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Romney’s loss closes out ‘Mormon moment’
Mitt Romney attending church on Sunday earlier this year.
November 8th, 2012
03:20 PM ET

Romney’s loss closes out ‘Mormon moment’

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney’s defeat appears to close out a years-long “Mormon moment,” a period of national fascination with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It has also provoked Mormon disappointment; Romney would have been first Latter-day Saint in the White House, culminating a decades-long process of growing Mormon acceptance and influence.

But prominent Mormons and religion experts say Mormons should be heartened that Romney’s candidacy appeared to help mainstream the relatively young faith, which was founded in 1830 in upstate New York.

“Part of the Mormon moment was curiosity and much of that curiosity has been satisfied,” said John Green, professor of political science at the University of Akron.

“There will always be people who disagree with them,” Green said, “but the sense is that this community is part of the broad middle of American society.”

As stories about the LDS Church graced the covers of magazines and front pages of newspapers, the church’s press office was working overtime to answer questions from around the globe. A church that prefers to keep private became very public.

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“Without question there has been an increase in interest in the Church over the past several years,” church spokesman Michael Purdy told CNN. “Although there have been exceptions, this attention has given people the opportunity to know who we are and what we believe.”

It also meant more publicity for aspects of the church that many Mormons would prefer not dwell on, like the church’s onetime practice of polygamy (the church banned the practice more than 100 years ago) and its denial of the priesthood to black members until the late 1970s.

But even the uncomfortable questions were good for the church, said Richard Bushman, a Mormon scholar who has served as a local Mormon leader.

“So long as those objections and criticisms were kept under wraps, they just sort of festered there,” Bushman said. “Getting them out in the open where people could speak candidly, that in a way clears the atmosphere.”

Coverage of Mormonism also led to some level of misinformation. One example: On the TV show “The View,” on October 18, 2012, Whoopi Goldberg asked Ann Romney, Mitt Romney’s wife, about how she would relate to soldiers.

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“As first lady, if you get the job, it’s going to entail a lot of things, and one of those things is going to be talking to the mothers whose children are coming home in bags, you know, from wars,” Goldberg said. “Now, I know - I believe that your religion doesn’t allow you to go fight.”

Goldberg was wrong. Mormons are actually known to enlist in the military at higher levels than others. “No, that's not correct,” Ann Romney told Goldberg. “We have many, many members of our faith that are serving in armed services.”

Purdy, the church spokesman, says such exchanges were ultimately beneficial.

“A good deal of misinformation has been replaced with a more accurate picture of the Church, its doctrines, and its members across the world,” Purdy said. “That is a good thing for all involved and we look forward to these opportunities continuing.”

But with Romney’s loss, interest in Mormonism is expected to dwindle. Joanna Brooks, a well known Mormon blogger and author says it’s only a matter of time until that interest returns.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“There have been many Mormon moments, and there will be many more to come,” she said. “Mormonism remains a vibrant and distinctive force on the American religious landscape, and as a young religion with a new global reach, the Mormon story is still unfolding.”

The last Mormon moment, she said, was a good one: “This is a moment in which the nation proved that it was capable of having a discussion about candidates and platforms without openly subjecting either candidate to a religious test.”

Though Romney’s faith garnered plenty of coverage - from Time’s cover story “The Mormon Identity,” to New York Magazine’s “Where is the Mormonism in Mitt Romney?,” - neither the campaigns nor outside groups made much, if any, mention of it.

Romney’s bid seemed to improve relations between Mormons and evangelical Christians, many of whom have long seen the LDS Church as a cult. In May, Romney spoke at Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell.

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Weeks before the election, too, the Rev. Billy Graham met with Romney for the first time and removed “Mormonism” from a section of his website devoted to cults.

“The Billy Graham business, for me that was symbolic that evangelicals instead of just dismissing Mormonism, (they) now need to talk a little more about what they mean,” Bushman said.

According to exit polls on Tuesday, 79% of white evangelical Christians voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. That’s an even higher share of the white evangelical vote than John McCain got in 2008, when he was the Republican presidential nominee.

“From the point of view of religious tolerance and acceptance, there were some really positive trends,” Green said. “It does suggest that the path towards greater religious tolerance has continued.”

Green raised the subject with his students after Tuesday’s election. At the end of the conversation, Green said one non-Mormon student’s comment encapsulated the strides Mormonism made in the last year.

“They aren’t any stranger,” the student joked, “than anyone else.”

– CNN’s Allison Brennan contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (1,823 Responses)
  1. moe smith

    Magic underwear on sale on Amazon and EBay!!! Get yours while they are still around!

    November 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  2. Gladys Kravitz

    The Mormons believe that the Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel despite DNA saying otherwise. Then there are the other historical inaccuracies in the Book of Mormon like horses and pigs in the new world. If the book were truly divinely inspired, God wouldn't have tripped up on these details...

    November 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  3. Apple Bush

    If any of you out there make movies are plan to, PLEASE consider making a horror flick with Mormonism as the central character. So much un-tapped content, it would be awsome. I think I am going start on a screen play right now, tonight!

    November 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  4. Christopher Walken

    People, if, I may...Mitt Romney, if that is his real name, put up an excellent fight. But, ya know, he lost so, he had to say farewell and, ya know, ride off into the sunset. I don't think he murdered anyone, as far as I know.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  5. Journey

    The "Mormon Moment"?...Mitt worshiped $$$ folks...nothing more.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Troy

      Mr. Romney was successful and if anyone here says they'd always work for nothing and/or never better oneself financially is a liar......... I make more money than others in my church, does that make me a "money"" worshiper? I'll answer that for you, "Nope".........

      November 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  6. Hu Phart Ngau

    I personally don't believe that the Governor's religion played a major role in his loss. But I do believe that his outdated ideology, and that of the GOP in general, caused an evolving populous to move on. The only thing that is different in the GOP agenda of the past 12 years, is the overt effort to shift our country from democracy, toward plutocracy. Something that we, the 97%, reject.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Troy

      97%........... ?????

      November 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      The 'shift' has already taken place,,,, just smell the heirs of gambling and heirs of the parents' riches meandering about,,,

      November 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Correction, from day one, Governor was no match for Obama , – Or GOP had no viable candidates who could defeat Obama. Period.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      putting up a bishop, pope, etc of any religion as POTUS, is a non starter.
      Unless you are shooting for a theocracy.

      I do not care if they are my personal friend, liberal or conservative.
      It is bad foreign policy, and it is bad domestic policy.
      Be a senator, be a governor, be a dog catcher.
      I believe a lot of people have a problem having a religious official holding the highest office in the land.
      Work for POTUS, ok, Party with POTUS, ok. Be POTUS, no no no, not my vote.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  7. Drew

    As a Mormon, I have always enjoyed receiving inquiries about my faith. In some instances, I think that the "Mormon Moment" was a reason for people to feel comfortable asking us questions. If anyone has sincere and honest questions, please ask us! We will never be offended and you shouldn't feel awkward or that you must show any commitment. Don't worry, it's not our faith's intention to pressure anyone!
    I thought some of you might be interested in the church's response to the election results: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/statement-on-election-result
    There is also some good information if you want to look around.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Drew,

      Your prophessing to be a Mormon leads me to ask. "Do you believe in the KJVB and its scriptures?"

      November 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • str8whtguy

      Thanks, Drew. Not a Mormon, just not my thing. But it's nice to hear that you're willing to take honest questions and answer them honestly. I'm a preacher of a different sort – I teach college classes in finance, accounting, management, etc. I have a similar philosophy that I stress to my students. Ask me honest questions, and I'll give you an honest answer. If I don't know the answer, I'll tell you so, but give resources to find the answer.

      Well said, my friend.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • JJ

      Why do you believe in the supernatural? Do you realize you suffer from a delusion implanted by your parents as all Christians are?

      November 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      Hey Drew, check out exmormon.org. You might know some of them over there.
      I am not a mormon, have not been a mormon, have read the book of mormon.

      You check out exmormon.org

      They got stuff over there that stumps your living apostles in SLC.
      In fact they have been asking your higher ups to answer their technical questions about mormonism.
      But I guess everybody at the temple is too busy using 12 year-olds as proxies to baptize the dead.

      They have questions, bring them back into your fold, or perhaps the other way around.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Mike B

      Do you all feel threatened by Mormonism?

      November 8, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Drew

      Hey all, thanks for the responses.
      @God's oldest dreamer - Yes, I frequently study the King James Version. Sometimes, I will compliment my study with the New International Version. I've found some interesting insights using both.
      @JJ - No I do not realize that because it is not the case! I understand that there are many arguments against religion, but the argument that it is only a "delusion" is particularly elementary. I don't find such arguments from people like Dawkins and Harris convincing. Just as there are logical and rational people who don't believe in God, there are completely rational and thoughtful people who believe God. This includes philosophers, professors, scientists and millions of others who believe based on an informed judgment. I do not take my decision lightly nor is it blind faith. It's based on years of learning and experiences that have have led me, but most important it's based on what I believe is the Spirit of God.
      @ACT III – Thanks for your concern! I am familiar with many arguments to my faith. I've been to that site and seen others, but I have not seen anything I'm particularly concerned about. There are also online resources that addresses many of those issues. I find the most convincing thing is the actual power of God available through prayer and communion with Him. Previously, I've read some of those things and did have my questions. However, through proper research, and continual prayer, I found the answer that has been most meaningful and important in my life. That is available to all.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  8. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Mittology wrote me on November 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm, writing,"Dreamer. So what. That does not prove a god nor disprove a god. But there is no evidence for a god this side of the Big Bang at least. So the foundation for any religion is shaky at best. Many religions are purely profit centers. Catholic church, crystal cathedral are examples of great wealth not always put to good as defined by jesus."

    I am in no way shape or form with any of the days' churches and/or flocks. I stand upon my own two feet in my understandings of God, the Gods and Christ Jesus. My scientific stature is not yet as fulfilling as I'd like it to be but I am a working on it.

    As I said in one of my postings, the Holy Spirit is the vast sea of Nothingness and God and His Godly were and still will ever be the immeasurable elements accredited nowadays as quantum in nature. I will not ill afford you with too much of my thoughts so I ask that you meditate on these words before making a judgement for or against them.

    Love Lettuce
    Love Let Us,
    G.O.D.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  9. CA

    "A church that prefers to keep private became very public."

    A church so private that I spent two years, 11 hours a day knocking on the doors of perfect strangers telling them about it...the LDS church maybe the least private church in the nation. haha

    If anyone would care to listen I'll tell you all about it! (:

    November 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  10. Troy

    I'm afraid this country is going down the wrong road....... Albeit the founding fathers wanted "Separation of Church and State", but I doubt they wanted a fundamental paradigm shift away from Christian and real Islam belief ( I say the later because Islam worships the same God )...... Where the founding fathers didn't want governmental power dictating which church we belong to, things now are governmental powers dictating if you work your hiney off and are successful, you better be prepared to have your money taken away. People should help people, as any good Christian should, but let me determine where my money goes, not through tax collection....

    November 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Troy, the government should not and cannot dictate belief. Our founding fathers would be proud that the American people are educated and intelligent. I feel confident they would not wallow in ignorance they way you do.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • gofe

      Christian and Islam beliefs have never been our paradigm.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Observer

      Troy,

      "let me determine where my money goes, not through tax collection...."

      So let's eliminate the military, police, fire protection, emergency services, food inspections, air safety inspections, highway building, national parks, courts, etc. Right, or should they collect money from you to pay for it?

      November 8, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      What the holy hell are you even talking about! Most of your tax money goes to things like military, infrastructure, etc.. etc.. not charity. I hear this argument again and again, but its total crap. No other first world country has taxes as low as ours, much less on the wealthiest. We also tend to have far less in terms of social services as well. What we do have is a huge debt mostly run up by anti-tax, fiscal conservatives and their wars. The 1920s is the only other time in our history when those at the top were paying as little in taxes as they are now, and that led up to the Great Depression. In 08 after years of the Bush tax cuts the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression was in full swing.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Troy,

      A scattering is upon us in these trying days and Age. Leave your wantings behind and never take wind of one's longings for the weightiness of one's longings will smite even the most influential. Carry away nothing and leave. Head to the places inside one's being and do not keep ajar your door for many will want to enter in and should not. Your loving this Life is for the world to have and you should not heed the rumors from others as to just what is truly right. It is therefore best for mankind to simmer in their juvenile pottages never rationalizingly 'assaying' one's diffuse detriments, the very smallest of life's grains. As smitten breeds, our splendors reveal one's characters to be traitorous to one's analogous fold. Where then does Life end and living begin?

      November 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  11. LIP

    It was no more a Mormon moment for Mitt Romney than it was a Catholic one for John F Kennedy who at that time, the media tried making into a big deal. Once Kennedy became President, it was never mentioned again, just as it would have ceased to exist had Romney made it to the Presidency. We must stop listening to the media for everything we digest.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Meatwad

      I had to digest some tacos today. They were turkey tacos.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Master Shake

      Hey! Those were *my* tacos!

      November 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Meatwad

      I made the tacos those were my tacos.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • margaret alquist

      Kennedy was asked directly what part the Church would play.. he said that there was no connection as he believed in the separation of church and state. Mitt was asked a similar question and he said he would pray to God and consult his church. I saw this interview on TV but the media has decided to not play it... any further. In fact it seems like hit has been buried. I do not want a president who consults his church on his presidential duties.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  12. RayJacksonMS

    If you want to see how close America was to being taken over by a cult look up the Mormon White Horse Prophecy. Be glad this cultist lost.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Christopher Walken

      A man...any man really, on a, you know, white horse, is a man who not only rides horses, but a man who... has one.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Mike

      If you think Momons are a cult, then you obviously have been misinformed.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Milton Platt

      A cult is just a group of people who don't believe the same thin you do. So to them, I guess you are the cult, just like the Christians were a cult to the Jews.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  13. Christopher Walken

    Well, you use these words, you know, cult, hate, lima beans, baby screams but really, one man's cult, is another man's, you know, super fun day.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  14. Liz the First

    As elated and relieved that he lost, i was very proud of the classy way Romney conceded.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      It is part of his progamming.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • str8whtguy

      I am so not a Romney fan, but his concession speech was very classy. It's not called programming, it's called being polite and honorable. Something my (very liberal) parents taught me long ago. As much as I didn't like Romney's plans, politics, or agenda, he bowed out in a very appropriate way.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Romney hates puppies.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  15. Jean

    CNN are religious bigots. They tried to smear Mormons and raised doubts about the candidate by questioning the validity of his religion. Shame on you CNN

    November 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Zaaggy

      No, Jean..... CNN was right to ask pointed questions of Mormonism. All religions are nonsense, but mormonism reaches new heights of sheer unadulterated hogwash. Read the Book of Mormon. I have read it... and it is obviously made up by a guy in the 1830's. There is a mountain of evidence that the religion is made-up nonsense and that Joseph Smith was nothing but a charlatan.Its frightening that anyone believing this utter tripe could potentially become President of the United States!

      November 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  16. sick of christian phonies

    skarphace says:
    "God the holy spirit being the sea of absolute Nothingness brought about the Gods which are the immeasurable elements. Christ Jesus came about thru the Gods, these immeasurable elements of infinitesimal finiteness. The trinity is but a false embolism and the dichotomy or splitting in two is how the innerspace gave birth to outerspace."
    Huh? I'm sorry, I reads that 4 times and it's still a pile of nonsense. Talking in obscurant and undecipherable terms does NOT prove a point.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • reima08

      Mitt Romney was a preacher and BISHOP in the Mormon Church. Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith, who claims an angel named Moroni (who is NOT mentioned in the Holy Bible) gave to Smith golden plates containing the foundation of the Mormon religion. Well here is what the King James Holy Bible says about that:

      The Apostle Paul in the Book of Galatians Chapter 1, verses 6-9, states the following:

      "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an ANGEL from heaven, preach ANY other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be ACCURSED. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that he have received, let him be accursed." (Emphasis added).

      November 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  17. There Are Differences!

    As more and more people come to know and realize the True Differences between Mormons and Christians and their different views on Jesus Christ they will surely come to a more informed decision!

    http://carm.org/hinckley-says-mormons-believe-different-jesus

    November 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Leprechauns and unicorns are different

      "Informed" means you have information and facts and evidence to support your position, and that rules out religion entirely, Mormon or Christian.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • BR

      I'm very proud of this country. Im not sure if people realize it, but the fact that a black man by name of "Barack Hussein Obama" with a Kenyan father could contest a Mormon for white house, and their race, family history and religion played miminal role in the election speaks volumes for the greatness of this country.

      America is Beautiful.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • str8whtguy

      Well said, BR.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • And There are BIG Differences!

      Hey leprechaun, "informed" simply means they have made an educated and thorough study of the two and have presented their findings so as to allow people who may not know the Big Differences between the two to indeed make an 'informed decision' about whether to support Mormons or Christians. And have you not heard of the study of religion? That is just the way it is like it or not.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      BR, "America is Beautiful."

      I couldn;t agree more! There's a statue of her don;t you know? They call it the statue of Liberty,,,, she was a goddess but I'm not too sure of her given name,,, :-(

      November 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Leprechauns and unicorns are different

      Oh I see. You mean saying your fairy tales in such a way that they seem on a par with facts and all that. Sort of the way you would have dowsing presented equally in a seminar on drilling for water. Or the way seer stones helps those with special eyes see invisible magic golden tablets.

      You want your "information" put out as if it is equal, so that it doesn't set off everyones bullshit detectors.

      Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  18. str8whtguy

    I was never a fan of Romney, and didn't vote for him, but his religion played absolutely no role in my decision. I work in a field where I interact with and collaborate with people of many faiths, including LDS, Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, etc.. We consider each other colleagues and friends, and our occasional discussions about each other's religious beliefs are generally based in curiosity and never scorn. For us, it's irrelevant to the work we're doing. But we can learn a tremendous amount from each other. Make your "enemy" your friend, and you both have won.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • caldy

      You're describing yourself as a "progressive". So why do you feel the need to let everyone know that you're a str8whtguy?

      November 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  19. Surprise Surprise Surprise!

    Remember Representative "evolution and the Big Bang are lies straight from the Pit of Hell" Broun? He was running unopposed, but there was a substantial write-in campaign. Charles Darwin got 4,000 votes (and still counting), coming in second. Indeed, 1 voter in 5 in the relevant area wrote in Darwin.

    And that's deep in the Heart of Georgia!

    November 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  20. Joe Plumber

    Cult

    November 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • lewtwo

      All religions are cults ... except for ISLAM. That is a hate group.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Joe De Dumber (Plumber)

      . . . is a dolt

      November 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Milton Platt

      Now there is a detailed, well thought highly intelligent post.........do you know any words that have more than four letters?

      November 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.