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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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.
CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
“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 think everyone that posts on this website on Mormons needs to really know what they are talking about before they lash out at us. Don't get your information from ex-mormons and hate on mormons and bad literature. Actually talk to a mormon about what we believe. Would you base all of your information on false Catholic information? No. Would you base any information you knew of Buddhists on hateful buddhist literature. No. YOU TALK TO THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES. I am a Mormon. Shoot me for saying it, but I am. I love my religion. I don't try and force it down anyones throat, but it is the thing that gets me going when life is horrible. God has protected me in so many ways, and he blesses each and every one of us daily. I am a normal human being just like you. I will have one husband one day, I don't drink coffee, I don't watch r-rated movies. But that doesn't mean that people should just judge me for what I believe
I agree with you, however, the one thing you must consider is the ignorance of those bad mouthing Mormons. Just consider the source and you're fine. They bad mouth what they do not understand which shows a lack of intelligence.
I wouldn't worry about it. Let them do what they will and move on.
Forgive me for I had a hot cup of coffee this morning.
who cares what they believe. It's another cult praying to the magic man in the sky.
I find it ironic that he's all about helping people that have the same beliefs. If you don't, you are up a creek without a paddle.
Just another example of a religious zealot trying to force everybody to believe what he does.
I surprised he made it to his 22 birthday since he killed people when he was 21.
The guy needs to go away and concentrate on his cult
I disagree that you should ask a Mormon about their religion if you really want to learn about Mormonism; what do you expect as an answer? I can tell you what you expect, a positive answer. If you want to learn about Mormonism, go ahead and speak to a Mormon, speak to an anti-Mormon, read the pros and cons, educate yourself and then create your own opinion. I have done that and have found that the followers of your church are great family people with great family values. I also believe your church is not a Christian religion. Regardless, I don’t hold anything against your church, except for the fact that you claim that you are Christians; as a result, you preach false information.
You are free to believe what you want to believe, that's the great beauty of this nation – but making statements that Mormonism is not Christian only stems from what your religion is teaching you, not from what educated people all over the globe are saying. Even Protestants such as Richard Muow have come out and apologized for criticizing Mormonism as not being Christian. You do not understand what Christianity is if you claim Mormonism is not Christian.
For your own evidence and from the Book of Mormon – 2 Nephi:
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
It's amazing how little we've heard about Romney's Mormon religion throughout this election compared to the magnitude of videos with Rev. Wright and the President – why do the Democrats allow the Republicans to always get away with every issue – in 2008 we could not turn on our TV without seeing the videos of Rev. Wright and not there's hardly any talk or reference to Romney's Mormon religion which is nothinig more than a cult and this man is hours away from possibly being our next President – may God help us all if that should ever happen.
Jennifer sweetie, all religions are cults.
Yep, so is the religion of Atheism.
I totally agree with you Jennifer.
If you really believe that all religions are cults, then you are VERY uneducated, because there is a HUGE difference between both!
God won't help anything. earth is only 4000-6000 years old remember? Don't pay any attention to that science stuff. Instead, take the word of 4th century sand rats... you know... the ones currently trying to kill us.
****Top Ten Signs You're a Christian in Name Only****
10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Al lah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some id iot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christian
2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, catholicism and church history – but still call yourself a Christian
religion of atheism? i dont think you really understand what the word religion or atheism mean...
"atheism is a cult"
Classifying every Christian sect into pigeon-holed categories, the way you just did, is about as ignorant as it gets. A similar list could be generated for comments like yours.
Is that you Andy?
atheism is not a cult or a religion. your lack of knowledge about what atheism is or the definitions of cult and religion are astounding for being a part of them. please dont vote...
@NOT MY CHAIR
I know *exactly* what religion and atheism is and I know that atheism IS a belief. It IS a belief of no God. You are confusing agnosticism with atheism. Agnosticism is not knowing if there is a God or not.
Atheism became a cultist religion when they started protesting and putting up banners against other religions. If you are atheist and don't want to believe in a religion, that's fine – but when you start mocking other religions and pressuring people who believe, to leave their religion, then you have become a religion. That is YOUR belief – that there is no God.
If atheists kept to themselves and didn't do what they have been doing every year in areas like California, every Christmas time, then it would not be a religion. If atheists didn't put up billboards mocking Mormon and Catholic religions, then it wouldn't be a religion. Unfortunately pushing your agenda (of no belief in God) is called a religion. Religion is not defined as believing in God – it is defined as "a body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices". Atheism and the behavior it has shown lately falls right in line with this definition. With their latest mockery on billboards, they also fall into a cult, which is defined as "an object of devotion" or "a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc."
Pointing out facts about other religions is not mocking, nor is it pressuring other people. Pressuring other people would sound something like this “You’ll burn in hell for eternity if you don’t believe as we believe”
a religion needs a set beliefs plural. saying their is nothing is singular. also for how long has the world have to deal with religious people forcing their religious beliefs onto other and them condemning them if they dont agree and now atheist are finally throwing it back in your face and all you religious people complain about it? boohoo.
'no belief' is not a belief. Atheism is not a religion no matter how many times you say it. Move on fool
The more you comment the more ignorant you are appearing to be. Making statements that you do not believe in God IS A BELIEF – that is WHAT YOU BELIEVE. Take a course on the english language before commenting.
I'm glad you finally awoke and admitted that Atheism IS throwing their belief in other's faces.
Now – to clarify one additional thing – do not classify Mormons into the same pool as other Christian religions. Mormons do not shove their religion down anyone's throats. Missionaries knock on doors and ask people if they want to hear a message. If you don't – great, close the door. No one is going to persist with that interaction – and if you say they do, you're lying.
Mormons also don't claim that if you don't join their religion, you'll go to hell, as many other sects do.
Again, don't pool every Christian religion into the same bucket.
Unfortunately you're barking under the wrong tree because Mormons don't exclaim that "you'll burn in hell if you don't join our religion". Perhaps you are confused with other Christian sects.
And billboards have been put up by Atheists mocking other religions. Google it and you'll be surprised what you see.
My English is just fine thanks. Perhaps you should take your own advice and educate yourself a little before posting such idiotic statements. Denying a claim does not constitute a belief. If I told you I had a unicorn in my back yard that craps out gummy bears, would you believe me? Assuming your answer is no, that wouldn’t become a belief of yours.
You said, "Making statements that you do not believe in God IS A BELIEF – that is WHAT YOU BELIEVE."
No, it's a lack of belief.
There is a subtle but important difference between:
a) Believing there are no gods, and
b) Not believing, or disbelieving there are any gods.
Option a) is a statement of belief (strong atheism or gnostic atheism), while option b) is one of disbelief (weak atheism or agnostic atheism).
The complete and utter lack of even so much as a hint at their existence leads me to not believe there are any gods. There simply is no reason to believe there are any. The complete lack of evidence actually make belief in gods rather silly.
At it's core, a belief in gods is no different from a belief in the Tooth Fairy. The only real difference is, that parents typically allow their children to stop believing in one, but keep reinforcing a belief in the other.
You said, "Take a course on the english language before commenting."
Right back at you.
What do you call someone who believes unicorns are real?
Well, call me whatever the opposite of that is...
Maybe fictionist? Making me a non-fictionist? Would that constltute a religion?
"How mormons shape Romney."
With form-fitting magic underwear!
Ignorance is bliss, you must be very happy.
Apparently Rick is telling you that their magic underwear, does not fit comfortably at all. Even worse, non-form fitting magic underwear.. INTEGRITY = showing your tax returns..HA HA HA OBAMA/BIDEN 2012 CLINTON 2016
Religion is a total waste of human resources. It can't be proven because it is nothing but fantasy. Dream on, morons!
With his short steps.. I would call Mitt a big queen... !
I love my religion. You cannot prove that faith doesn't exist. No matter what anyone says, it will exist. Even though you can't see God doesn't mean he doesn't exist. I'm not a moron. Do not call me such a name. I have been through enough trials in my life, as have many other people, and the thing that keeps me going is my faith. I would rather have faith in this life and have nothing happen in the next than have no faith in this life and have heaven afterwards
@ me– Yeah, and no more can you prove it doesn't exist.
Taking as a premise that religions are all false, you still have some work to do to prove they are useless. First you have to define a purpose of human life or culture. A common answer would be to maximize happiness. If we take this goal (for example) we still have to prove that religion deters from, rather than adds to, happiness. The data is conflicting on that, and I think you're going to end up with a big "It depends". The best aim is probably to promote the religions most accepting of secularism, consistent with science, and open to a free flow of people both inand outof thebelief.
@me i could agree with you more. i hate hate the argument about well "prove its not real we have a book and that is enough proof for me". i will prove religion is not real when some one proves to me that leprechauns are real. you can not prove something is not real, you can only prove things exist.
@ jenn yes faith is real what you have faith in is not. i am sorry, but magic does not exist. there is no supreme being in the sky looking after us. you should have faith in your self to fix your own problems, have faith in your friends and family to help pick you up when you are down. but do not have faith in a hire power who will fix your life for you
"religion is a total waste of human resources"
Really? Next time there's a natural disaster in your area, and the Mormon church comes by with supplies – make sure you turn them away and tell them that their efforts are a waste of human resources.
I can tell you hundreds to THOUSANDS of volunteers helped with disasters such as Katrina, Irene and now Sandy. The Mormon church has donated millions of dollars and supplies to people in need. Just yesterday I took time off work to pack survival kits for those without power or food in Sandy. Tell me that isn't a waste of human resources.
You make me sick.
You completely contradicted yourself with this statement:
i will prove religion is not real when some one proves to me that leprechauns are real. you can not prove something is not real, you can only prove things exist.
If you cannot prove something is not real then stop telling people God doesn't exist.
@mcr the purpose of human life, like all animals, is to procreate we use culture as a mean to pass down nessecary tools to make survival of our species easier. religion was a tool used to help control people and to give them comfort in the unknown. as a society we have moved passed needing these things. as for making us happy it is the human ego that thinks because we have an idea of self is why we think we are different than every other living creature in the known universe.
@avd can you please explain to me a method of proving something is not real? all you go on is faith, and a book written by people that heard voices in there heads... we have a thousand times better proof that evolution is real but you people seem to not believe that. what logical test can a person do to prove to you that its no real, when you have no substantive evidence to argue against? it is ridiculous and impossible to prove something doesn't exist. try to prove leprechauns dont exist? or Bigfoot? or the loch ness monster?
There you go again pooling Mormons into all other Christian sects. Many Mormons do believe in evolution. Even many apostles. It's proven and a fact. But evolution doesn't deny a God.
I have been through enough trials in my life, as have many other people, and the thing that keeps me going is my faith in unicorns. The way their manes must blow in the celestial winds, sparkiling like a comet tail...so inspiring...
@NOT MY CHAIR, , If you set reproduction as your only purpose in policy making, you are saying that you'd rather have a miserable pupulace that procreates bountifully for a long time than a good quality of life for a shorter time. I don't know how the numbers will split, but I'll pool my lot with those who.want happiness and quality of life over maximizing baby production. I've no idea whether a religion or religions can maximize life quality, but I suspect there are as many good routes as bad.
Being a member of the Mormon cult, kept Mitt out of Vietnam. He spent 2 years in some foreign rat hole. None of his 5 sons have ever served a day in our Armed Forces, but gave 2 years of their lives serving a cult, just like Mitt. Then he has nerve enough to talk about what all this great country, has done for him. Just a hypocrite.
we're not a cult. Even though we do things that may seem strange and bizarre to a lot of people, I live a really average life. I wake up each morning like you. I eat breakfast like you. I have worries, fears, happiness like you. I go to school and love spending time with my family. Yet my religion doesn't make me a COMPLETELY different life form than you. Mormons are NORMAL people with high standards
@Jess-Actually, yes, you are in a cult! It sounds like you need to educate yourself a bit, on what a cult is, because the Mormon "religion" IS most definitely a cult!
Jess puts on his magic underwear one leg at a time, just like you....
Mormon taught him how to say I change my mind? One of these days, RMoney will change his mind again He want to be an Evangelist
Liar Romney dodged draft when he was in France; his contemporaries were defending for this country, and American people.
This person has no moral compass, he is low, hypocritical, flip flopping. What exact Romney is, no one knows.
Makes one wonder may be coming from a religion allowing sister wives, the ancestors killed settlers in Mountain Meadows has something to do with his character.
Incorrect. The majority of LDS males serve missions around age 19-25. It is usually encouraged that all LDS young men go, but during this time they limited the number of missionaries. The LDS church asked Romney to serve a mission so he went. I don't know what the issue is. He didn't do anything different than what the LDS church has done for years. During wars and during peace.
Funny how GWB got to serve stateside, even go AWOL and no charges. Powerful fathers can do that for you. Funny how Mitt's dad was Gov of Michigan and ran for POTUS, and his son got to go to France, while thousands of men died in Vietnam. Funny how these men with powerful fathers just SEEM to get a break...funny.
"The majority of LDS males serve missions around age 19-25." Right, which just so happened to cooincide with the US draft years of 1948 – 1973 and a war that Mitt would have been sent to if he hadn't filled out a conscientious objector form and gone into the Church as a minister. So he DODGED the draft, and yes, much like the other Mormon boys at the time. They were ALL DRAFT DODGERS!!
Having been raised in the Mormon Church and no longer active ,I could never consider voting for Romney.Living in Utah has taught me to be careful with mormon business people .They are not the most honest people in a business setting.They love to promote how active they are in their church while basically screwing everyone they can.I don't believe Romney can be trusted period.
Open your mind a bit, I am sure there are dishonest people in all religions.
I agree with you completely..I was also raised mormon, and also not active and I am completely flabbergasted that Mitt Romney would even be considered for the presidency. I have watched this presidential race very closely and watch lie after lie spew from his mouth. Of course there are liars and cheaters in every religion...but unno growing up in one that is so hard core really makes you take notice. I am not American but I feel its important to the world who the American president is..and I truly truly hope you all vote for Barack Obama today. =)
LOVE NEW SOCKS, i like how you did NOT refute that Mitt is not trustworthy, only that, well, all religions have untrustworthy members. Not exactly an endorsement of trustworthiness for Romney.
What a white wash. Romney the big LIE. He has Lied for over a year to the American people Is this what a Morman is? If so, we don't want him as our leader. Voter want an HONEST, TRUSTFUL President. Romney is NOT>
Lying for The Lord is not a policy to e proud of. Romney is a liar.
Romney's magical underwear didn't save him from the wreck in france, and it sure isn't going to save the wreck the country's in now. Magic underwear. Do you really want this guy running the country?
Wow. How easy it is to be hateful when you are behind a computer screen and not in person.
Mormonism shaped him to be a liar
I'm not voting for Obama. I'm voting against evil religious whack nuts.
My faith never depends on who the president is. it is my personal relationship with God. All the preachers because they are racists try to confuse to vote other way. Short of saying "Do not vote for a black president"
One last election day reminder from CNN to the American voter: "Don't forget! He's one o' those 'Mormons'!"
(I dig the conspiracy-type smear videos at the end. Classy touch.)
Agreed! I had to read through 22 hateful, bigoted replies before I came across this reasoned one. Look–we'll wake up tomorrow, and Obama will be victorious. Half the country will feel dejected and dis-enfranchised (that's always the case), but they'll get over it. What remains is the ill-informed hateful hearts of bigots, such as the majority of those posting today. Apply reason to your opinions and preferences. Be wary when your conclusions require you to demonize the oposition. Neither candidate is "evil". God bless the America, and all who strive for freedom throughout the world.
For someone who was born in, never left, and continues in the religion of their birth you are basically using 'journey' to refer to a trip to the local 7-11.
Anyone who takes 20 minutes to read the story of mormonism can't take it seriously as a religion. It's a strange cult concocted by a questionable character. It's complete and utter nonsense. Romney's affiliation with this quack religion may very well cost him the presidency. When mormons knock on your door, run them off.
BH I agree with you. From what I know, Joseph Smith found this brand new bible, and golden glasses floated down out of the sky and landed on his nose. He could then read this new bible (the only one of course). Mormons beleive that Jesus is one of many gods. I am not sure that we are ready for a cult in the White House.
Your comment is irrational, and deeply flawed. The religious community you speak of is serriously studied in universities around the world as a legitimate tradition. Harry Reid, the senior democrat in congress, is also Mormon. Nothing you present as factual is accurate. The truth is, "anyone" who takes 20 seconds to read your post will sense your narrow and biggoted prespossition. Our world will be a better place when you begin approaching the world more thoughtfully.
Mormanism is no different from any other religion in that it requires a willing suspending disbelief. Religion may be the root cause of hatred in this world and more people have been killed because they did not believe in the one true god, whichever one that might be. Faith requires belief in the total absence of any supporting evidence. We conduct clinical trials before allowing any medication to be prescribed or sold to the public. We require some empirical evidence to support any claims other than those made by the religions of the world. Even in matters of faith, a devout Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew would require me to provide some evidence to support any claim that I make to have received the word of god and all should follow me to paradise. Does the name Jim Jones and the suicide of nearly 1,000 of his followers ring a bell. Jones was no different from Abraham, Peter and Paul, or Mohamed. All religions are cults in that they require followers to believe in the total absence of any evidence.
Like his politics, Romney's religion doesn't pay any attention to what the majority of people think, and women and non-whites are given second-class status.
There won't be a second class under President Romney just the 1 % Lords and the 99% p.iss ants. Romney / Ryan 2012
I grew up Mormon and I can not imagine anyone voting for this fake thieving hypocrite.. He is truly a thief and a disgusting man.. This man would sell his own mother down the river to make himself richer.. I can't stand him !
Romney was in france while other americans were fighting in vietnam. He didn't have to run to canada or anything to escape military duty. He used his religion to evade the nasty war. Plus he was so rich he had to go to France where all the rich were hanging out back then. he could care less about getting other people to join the church, just llike he could care less about 50% of this country (whom he called stupid and poor)
danklem, before Obama we've had 16 years of draft-dodging presidents. Obama was just lucky that there were no wars for him to evade.
That attack wears kind of thin at this point. We haven't had a soldier president since GHWBush left office 20 years ago.
ignorance is just as bliss as spreading false lies.
Contrary to popular belief of contradicting lies, Obama is neither Muslim or in Rev Wright Church; However Romney is currently a Mormon, and they deny Jesus Christ divinity, and they mean to deny his authority. If you are Christian and you vote for Romney, You are justifying the doctrine of a cult.
Are you serious? They deny the divinity of Christ? That is BS. I also heard muslims deny the holiness of Muhammad? No they don't. Honestly keep believing what your pastor or neighbors keep telling you. Obviously you are getting your information from a biast party. Wake up and actually do your own damn research.
A vote for a Mormon is a vote for an anti – Christ
all religions are cults. we make fun of magic underwear yet christians believe some guy was born from a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead? you are the hypocrites you bunch of pathetic, brainwashed sheep....
You're ignorant of the facts and hateful in your tone. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaim the divinity of Jesus. They believe Jesus is the only means by which humanity can be with God in eternity. They also believe loving one's neighbor requires them to tolerate and respect others' beliefs.
Precisely and yet this is a man that many evangelicals and so called christians are voting for and Fox4 played Rev. Wrights videos until we were all sick of seeing them – where's the videos on Romney's religion?
YOU ARE A COMPLETE IDIOT
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.