaigning since on our dime. This guy wants everyone to think of him as a very generous man, but he's generous with OUR MONEY not with his. Romney give over 14% to charity and Obama, just under 1%, and Biden gives nothing, yet Obama wants us to believe that Romney is the rich bad guy, when in reality is the other way around. I knew liberals (democrats in particular) were pretty ignorant, but now I've realized that all these dems are simply s-t-u-p-i-d, and YOU CAN'T FIX S-T-U-P-I-D unfortunately, unless they want to actually wake up and smell the coffee... and that's gonna take a long time for dems.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Patty

      ...I second your comment, right on the nail !!

      August 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Skwisgaar Skwigelf

      The mormons are brutals! I loves hows they believes in the aliens thoughs!

      August 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Nlsme

      Except Romneys "charity" is his church...

      August 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • TV Sports Dir

      The great majority of Romney's charitable contributions went to the Mormon Church, which doesn't always use that money for benevolent purposes, but for church investment. Of course, it's also used to help fund those kids in white shirts and ties who knock on your door (all over the world) trying to get you to convert to Mormonism.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Ti.thing is an important test of our personal righteousness. President Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918) said: “By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. … By it it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 276)."
      To make sure congregants are paying up, each year they must go before a Bishop for a Ti.thing Settlement.
      A member is questioned in a one-on-one interview with the Bishop to ensure the member is paying a full 10%.
      Those members who are not paying a full 10% lose their temple recommendations and therefore are in serious jeopardy of losing their Celestial blessings.
      If a member cannot get into the temple, they cannot learn the secret handshake, secret password, secret "new name" and special “sealings”.
      Without these, the member will be unable to pass Joseph Smith and the angels who guard the entrance to the Celestial Kingdom.

      And where does the money go?
      According to the Deseret News Agency, the propaganda arm of the LDS, the Church has spent some $750 million internationally on charitable works since 1984.
      They have also spent 4 times that amount (approx $3 BILLION) in ¼ of the time to build a mall in Salt Lake City.
      Mormons are told: "if a dest.itute family is faced with the decision of paying their ti.thing or eating, they should pay their t.ithing." (Lynn Robbins, General Conference, April 2005).

      August 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Reality

      I think the statement that Obama has done nothing but campaign is disingenuous at best, and completely uninformed at worst. You can read about portions of his agenda that he has delivered on at sites like politifact or factcheck (go search on google if you care).

      I also challenge anyone to find any president in modern history that did not participate in campaigning or fundraising while in office – you will be hard-pressed to find one.

      Anyone who agrees with this kind of uninformed hyperbole is just parroting feelings or ideas without understanding the real issues. Obama is no saint and there are a number of broken promises he has failed to fulfill for various reasons.

      Take issue with the fact that that corporations are now people, and the real problem is that a campaign donor's dollars matter more than your vote when laws are written and signed into effect. The biggest problem is the disinformation people swallow, and America will get the government it deserves until these two things change.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      How can you restore credibility if you have no integrity. The man lies like a rug. You cannot lead effectively without integrity. He lies all the time, and he is a former cult Bishop. That is a no go for me.

      Integrity first! Romney is a slick back haired used car salesman. I'm not buying.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      Yes! Romney's charity is his CULTt!!

      Lets see his charitable giving to causes that help the poor?

      Oh wait, we can't, because he won't RELEASE HIS TAXES!!!

      August 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @TheVeteran

      I suppose you think Bachmann, Perry, and Palin are stand up people right?

      August 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Primewonk

      The Romney's gave 16% to charity.

      The Obama's (per 2011 return) gave 21% to charity.

      I wonder why you tea baggers lie?

      August 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      @Hawaiiguest: Absolutely not!! They give Christianity a bad name. Walking around bearing false witness all the time and living in hypocrisy. GOP'ers align with the Pharisees, who certainly were not Christian. They are the ones who killed Christ, in the name of religion.... No sir.

      I am Free because Christ set me free. I am not a slave to hateful religious rhetoric....

      August 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Reality

      @hawaiiguest

      I believe TheVeteran was saying that Romney is a slick used car salesman so he's not voting for him. Fill in a candidate's name if it's legal to do so, or choose not to vote if you don't know anything about any of the issues.

      DON'T pull that lever until you've gotten your news from a place other than Fox News, CNN or MSNBC. Fact check everything: If a politician, pundit or talking head says something, demand a source. The internet is an invaluable tool.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Reality

      I don't know where you get off pullin a tangent out your ass merely from a single question I asked. Then again, your posts are usually one big tangent aren't they?

      @TheVeteran

      Well at least you aren't blinded by your religion. Unfortunately though, christianity is full of hateful rhetoric, and is divisive by its very nature. If you are going by a wholly biblical sense, then they're doing what they should.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Reality

      Comments above from Reality were not from the original Reality.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Reality2

      @Hawaiiguest

      There's no need to get personal. I got the gist of what TheVeteran was saying thought sheer reading comprehension alone.

      Your disdain for verbosity is understandable, so I left this post nice and short for you.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Reality2

      ^
      "thought" should be "through"

      August 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Reality2

      Considering that "mormon cult" was a constant punctuation in everything said by TheVeteran, and a defense of christianity was evident, it was reasonable to assume that the three I listed would be on the ok list. The fact that they weren't actually shows a deviation from the average christian on his part. Also, did I say anything about how he would vote or not? You brought up voting on your own. You also attempt to build a straw-man with the whole Fox, MSNBC, CNN thing, when the subject of where I get my information from didn't even come up, so it's a complete non-sequitur anyway. Your post was dishonest, and really just pathetic, so I didn't think it was worth refuting fully before, especially when I didn't say anything about you not getting what TheVeteran said, especially when I didn't post anything about what he actually said about Romney.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Reality2

      @Hawaiiguest

      My comment on voting stemmed from the OP's post about dems being stupid, etc. etc. Of course, it would have been impossible to know that, given the context of your interaction with TheVeteran. So as far as tangents go, touche. I see where you're coming from. This is a blog about religion, and I should be mindful of the fact and remain on topic.

      Apart from that, I fundamentally disagree with your entire post: And refutation is pointless, since you have personal feelings that will override any semblance of rational thinking on your part.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Reality

      I have no problem with discussing my post as long as you're honest about it.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Reality2

      @Hawaiiguest

      Dishonest, how? I really would like to know.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Reality2

      Essentially, don't attempt to misrepresent my posts or positions, and don't build straw-man arguments, things like that. I fully expect people to call me on anything I might have wrong, and I will do the same to anyone that I have a discussion with.

      August 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Reality2

      Ah. My post was in no way meant to misrepresent your position or build a straw-man to deflect the conversation you were having, but was made in the context of the OPs post.

      Once again, I did a poor job of making that clear and I really can't honestly expect for someone to form a conclusion different than your own, so I offer my apologies. No harm, no foul, I hope.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Reality2

      No harm, no foul. You did say that you disagree with my post though, why is that?

      August 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Reality2

      This took a little while but I wanted to make sure I would get this right:

      1) When you asked TheVeteran if Bachmann, Perry and Palin were stand up people, it seemed like more of a rhetorical question than anything. I got the feeling from TheVeteran that he was disgusted with the behavior of Romney, and that behavior is shared by many Evangelical politicians that wrap themselves in the flag and clutch bibles. Someone that considers themselves an Evangelical Republican, might support a candidate that supposedly shares their views on faith but many of the Christians I've met have been critical of these types of candidates because their actions do not conform to many of the ideals espoused in the New Testament.

      2) The voting comment goes back to a misunderstanding regarding my post, so of course I would "fundamentally disagree" with it.

      3) The same above, can be said of my building of straw men, dishonesty, etc., as I would disagree with all of those things too. I might be partial though...

      August 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Reality2

      The question to TheVeteran anout Bachmann, etc. was partly rhetoric and part real question. I've noticed the language that TheVeteran has been using today, and it was obvious he's a Christian. On average, people tend to agree with those who profess to be the same religion, despite other flaws they may have.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Reality2

      @hawaiiguest

      On the whole, people tend to vote for someone who supposedly shares their own ideals and faith. If that was the larger point you were making, then I agree: as it kinda goes without saying.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  8. loki

    Mitt has his right to freedom of religion, and I have the right to not vote for someone that has an electoral fire going on inside his brain.

    I don’t think I can bring myself to vote for someone that believes in magic underwear, that American Indians were a lost tribe of Israel, that Jesus visited the Americas, That some guy named Joseph Smith found inscribed golden plates in a hole near his home in Manchester New york after an angel directed him to where they were buried, but was forbidden to show the plates to anyone, that only Smith could translate said golden plates with a “seer stone” LOL, in the bottom of a hat! No, really! I’m not making this up! LOL And I should vote for this guy, or any other religious cook? ROFL

    August 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • otherdavid

      loki...you are welcome to disagree with romney but I wonder if you have any proof to your claims. Your claim that no one saw the golden plates is utterly false. There were 11 eye witnesses and you can read their account in any book of mormon.

      I sure hope that 11 eye witnesses are sufficient for you if you ever find yourself in court.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Len

      Why is Mormonism any weirder than standard Christian, Jewish, Islamic or other religious beliefs?

      August 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Matt

      I think he should be pressed on whether he literally believes these things as factual, historical items, or whether he..."embraces" the mythology (for lack of a better word) as a cultural heritage. There are many faithful mormons out there who don't necessarily take everything at face value, but take the good and apply it to a reasonable extent.

      Some Mormons might ascribe protective powers to their underwear. I honestly think most don't. Rather they wear them as a reminder of covenants. Maybe like the mormon version of wearing a necklace with a cross.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      One of those eye witnesses was Peter Bridgeman.
      In 1826, he brought Joseph Smith to court for being a con-man.
      You see, before the Seer Stones translated the Book of Mormon, Joe Smith used them with a handful of other people in a treasure hunting scam. He and his group would convince local farmers that the magic rocks could see up to 50 feet underground and would charge a fee to go hunting their property for hidden treasure.
      Smith was tried the the misdemeanor of "glass looking" and judging by further doc/umentary evidence in the form of a sherriff's bill for the time is took to escort Mr Smith out of county, he was found guilty.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • otherdavid

      Peter Bridgeman was not an eye witness of the book of mormon plates. Completely false and easily proven by picking up any copy of the book of mormon.

      The con man/seer stone story is a load of garbage. There was no con of neighbors or anything of the sort. Smith was never convicted of anything....ever.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @OtherDavid
      How do you explain the doc/umentation then?
      There is a copy of the judge's bill for seeing the case as well as the local sheriff's bill for escorting Mr. Smith out of county, along with court transcripts.

      August 22, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  9. mormoncandidate dot com

    Do you really want to put a Mormon in such a position of power? I mean, come on! He's a Mormon! What do Mormons know about politics, economics, diplomacy...

    August 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  10. This is how it is

    This is how it is:

    Bunnies love carrots.
    Humans love s.e.x.
    Fries love Ketchup.
    P.i.s.s p.o.r.n is strangely arrousing.
    Republicans love money.
    Democrats love freedom.
    Singers love applause.
    God loves pain.
    Satan loves God.
    Christians love lies.
    Atheists love nothing.
    Disney loves money.
    We all love money.
    Death loves life.
    Life loves grief.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      You should talk to somebody...

      August 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Which God?

      That's a cry for help, right?

      August 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Len

      Should read: "Atheists love reality." 🙂

      August 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Q

      Yeah, Democrats love Freedom, not money. BWAHAHAH!!!!!!!

      August 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  11. Hashem

    Mitt doesn't need to talk about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka: Mormons), when i-d-i-o-t-s like this guys start speculating about this or that in regards to religion, you quickly realize why Mitt isn't saying much about his religion. These guys would take one or to things THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND, and call it "crazy". I think we should not talk about religion when it comes to political issues. Liberals cry foul when a religious person says anything in a school, in court, etc, HOWEVER, they now want Romney to talk about religion? WHY? Just to mock it and call it nonsense... screw you Stephen.. why don't you ask OBAMA about his Muslim roots and what he really believe with regards to Jesus, who is Jesus, what he is, is he dead, is he alive, etc, etc. ask him and see if he actually knows about what he professes to be his faith...

    August 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      We are all very fortunate that Obama is a liar. That is the only way our ignorant society will elect an intelligent athiest.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Len

      Hashem
      It's as unsuitable to bring up religious beliefs in schools and courthouses as it is to bring up science and atheism in a church. Would you agree with that?

      August 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Science

      I'm sorry, could you be a little more clear?

      You're upset because "liberals" have decided to let Mitt, in his own words, explain his religion, which you have pointed out has some crazy sh.it in it and then throw a flag on the play because it's not fair to talk about religion.... THEN you ask what Obama believes in and still go after him being a "closet" muslim. Even though he drinks beer, eats pork, goes to church and is as religious as any other president..... Honestly, there is too much wrong with that to even start to delve into why you are clearly batsh.it crazy

      August 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • babooph

      Notice Mormonism & Islam Have a later ,more important prophet than Christ & a later more important book than the new Testament-no big deal to me,but to an evangelical ....

      August 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Jerry

      Hashem, I am a life-long Democrat, but I agree 100% with your posting. Your posting is one of the few honest/truthful postings on these blogs.

      Don't ever allow the Obamboozzelers intimidate you into NOT expressing your thoughts and opinions.

      ¡Adelante!

      August 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • jaimeeileen

      when the gop openly professes a desire to turn our representative republic into a theocracy, the religion of the man in charge of that spearhead suddenly becomes very, very important to me. i am devoutly pagan. call me strange but i have no wish to be burned at the stake for witchcraft... and "thou shalt not suffer a witch (originally stated as "poisoner", for those of you who have researched the original text) to live" is rather biblical, don't you think?

      August 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  12. TheVeteran

    Truthfully, the Mormon Church is not a Church. It is a cult. It distorts Jesus Christ, and claims that members can achieve god status through works and rule over their own world when they die.

    It claims that God is an alien man with a wife, on the planet Kolob.

    You can call it a place of worship if you want. But, truthfully, the Mormon religion is not a Church. Because it is not Christian.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      wahh wahh wahh They don't agree with me so I'll label it a cult wahh wahh wahh.

      This is what you sound like.
      The only practical difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of people in it.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      The Mormon belief system is actually more plausible that the Christian belief system, but of course they are both false.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Court

      Spend some time and get some answers http://mormon.org/

      August 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Hashem

      ...sorry, another i-d-i-o-t-s stating nonsense stuff...

      August 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • mormoncandidate dot com

      The important question, of course, is whether we want a Mormon in the White House.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      I hear skeptics speak all the time that that God is a made up story. But these skeptics cannot even tell us why they sleep, or why they yawn. In fact, these skeptics know very little about this universe we live in. Yet, they claim that they know without a doubt that God is not real. So let me get this straight. A person, who don't even know a fraction of a percent of the things that sustain life in this universe, is now the expert that knows enough to PROCLAIM unequivocally that there is no God, is now the AUTHORITY on life as we know it.

      Your most sane statement would be "I do not know if there is a God or not." To state otherwise is just plain old asinine.

      My point (smart skeptics) is that Mormonism in not Christian. So therefore, it cannot be a Church.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • otherdavid

      @veteran.....since you are soooo convinced that mormons are wrong you must know unequivocally the truth about where God lives and what happens in the afterlife. Please enlighten us.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      *is not Christian.

      You cannot replace the bible with your own book, and claim to be a church of Christ. It is not Christian. It is its own religion. And a false one at that. Magic underwear. Ruling over your own world? For a Christian that should be a BIG RED LIGHT. Mormons walk in the footsteps of Satan himself. Who wanted to be god.

      Christians better wake up.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Aww poor "TheVeteran" doesn't like the Mormons boo hoo. By what authority do you assume the right to call something a church or not? You think the skeptic is arrogant (red herring with the skeptic = the assertion there is no god), yet cannot see your own arrogance. All I can hope for is that people like you aren't common in the service currently.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheese Makers

      The Veteran,

      "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer. The christian god however, is an immoral, contradictory asshat and therefore is almost certain not to exist.

      Your point about Mormons not being a church is non-sense.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      @Otherdavid: Use your head. Do you think I could provide enough information in THIS FORUM? You just like to run your mouth I see. The best I can tell you is to do YOUR OWN RESEARCH and you will see that Mormonism is NOT Christian. It has its own rules that do not line up with Christianity. Namely, working to achieve God status!! Blasphemy!! Wives in heaven? Heresy!!

      August 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Len

      And then all of Christianity began, and can still be regarded, as a cult of Judaism.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Science

      @TheVeteran

      Didn't christianity do the exact same thing with judaism? Why is yours any better than mormonism? Time? I mean honestly, Mormonism does indeed sound pretty crazy, few people on this board deny it (heck, Mormons can point out the crazy bits too) but to go after them as not being "real christians" because of their own tweaking of religious dogma is downright silly.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      @Science: No it did not. And Mormonism is deceptive because it claims to be Christian, when it is not. You have to do your research. You're a science person, research it.

      Mormonism is its own religion. Not Christian. Therefore, it cannot be a church. Church is Christian.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • otherdavid

      @ the veteran

      So your answer is 'use your head'?? I take it you have officially run out of intellectual ammunition.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  13. rob

    The Mormon cult is a repulsive, immoral, disgusting, bigoted organization that spreads hate against others. And Mormon beliefs are laughable. And if they can spend tens of millions of dollars on hate campaigns, why can't they pay taxes? Why are taxpayers subsidizing government services to this pathetic, faux "religion?" The sooner this cult is brought down, the better off the country will be.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bob Aussie

      rob, can you be more specific instead of ranting like an introverted delusional idiot? Please?

      August 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Doug

      If you go to mormon.org and learn what Mormons actually believe and represent I'm sure your rabid hatred will dissipate some. That will be good for this country.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Replace Mormon with Christian and it's still a valid post lol.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Court

      Spend some time and get some REAL answers. http://mormon.org/

      August 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Hashem

      ...sorry, yet, another i-d-i-o-t-s stating nonsense stuff...

      August 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • otherdavid

      Rob is out of his mind....the following is straight from mormon teachings "we believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men..."

      Yep...that sure sounds disgusting, immoral, and full of hate.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • ME II

      @Court,
      Not that I think the LDS is ultimately any more silly than other religions but are we really expected to believe this:

      "Moroni told Joseph about a record of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent that was buried in a nearby hill. He said it contained the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and was written on thin metal sheets of gold. Joseph translated the book into English.
      ...
      A particularly inspiring section of the book recounts Christ’s visit to the American continent soon after His resurrection."
      (http://mormon.org/restoration)

      August 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  14. Court

    Spend some time and get some answers. http://mormon.org/

    August 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Answers to what?

      August 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheese Makers

      Joseph Smith was a charlatan and a fraud.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  15. HeavenSent

    You atheists drink the poison of satan and call it good. Satan's lies are built on a quicksand foundation. My camel-toe is so large my cats sleep in there. Enjoy your own personal worm eating your fat drippings in your father's house for all of eternity.

    Amen.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • sunsh9ne

      LMFAO... This was the most hilarious thing I've read on CNN comments...

      August 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Not my post but the all and pitiful phony heavensent who has no life to speak of.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  16. reader

    Can you imagine the same religious scrutiny of Barack Obama? But Mr. Prothero and CNN wouldn't dare attempt that.

    Now imagine if Barack Obama was Muslim. Boy, the liberal media would just embrace him even more and fall over themselves, considering America so great to have a black and muslim president. In that case, scrutiny of a non-mainstream religion would not be undertaken by Mr. Prothero, or CNN, or others in the liberal media.

    Liberals, just please be consistent. That's all I am asking.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Why are you speaking in the hypothetical? Your post makes no sense. IF Obama were Muslim? He’s not. Prothero a Liberal? He’s not. You intelligent? Your not.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • reader

      Alien Orifice: don't comment if you don't want to discourse at that level. But resorting to personal attacks reveals your shallowness. If you want to think you're above me intellectually, go ahead. But you're not, little boy.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      reader, answer the question! You can't because you are in fact uninelligent. It is not a personal attack, it is fact based on your post. Oh, and also you lick balls.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Obama's religion was vetted to the point of irrelevancy last election, and Prothero is a well known conservative, and usually a complete asshat.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Science

      reader

      Were you covering your eyes and ears last election? I guess not since you are also accusing Obama of being a Muslim. I mean honestly man, You are getting all upset because Obama, after being raked over the coals last election isn't getting the same treatment this time and you're even angrier because in hypothetical land hypothetical muslim obama is receiving preferential treatment from hypothetical liberals because he's a hypothetical muslim, not because he's a democracy mind you, but a hypothetical muslim. Seriously, read your posts before throwing them out into the public domain and exposing your stupidity for the whole world to see.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  17. agnostic

    Based on publicly available info, Romney donates about 15%-17% of his salary annually to his church. There are few people of faith who do this today.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • jwarino

      You can't remain a member in the mormon church without paying.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheese Makers

      You say this as if it is a good thing...

      August 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      Right, so he pay's more to his Church than he does in taxes. Which master will he serve? That of his Church and the Mormon agenda or that of the people if he is elected? If he is putting his money where his mouth is then I think we all know who he will listen to more.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm not sure a church that spends millions on Prop 8 legislation should really be considered "charity", sounds more like a Political Action Committee.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  18. jwarino

    As a person who lives in the heart of Mormon country I can tell you this writer does not have a clue as to what a Mormon servie is like or any other aspect of service in the church is like. MOrmon services are unlike any other service I've ever attended. The speaker at a typical sunday meeting comes from the congregation and the topic does not set any normal parameters. They don't speak from the Holy Bible but only reference the Book of Mormon. As for missionary work that work is done in most any comunity by young boys usually straight out of high school and these boys are called "elders", which always makes me laugh because in Mormanism it is stressed that youth is a long time and maturity is something they don't emphasize in their boys. Their girls are are neat and priss and are there only to support the male members of the church in sterotypical female roles of last century. He has much to hide in his faith.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Doug

      Your comment that Mormons "don't speak from the Holy Bible but only reference the Book of Mormon," is typical of the general misinformation that exists out there. Mormons study the Bible and preach the Bible just like other Christians. Haven't you ever attended a Mormon Christmas devotional or attended Mormon Bible study in Sunday School? Of course not. Anyway, the Mormon church as become so integrated into society that Mormon-haters are having to devise a whole new parallel Mormon religion from their imaginations just to have something to criticize.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Unplugged

      Most of what you wrote sounds like the Southern Baptist, especially the references to prissy young girls and women who know their place is the kitchen.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • jwarino

      Pardon me Doug but as i said I live in Mormon country and have many Mormon friends. I have attended many times and Know from personal experience that the Book of Mormon holds more value to these people than the Holy Bible.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • otherdavid

      mormons teach from the bible and the book of mormon...look up the doctrines they teach on mormon.org and you will see scriptural support from the bible.....your sample of 1 is not impressive

      August 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • jwarino

      Other David, if you know the Mormons inow you could easily deduce the Book of Mormon trumps the Holy Bible.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • jwarino

      P.S> mormon.org is P.R. work, its the bait.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Chelle

      It slays me when Mormons deny that the Book of Mormon holds more importance than the Bible. That was the entire premise of the religion of Joseph Smith. The Revelations of the Prophets hold more importance. Why muddy the waters? If you truly embrace your religion then admit that the Book of Mormon is your primary holy book.

      Mitt Romney is a Mormon from a fundamentalist background – his Grandfather was a polygamist in Mexico. That is what I find scary about him – the values taught by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other Mormon Prophets was that it was okay to lie, cheat and steal (or kill) the Gentiles (non-Mormons) because we really didn't count. Now how do we know that isn't Mr. Romney's stance???

      As for him being a Bishop – the Mormon church uses that term in an entirely different context. Male members of a Stake take turns being Bishop. It has no bearing on their knowledge or education in religion – any idiot in the congregation can be a Bishop.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • otherdavid

      @jwarino.....if I truly knew the mormons??? hahahahahahaha

      I know the mormons and I know that what you are saying is garbage. The book of mormon is certainly important to mormons but you claim that bible means nothing to them. You are wrong.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  19. anniem

    An Atheist died and much to his surprise, found himself at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter ushered him into paradise and they began to walk down a long hallway. All along the hallway were large metal doors with a sign over each door with the name of an earthly religion. There were hundreds. As they neared the end of the hallway, the Atheist was ushered through open gates into a large and beautiful garden with hundreds of people standing about talking quietly and enjoying food and beverages. "This is where you'll spend eternity" St. Peter told the Atheist. The Atheist was puzzled and asked St. Peter about the doors in the hallway. "Well," said St. Peter, those are the rooms for the various earth religions. You see, we have to keep them separated because they all think they are the only ones here.."

    August 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Chelle

      That is hilarious!!!!

      August 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Answer

      Isn't it wonderful that religious dolts keep on mentioning St. Peter in their heaven?

      And they never even give it slight thought that it may be Abdul or someone else minding the gates.. lol

      August 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Luke 16:26

      Amen.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Oh my look everyone, a random bible verse. Oh how scary, I guess we should all convert now. Oh wait a minute, I forgot, unless you already believe the bible, it isn't worth shit. Phew that's a load off. Sometimes I wish my mind was as empty as HeavenSent's is. How blissful it must be to have no thoughts of your own.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  20. al

    don't forget to pass the hat.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.