By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story ran last year, as part of a series about the faith lives of the leading Republican presidential candidates. With the exception of an August interview done by CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger for her documentary “Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power,” which airs Sunday, October 28, and Saturday, November 3, at 8 p.m. ET on CNN, all other interviews were conducted in the fall of 2011. CNN has also profiled President Obama’s faith life during his time in the White House.
(CNN) – A cop arrived at the roadside wreckage of a June 1968 head-on collision in southern France, took one quick look at the Citroën’s unresponsive driver and scrawled into the young man’s American passport, “Il est mort” - “He is dead.”
The man at the Citroën’s wheel was Mitt Romney, who may have appeared dead but was very much alive – as is his hope to become the next president of the United States.
Romney was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church, when tragedy struck. It was a time of turmoil both in France and in the United States. Protests against the Vietnam War raged on, as did French disdain for Americans. Robert Kennedy had recently been assassinated, as had Martin Luther King Jr. a couple months earlier. France was still reeling from a May marked by riots, student demonstrations and crippling worker strikes.
There were six people in the car Romney was driving when friends say an oncoming speeding Mercedes, driven by a Catholic priest, veered into his lane. Among the passengers was mission president Duane Anderson – Romney was serving as his assistant – and Anderson’s wife. Anderson was injured, and Leola Anderson, 57, was killed. Like her husband, she’d been a parent figure to the approximate 180 Mormon missionaries in the field - their surrogate mother away from home. Now, she was gone.
“I don’t think [Romney] went around blaming himself, but in talking about it he’d shed some tears,” remembered Dane McBride, a fellow missionary and Romney friend ever since. “It was a very heavy experience for a 21-year-old.”
The mission president left France for six weeks to bury his wife and heal. A gloom spread over the mission field. Conversions in the country dropped, along with Latter-day Saint spirits.
These young men and women, who were already deep in a trying spiritual rite of passage, had to grow up and prove themselves in new ways.
In spite of his grief and a broken arm, Romney and a missionary companion – they always work in pairs – took charge. They traveled around the country visiting the others. Romney lifted up deflated missionaries with silly made-up songs. He taught them to visualize all they could accomplish and challenged them to raise their expectations, McBride said.
Romney increased the conversion goal for the year by 40%, believing France’s Mormon missionaries could and would recharge. In the end they surpassed Romney’s goal of baptizing 200 new members into the church.
It wasn’t such a stretch, though, for Romney to distinguish himself. Throughout his life, he’s been rooted in a faith that – whether he talks about it or not – helped shape the man who would president.
‘An American running for president’
Romney hopes the nation is ready to embrace a president who happens to be Mormon.
But he has faced questions about his faith since first getting into politics in 1994, when he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy’s nephew, Joe, attacked Romney’s Mormonism, the insult drew a strong public response from Romney’s father – a former governor of Michigan who’d himself run for president - and failed to gain traction.
Since then Romney, who was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2003, has played down his faith on the campaign trail. But he did address it in a December 2007 speech, hoping to stem voter concerns about his religion and how it might influence him as a president. It was a speech he likened to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 address, when Kennedy was running to be America’s first Catholic president.
“Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president,” Romney said. “Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”
“No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith,” Romney said, declaring that if he was elected president, he would “serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest.”
“A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States,” he said. “I believe in my Mormon faith, and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.”
Whether Romney’s confession of faith helped sink him is a subject of debate. He hoped to deflect the focus on his religion while not speaking to Mormon doctrine or specific beliefs. In the whole speech, he mentioned the word Mormon only once.
This time around, Romney decided to forego a speech on his faith, but that doesn’t mean he was immune to pesky background noise about it. After introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a Values Voter Summit last fall, Pastor Robert Jeffress said Republicans shouldn’t vote for Romney because Mormonism is a “cult.”
And only after a sit-down meeting earlier this month with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham, did the cult reference to Mormonism get scrubbed from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s website.
It’s hard to know how much Romney’s faith matters to the public, but recent polls suggest that at least to the majority of voters, it makes little or no difference.
A survey released in late July by the Pew Research Center showed that 60% of voters knew that he was Mormon, and of those who knew 8-out-of-10 were either comfortable with his faith or didn’t really care.
Another survey by Pew showed that only 16% of voters wished they knew more about Romney’s religious beliefs. Far more hungered for further details about his tax returns and his records as governor and at Bain Capital.
But in a tight election, if even a small minority of Americans withhold their votes from Romney because of his religion, it could cost him the White House.
For months, Romney’s campaign made it clear that it didn’t want to discuss his beliefs. Repeated attempts last fall to speak with the candidate, his wife, his children, his siblings - and, really, just anyone – about Romney’s faith journey were denied by campaign headquarters.
Even the reins it had on those outside the inner circle appeared tight. A local LDS Church leader in Michigan, contacted in hopes of finding childhood friends, forwarded CNN’s inquiry to campaign headquarters - prompting yet another slap down.
“What makes no sense to me is how you continue to push forward in writing about Gov. Romney’s faith journey when we’ve made it clear in every way possible that this is not a story we want to participate in,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an email.
But Romney has been somewhat more open about his religion since then. He and his wife, Ann, sat down separately with CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger for her documentary, “Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power,” which first aired just before the Republican National Convention.
In the documentary, Romney shared how his mission in France fortified his faith and how church leadership roles in Boston would later strengthen his beliefs further.
He invited reporters to attend church with him in August, allowing the unremarkable typical Sunday service to speak for itself. People who’ve known him through the LDS Church took center stage at the convention, speaking to his character.
In August, Romney invited members of the press to join him for Sunday LDS Church services.
But Romney generally moved through the campaign guarding details about his Mormonism. He spoke about religion in broad strokes. He continued to avoid details and doctrine.
Explain it to me: Mormonism | Video: Mormonism defined
During a May commencement address at Liberty University, the Christian school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, he didn’t utter the M-word. Under the watchful eyes of millions as he accepted the Republican nomination for president in August, he said it once.
Growing up while abroad
The 19-year-old Mitt Romney who showed up for missionary training was different than the rest.
“Mitt stood out from everyone else,” said Byron Hansen, who flew with Romney to France in July 1966. “He already spoke French pretty darn good, while the rest of us knew ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir.’ He immediately jumped out as a leader.”
Romney, like many of the other young men called by church leaders to serve, had finished a year of college before he got his missionary calling. But he’d gone to prestigious Stanford University and came from a privileged and powerful background.
He was worldly, not intimidated, and he was eager to interact with people of different backgrounds, said Hansen, who owns a car dealership in Brigham City, Utah. “All the rest of us from no-name Utah had never been more than 500 miles away from home.”
Despite the comforts he’d known growing up, Romney wasn’t spoiled. Some apartments that housed missionaries around France lacked heat and water, but had plenty of fleas. Those sorts of conditions likely made Romney appreciate all the more the luxuries of the mission home, located in the ritziest part of Paris, where he worked and lived during the latter part of his two-and-a-half year mission. He and the others there were fed by a Spanish cook and enjoyed the benefits of maids.
What’s more, said fellow missionary and friend Dane McBride, the young men learned what time of day to peer through windows to watch Brigitte Bardot walk her poodles.
The scenery aside, “it was the nicest office I ever worked in,” said McBride, now an allergist and immunologist in Roanoke, Virginia.
Throughout his mission, Romney was the first to get out of bed each morning, forever focused on his goals and the lessons he’d teach, and he stayed gung-ho even when others faltered, Hansen said.
Romney didn’t shy away from approaching anyone. On Saturdays, a free day for missionaries, he’d be done with his laundry by 9 a.m. and coaxing everyone else out the door for bike rides in the mountains, tours in new places or football games.
“He was never one to sit around,” Hansen said. “You had to run to keep up with Mitt.”
He was both pragmatic and creative when it came to sharing Mormon teachings, McBride said.
“Neither of us cared for knocking on doors much,” said McBride, referring to the typical tact for Mormon proselytizing. “But we did it. We did it a lot.”
However, Romney was a big proponent of what McBride called “creative contacting.” In lieu of going door-to-door, he preferred to encourage conversations by building sidewalk kiosks or inviting French locals to play baseball or attend evening parties with American themes – complete with Western wear and guitar strumming.
Being a missionary in largely secular France deepened Romney’s faith because it forced him to wrestle with challenges, steep himself in study and prayer and face plenty of rejection, McBride said. Like others, Romney was no stranger to doors being slammed in his face or getting his behind kicked while heading down apartment stairwells.
“When you’re off in a foreign place and you only talk to your parents once or twice a year by phone – that’s all that’s allowed – and you’re out speaking to people day in and day out about your faith and your religion and differences between your faith and other faiths…you say, ‘OK, what’s important here? What do I believe? What’s truth? Is there a God? Is Jesus Christ the son of God?’” Romney said to Borger in August.
“These questions are no longer academic. They’re critical because you’re talking about that day in and day out. And so I read the Scripture with much more interest and concern and sought to draw closer to God through my own prayer,” he said. “And these things drew me closer to the eternal and convinced me that in fact there is a God. Jesus Christ is the son of God and my savior, and these are things that continue to be important in my life, of course.”
Religious roots that run deep and strong
The groundwork for Romney’s faith journey was laid long before he put on a suit and, armed with his Book of Mormon, boarded a flight for France.
He comes from a long line of Latter-day Saints. Those who like to highlight what makes him different might point to how one of his great-grandfathers fled to Mexico, about 125 years ago, amid U.S. government crackdowns on what Mormons refer to as “plural marriage.” But many multigenerational Mormon families have polygamists in their family tree.
Plural marriage was introduced by church founder Joseph Smith but was officially banned by the church in 1890. Some 38,000 people aligned with fundamentalist offshoots of the LDS Church still practice polygamy, but they are a far cry and completely separate from the 14 million worldwide members in Romney’s church.
Romney’s late father, George Romney, was from modest means. He was born in Mexico to monogamous U.S.-born parents and left during the Mexican Revolution when he was 5. He went on to be CEO and chairman of the now-defunct American Motors Corporation, governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate in 1968.
Mitt Romney with his father, George Romney, who made his own mark as a leader in business, the LDS Church and politics.
Growing up Mormon in Michigan made Mitt Romney a member of a distinct minority. There were fewer than 8,000 Mormons in the state in 1945, two years before he was born, according to the LDS Church. It’s been reported that he was the only Mormon in his high school. While Mormon students in Utah could simply stroll across the street from school to attend early morning seminary before the first bell, longtime friend McBride said Romney didn’t have that easy, built-in outlet to strengthen his faith amid peers.
“Neither of us had benefited from that,” said McBride, who also grew up as a Mormon minority, in Iowa and North Carolina. “We had been called on in school to defend our faith many times. … I remember from fifth grade on needing to defend my religion.”
But Romney, in his Republican nomination acceptance speech, shared a different take on growing up in the Mormon minority: “That might have seemed unusual or out of place, but I really don’t remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to.”
Romney’s family, though, was active in the church. In 1952, his father was named Michigan’s first stake president. A stake is comparable to a diocese and has under its umbrella multiple “wards” or congregations, much as a diocese consists of parishes.
The LDS Church does not rely on professional clergy. Instead, church members are called to serve as volunteer leaders while holding down paid jobs. Church leaders rely on other volunteers as advisers. For instance, a ward bishop has two counselors, while a stake president confers with a high council of 12.
Being Michigan’s sole stake president meant Romney’s father – in addition to his full-time corporate work – oversaw ward operations, was the spiritual guide for the Latter-day Saint community and relayed messages from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
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Like many practicing Mormons, the Romneys enjoyed “family home evening” every Monday, a time reserved to pray, study and sing together, McBride said.
Romney has spoken publicly about how his parents took him and his three siblings on mobile American history lessons, McBride said, loading up the family Rambler for cross-country tours to national parks, with stops at places like Mount Rushmore, Valley Forge and Williamsburg.
But McBride said the family also likely visited LDS historical sites, including points along the path westward traveled by Mormon pioneers who followed the call of Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, and trekked through treacherous conditions to arrive in 1847 in what is now Utah.
While Romney’s parents made sure their children were deeply connected to their country and their faith, Romney didn’t reside in a Mormon bubble. He was part of a bigger and more diverse world.
Ann Davies, the woman he fell for and now calls his wife, was Episcopalian when he met her during high school, and he knew she was the one for him.
After he left for college and then his mission, she began studying Mormonism, attended church with Romney’s parents and converted. Romney returned from France and proposed to her immediately. After a civil ceremony in Michigan, the two were married and “sealed” for eternity in 1969 during a sacred ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple.
The couple returned to college and began a family at church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, before moving to Boston, where Romney earned law and business degrees at Harvard.
Serving his LDS community
Romney rose in local church leadership while making his corporate mark. Along the way he applied many of the skills he’d displayed earlier, including his knack as a young missionary for turning challenges into possibilities.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, he served as a ward bishop – or part-time pastor – and stake president for the Boston area.
Romney delivered sermons, counseled couples, and made middle-of-the-night hospital runs. He monitored budgets, weighed welfare needs of immigrants and others, and drove outreach to different faith communities. He showed up at the homes of Latter-day Saints in need of help, taking on tasks such as removing bees’ nests.
“There’s… no one who is full-time with the church to care for the sick and visit the poor,” Romney told Borger. “And so the church comes and says, ‘We’d like you to do that, Mitt.’ … Talk about a growing-up experience and a learning experience.”
Philip Barlow, a professor of Mormon history and culture and the director of the religious studies program at Utah State University, served as a one of two counselors to Bishop Romney in the early 1980s.
Each Saturday, the counselors would meet with Romney in his home in Belmont, a suburb northwest of Boston. And while the work was serious, it didn’t mean Romney always was. Barlow recalled the time Romney busted out with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and did a formidable moonwalk across the floor.
“The media is always reporting that he can come across as too polished,” Barlow said. “But there’s a real person there.”
Romney also was the kind of leader who built bridges with those suspicious of Mormons. When a chapel under construction in Belmont burned to the ground amid ongoing anti-Mormon sentiment, he turned the perceived arson attack into opportunity.
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“It was an inspired move,” said Grant Bennett, who at one time served as a counselor to Romney when he was a bishop and later served on the Boston stake’s high council under Romney when he was president.
Non-Mormon houses of worship offered their buildings to accommodate the needs of the displaced Latter-day Saints during the chapel’s reconstruction. While it would have been easier to pick one place to call a temporary home for services, classes and meetings, Romney accepted every viable offer he received – thereby forcing a rotation of interaction with different faith communities.
Experiencing the kindness of strangers offered relief to Mormons who had been feeling “a little under siege,” said Bennett, who first got to know Romney through church in 1978 and worked with him for five years at Bain & Company, the global consulting firm that Romney eventually led as CEO.
“In a religious context, Mormons are very good at serving each other and are often hesitant to accept help,” he said. “I think Mitt had the fundamental insight … that we’d be better off and [the other churches would] be blessed by helping us.”
It was the sort of decision perhaps born of being in the minority in Michigan and learning early to honor religious pluralism, said Bennett, now president and CEO of CPS Technologies, a high-tech manufacturing firm in the Boston area.
On the campaign trail and with media, Romney has tried to focus on matters other than faith.
In his religious roles, Romney had to delegate and call others to serve. Sometimes he believed in people more than they believed in themselves.
Andy Anderson, a retired researcher and writer in Kaysville, Utah, first got to know Romney amid tragedy. It was Anderson’s mother who was killed in the 1968 car wreck in France, and when his father returned to Paris, Anderson, his wife and children went along.
When Romney later moved to Anderson’s neighborhood in Massachusetts, Anderson said he helped Romney and his family settle in.
In 1989, Anderson said he was minding his own research business when Romney, then the Boston stake president, called him for a meeting. A group of new converts Anderson described as “Cambodian boat people” – united formally as a “branch,” which is smaller and less developed than a ward - had suddenly lost its president without warning.
In shock, he listened as Romney said, “Guess who’s the next branch president?”
Anderson said he’d been raised to accept church callings. But between the language barrier with the Cambodians, the cultural differences, the poverty and the responsibility, this one seemed too much. He begged and pleaded with Romney. He told him he was unqualified, that he’d “never been president of anything.” He said, “It sounds like a really bad fit, Mitt.” But Romney wasn’t swayed.
“Andy, you know where this comes from,” Romney answered, referring to the Mormon belief that God can reveal truths to individuals. “It’s not me. You go talk to Him and tell me when you’re ready.”
For the next three years Anderson said he oversaw the poorest people in the Boston stake. The overwhelming task “nearly killed me,” he said. But along the way he not only fell in love with the community, he learned to believe in himself and see that he could be a leader.
“I count Mitt as a friend, and it has been a real pleasure to work under him,” he said. “If he was a real pain to work for, I’d know it. I’ve worked for people in the church I couldn’t stand.”
Women’s view of Romney
The Romney reviews from Latter-day Saint women in the Boston area were more mixed.
In the early 1970s, as the feminist movement gained steam, a group of Mormon women began gathering in Cambridge to explore the history of women in their church. They were looking for role models, stories that would inspire them.
With the help of LDS Church historians, they learned about their female ancestors and wrote a book, “Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah.” They discovered that a women’s newspaper, Women’s Exponent, was published in the late-19th and early-20th centuries and featured women’s writings that Judy Dushku described as “very feminist in their views.”
“We were reading about women we’d never heard of before,” said Dushku, a Suffolk University professor of government with an interest in gender and comparative politics. She and other “founding mothers” were moved to start a new publication, now a quarterly magazine: Exponent II.
That decision, however, was not received well by the LDS Church, Dushku said. She said the fact that it was independent and had no stamp of approval from church higher-ups, all of them men, rubbed some - including Romney - the wrong way.
Dushku said Romney encouraged friends to tell their wives not to participate. He made it clear he didn’t want the women behind the publication holding meetings on church property. Dushku and the others suspected it was under his direction that copies of the magazine displayed in congregations got dumped in wastebaskets.
The LDS Church is patriarchal in nature. Only men can serve as bishops, stake presidents and in higher leadership roles, including the combined post of church president and prophet. Only men are welcome in the priesthood, which in Mormon circles means having the authority, for example, to perform baptisms and offer sacramental blessings.
Dushku decided she could live with this and remains a faithful Mormon. She said she and the others simply wanted an outlet for women to discuss issues unique to them. And while what they created may have seemed “radical” back then, she says there are Mormon women bloggers today who push boundaries much more than Exponent II ever did.
What got to Dushku about Romney was less his reaction to the magazine and more how she saw him treat women he was in a position to comfort and support as a local church leader.
Dushku has told the story of a woman, a mother of four, who was pressured by then-Bishop Romney to go forward with a pregnancy despite advice from doctors that a medical complication made it too dangerous.
She also recalled the story of a meeting between Romney and a woman whose ex-husband had been excommunicated from the church because of numerous affairs he’d had while serving as a bishop.
The woman asked Dushku to accompany her to the meeting, where Romney encouraged the woman to forgive her philandering ex so he could be re-baptized into the church and marry another woman.
The problem, Dushku said, is that the husband had never bothered to apologize to the wife he’d hurt, a fact she said Romney didn’t seem to care much about.
When she began speaking out to media, Dushku said she was flooded with responses from Facebook friends. Most of the reactions were positive, thanking her for her courage.
But some friends suggested she back off.
“How can you blame someone who has so many responsibilities?” one friend wrote. “He was young,” said another. “People change.”
Dushku said she affords Romney the possibility he may have changed, that he might handle such situations differently today.
“But compassion is a character quality,” she said. “I doubt he’s much different now.”
Her take on Romney, though, doesn’t jibe with that of Helen Claire Sievers, executive director of Harvard’s WorldTeach program, which brings volunteer teachers to developing countries.
Sievers, who’s been involved with Exponent II on and off since its inception, was the Boston stake activity director when Romney was stake president. She recalled being at a meeting in Dushku’s house in Watertown, outside of Boston, when women began wondering aloud about how their local church might better empower women.
“Often leadership in the Mormon church tends to pull far to the right, to out-orthodox the orthodox,” said Sievers, who later proposed to Romney that he should meet with the Boston LDS women to hear their frustrations and suggestions. Romney was willing to have such a meeting, even though it bucked the comfort level of church headquarters.
“I was really impressed that Mitt felt strongly that even if he could get in trouble with the hierarchy, he really wanted to hear what the women that were under his stewardship had to say so that they would feel as comfortable as possible in church,” Sievers said.
As a result of the meeting, which drew more than 150 participants, Sievers said adjustments were made, including allowing women to say opening prayers at church meetings. Romney didn’t have the power to change church doctrine, but Sievers said he could and did bend the norm to make women feel heard and more respected.
“Many Mormon men wouldn’t make that choice,” she said.
Serving outside the stake and ward
In his fulltime work life, Romney showed that his commitment to serving others extended beyond those in his ward or stake. His religious values came through in business decisions – sometimes trumping opportunities for financial gain.
Robert Gay, who was once a managing partner at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm Romney founded, recalled how Romney refused to put investment dollars into a deal with Artisan Entertainment because he didn’t want to profit from R-rated films.
But of greater note to Gay - who once served on the Boston stake’s high council with Romney - was something Romney did for him in 1996.
After Gay’s 14-year-old daughter went missing for three days in New York, Romney shut down Bain Capital in Boston and flew about 50 employees to New York to help find her.
The girl, who lived with her family in Connecticut, disappeared after going to a concert in Manhattan. Romney and the other Bain Capital executives put their “$1 billion investment firm” on hold, created a “war room” at a hotel, paid to print 200,000 fliers, set up a toll free hotline number and enlisted the help of a private investigator, the Boston Globe reported at the time.
They canvassed streets and talked to runaways. The girl was found in a New Jersey home, “dazed from a disorienting dose of a drug,” the Globe reported.
It’s not a story Gay likes to retell, though he did record a video testimonial for a campaign ad about it during Romney’s 2008 presidential bid and the story resurfaced in ads this election season, too. But Gay would rather offer other insights, including the time another Bain Capital partner suddenly fell very ill and was hospitalized. Romney was the first person to show up for a visit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Gay managed an equity fund with Jon Huntsman Sr., father of another former GOP Mormon presidential, but is now serving the LDS Church. Gay called Romney “a devout Christian,” someone who has always been committed to “leading a good and purposeful life.”
Whether Romney’s next purpose will have him sitting in America’s highest political office is now up to voters.
And when they cast their ballots on November 6, friends like McBride said where Romney prays on Sundays should make no difference.
“The issues of his church are not the issues of this country,” he said. “Those are personal issues.”
I have lived in a Mormon neighborhood and found those guys to be very good people and very good neighbors ... my mistake that I judged Mormonism by the few good Mormons I met. Now that I see Romney and his bunch, I know it is just another stupid religion.
hmmm...how come there are no pics of your magic undies dude? I hope you enjoy your own planet someday (as your goofy religion indicates) but please leave this one alone.
Show us the onesie!
hey ROCK. You and the many others have many opportunities while yet in the flesh to inquire and investigate my LATTER DAYS SAINTS beliefs. Yes, it does hurt me when you comment so harshly. Are you doing this cos everyone else is doing it? Don't you think one should have a taste for the gosple for him/ herself before passsing judgement? If you are still and will continue in your ways, then i should and won't be bothered to be hurted anymore. I'm the greatest friend you will ever have.
NEWS STORY — 31 OCTOBER 2012
Mormon Missionaries Help With Storm Cleanup Effort
SALT LAKE CITY —
Local missionaries and leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent Wednesday giving aid to communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Local Church leaders dispatched hundreds of missionaries, including more than 500 in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to storm-damaged neighborhoods to help residents.
1of5 Mormon missionaries from the New York New York South Mission clean up in a Valley Stream, New York neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy Wednesday, 31 October 2012© 2012 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mormon missionaries in the New York area helped to bail out flooded homes, remove trees from roofs and clear yards in the mission area, which includes Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. They first aided those with special needs, including elderly residents and those who needed access to power for medical devices.
Kevin E. Calderwood, president of the New York New York South Mission, said as missionaries and Church members went into communities to help, it quickly became a collaborative effort with neighbors wanting to work side by side to clear trees and debris.
President Calderwood said that the damage in the area is difficult to see. “Some homes are completely leveled, and people have lost everything,” he said. “You go from house to house, and people are really desperate at the moment.”
Elder Swede Storey, a missionary from Ogden, Utah, said it is hard to see people he’s come to love in such a difficult situation, but he’s grateful to be able to help. “I’ve grown to love this city so much, so it’s been tough to see the areas where I’ve served damaged and the families I know with so much damage.”
Elder Josh Munday, from Kent, England, another missionary in New York, was also thankful to be able to serve others during the disaster. “This is the calling of our Church, to help those who are in need,” he said. “It’s been so sad to see everyone with such hardships in their lives right now. We’ll be praying for the others who are in need.”
President Calderwood said missionaries will continue to provide whatever help they can in the coming days and weeks. “There’s more work here to do than anyone has capacity to do, but we’ll just take it one house at a time,” he said.
Missionaries, Church members and other volunteers will spend the next few days out in neighborhoods, helping meet immediate needs and assessing damage, then will make plans to return to help with larger, long-term projects. Some damage assessment and work must wait until roads are safe, downed power lines are cleared and flooded areas open up. As soon as first responders determine it is safe, local Church leaders will work with government and relief agencies to help organize assistance in those areas.
Relief efforts are being coordinated on both a local and regional level. Church leader Elder Jeffery E. Olson is helping coordinate efforts by Church members in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and said local leaders are eager to organize all the assistance they can. “Everyone expressed a willingness to go where they needed to go and help anyone who needed help,” he said. “In fact, they were willing to come from as far away as Buffalo if we needed them.”
The Church has equipment and supplies that are being distributed as needs are determined. The Church has pre-positioned supplies in warehouses in Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., New York and New Jersey. Those supplies include generators, food, water, blankets, hygiene kits, tarps, chain saws, shovels and wheelbarrows.
Elder Olson said Church members in the area were fairly well prepared for the storm and have been able to reach out to those who need help. “We’ve been teaching our members to be at a level of preparedness so that they are also able to help their neighbors and community recover after a disaster,” he said.
The missionaries used Church members’ homes as a starting point in their effort to help, then spread out in each neighborhood. As soon as members have ensured their own homes and families are safe, many of them will join the missionaries’ relief efforts.
MormonNewsroom.org will post further updates on how the Church, its missionaries and its members are helping those impacted by the storm.
Mayor Bloomberg is unimpressed. Rmoney is as changeable as the weather.
Citing climate change, Bloomberg endorses Obama
Romney, Bloomberg wrote, is a "good and decent man" whose business experience would be a valuable asset in the White House, but his changes in positions have made the candidate a bad choice for president.
"In the past he has…taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts," Bloomberg, an independent who did not endorse a presidential candidate in 2008, wrote in his column.
"If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing," the New York City mayor continued, pointing to what he regards as failures in Obama's jobs creation record and his approach to balancing the budget.
Rumor has it now that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose the election bigtime. However, we aren't quaking or soiling our Magic Underwear now, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.
David Archuleta begins Mormon mission
AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File
Mormon pop star David Archuleta has paused his music career to begin his missionary service in South America, telling fans, “I will see you all in two years.”
The “American Idol” star is stepping out of the spotlight to carry out his religious duties as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
In a farewell YouTube.com video posted on Wednesday, Archuleta admits he has faced “quite the task” packing his bags for his two-year journey away from home.
He says, “It’s been a very emotional last week. I was able to have a lot of family and a lot of friends come. I gave my farewell, last talk this Sunday to my neighbors, my friends and my family… (Being a missionary) is a decision everyone knows about but it’s a very personal thing and I wanted to keep it that way…
“I’ve been trying my best to get ready and prepare, been packing up – but there’s a lot of stuff you need (because) you’re moving away for two years. It’s quite the task! It’s going to be crazy, I’m going to South America and I’m excited to be a part of Latin culture.”
Archuleta admits the career hiatus a “big sacrifice” but insists serving the community is an important part of his faith.
He adds, “I’m going to be trying my best to focus on the people over there… It’s going to be a big sacrifice but I’m doing this to be able to have more of that one-on-one time with my Holy Father, with God. It’s time for me to work on my relationship with Him.”
He closed the video by announcing, “I will see you all in two years. God bless and take care.”
So how much are the Mormons paying you, to fluff for them like that? Don't your hands get sore with all that up and down, or do you wear gloves when you do it?
George, I don't get anything for serving in a cause I love. We love the Lord and are happy to contribute to his kingdom. There are no paid clergy or ministers in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We serve each other and the Lord out of Love. Mormon bishops do not charge for their service, not even for weddings or blessings or anything. We do not sell the Lord's gospel for money. Mormon missionaries are motivated by love and concern for others. In fact, many of them pay for their missions with their college funds and by selling cars and possessions. They give up girl friends, family, and lucrative sports and entertainment contracts to serve people they don't even know and who are often unpleasant and unkind. These are the hallmarks of the true church, "By their fruits ye shall know them."
So, how much are the evangelicals paying you?
Abinadi, re they 'give up girlfriends', there's classic Mormonism rearing its ugly se.xist head again. Women being treated as second class beings and property. So easily that phrase came to you, since the words are so ingrained in you by your se.xist, misogynistic religion.
A vote for Romney is guaranteed to be a vote that will hurt women's rights.
Abinadi: "how much are the evangelicals paying you?" ???
I'm an atheist, you stupid tool.
Once again, I have to question why you think kids mortgaging their educations/futures is a positive thing.
And while the lay clergy are not paid, the Prophet and the 12 are rather handsomly rewarded.
If the church's motivations are not based on money, why is a t/ithing a central tenet of Mormonism?
"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"
"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).
Forcing members to give an annual accounting of their ti/thing to a Bishop is the mark of a con.
If you don't prove to the clergy that you're giving them the correct amount of money, you lost your temple privileges and don't get to learn the secret, masonic handshakes, passwords, sealings or get the new name you need in order to pass into the Celestial Kingdom.
No $$ = bad afterlife amounts to spiritual blackmail.
Anybody who charges a fee for salvation is a con-artist.
Great Job Abinadi. Keep DECLARING. To all our friends of the media we do not wish to PROVE our religion but to declare. LATTER DAYS SAINTS forever.
Abinadi are you going to vote for mitt now that he is pro-life?
Well, he is pro-wife; he thinks every rich man should have several.
OK, that was funny. Sorta.
Donny Osmond and his family came to the Netherlands to share their love of the Gospel in a musical fireside. Donny wanted to share his testimony with the people of the Netherlands where his son is serving his mission. We wanted this to be a meaningful missionary opportunity for the members and the missionaries, and are so appreciative to the Osmond family for bringing their four other children, spouses and three grand children across the ocean to share the joy the Gospel has brought into their lives.
I wish you hadn't brought that vomit up. We Kolobians think Donny Osmond's music stinks like rotten eggs.
Rumor has it now that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose the election. However, we aren't quaking or soiling our Magic Underwear now, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.
You do know what a "fluffer" is, right? Maybe I shouldn't tell you, but I find them pretty helpful in my line of work.
But no way would I vote for a flipflopper like Mitt. Floppiness is not a good thing when performance really matters and you are really needed to stand up and deliver.
I did meet a fluffer named Mitt once. He was cute and good at his game but he was the wrong type. Most fluffers are.
The information in the article seems impressive. If what is stated is 'hard facts', then obviously some 'change' took place, along the way, where Governor Romney ‘is concerned’. What accounts for the constant 'position word-shifts' of Governor Romney? Are such ‘shifts’ just the 'strategies’ of an opportunist?
It’s best when an individual's words are his/her ‘bond’. This of course means that one ought to give careful thought to one’s ‘ideas’ before ‘voicing’ same lest one's integrity becomes compromised by constant ‘changes’ on the same issues.
Would, ‘well-thinking’ Americans, risk entrusting the reins of government to someone whose speech and actions ‘scream’, 'unstable in his ways'? What benchmark could the American people use to hold such an elected individual 'accountable'? That's scary business! What good would an ‘insanity’ plea be in the face of devastated lives?
God's words are true. As such, as much as is humanly possible, the words of anyone who professes to be God’s ambassador, should be true.
Is Governor Romney seeking to confuse the American people? God is not the author of confusion", 1 Corinthians 14:33,"For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work", James 3:16.
Perhaps Governor Romney may care to favor the American electorate with his ‘true’ stance on the issues of importance to the wellbeing of the American people, regardless of how that might personally 'pan out'. That 'Governor Romney' would be more in keeping with the 'Mitt Romney' of the above ‘article’. Failure to 'come clean'...?
re "God's words are true.", words of which god? And then, present proof that god is real, please.
Do you want a man for President who is too proud to admit he is wrong and change? Mitt Romney decided he had been wrong about abortion, so he changed. I wish the people on this blog would admit when they are wrong instead dogmatically charging on, ignoring the truth.
Rumor has it now that our boy Mittens Rmoney is surely going to lose the election. However, we aren't quaking or soiling our Magic Underwear yet, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.
He changed to get more votes. His own son had an abortion clause in his surrogate contract. He doesn't care about abortion.
Most Americans know nothing about mitt. I bet 99 percent don't even know his name.
Rumor has it now that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose the election. However, we aren't quaking or soiling our Magic Underwear yet, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.
Anyone who has ever read "The Book of Mormon" would not want Mitt to be in charge. He is after all "a God".
Little Mittie isn't really a god. We just tell him he is so he doesn't feel so inadequate when he opens his little magic drawers beside us big boys when we visit the earth comfort stations.
I wonder if you measured all the wasted time and thought on godly fairy tales how much it would equal.
If there is some higher form of life watching us, they must think we are bacteria
is mitt romney secretly Gay im not sure anyone know?
He is you can see it in the eyes
No he is not gay. Mormons can't be Gay and obviously he has a wife. He is also against gay marraige. If you think he's gay you have some serious issues.
His wife actually goes both ways. Can't say I'm surprised, since Mitt is so floppy much of the time despite his aggressive fluffer Abinadi.
This storm was Jesus Christ's way of warning Americans what will happen if the diaper wearing cult member Mitt Romney is elected. This is a Christian country. Mormons are not Christians. They are cult members. Vote for Mitt Romney and Jesus Christ will turn his back on America forever.
This idiot brought me closer to voting for Robmey.
donner you lay off our boy Mittens. Our cult has bigger drawers than yours does, and we need them.
Donner you are an idiot. Mormons are christians. Why do you think they are called "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints?"
Kesley: that's just their marketing. However, the Christians actually claim in their own marketing that their murderous god is good, so they are even more misleading.
NEW YORK CITY — Some 500 full-time missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took to the flooded streets and wind-blown neighborhoods still reeling from the effects of superstorm Sandy Wednesday to assess the status of LDS Church members in the area and to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.
“It’s been a long day of hard, dirty work,” said President Kevin E. Calderwood of the church’s New York New York South Mission late Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve been in basements, on roofs, in yards cutting down trees, hauling things out of people’s houses, pulling out carpet and doing whatever people need us to do to help.”
A total of about 500 LDS missionaries from Calderwood’s mission, as well as from the New York New York North and New Jersey Morristown missions, have been working non-stop in the most heavily impacted areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut since the storm’s high winds subsided.
“Under the direction of our local church leaders we’ve been spreading out to the hardest-hit areas,” Calderwood said, indicating that in his mission that included the Far Rockaway and Long Beach areas. “The devastation is overwhelming. Some of these people have lost everything. We’re doing everything we can to help.”
A number of members in those areas are living temporarily in the LDS Church’s Lynbrook and Freeport meetinghouses because their homes have been completely demolished.
“They don’t have any place else to live, so for now they’ll be living at those meetinghouses until other arrangements can be made,” Calderwood said. “We’ve arranged for some generators to provide power for them while they are there.”
In addition to helping members of the LDS Church, the missionaries are reaching out to the families of first responders (“They are all out working and helping others, and their families are in need,” Calderwood said), those with special needs (including the elderly) and community members in general.
“This isn’t about just helping our members,” Calderwood said. “We’re here to help anyone and everyone. We’re here to serve. And right now, this is the service that is needed.”
What generally happens, he said, is the missionaries start working at one location in groups of six or more. “Then while we are working,” Calderwood said, “people come over to us and say, ‘Can you help us here?’ And of course we can. So before long we get pretty spread out, helping wherever we can.”
Rumor now has it that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose the election. However, we aren't quaking or soiling our Magic Underwear just yet, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.
From an early age Romney was taught that the Aztec were a lost tribe of Israel who came to America in submarines. And today he claims Jeep is moving to China, in spite of knowing that that's a lie. BUt he has la=earned the truth has nothing to do with reality, say what you want, "believe" what fits your thinking. It's normal to believe things which are outrageous, and demonstrably false.
Dude, you are your own worst enemy. You consistently come up with the creepiest posts EVER. I'll just let you run amok without further comment. One more thing. Gladys Knight sucks. Back to digging your own grave.
Why would a Mormon need a grave? Don't they all just get vacuumed up and whooshed over to Kolob for eternal polygamy?
GLADYS KNIGHT: RENOWNED SINGER AND ENTERTAINER
“Since I joined the Church, I desire to be more and more obedient to God. As I do so, many people say to me, ‘I see a light in you more than ever before. What is it?’…During one performance at Disney world…[a member of the audience asked,] ‘Could you please tell us…how you got that light?’
“the question was direct. so I gave a direct answer: ‘I have become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Rumor now has it that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose this election. However, we aren't quaking or soiling our Magic Underwear yet, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.
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.