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August 30th, 2012
03:53 PM ET

Convention’s Mormon speakers expected to shed light on Romney’s faith life

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Mitt Romney is famously quiet about his Mormon faith, but his campaign has said that some of Thursday’s speakers at the Republican National Convention will shed light on the candidate’s role in the church and that Romney may open about his faith, too.

Thursday’s invocation will be delivered by Ken and Priscilla Hutchins, Mormons whom Romney befriended in their Massachusetts ward the word Mormons use for church. Another Romney Mormon friend and former co-worker, Grant Bennett, will deliver a prime-time speech.

The speakers are part of the campaign’s broader attempt to humanize Romney at this week’s convention, which has played host to a prominent speech by Romney’s wife, Ann, and will feature speeches from more Romney friends on Thursday.

Campaign aides have hinted that Bennett would talk about Romney’s leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bennett was a bishop in Romney’s ward, serving after Romney had been bishop the rough equivalent of a minister or priest in the early 1980s. The Romney campaign has said that a church leader would speak Thursday about the experience of trying to “"fill Gov. Romney's shoes."

That leader appears to be Bennett, who talked to CNN’s Gloria Borger this year about following Romney as a bishop.

As soon as he stepped into the bishop’s role, Bennett told Borger, he was moved by his predecessor’s humility. Romney had just stepped down as a Mormon stake president the rough equivalent of a bishop in the Catholic Church. But Romney immediately approached Bennett about his next assignment, saying he’d “look forward to any assignment that you’ll give me.”

That first post-leadership assignment turned out to be Sunday school teacher.

“It was a wonderful example of the idea that in the church we rotate and serve each other and learn from each other,” Bennett said.

He also spoke of Romney’s frugality. After a busy day of church meetings, a volunteer would always be tasked with making sure every light was turned off and that all the doors were locked. Romney has a “sort of a visceral dislike for waste,” Bennett said, and “would never leave the building without walking through every room and turning off every light.”

A key episode in Romney’s stint as bishop was a destructive fire at his ward’s almost-completed Mormon meeting house in Belmont, Massachusetts. It was a suspected arson, though the cause of the fire was ultimately unknown.

Following the blaze, various nearby houses of worship Catholic, Protestant and Jewish invited the Mormon ward to meet in their buildings while it rebuilt. Bennett said that Romney’s response was telling: He decided that the ward would meet in a handful of different houses of worship as a way to build ties in a community that seemed suspicious of Mormonism.

“He did it that way both to express appreciation to accept the offer of help but also to simply get to know our neighbors. … He saw this as a bridge-building opportunity,” Bennett said. “And it really did set the stage for the church being in Belmont, perhaps more actively involved really in interfaith kinds of relationships certainly than we had been.”

Bennett worked under Romney at Bain Capital but said he was always impressed with Romney’s emphasis on family and service rather than just making money.

Could some of those themes emerge in Bennett’s Thursday speech? He didn’t reply to requests for comments this week.

Ken Hutchins, who with his wife will give the invocation Thursday, is not expected to speak specifically about Romney’s faith. But he told the Deseret News this month that Romney, while serving as stake president for the church, tapped him to be a bishop. The Deseret News paints a nice picture of the relationship:

… (T)he two men could not have been more different. Romney, the son of an auto industry CEO and former governor, was the CEO of Bain Capital. Hutchins, the son of a union organizer for mill workers in Massachusetts, was chief of police in a small town. … Together, he and Romney carted Mormon teenagers all over Boston for youth activities, figured out to build congregations for a burgeoning community of foreign-speaking Mormon immigrants in inner city Boston, and helped bring a Mormon temple to Boston.

"We had some just outrageous, wonderful, memory-stoking youth events," Hutchins told the Deseret News. "Mitt was an integral part of those memories. I spent time with him there and talked with him and got to live with him so to speak. He was a terrific leader."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (552 Responses)
  1. Don Jones

    Romney's phoney religious B$ didn't stop him from bullying smaller gay kids at his privileged prep school (Cranbrook Academy) in toney Bloomfield Hills. He is not connected to every day folks in America, and neither is his pink poodle wife.

    August 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  2. Jon

    Them mormons....to learn what "they" do...go to http://www.mormon.org

    August 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • zapper

      spam

      August 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • VirginiaFan

      John, not cool. If I'm looking to buy a chevy, you wouldn't expect me to go talk to a chevy dealer would you? To be as fair as most posters on this board, I should exclusively talk to the Ford or Toyota dealers if I want to learn about a chevy.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Stephanie

      VirginiaFan, please accept this virtual plate of cookies! =)

      August 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  3. ScottCA

    Excellent video about the unknown

    August 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  4. ScottCA


    Interesting talk regarding the limitation of moralistic solutions

    August 30, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  5. buzz1975

    I don't care about Mitt Romney's religion...his pretty little gushing wife,her expensive horse, his five sons and their progeny, or any of the rest of the fluff. I do care about his failure to pick a side of an issue...any issue....and stick to it! And I do care that he seems so shady and secretive about his wealth and how he earned it. Nothing wrong with being rich and successful, but being transparent about how you got there,,,especially if people are expected to trust you.... is also important. Maybe we'll learn more tonight...but I doubt it. He's been in the public eye for years and still nobody seems to know much about WHAT he will do and how he plans to do it.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • sam

      I'm not sure he actually knows what he thinks.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  6. Mario

    Yawn.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Mario,

      yep. I agree.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  7. VirginiaFan

    It will be good for the country to see how Mitt is a man of faith, a man of high morals. I look forward to his speech tonight and it will be interesting to hear from Clint and Marco as well. Pretty good convention so far. Feels like the there's some excitement in the air, I don't doubt that Romney and Ryan will get this country turned back around in short measure.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • ScottCA

      It is not possible to be moral through faith. Morality depends on logic and reason.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • VirginiaFan

      I'll explain what I meant by having high morals. I think Mitt is a tremendous father and husband, something that is seemingly more and more rare among today's politicians. I am no Obama fan, but I think Obama is solid in this area as well. Mitt is 100% faithful to his wife. His giving 30 hours per week unpaid in service to his local congregation over several years, as a counselor, a minister, a friend and a confidant. From the articles about his personal life, it seems that the overwhelming majority of people that he's worked with in church or in business, thinks he is unwavering in honesty, in loyalty, and willing to listen to everyone's ideas.

      In the words of Michelle Obama, in the first time of my adult life, I'm proud to be an American (with Mitt and Paul Ryan leading the way).

      August 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • .o.

      "I don't doubt that Romney and Ryan will get this country turned back around in short measure."

      Wow. Sorry, VirginiaFan, that kind of thinking is what is keeping the country from progressing – by not addressing the solutions to problems realistically. There is no short measure "fix" or "turning around" to be had. Although Congress is like cement, even if it was working well, there are too many deep-rooted problems for anyone to expect any kind of quick change. Personally, I not agree with most of the double-R platform. But if they get in, do you really think they can work miracles with the Senate?

      August 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Don Jones

      G W Bush was a high morals man that was responsible for the needless death of thousands of American soldiers, thousands of Iraqi civilians....if that's high morals-I'll take mine rare.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Fingers Malone

      I haven't read such idiotic nonsense in a long time.
      Virginiafan, you are a clueless idiot or else you are a paid troll.
      No one else would ever say someone like Romney was 100percent faithful to his wife when every other word out of his mouth is a blatant lie.
      Liars tend to cheat on their spouses. They cannot lead you anywhere but into a pit of lies.
      But maybe you like being surrounded by lies. People like you roll around in them like a filthy pig in a swamp of shit.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  8. Deuteronomy 6:4

    Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • .o.

      Deuteronomy??

      For a while they were using that as a laxative, but supposedly it's even good for that anymore.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • H0nky

      "I and my Father are one." John 10:30.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • CyberForce

      Unless your Mormon, then the Lord is three.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Fingers Malone

      Israel can't hear you over the sounds of their own lies, bigotry and greed.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  9. NoTags

    There will be a great awakening before November 6, 2012. Christians are now beginning to look at the LDS church and are finding out it is nothing but a non-Christian cult founded by a false prophet.

    When more and more Christians find out about Mitt Romney's 'faith' they will find that they simply cannot vote for a mormon for POTUS.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @NoTags

      Good to hear !

      Peace...

      August 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • RobertC

      I'm a lot more comfortable with a Mormon president than a Baptist. Now that is a sick cult.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Fingers Malone

      Obama is a shoo-in. No Catholics or Morons need apply.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  10. Even if he wins, Romney is a loser

    Truthfully, Romney's religion isn't what makes him a poor choice; it's the fact that he nakedly embraces Wall Street, Big Banking, and all sort of other fat cats who got us into this recession in the first place. Not a great vote-getter amongst the swing voters.

    And he is clueless. He embraces even looser gun laws right after a series of mass shootings. Not terribly sensitive, and not a great vote-getter amongst the swing voters.

    His running mate is a kook. Not a great vote-getter, especially since Romney needed to hire a vice presidential candidate to even have a clue about a budget.

    Offshore tax havens and Swiss bank accounts to avoid taxes. Yeah, that's pretty public-minded. Refuses to show his tax returns – yeah, nothing he is keeping secret there.

    Did you know Romney, like many Christians, is in favor of "enhanced interrogation" (meaning torture) and indefinite detention?

    Romney is government by the superrich, for the superrich, and of the superrich. Magic undies ain't the real problem.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  11. Jerry

    I assume CNN will be doing a story on Christians in Obama's DNC? Might be seen as bias if they don't.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jerry,

      you mean like this one:

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/28/dolan-to-pray-at-democratic-national-convention/

      Pay attention in class Jerry or we'll have to send you to the principal's office.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Jerry

      GOPer. Didn't see that one. Too much work to do.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jerry,

      yeah, I shouldn't be here at all. It's the world's worst time waster.

      Cheers.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  12. Bad Dog

    The point needs to be made that, if you are voting because you think Romney is a Christian like you, think again. Mormons believe in some pretty strange things. For example, while most religions believe in God, mormons believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as separate beings. They also believe that God, Jesus and resurrected beings have bodies of “flesh and bone.” They also believe that there are three heavens: the Celestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, and Telestial Kingdom. Mormons believe that God created multiple worlds and each world has people living on it. They also believe that multiple Gods exist but each has their own universe. We are only subject to our God and if we obtain the highest level of heaven we can become gods ourselves. Such beliefs are well outside the canon of Christian teaching. So, if you are voting for Romney because you think he is a Christian, think again. Romney is as much a Christian as any Hindu.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      No true Scotsman.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      No true religion!

      August 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      That too.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • RobertC

      So? What's wrong with that? All of the Christian churches have unique characteristics that make them different from each other. Actually, only the Catholic church has a legitimate claim to being the "true" faith. All the others started as contradictions of the Catholic church, which is the only one that has a direct link to Jesus.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Fingers Malone

      Since Jesus has been dead for thousands of years and is not ever coming back, there can be no "direct line" to him.

      He no longer exists.

      You have been mumbling to yourself and fooling yourself and wasting your time all these years.

      When you die you won't even find out anything for you will have ceased to exist.
      There will be nothing left of you to think or feel.

      You will be like Jesus: a stupid dead person who no longer exists anywhere but in the distorted memories of other people.
      There won't be anything left. You will be nothing.

      You will cease to be. You don't have a soul.

      Time to wake up and stop supporting lies and liars and time to start doing intelligent things instead of stupid things.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  13. beau

    Religious sales people believe that they can sell their version of Christianity to weak-minded Christians. Mr. Osteen is attempting to use his standing among Christians to influence the election. Thus, he has revealed his hand and should have no credibility with true followers of Christ. Mormonism does not adhere to the teachings of Christ and therefore it is not Christianity. Many will preach in His name, but beware of them. Christians are followers of Christ and know the he is GOD. Moreover, they are advocates for the poor and homeless.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  14. beau

    So the Republicans are going to settle on an east coast, elite, millionaire from an aristocratic family? What is his experience that will make him a successful Conservative President?
    1. He fires people, lays off employees, and outsources jobs while pocketing the pension funds of those same employees.
    2. He is comfortable in an upper class setting. After all, America IS the upper class, isn't it? The little people, like you and I, are not really very important. People of Romney's class and background see us as livestock that can understand English.
    3. He does not care if Americans suffer. He has made lots of them suffer so far in his life. He's made of tough stuff. No weepy compassion will ever cloud his judgment.
    4. He knows how to destroy corporations and sell off their assets. He could use those skills to destroy the federal government, a stated goal of Conservatism
    5. After the Romney Administration is over in 2016 or 2018, Conservatives will say, "Hey, you can't blame us for the disastrous Romney Administration. He wasn't a TRUE Conservative. What we need is a TRUE Conservative like Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum … or maybe govornor Palin."

    August 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Ron Paul 2016! Believe me, few Republicans would call Ron Paul a true conservative, even though he's the only one left. "Don't thread on me Uncle Sam". That should be Paul's motto.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • RobertC

      So "true" conservatives do not believe in capitalism? All the things you describe are part of the free-enterprise capitalist system, which is how this country became so rich. Sounds like North Korea is more your style.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  15. Leroy

    I have noticed more and more bible-thumpers roaming the neighborhood since Romney started running for president again...

    August 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      And I tell every one of them stupid enough to step on my property to "Fuck Off!" regardless of age or gender.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  16. beau

    If you're a mormon:
    You believe in a man named Joseph Smith that declared himself a general against the American Government and then said he would create a Theocratic Monarchy with himself at its head.
    You also believe in a man named Joseph Smith that married a 14 year old girl – even though he already had plural wives – because he told the child's family they would receive instant eternal salvation if they gave her to him (Smith).
    You also believe in becoming a god after this life if you have committed to and followed all of your temple rituals sincerely and without deviance.
    You also believe that anyone that is not a mormon will NOT be allow to be with Jesus Christ or God, no matter how good they are, if they do not accept your gospel (religion) to be the only true church. For example. Mother Teresa will not be in heaven if she does not accept a posthumous baptism in the after life.
    You also believe that you must take on secret temple names, wear garments (underwear) that has secret symbols that are used in secret rituals in the temple as well as a blood oath that began in 1843, but ended in 1990 when there was a general uproar amongst non-mormons that found out about this particular ritual.
    You also believe Blacks and Native Americans were marked with dark skin for being evil in the pre-life or because they just displeased god.
    You believe that once you are a god of your own world, you with your heavenly wife will create spirit children that will then fill the earthly bodies of human on your own particular planet that you rule over...meaning that you are already (in certain terms) better than the God that created this planet.
    You do believe that Lucifer and Jesus were and are brothers. Sign A TRUE Conservative Republican."

    August 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • kmorgue12

      Sick bast^rds....

      August 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • CalGTR

      Well, as with most posts about the LDS church across the internet, some of what is said is truthful, but a ton of it is not. At best, this list takes some historical events, treats them like official church doctrine, twists them beyond recongition, and presents it as the whole truth. Sure, it sounds shocking to say "Jesus and Lucifer are brothers", but the truth is that the LDS believe that all of God's children are brothers and sisters, and Christ and Lucifer are actually complete opposites. Christ is God, while Lucifer was cast out for having rebeled against God. There is NO teaching in the LDS church that even begins to elevate Satan to any status other than the Father of All Lies, the enemy of all that is good. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. The Savior. Satan is the opposite. That's just one example, and I could go through others from this list presented as if it accurately describes the LDS church teachings. Anybody wanting to know what the LDS church actually teaches can easily find it from official sources at LDS.org or Mormon.org.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  17. Max

    I hope someone speaking today will say that there is a place in their tent for people like me, atheists.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  18. H0nky

    Mormons believe that God created Jesus. In other words, they do not believe that Jesus is God.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I believe that there are several Christian denominations which state the same, although I'm not certain, seeing as there are thousands of Protestant denominations.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • H0nky

      Baptists, Lutherans, and Methodists believe that Jesus IS God. This concept is known as the Trinity which is embraced by Roman Catholics as well.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ah yes the "true" nature of God's divinity: dividing Christians since the first century.

      Monophysite versus dyophysite anyone?

      August 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • albert

      I am not a Mormon, but The Bible does not say Jesus is God. Jesus himself said that he is not God and that he was Gods son. Colossians 1:15, 16, Luke 22:42, Acts 2:32, 1 Corinthians 11:3, Mark 13:32, Hebrews 10:12, 13, 1:1 Corinthians 15:28. There are plenty of other scriptures as well. Stop listening to your preachers and read the Bible yourself.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • H0nky

      "I and my Father are one." John 10:30. Stop trying to predict the end times.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • albert

      Well, the Bible also says that a married couple will become "One" The two shall become one flesh. Jesus was simply stating that he and his Father were in union. They have the same belief and way of thinking. Like I said, study the Bible for yourself, open your eyes and see what it really says.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • H0nky

      If Jesus is not God, then worship of Him and God the Father would be polytheism. Is Jesus a demigod?

      August 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • albert

      John 14:28 "The Father is greater than I am"

      August 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • albert

      John 4:34. Are you even reading these?

      August 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      2000 years later and they still can't agree. Who is "God"? What is "God"? Council of Nicea, Chalcedon, Diet of Worms (yummy) it really doesn't matter to me, ... tooo meee.

      Go albert ...

      Go H0nky ...

      August 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • albert

      If Jesus had been both God and man when on the earth, why did he repeatedly pray to God. Jesus is the appointed King of God's Kingdom.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • sam

      Oh golly, I can't possibly understand why there are maybe 30,000 sects of christianity, and no one can agree on what the bible really says or really means.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  19. Kathy Aronoff

    I refuse to vote for a Man whose faith throws 2000 + years of Religion out the window and refers to himself as a "Saint" – Ain't happening

    August 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Leroy

      Bishop Romney for President !!!

      August 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  20. GoldenChild

    I'm worried. If Jesus has already been to Missouri will he came back for me?

    August 30, 2012 at 6:17 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.