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.
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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.”
Troubling Quotes from the Second Prophet (leader) of the Mormon Church
Brigham Young said your own blood must atone for some sins.
"There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it . . . " (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 247; see also, vol. 4, p. 53-54, 219-220).
Brigham Young said you must confess Joseph Smith as a prophet of God in order to be saved.
"...and he that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fullness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is Antichrist," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 312).
Brigham Young said his discourses are as good as Scripture.
"I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . " (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95).
Brigham Young said he had never given any counsel that was wrong.
"I am here to answer. I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people. If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).
Brigham Young compared his sermons with scripture.
"I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom...I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).
Brigham Young said you are damned if you deny polygamy.
"Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 266). Also, "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269).
Brigham Young said you can't get to the highest heaven without Joseph Smith's consent.
"...no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 289).
Brigham Young boasted.
"What man or woman on earth, what spirit in the spirit-world can say truthfully that I ever gave a wrong word of counsel, or a word of advice that could not be sanctioned by the heavens? The success which has attended me in my presidency is owing to the blessings and mercy of the Almighty . . . " (Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 127).
Brigham Young said Jesus' birth was as natural as ours.
"The birth of the Savior was as natural as the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood–was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115).
Brigham Young said that God the Father and Mary 'do it.'
"When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favoured that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 218). "The birth of the Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115). Note: the late Bruce McConkie who was a member of the First Council of the Seventy stated "There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events..." (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p. 742).
Brigham Young said that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Spirit.
"I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now, remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 51).
Brigham Young taught that Adam was God.
"Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken - He is our Father, and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50).
Brigham Young made a false prophecy?
"In the days of Joseph [Smith] it was considered a great privilege to be permitted to speak to a member of Congress, but twenty-six years will not pass away before the Elders of this Church will be as much thought of as the kings on their thrones," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 40).
Brigham Young comments about blacks
"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind....Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).
"In our first settlement in Missouri, it was said by our enemies that we intended to tamper with the slaves, not that we had any idea of the kind, for such a thing never entered our minds. We knew that the children of Ham were to be the "servant of servants," and no power under heaven could hinder it, so long as the Lord would permit them to welter under the curse and those were known to be our religious views concerning them." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 172).
"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).
Now if that last portion didn't strike you as unbelievably horrible, than imagine this....Mormons are taught to believe every word of their prophets as though they were the words of God: Unquestionable. And these are quotes from just one of their prophets.
Now imagine the President of the USA being Mormon.....
Oh come on now. Your everyday average Mormon wouldn't even know where to find most of these quotes. I think you know that. Second, Mormons don't believe that everything that comes out of the prophets mouth is scripture. Brigham Young himself acknowledged that he was just a man and also often spoke as a man. Prophets ancient and modern aren't perfect. They freely acknowledge that. (e.g., Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, Judas, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc.) Mormons are everyday people just trying to live good and wholesome lives. We don't sit around talking about any of the stuff you cited on a daily basis.
Brigham Young stated that his sermons (as cited above) are Scripture:
I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of man, that they may not call Scripture (ibid., 13:95).
Why are you mormons so ashamed of what your past leaders have said? You know you believe in the absolute word of your prophets. Why do you deny it now? Just because you think it will help you slide into the White House? If Romney wins, it will actually open a HUGE can of worms because the American people will demand to know all about your secret temple rituals.
Smith also taught that "N-word-s" were inferior to other races:
Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was place upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain. Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning… we will also hope that blessings may eventually be given to our N-word brethren, for they are our brethren–children of God-notwithstanding their black covering emblematical of eternal darkness (The Way to Perfection, 101-02; emphasis added).
Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth President and Prophet.
In 1963, Look magazine interviewed, at that time, the leader of the LDS Church; Joseph Fielding Smith. Concerning N-word-s, Smith stated:
I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the N-word-s. 'Darkies' are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church (Look magazine, October 22, 1963, 79; emphasis added).
I am not Mormon. But I am a Christian. As with all religions, there are great people who believe in their faith and follow it unwaivered and there are other who claim to belive in their faith but act inconsistenlty. How can anyone form well rounded opinions about another's faith, when he himself has not inimitately studied it and does not know fully what the other religion is about.
All religions have history we don't agree with such as the Spanish Inquisition, does that make Catholicism bad? The Christians used to be fed to the lions...war was raged in the Almighty's name. It's people who make decisions claiming to know what His interests and goals are.
Having spent some time in the Mormon church, not as a believer because I can never convert, but as someone with an open mind, to listen to what they teach and how they believe, I think the religion has a good philosophy as far as what we are here to do. Be good to one another no matter his/her faith.
I feel when one can truly listen and learn about another's religion with an open mind and heart, good will be realized. People tend to only "learn" about other religions with their own clouded thoughts and thus form biased opinions that reflect poorly upon them.
Ummm...YES the Spanish Inquisition makes the Catholic church BAD. Are you daft woman? Do you KNOW how many MILLIONS of people were killed by that religion?
Do the mormon beliefs in godhood and the law of consecration and theocracy make mormons bad? YES, because it's a cult and it's 2012!! How long do we have to live in the dark ages because of the power of religion when we live in a country where there should be NO mention of them from a leaders mouth????
WHY do all of the PRO-mormon posts start out with "I am not a mormon, but..." ???? Seriously, you mormons need to be less ashamed of your religion and just admit that you're standing up for your cult and that you ARE members. Why lie and then write such elaborate posts that explain how fantastic mormons really are? LOL!
No public funding should go to religious groups. These parasites are harmful to society in general and they do not represent the public's best interest. Whatever money they receive is used for intolerant, hateful purposes. I do not want my tax dollar in the hands of such retarded, hateful people.
I agree. Except for the "retarded" part. Kinda intolerant and hateful, but then you aren't claiming to be a religion I guess. Would have been a much better post without this though.
Wilford Woodruff, who became the fourth President and Prophet of the LDS Church:
What was that mark? It was a mark of blackness. That mark rested upon Cain, and descended upon his posterity from that time until the present. To day there are millions of the descendants of Cain, through the lineage of Ham, in the world, and that mark of darkness still rest upon them (Millennial Star, 51:339; emphasis added).
John Taylor, third President and Prophet.
after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God. . . . (ibid., 23:304; emphasis added).
That the "curse lineage" (dark skin) is Satan's representation on earth, was taught clearly by the third President and Prophet of the Mormon Church, John Taylor. Taylor goes on to teach:
When he [Satan] destroyed the inhabitants of the antediluvian worlds, he suffered a descendant of Cain to come through the flood in order that he might be properly represented upon the earth (ibid., 23:336; emphasis added).
See, "Religulous". A vote for Romney is a vote for someone who is, as Lewis Black describes the condition, "Stone cold F... nuts!"
Mitt Romney's faith was NOT the ONLY former of Mitt's Value's but the perspective it and his privilege because of Birth and wealth have given him, makes him think of the REST of US quite differently than Most PEOPLE do. Willard Mitt Romney is often described as being a 'Space Alien'- what do people MEAN by that? Mitt's FAITH teaches that because MITT has preformed the right RITUALS will become a god just like Jesus and his Brother Lucifer and be given a Planet of his Own by the god of the Star KOLOB. When I first READ about this I assumed it was a JOKE – but unfortunately I found it in the MORMON Scriptures myself. Mitt has always been 'Different' – His Father the governor gave him a State Patrol Uniform when he was a Young Man and Mitt – he told us in a jolly tale – used to enjoy putting a Flashing Light on his car and pulling over Motorists on Lonely Highways – for SOME Reason. His Buddies mostly thought it was CREEPY.
Just Googled the KOLOB stuff and it's real. And Christians are actually voting for this guy and not Obama (who actually Is a christian)?
Brigham Young second President and Prophet:
You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. . . . Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which was the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another cursed is pronounced upon the same race–that they should be the "servants of servants;" and they will be until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree (Journal of Discourses, 7:290; emphasis added)
Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be (ibid., 10:110; emphasis added)
When Mormon Historians reprinted this in the History of the Church, they change it to read:
"and the rebellious N-word-s in the slave states. . . " (History of the Church, 6:158; emphasis added).
Gosh a religion that hates women and minorities, there were not enough of those prior to Moronism.
Just what I was thinking. Oh goody. Another one.
John Smith was hallucinating on mushrooms when he made up the Mormon religion. All religion is made up by man, just this one is as strange as the Scientology farce.
Joseph Smith first president, prophet, and founder of the Mormon Church:
Had I anything to do with the N-word, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 270; History of the Church, 5: 218; emphasis added).
"Thursday, 8–Held Mayor's court and tried two N-word-s for attempting to marry two white women: fined one $25, and the other $5" (ibid., 6: 210).
and the rebellious Ni-word-s in the slave states. . . " (Millennial Star, 22:602; emphasis added).
Well hey, I'm sure he's worthy of worship in other ways!
When are they gonna make it a requirement that all American presidents be Catholic ?? :)
catholic church is a cult also
NO we*re not! :( We*re the oldest remaining Christian religion. We*re far from a cult. Only the early Christians between Christ's death/resurrection predate our Church, and they're no longer around.
oops! I meant early Christians between the death and resurrection of Christ and the establishment of our Church.
CATHOLIC TRADITION – Call priests father, e.g., Father McKinley.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS –
Matthew 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
CATHOLIC TRADITION – Mary is the queen of heaven.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS – Worshipping the queen of heaven (which is not the Mary of the Bible) is worshipping another god and it provokes the Lord to anger.
7:17 Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?
7:18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.
7:19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?
In Deuteronomy 5:16, God commands, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” God made this command after telling us to honor Him. With this in mind, it seems reasonable to conclude that God Himself considers others to be “fathers.” Jesus upholds this commandment in Mark 7:9-13. In that passage, He berates the scribes and Pharisees who used traditions to rationalize not providing assistance to their fathers. It is clear that He means someone other than God.
And, my church doesn't pray to Mary during mass and I don't do the rosary.
So THERE :) :)
That is what all the cults say and want you to think my friend. Hold on to Jesus and RCC is not the true church. peter was married...he had a wife. Mix a little truth with a lie people will be fooled. Get out of her while you can and stop serving the cult.
Oh Willie, give it a break. All so-called Christian denominations stem from the Catholic Church. In truth, Protestants and Evangelical Christians can't sepererate their core beliefs from the ancient Catholic creeds. The reformers simply didn't like one Catholic doctrine or another so they just started their own church. Yes, that is the dummed down version of history, but that is essentially what happened. Also, you have the Catholics to thank for the Bible you keep citing so well. No, I am not Catholic. In fact, I am Mormon. P.S., we don't hate African Americans. I have lots of friends that are African American so maybe it might be time for you to move on. Are you really citing the Millenial Star??? Wow, you must have lots of time on your hands.
Like, I can call my dad my "father" and I can call my priest "father Randy". God knows I*m not putting them before Him. No man can be greater than God, who is our Heavenly Father. But we can call people "father" with a lower-case "f". It's just out of respect for them but they're still equals to us–we*re all God*s children and He is the most high.
Christmas, I am Mormon, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Catholic Church. I know lots of people that are Catholic, and they are very good people. Willie is the type of Christian that isn't really Christian, that is if he actually even calls himself a Christian ( I have my doubts). He gets bored so he comes on sites like CNN so that he can just bash others because he has nothing better to do.
Sam's Uncle – thank you!! It*s so heart-warming to see other kind people out there :) And I was kidding when I said all presidents should be Catholic LOL. But I *am* Catholic. Thank you for respecting our religion.! You sound like a good Christian! I will have respect for Mormons. It*s all about having faith in Christ, being nice to others, and living our lives as good Christians.
CATHOLIC TRADITION – Mary never had other children after the Lord Jesus. She remained a perpetual virgin.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS – After Mary delivered our precious Lord Jesus Christ into the world, Joseph did know his wife. Joseph and Mary indeed had children together, plenty of them. They were the Lord's half brothers and sisters for their father was Joseph and mother was Mary.
Matthew 1:24-25 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not TILL she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
13:56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
CATHOLIC TRADITION – Mary is the mother of God.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS – Mary is the mother of the earthly Jesus, not God. Jesus pre- existed from everlasting as God (see John 1:1). When he came to redeem mankind, he laid aside his glory and was made like unto sinful man so that he could take our punishment (Hebrew 2:9). God has no mother. He has lived from everlasting which means he had no beginning.
43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. [If Mary gave birth to God, she'd be God.]
93:2 Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.
5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler [Jesus] in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
2:6 Who [Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
CATHOLIC TRADITION – The mass. Through transubstantiation, the wafer/host and the wine supposedly become the actual blood and body of Jesus Christ when the priest prays over them. He is supposed to be sacrificed over and over again on Roman Catholic altars.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS – Jesus died once for sins, never to be repeated. He sits on the right hand of God and does not reappear in the mass as a mass of blood and flesh.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us::
9:25 NOR YET THAT HE SHOULD OFFER HIMSELF OFTEN, as the high priest entereth
into the holy place every year with blood of others;
9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: BUT NOW ONCE IN THE END OF THE WORLD HATH HE APPEARED TO PUT AWAY SIN BY THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF.
9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
9:28 So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
10:12 But this man [Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
10:15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
11:24 And when he [Jesus] had given thanks, he brake it [bread], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come (not for the forgiveness of sins or to receive Jesus).
Willie is the only one using actual Mormon scripture to prove his point which Mormons HATE. They do not like it when their warped version of Christianity is paraded before prying eyes which is why they have so many "secrets" or religious doctrine you don't get to learn about until you are well steeped in Mormon ritual.
The new definition of a cult should be: If you are unable to prove difinitively to a non-partisan panel of people from all over the world that your specific deity in fact does exist, then you are a cult.
Ok, first off "The Truth," the Millenial Star is not "Mormon Scripture." It's an old newspaper. Second, I will "pove" to the non-bias panel my beliefs and my church's beliefs by the life that I live. That speaks louder than any old newspaper quotes. I think you probably hate more than Mormons do. Or maybe you just hate Mormons. I don't know and don't really care. I have friends that are black, white, gay and straight. And guess what?? They are all members of my Church. For a church that supposedly hates so many people, we sure do a lot to make sure everyone feels included. Heck we even send out young missionaries to talk to you. People like Willie, and aparantly even you, use papers from the late 1800's to try and prove what I believe?? I mean really??
Mormons believe they will become Gods and Goddesses. In today's society, that is considered a mental illness.
In Previous Times it has been considered BLASPHEMY – The Same sin that led to the fall of LUCIFER.
The LDS Church should not be playing a role in a country where there is supposed to be separation of Church and State.
Funny, I don't remember the Mormon Church playing a role in government.
It must be absolute hell to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and realize you're a teabagging conservative. If it were me I'd take a shower with my electric toaster.
LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie furthers this teaching:
Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions impose on them during mortality are known to us as the n-–s. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God, and his murder of Able being a black skin. . . . Noah's son married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain, thus preserving the n-- lineage through the flood. . . . the n-- are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concern. . . . " (Mormon Doctrine, 527-28; 1966 orig. ed., changed in the current ed.; emphasis added).
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.