By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Should Mitt Romney win the presidency next Tuesday, it will mark an historic first: a Mormon couple moving into the White House.
What would this mean and look like?
Would there be “dry” state dinners, since faithful Mormons don’t do alcohol? Would Secret Service tag along to sacred ceremonies only open to worthy church members? What book would a President Mitt Romney use to take his oath of office?
We can’t be absolutely sure about all the answers. But if the practices and homes of devout Mormons like the Romneys – not to mention his history as governor of Massachusetts – are any indication, we can begin to paint a picture of what a Romney-inhabited White House might look like.
First things first: About that oath
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the Bible is the word of God. But they also believe this about the Book of Mormon, which is subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
Given the importance of the Book of Mormon, this question seemed worth asking: Any chance Romney would place his hand on a Book of Mormon at his swearing-in ceremony?
“No, no way Romney would do that,” Jana Riess, a religion scholar, co-author of “Mormonism for Dummies,” and blogger for Religion News Service, wrote in an e-mail message. “I’m not aware of any Mormon who has sworn on the Book of Mormon instead of the Bible for national office. (I’m not aware of any local officials who have done this either.)”
Most likely, Romney would go back to the Bible he used in 2003 when he was sworn in as governor of Massachusetts – the same one his father, George Romney, reportedly used when he was sworn in as Michigan’s governor in the 1960s.
Beyond paint and fabric swatches
Having never been invited over for a meal, we can’t pretend to know anything about the Romney aesthetic when it comes to home decoration. But we wondered and asked about specific items that tend to hang in Mormon households.
Randall Balmer, an award-winning historian, author and chair of the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College, speculated that the Romneys – like plenty of Mormons – might display artwork featuring a depiction of Jesus and a photograph of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, considered a “prophet, seer and revelator” by members of the church.
Another possibility, said Riess, would be a photo of the Salt Lake Temple where Mitt and Ann Romney were married and “sealed” for eternity in a sacred ceremony in 1969.
Then there’s something commonly known as the “Proclamation on the Family,” which is often framed and displayed in homes – though rarely in upper-class households, said Joanna Brooks, author of “The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith.”
The proclamation features words set forth by LDS Church leadership in 1995, highlighting family and gender responsibilities. Among the points made: Marriage is between a man and woman; the primary responsibility of fathers is to oversee and provide for families; and mothers must first and foremost care for the children.
All of these items could show up in the White House, said Grant Bennett, an old Romney friend who spoke at the Republican National Convention and has known the Romney family since they met through church in 1978.
But he said, “the most quintessential Mormon item would be pictures of their family,” including those of ancestors, because “families are forever” and bound for eternity in the Mormon view.
Ann and Mitt Romney are surrounded by family before the October 22 presidential debate at Lynn University.
Bennett also suggested that a verse or two of Scripture that is particularly meaningful to the Romneys might be framed and on display.
If any of these things would hang in the White House, they would likely appear in the private quarters where first families are free to do what they please.
That doesn’t mean Romney wouldn’t be allowed to honor his faith in some way in the Oval Office, but decorative decisions in public rooms – the spaces visited on tours – are subject to committee discussions and advisers on historic preservation, explained Melissa Naulin, assistant curator in the Curator's Office of the White House Museum.
Can I get a cup of coffee? How about something stronger?
In accordance with a revelation received in 1833 by LDS Church founder Joseph Smith, something known as the “Word of Wisdom,” faithful Latter-day Saints abstain from coffee, tea and alcohol.
Does this mean a return to the days of “Lemonade Lucy,” the posthumous nickname given to the wife of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th U.S. president, who banned alcohol from the White House?
No, said Cabinet members from Romney’s gubernatorial era and a current top aide. They said this health-related observance is not one the Romneys would impose on or expect of others.
“As governor, when Mitt Romney entertained at official functions in the evening, alcohol was served along with soft beverages,” said a senior aide who asked not to be identified in stories about religion.
“There was always a healthy cup of coffee for anyone who wanted it,” said Renee Fry, a former Cabinet member.
“Cabinet dinner gatherings were not dry,” wrote Douglas Foy, who also served in Governor Romney’s Cabinet. “Although the governor and his wife did not partake – which the governor often joked about, since he sponsored the gatherings and paid for the wine!”
Storing – and refraining from – food
The LDS Church advises its members to store enough food to feed a family for a year.
Food storage is viewed as a practical measure, one that can come in handy during, say, a crippling superstorm, massive power outages or unforeseen financial hardships.
The practice is rooted in Mormon history. The church’s early pioneers, on their trek westward to what is now Utah, experienced great suffering and starvation. They also endured their share of persecution and couldn’t rely on the help of others. So having resources squirreled away became a collective comfort.
Any chance that the Romneys would institute White House food storage?
Not because they would need it for themselves or likely anyone else at the White House, but Riess said in these uncertain times, it could be a good lesson in preparedness to showcase to the nation.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see that,” she said.
Mitt Romney gathers donations in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Even if a family storing it doesn’t need the food, by having it available that family is poised to help others. Serving those less fortunate or in crisis is big in the LDS Church, and it is a part of another practice that may find its way into the White House if the Romneys move in.
The first Sunday of every month is Fast Sunday, when committed Mormons who are able forgo food and drink for about 24 hours. Coupled with prayer, it has spiritual meaning. It also serves to instill compassion for those who are in need, and to that end Mormons are encouraged to minimally donate what they would have spent on food to the church’s welfare fund.
Fast Sunday, or calls to fast at other times, can also bind Mormons together when they pray and fast for a common cause.
A Utah woman created buzz earlier this fall when an e-mail she sent out to friends and family, suggesting they fast to help Romney before the debates, began making the rounds in Mormon circles across the country. A new website, romneyfast.org, also the brainchild of private citizens – and not a church-sanctioned effort – asks people to fast and pray for Romney and his wife Ann this Sunday before America goes to the polls.
When he was governor of Massachusetts, and in general, Mitt and Ann Romney observed Fast Sunday and “always contributed very generously to the fast offering fund,” said Bennett, who held church leadership roles with Romney in the Boston area.
What’s more, Bennett said that when Romney served as their congregation's bishop – the equivalent of an unpaid pastor – it wasn’t uncommon for the two friends to fast more than once a month. At the time, Bennett was one of Romney's two counselors, or advisers.
“Occasionally he would invite me and the other counselor to join him in fasting on a weekday for a specific purpose,” Bennett wrote in an e-mail. “For example, one purpose would be to seek inspiration regarding an important decision, another purpose would be to express love, support and solidarity to someone who was ill or going through very difficult times.”
Whether Romney would maintain this observance from the nation’s highest office, we can’t know. But it looks like the White House kitchen staff may be in for a little downtime each month, if they’re lucky.
Honoring the Sabbath, going to church and other Mormon observances
Sunday is a holy day for active LDS Church members. It’s a time when Mormons attend their local congregation - it's known as a ward, which in Catholic-speak would be comparable to a parish - and worship with their families and community.
The ward closest to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and likely the one the Romneys would be assigned to, is the Washington D.C. 3rd Ward, which gathers in what Mormons call a “meetinghouse” or chapel on 16th Street NW. The Washington Post described this ward as consisting of mostly Democrats, half who are nonwhite (including plenty of Spanish speakers), and having openly gay members in its leadership.
Riess said while ward assignments are almost always determined geographically, sometimes there are exceptions. And the truth is there just isn’t any precedent for how this would be handled for a U.S. president.
With or without Romney, D.C. a surprising Mormon stronghold
How much of his Sundays a President Romney could set aside for his faith is obviously uncertain. We already know he’s been hard at work on the campaign trail, Sundays included – though the senior aide we spoke to said he makes efforts to get to church when he can.
One need only look at President Jimmy Carter, who went so far as to teach Sunday school at his local Baptist church, to see how a sitting president can make room for faith, said Balmer of Dartmouth, who counts among his many books “God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush.”
Romney faithfully showed up at church on Sundays while he was governor, unless an official function got in the way, Bennett said. And when Romney ran for U.S. Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy, Bennett – then the ward’s bishop – assigned Romney to teach the weekly adult Sunday school class.
“He was in church virtually every Sunday teaching this class throughout the campaign, only occasionally arranging for a substitute teacher,” his friend said.
Beyond church, Riess speculated about other observances Romney would uphold.
Mormons reserve Monday evenings for “family home evening,” a time when families pray, study and sing together.
Someone serving in church leadership, who didn’t want to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject matter, said he doubted the Romneys would observe family home evening since their kids are grown and gone. But Riess suspected that Romney and his wife, especially given the size of their brood – five sons; 18 grandchildren – and the likelihood that family would be passing through, would honor the Monday tradition in some way, even if it was just the two of them.
There’s also a practice in LDS Church wards in which men who hold the priesthood – which means the authority, for example, to perform baptisms and offer sacramental blessings – are partnered up to visit other congregation members, ideally once a month, as home teachers.
The LDS Church does not have paid clergy, and this is one way that volunteer ward pastors, or the bishops, can make sure members get personal attention and lessons as needed.
So could home teachers come knocking on the White House doors?
It’s possible, said Riess, though obviously there’d be background checks and no unannounced knockings.
But a U.S. president couldn’t possibly be expected to regularly home teach others, right?
Probably not. But Romney did step up as governor, Bennett said.
“He both had home teachers, and he was assigned as a home teacher, when he was governor,” Bennett said. “He and Ann would ensure they were available for their home teachers to visit, and he was faithful in doing his home teaching.”
And then there’s the big question: What about the temple?
Many non-Mormons falsely assume the large and often magnificent white LDS temples they see in their cities are where Latter-day Saints go for church. But Mormons gather for Sunday services in meetinghouses or chapels, which are usually plain, unimpressive structures.
The Washington D.C. Temple, not too far from the White House, is considered by Mormons to be a house of the Lord.
The 140 temples currently in operation across the globe are actually closed on Sundays. Mormons view their temples as houses of the Lord, as Riess explained in her book, and they are not places for run-of-the-mill worship. Temples, instead, are reserved for the most sacred rituals – the details of which are not to be discussed outside temple walls.
The temples are so sacred that the doors are not even open for all Mormons; only those deemed sufficiently worthy by local church leadership are granted a “temple recommend” or an entry card.
While sacred ceremonies or “ordinances” for the living – such as weddings, during which couples are “sealed” for eternity – happen inside, there are also rituals performed by living substitutes or proxies for those who have died. These rituals include baptisms, which have been at times a subject of controversy for the LDS Church.
Romney, who long served in church leadership, surely has a temple recommend. But does that mean he’d actually go to the Washington D.C. Temple, which sits about 10 miles north of the White House in Kensington, Maryland?
“If I were him, I’d probably just not go while I was president, if only out of courtesy to other patrons,” said our source in church leadership who didn’t want to be named. “It’s not like it’s some kind of ‘go often or you’ll go to hell’ thing. It’s just a standard part of being a committed Mormon, which you do if you can find the time.”
And a President Romney couldn’t go there, let alone anywhere else, without Secret Service. So if he wanted to go, would he be able to? Even Secret Service agents would be turned away from the temple without the right access card.
Not a problem, speculated Balmer of Dartmouth. He said finding qualified agents, if Romney hasn’t found them already, would be easy.
It’s well-known that the CIA, FBI and, by extension, he said he assumes, the Secret Service recruit at LDS Church-run Brigham Young University. All these agencies, Balmer said, are “looking for people who are good, loyal, patriotic Americans,” and many Latter-day Saints, who believe in the divinity of the U.S. Constitution, fit that bill.
So if it would be important for Romney and the first lady to go to the temple, it should be possible.
And Riess said, given Romney's level of faith and church involvement over the years, she can’t imagine that he wouldn’t want to go. Minimally, she pointed out, there’s bound to be a family member’s wedding or “temple sealing” he’d want to attend.
“It would be a logistical problem,” she said. “But I’m pretty sure they’d find a way.”
So, we have an article asking what a mormon white house would look like. Does it look any different than before as the muslim white house it is right now?
"muslim white house"
Isn't that your mother calling? Maybe you'd better go home now.
One in the same.
The only make-over that would be cool would be an Atheist president and first lady who could bring some art and culture into the White House.
Do ALL republicans lie?
I suspect no more so than the average Democrat.
The ignorance of America and their love for gossip and tearing one another down never ceases to amaze me.
No kidding. However I guess they weren't in the gossip mood in '08 when Obama was elected. I didn't see any articles asking what a Black Liberation Theology WH would look like. I also don't recall them worrying about what the Senate would look like with a Mormon as Senate Majority Leader. What book did he swear in on? We have Socialists, Communists, and Muslims, in Congress too. How about some gossip on that CNN. I am curious how Keith Ellison fits in his 5 prayers every day, what pictures hang on his walls at home, and if he serves drinks to his guests.
Christians are not Mormons. They believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one separate god. They are monotheists who do not believe in three separate gods. They do not believe that the Father, God, is an exalted man and has a physical body. They believe that the Bible is inerrant, and that salvation comes through faith alone.
I am SO sick and tired of Christians jumping on the Mormon band-wagon!
Many many years ago there was a man named John F. Kennady who became one of THE BEST Presidents the
US ever had ........Before he was elected ~ a whole bunch of people were concerned/worried because of his
church he attended/worshipped in..........WERE THEY EVER WRONG ABOUT HIM – GO M-R
There are three things a Mormon does not recognize.
1. The power of the Pope.
2. The power of a Democratic President.
3 Each other at the liquor store.
Okay, the last one was funny.
"In Greed We Trust"
In 1994, Bain invested $27 million as part of a deal with other firms to acquire Dade International, a medical-diagnostics-equipment firm, from its parent company, Baxter International. Bain ultimately made nearly 10 times its money, getting back $230 million. But Dade wound up laying off more than 1,600 people and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002, amid crushing debt and rising interest rates. The company, with Bain in charge, had borrowed heavily to do acquisitions, accumulating $1.6 billion in debt by 2000. The company cut benefits for some workers at the acquired firms and laid off others. When it merged with Behring Diagnostics, a German company, Dade shut down three U.S. plants. At the same time, Dade paid out $421 million to Bain Capital’s investors and investing partners.
For 15 years, Romney had been in the business of creative destruction and wealth creation. But what about his claims of job creation? Though Bain Capital surely helped expand some companies that had created jobs, the layoffs and closures at other firms would lead Romney’s political opponents to say that he had amassed a fortune in part by putting people out of work. The lucrative deals that made Romney wealthy could exact a cost. Maximizing financial return to investors could mean slashing jobs, closing plants, and moving production overseas. It could also mean clashing with union workers, serving on the board of a company that ran afoul of federal laws, and loading up already struggling companies with debt.
Marc Wolpow, a former Bain partner who worked with Romney on many deals, said the discussion at buyout companies typically does not focus on whether jobs will be created. “It’s the opposite—what jobs we can cut,” Wolpow said. “Because you had to document how you were going to create value. Eliminating redundancy, or the elimination of people, is a very valid way."
A couple of examples (it's pretty easy to find more):
Bain closed GST Steel plant in 2001 laying off 750 workers.
Controlling share owner Bain Capital closes BRP plant (Southern Illinois) so the 340 jobs there could be outsourced to Mexico.
Also, this is disconcerting:
Drink all the coffee you want. As long as you buy it from a Mormon vender.
I suspect the White House would look just the same, unless they decided to paint it.
Lowe's has a wide election of paints to choose from.
....In mean selection. I wonder why I said election?
Mormon drug dealers.
think about fixing yourselves with plastic surgery, higher education, exercise, etc. before trying to fix something you have no control over and who is pretty much perfect aka romney we love romney
Vote Romney he's almost a God already.
Almost was not good enough for Satan according to the story.
What would a Muslim White House look like......a stupid article, but which would you choose ????
Get back to your bottle of Bud dude.
Get out there and vote folks.
romney will win and all you ignorant fools can cry to your mommies
Trolllll Bridge ahead,
Huh?? As if you already knew the Tueday's result that Mitt won,. Hold your breadth for 3 more nights, the whole world will see who will cry on Nov 6th.
It's funny how Mormons swear they are Christians. But when asked about their beliefs they dodge the questions. It's just like Romney.
Hear are the facts:
Mormons believe that God created multiple worlds and each world has people living on it. They also believe that multiple Gods exist but each has their own universe. We are only subject to our God and if we obtain the highest level of heaven we can become gods ourselves.
In LDS theology you can be forgiven for any sin, save two. First, denying the Holy Spirit, and second, murder. Also, God is infinitely forgiving, until the second coming. After that, you end up where you end up, no matter what. There are no second chances. Period.
In LDS doctrine there are three heavens: the Celestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, and Telestial Kingdom. The Celestial is the highest, where God and the ones who followed his law reside. The Terrestrial is the middle, where people who followed the Law of Moses reside. The Telestial is the lowest, where the ones who followed carnal law reside.
While most religions believe in God, the LDS religion believes in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as separate beings. They also believe that God, Jesus and resurrected beings have bodies of “flesh and bone.”
The Book of Mormon is a book of LDS scripture that takes place during the same time as the Bible and takes place on the American continent. It follows the stories of two tribes who descended from the family of Lehi. After Jesus’ resurrection LDS people believe he visited the peoples of the Americas.
This one is very unique to the LDS faith. Basically, everyone on earth now was a spirit in the pre-existence. When we die, our spirits are separated from our bodies and if we were good they go to “spirit paradise.” If we were bad they go to “spirit prison.” The spirit world exists as a place for spirits to go while awaiting the second coming.
All of these beliefs are in total contradiction to the bible.
"All of these beliefs are in total contradiction to the bible."
Meh. It's all a matter of interpretation. The NT contradicts the OT, unless you "interpret" the NT "correctly". Why not a NNT (New New Testametn)?
Ya! Everyone knows there is only one, real cosmic Jewish zombie who is his own dad and also a fire ghost who had himself killed in order to save us from a sin made by a rib woman who listened to a talking snake!
If lights start talking to me on a mountain I am going to become a lot more selective about which wild mushrooms my wives are allowed to feed me.
Mormons are Christians: A few questions: If God and Jesus are one in the same, who did Jesus pray to in the Garden of Gethsemane? Who did Stephen see (Acts 7:55-56) when he looked up into heaven and saw the Son of Man (Jesus) standing on the right hand of God? Who spoke from heaven: "This is my beloved SON." at both the baptism of Jesus and at the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John? Why does Genesis 1:26-27 say "And God said, let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness?
This is the Jesus Christ that I, as a Mormon, believe in: He was born of Mary in Bethlehem and was raised as the son of a carpenter (Joseph). About the age of 30 he began his mortal ministry. He called twelve apostles, he healed the sick, blind, lepers, etc. and then about three years later he was crucified and was resurrected. He appeared to Mary, the remaining eleven apostles (and they felt his hands and his feet as a resurrected being (Luke 24:36-39) and visited the "other sheep" not of the fold of Jerusalem (John 10:16) here in the Americas. I believe the Bible is the word of God and that the Book of Mormon is another testament with the Bible that Jesus is the Christ. Sounds pretty Christian to me.
I've got some prime swampland to sell you.
It takes a very unintelligent mind to believe in these fairy tales.
It takes a true moron (there is one too many M's in mormon) to believe the word of a self confessed con-man like Joe smith.
There is a reason I have a sign posted on my door with a man and a woman holding a bible with a giant no symbol through it. If you still have the audacity to knock on my door be prepared for my opinion of your religion.
I have no problem with peoples religious beliefs as long as they don't force them on me.
There is no place for religion in politics, what you do behind closed doors is your business but it should not be forced on others.
What if zombie Ed McMahon is at the door to give your a check for a million dollars?
If you're curious about what happens in the secret rites performed in Mormon temples, this video contains hidden camera footage of the Salt Lake Temple ceremonies, where Ann and Mitt were married: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6udew9axmdM Search YouTube for "NewNameNoah"'s channel to find the full hour-and-a-half Endowment ceremony at the Salt Lake temple filmed with a hidden camera, if you're curious. No more secrets.
There IS a paid clergy in the Mormon "church," from Mission President up to and including the Prophet himself. Only Stake Presidents and lesser members are unpaid. Saying that there is no paid clergy is misleading and incorrect.
There may be some distinction between local priesthood and the paid "general authority" in LDS. But, I think you are correct that the LDS is not an all volunteer organization.
That is simply not true. They dedicate their entire lives to the Church (they no longer have full-time work outside of the Church) so they receive a stipend. Those with means from earlier occupations do not receive the stipend. For the most part, the stipend pays for the apartment where they live (the Prophet and Apostles all live in apartments in downtown SLC), attire, and food.
So, how much are they getting paid? Also, LDS bishops are bishops after working hours from their paid employment, so how much free time would a higher LDS church official have and still be gainfully employed elsewhere?
Just to be picky, I guess, but how is a "stipend" not pay?
It may not be commiserate with the work performed but it is still pay.
If you want Obama for another term then get out there and vote! It wont happen by wishful thinking.
Organized, Focused, Professional ...No Girl Friends, and No Marxist ex Bombers as Pals...that's what it would look like.
what fun it that?
Know before you vote:
the central idea of that video is that mormon beliefs are stupid and how can you trust as president someone whose beliefs are that stupid, but the same could be asked of any christian president who believes in notions every bit as ridiculous as the mormon beliefs.
Face the facts, if you vote for Romney you would be voting for the cult member President of the United States.
Elohim bless you.
Look out there you said the C word.
I could be wrong, but as an atheist, I doubt you would view Mormonism as being any worse than Catholicism, or Protestantism. Free thinker? I think not.
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.