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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. David

    All religion is fairy tales for the dumb people.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      like your name!!! hope it is not your real name.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • n8r0n

      They're not all dumb (or intellectually challenged, as I'm sure you meant by that term).

      Some of them are gullible.

      Some are just weak, and don't want to question what their parents taught them.

      Some feel alone in the universe, and need the security blanket of believing there's a magical being that loves them.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Goliath

      It's the great human weakness for ideology. That's why there are smart religious people who should know better, why there were smart Nazis who should have known better, and why there were smart Bolsheviks who should have known better.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  2. dzerres

    Billy Graham can again fix his website to state that the Mormon Church is a cult. I didn't say it – Graham did and probably will again.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  3. Chris

    It's all well and good being kind to religious folks, but the Mormons are a lunatic cult. Magic underwear? When the men die they get their own planet? Do they believe this garbage? Do you want someone who believes this garbage running your country?

    November 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Ron Y.

      NO. apparently the rest of the country doesn't either.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Matthew

      Chris,
      To distort another person's beliefs takes little effort and an absence of courage. To believe something affirmative and to share it and express it takes a great deal of effort and courage.
      Why don't you try showing some effort and courage someday.
      Until then, trust me when I tell you that thoughtful people find your attacks to be hollow and distasteful.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  4. tnfreethinker

    Dodged that bullet. Whew!

    November 8, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  5. Ryan in Miami

    Romney's loss could be the best thing that ever happened to the LDS/Mormon church. The LDS church still got lots of media coverage all over the world, and many many stories on CNN's website. Also, if Romney had won and performed poorly, people would have gained a more unfavorable view of the LDS.

    Now, the LDS church gets publicity without the danger of being attached to an unpopular president.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Athy

      But he's still a loser.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • peter

      Ryan–the best thing that happened to romney personally is that he lost–he just doesn't realize it yet–it was a blessing in disguise–He will realize that in fact the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God. As far as "publicity", it did the opposite–it educated people that mormons believe that the book of mormon is the word of God.
      Christendom as well as our country rejected joeseph smith in the 19th century.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  6. ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

    Romney’s loss closes out ‘Mormon moment’

    Silly!! Not a chance. Two of them will be knocking on your door sometime very soon.

    Step 1
    ask them in, and ask them back.

    Step 2
    Schedule the Jehovah Witnesses

    Step 3
    Boxing ring in the back yard.
    The winner converts you.

    This makes it interesting.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  7. Joseph Smith Vi

    Look – my great, great, great, great, great, grandfather, Joseph Smith....cheated on his wife, wife, wife, wife, wife, wife..

    November 8, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  8. JP0

    So far I haven't heard anyone say "It's God's will."

    November 8, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      How could it be when there is no god?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Observer

      Palin said that the day before the elections 4 years ago.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Badda Bing

      It's God's will.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  9. Jez

    I have a HUGE problem with the Mormon "religion's" treatment of black people. Only 30 years ago, black people were not allowed into the higher echelons of the church, and not out of "purgatory". Only by the government being down their throats did a "deacon" have a "revelation" that blacks could indeed excel in their "church". What a bunch of malarky. Anyone who belongs to this racist cult has no right to be president of a multi-racial country. How arrogant and twisted! Get lost -well, stay lost, Romney!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • Monomachos

      Your information is incorrect; there is no Mormon "purgatory"; there was no government pressure. Every Mormon I know was thrilled with the change that allowed all worthy males to hold the priesthood – 35 years ago. There are many black Mormons now and phenomenal growth of the church in places like Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. Mormons are not looking back.
      Who's the real bigot here?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    Obama says he is a Christian. If that is true, then he is just as stupid as any other religious dumbass.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Kerryn

      For politicians, religion is today what kissing babies was 75 years ago – it's something they feel they have to do for the cameras.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Dippy

      Why do you bold one s in "dumbass"?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • His HTML is showing

      He is using the atheist swear magic where he didn't need to, and accidentally did not close off the magic.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • n8r0n

      Dippy,

      Due to the nonsensical Puritans and Mormons among us, web sites like this often censor comments that have anything resembling a curse word. One technique to foil that is to inject some formatting into your comment. Whether or not it's required on the site, it's a useful technique to defeat simple censoring algorithms.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Athy

      But the dumb fucker did it wrong. You don't need to bold one letter. Shit. See?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Sven

      Just a typo, athy, just a typo.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Athy
      You are right, I am a dummy. I can't figure it out. I know the d and i tags work, but I can't find anything else so that is why I bold my bad letter. I am not working in wordpress, just right in the CNN blog. What is the tag I can use? I will post elsewhere too so you see this. Thanks for your help?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  11. Mailin

    Very glad not to have to deal with these religious freaks any further!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • n8r0n

      Unfortunately, Mormons aren't going anywhere. They're like a virus.

      Like many other germs, an alcohol rub does pretty well to keep them down.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Athy

      Coffee and nicotine work also.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  12. Tyler

    I can tell anyone that wants to know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is apolitical. Latter-day Saints serve as politicians in all parties, from Harry Reid (D) to Mitt Romney (R). During this election cycle I have supported President Obama and have received no flak. On the contrary, the Church of Jesus Christ is embracing ALL differences in members. Look no further then http://www.mormon.org to see the diversity of members.

    The Church of Jesus Christ is truly a church for ANYONE. Anybody who wants to join can! It matters not what you have done in your past. The Church of Jesus Christ offers a community unparalleled to anything else you will find, a deep spiritual path, meaning in life and countless other benefits. The Church of Jesus Christ wants all people everywhere to unite in Christ’s Movement. The movement is, put simply, a movement of love.

    Like Michael Otterson said, this is just the beginning. Latter-day Saints will continue to raise awareness that anybody who seeks to be fellow citizens of Christ can be. This is a movement to bring MORE GOOD into the world, Christ’s Movement. You have two options, sit on the sidelines well this movement progresses or you can be a part of something great.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Jez

      Puleeze! I don't recall Jo Smith being mentioned in the bible – not that the bible means anything. Mormons are not Christians.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      A "spiritual path" and "meaning" that was only just brazenly INVENTED, i.e., MAN-MADE, less than 2 centuries ago. Good one! HA HA HA! That must be such a profound experience for you to be following such a cheesy, newly manufactured fairy tale life! HA HA HA! Go for it, dolt! Just don't come to my door in your pathetic starch white shirt and black string tie.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • That's nonsense

      Apolitical? They sure sent a lot of apolitical contributions to get Proposition H8 passed. Proselytized about it in their temples. Put bands of them and their kids with signs on every street corner.

      And they sure aren't totally controlling the state government of Utah or anything.

      Apolitical? Ease off of the kool-aid, buddy.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • peter

      JEZ -and that is why romney lost–republicans such as myself sat out the gen election

      November 8, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Lay off the coolaid

      Lay off the joseph smith coolaid. do you really think that jesus came to america and got in a war with the dark skins. Joseph smith was arrested countless times for everything from printing money to dousing for gold until he was run out of 30 towns and arrested. He ran to utah not to escape persecution but to escape the law. Read the history books.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Monomachos

      Yes apolitical – the Mormon church never endorses candidates. Prop 8 was a moral/religious issue to them, not a political one. Members are encouraged to vote, they are never told how to vote.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Not quite

      Joseph Smith never made it to Utah. He was lynched in Illinois when a faction of Mormons split off, and he ordered their newspaper printing press destroyed (nice embracing of freedom of the press). People reacted, and Smith declared martial law, with his private army in charge. The state militia was mobilized, and Smith arrested for inciting a riot. Sick of the Smith's bank ponzi schemes and political attempts to displace locals and create a theocracy, a lynch mob came, which Smith mistook for his private army.

      Not that lynch mobs are acceptable, but Smith sure provoked them.

      I often think Mormons don't have any clue about what Joseph Smith really was. They must have been brainwashed with a massively watered-down version, because more honest histories reveal him to be a weird cocktail of conman, nut, and demagogue.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Chozo

      And you get to wear Magical Underwear!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Chozo

      Joseph Smith was a nutbag con-man, from the same mold as L. Ron Hubbard, the nutbag con-man who started "Scientology".

      November 8, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • That's even more nonsense

      @ Monomachos – a political proposition is not a political? Sorry, but that's bullshit.

      If I claim that raping children is part of my religious heritage, then it's okay? Of course not. You are using religion to pretend that your oppression of people is not political and not oppression. That is nothing but an exercise in self-deception, and lie to yourself.

      Sorry, but during Prop 8, the LDS in Utah sent buses full of people to work against the act, and the local temple arranged for houses in which the Utah Mormons stayed as they perverted law in a state other than their own and forced their religion down the throats of people who are not Mormon.

      Despicable behavior. And despicable self-deception.

      What you just said is why the world would be better off without religion – because it institutionalizes biases and racism, and makes oppression seem like a holy task.

      THat is why the Mormon moment is over.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • n8r0n

      The LDS church, like any other church, has to abide by certain rules about not endorsing political candidates, simply in order to maintain their status as a tax-exempt church.

      They don't do it because they're moderate, or open-minded, or don't want to tell their members how to think.

      It's that Mormonism is as much a financial cult as it is a social cult, and they realize they'd have to pay their fair share of taxes to the government (like everybody else does) if they were outright political (per the IRS definition).

      November 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  13. Insulted

    The Mormons interference and uninvited molestation of the people of the Kingdom of Hawai'i brought about the end of the most beautiful society to ever exist. They can never be forgive for this destruction.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • You should be

      If you are ever there and you go to a luau that does the range of historic dances, notice the costumes. It is stunningly apparent when the Mormons and Christians showed up and freaked out about how they dressed.

      It wasn't just the Mormons. The Calvinists banned the practice of much of their heritage, and many of their places of worship were intentionally destroyed. Just like what happened to the natives in Central and South America. They should have made stew out of the missionaries.

      The coolest thing about the Hawaiians is that they were one of the very few cultures who actually realized their religion was bullshit, and abolished it in 1819! Unfortunately, that was just when the missionaries showed up.

      It really hasn't been that long since Christianity acted like the Taliban. And that's American Christianity, too!

      November 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  14. RaisedMormon

    God willing, in my lifetime, I'll never have to worry about a Mormon becoming President again!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • peter

      There will never be a mormon on the ticket again of either party..

      November 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Big N Sloppy

      Dog willing, your lifetime will be extremely short.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Monomachos

      There sure is a lot of bigotry in these comments.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  15. cg SLC

    Yes all my Mormon friends on Facebook were so very sad after the election. But at least they were consoling themselves by talking about prayer and kindness to one another in the aftermath of the loss, instead of threatening to fire half their employees or calling for some kind of armed insurrection the way some people have been doing the last few days.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Huh?

      Fire half their employees? I must have missed that.

      Armed insurrection? Is anyone beyond a drunken Donald Trump saying that?

      November 8, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      I take it Harry Reid did not make your cut.

      Trump is talking about moving to Canada!!! Leave, yes.
      But that irrelevant mop head is clueless. Republistan is at the bottom of the ocean, with an outpost at Newt's moonbase.

      What a fool he is, Canadians actually have socialized medicine, being a social friendly country more liberal than the US.
      Besides that pompous birther fool would not fit in up, unless he was sharing a piece of ice with a polar bear.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • cg SLC

      Oh it's out there. Granted I'm only making references to a couple of the craziest examples of impotent rage going on in various dark corners of the internet at the moment. I'm sure they're just isolated cases though, not to be taken as a representation of the broader sentiment, but it's still somewhat depressing to see that kind of irrational reaction gripping people here and there.

      And yes, to tell the truth not all Mormons are exactly in mourning right now, as a decent percentage of the community are also Obama supporters (though definitely in the minority).

      November 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Ethan

      Glenn Beck's comments really threw me off there. He's certainly being reasonable, talking about praying and being friendly, and working for the benefit of mankind.

      Oh, wait. Actually, he's fear-mongering, turning humanity against itself, and trying to profit off it all. Bravo. What an exemplary Mormon...

      November 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  16. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    I sure am glad to see that the Captain Magic Underwear, Mr. Has-Been Willard Romney is going to fade into the nether regions of quickly forgotten losers. Good riddance! The last thing we need is yet more ridiculous religious fairy tales gaining even more credence by means of one of its adherents serving as President! When the hell do we get an atheist President?! What about even just an agnostic? What about a pagan? Someone with some goddamn common sense!!!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Monomachos

      Because you know all truth. Bigotry is not intelligence

      November 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  17. Mitt Cartman

    I am packing up my binders full of women and going home!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  18. Two years from now

    Mitt who? That name sound vaguely familiar, but I just can't place it.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      think>>> gives-me-the-willies

      If that does not do it, then you are cured!

      Go celebrate, handle some deadly snakes and drink strong poison to prove your faith.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Two years from now

      Either you posted onto the wrong thread, or you have been giving Captain Morgan a lot of blow jobs tonight.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  19. izandroro

    Whoopi knew mormons weren't agains military service: she wanted to highlight Mitt being a coward by "serving" in France...other guys actually served their country. Plus, Mitt didn't even want to do his mormon service.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Russ

      Ignorant comment...at the level of the dark ages.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Zingo

      The Dark Ages . . . when religion was in charge.

      Yeah, that's one very low level.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • mc65

      Mitt is a coward? Lets see, what branch of the military did Obama serve in? President Obama and Michele got a "pass" on every TV appearance they made. real tuff questions they were asked. Then when they were asked tough questions, like 60 Minutes asking about Benghazi, then they edited the content so no one knew Obama doesn't have the word terrorist in his vocabulary becasue he doesnt want to offend his fellow Muslims. Give me a break!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • LOL

      So just how sour are those grapes today, mc65?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Monomachos

      mc65 is absolutely correct.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  20. JP0

    The most telling moment for me was when Romney thought that women ought to be accommodated in the workplace so they could get home in time to cook dinner for the family.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • cg SLC

      Hah, wasn't that just the most priceless answer on how to address workplace inequality across gender lines you've ever seen? So he immediately falls back on that old stereotype assumption that women simply aren't as capable of working the same kind of long hours as men. Apparently any woman who isn't married with children in the traditional family role is invisible to him.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:04 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.