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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. Blessed are the Cheese makers

    White horse prophacy.....wasn't

    November 9, 2012 at 1:03 am |
  2. praydude

    It would be nice to know just how much the mormon church pays out for charity work. They have an extra 3 BILLION dollars for a shopping mall in Salt Lake but a much, much smaller amount for helping the poor. Why are contributions to the mormon church tax-exempt? Do they really deserve that kind of status if they are not really a charity? How about some transparency here...why not at least ask these tax-exempt charities to open their books if they are able to enjoy tax-exempt status? This is the case in England and Canada. Does the mormon church exploit some tax-loophole to launder their money for giving to political campaigns? I agree with some of the earlier posts that clearing the air would be good for everyone.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Dane

      The 4 billion dollar effort you referred to was an effort by the church of jesus christ of latter day saints to rejuvenate and improve conditions in an area so near to it's headquarters. We believe in improving our communities and truth be told often times there is profit made in improving the community. The church works to improve conditions everywhere, the following is text from ldsphilanthropies and I think is very helpful in understanding how we try to improve the world:

      Two tenets of humanitarian aid define LDS Charities: 1) One hundred percent of every dollar donated is used to help those in need without regard to race, religion, or ethnic origin, and 2) LDS Charities helps people attain self-sufficiency so they can be self-reliant long after LDS Charities departs.

      So you see, rather than criticizing the church, perhaps you should consider the good it has done for the world and how you can help aid in the work.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • peter

      dane–mormon and islamic charities does not make your books the word of God–charities will never make your book of mormon the word of God

      November 9, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Badda Bing

      Yeah, right! Real estate developers build mega-malls just to improve conditions in the area. Right.

      Don't bogart that kool aid, my friend! Pass it all around!

      November 9, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Swede

      When 100% of every donated dollar goes to people in need, how does it buy a mall?

      Methinks you might apply a bit of critical thinking, Dane.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Mr_Normal

      We've heard a small bit about our investing in City Creek. Let me explain from my own perspective.
      1. People and corporations do not funnel money into shopping centers as a way of dumping cash into a tax haven. Shopping centers MAKE money, lots of it. Putting that amount of money into a shopping center guaranteed a long term income on that investment.
      2. The shopping center is directly across from Temple Square in downtown SLC. The Church also wanted more control over it's business neighbors.
      3. The money made from City Creek goes to help the poor and further the missionary work in our part of the vineyard. You can be assured that no member of the church's hierarchy is living in vast mansions with solid gold plumbing fixtures and air conditioned dog houses.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • eprobono

      Dane,

      Did you remember to include the millions of dollars the Mormon's spent to pass Proposition 8 in California in 2008?

      I place Mormon's in the same category as the Klan and John Birch Society.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • For Mr. Normal

      The leaders do draw a stipend, plus they have private jets at their disposal, vacation properties in several states, unlimited credit cards, and they get loans for their homes that they don't have to pay back. This has been verified. The past president, Hinckley, never worked outside the church and he died very rich.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Phazon

      Lol at mr denial wake up man.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:52 am |
  3. Margaret

    He lost an election, that does not mean he can't run again, or another Mormon can't run. In fact a lot of people were prepared to vote for him in spite of his religion. He garnered a lot of votes. So no it is not an end of an opportunity. He just had the wrong message and it was not about his being a Mormon.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Apple Bush

      It was about him being a mormon.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  4. Matthew

    I just stumbled onto this blog. I have to say that I'm not impressed.
    Enjoy all your hate and bigotry, I'm out-a-here.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Sandwiches.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Giggles

      What a loss for us.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • tallulah13

      Well, thank you Johnny Superior. Honestly, have you ever been on an internet message board before? Even the ones about things like puppies have some really nasty comments.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  5. David Johnson

    Our of curiosity my wife and I toured the "Mormon Mecca" of Palmyra, NY, where Joseph Smith reputedly unearthed the tablets that he translated as The Book of Mormon. We also attended the outdoor pageant where major scenes from this book are staged every summer. The experience was profoundly disturbing. I left with the thought that these people are so gullible that they will believe ANYTHING! The preposterous tale of ancient Israelites sailing to the Western Hemisphere and being visited by Jesus Christ was laughable. Lamanites? Nephites? Mormons are very adept at lying because their faith is based entirely upon lies. They are a cult - how could a church that dictates one's UNDERWEAR be considered anything but a cult?

    November 9, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Athy

      The more bizarre the story is, the more the gullibles will eat it and think it's chocolate.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Apple Bush

      David, all religions are based completely on lies. Mormons take the cake, but only by a little.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • David Johnson

      I am grateful that our nation was spared the humiliation of being governed by a cult member. It would have been a new low in America had Mitt and Ann Romney occupied the White House. Imagine those maids in the washroom having to clean those "sacred garments."

      November 9, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  6. AGeek

    I think what we just saw was a referendum; get your #$^%ing religion out of our government. Our government has enough problems without religion #($*ing it up further.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • 4HIM

      According to our American freedom of religion,, your atheist belief is also a religion. I defend your right to believe in nothing.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • eprobono

      "Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color."
      –Don Hirschberg

      November 9, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  7. 4HIM

    Mormons are wonderful people. Their Book of Mormon contains priciples contrary to the bible which makes other believers in Jesus Christ say they are a cult. The most offensive Mormon beliefs are that they can become gods and be the god of a planet. Also offensive is the Mormon belief that a woman must be marries to be saved. These and other Mormon doctrines are contrary to the biblical passages that says there is only one God and that The lord wishes none to perish, not even unmarried women. Those of us who take biblical positions are no more bigots to Mormons than those who are educated and want to correct a brother with an erroneous way of thinking. Mormons are always welcome in my house to discuss the Bible and line it up with their other book.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Apple Bush

      "Mormons are wonderful people." But everything they believe in is offensive, but they are wonderful.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Sven

      So your magic super invisible buddy is better than the Mormon magic invisible buddy?

      Ri i i i i i i i i i i ght

      November 9, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • eprobono

      I disagree, 4HIM.

      The Mormon's spent millions to pass Prop 8 in California in 2008. Such a blatant act to deny a class of people their civil rights is analogous to what the Klan and Birch Society did to African American's.

      Good people – more like good-for-nothing people.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  8. JC

    You will have your moment for the next thousand years :) Peace be still.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  9. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog-

    Putting the kibosh on religion to include Mormonism: (and one does this in less than 10 seconds which should make all believers very concerned)

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    November 9, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • DocD

      Right....
      Reality? I don't think so...

      November 9, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  10. Christopher Walken

    Well, my panties, flowers and you know, pandas, but not magic. So...I feel, ya know, better off then say, Mitt.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  11. JP0

    So far I haven't heard a single Republican Christian loser say "It's God's will."

    November 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Larry Bob, unmarried Republican Christian loser

      It's God's will.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • JP0

      Thank you!

      November 9, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  12. arekayjay

    I think the founder of the Mormon religion was crazy, like Bi-Polar or Schizophrenia. If not that, he was on acid.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Reload

      Yea, that's why the church has grown to nearly 20mm worldwide and is financially stable and sends funds and supplies to natural disasters around the globe and fields tens of thousands of volunteers to help where there is need and has the highest college graduation rate of any socioeconomic group and has the best health statistics of any socioeconomic group and has the highest representation in the military officer ranks of any group and its university has the largest ROTC program in the country and has a disproportionate number of its members in high positions in the US government. I could go on but you’re probably not getting all this. Yea, we are a bunch of backward nutcases. You wish you were part of something this affirmative, motivated and progressive (the real progressive).

      November 9, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Giggles

      You are not saying the same thing, Reload. The social structure of modern LDS has nothing to do with the legitimacy of it's beliefs, nor does the number of adherents. Were that true, Islam would be FAR more legitimate, as they have much larger numbers.

      No, the point is that the true history of Joseph Smith and the early church is about as far from holy as can be. As head of the Church, Smith twice ran pyramid scams that collapsed, just like Bernie Madoff. He had his own private army. He went into areas and flooded the voting so that the people who already lived there were instantly disenfranchised and put under a system that was hardly justice for all.

      And that is just a tiny part of Smith's weird and dishonest life. Any discussion of the book of Mormon just cannot ignore that the archaeology in it is totally impossible. Horses and steel in the pre-Columbian Americas? Not a chance. Million man armies that left no trace? Not a chance.

      And your church is robbing you for it's own selfish greed. Your tithing is WAY more than they have any legitimate use for. That's why they own shopping malls and stuff like that.

      If you were honest in understanding the history of Mormonism, you would know the basis or your church is a fraud perpetrated by a con man. If you applied critical thinking to your church leaders, you would see they were exploiting you.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      No. It's pretty well known that Joseph Smith (the founder of the mormon religion) was a con-man before he got into the religion business. He finally found a scam that worked.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  13. 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 |
    • Johnny Blammo

      Open then immediately close the bold or italic in the middle of the word, without putting any letters or spaces in between.

      You will find that a fuck of a lot better.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Apple Bush

      @Johnny Blammo

      You fucking rock dude. Thank you!

      November 9, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Johnny Blammo

      Now go fuck off.
      :twisted:

      November 9, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Apple Bush

      @Johnny Blammo

      I found your fuck off Johnny, it is in the museum of who gives a fuck which is located up my gaping ass hole. :)

      November 9, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Johnny Blammo

      Oh, by the way, the secret is that you ARE working in wordpress. This blog was slapped together by CNN with the cheapest, easiest option available. This is not anything custom or special.

      There is also basically no moderator, and the "report abuse" button either doesn't work or is totally ignored. I once tested this by posting an offensive racial epithet, encouraging everyone to report abuse on it. It is probably still there even now.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Apple Bush

      @Johnny Blammo

      I know about the no moderator and the abuse button, but when I have tried standard HTML, except for the i and b tags, they don't work....

      November 9, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  14. Jake Corkin

    How can a church which has more than 50,000 missionaries be described as "a church that prefers to keep private"?

    November 9, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Johnny Blammo

      Rituals are kept totally private from outsiders, for fear we might find out about insulting dumbass practices like baptism for the dead.

      Finances are kept secret from even the Mormons. They try to keep as much of their early history secret too, always a sign that there is something very wrong being hidden. Joseph Smith's diaries are kept locked away from everyone. Not to hard to guess they subvert the church's sales pitch.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  15. selfevolved

    I think it's ironic how little people know about the Mormon church, still, even after this so-called "Mormon moment". People still seem to know next-to-nothing about their beliefs, from Kolob to magic underwear.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Reload

      I think it's ironic that someone that calls himself "selfevolved" is such a backward bigot.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Sven

      Why not? Mormons themselves do not know the true history of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and what those two actually did. There is just no way you can read a factual account of Joseph Smith and not see he was a con artist and a megalomaniacal tyrrant-in-the-making, andthere is no way to read a factual account of Brigham Young and not realize he was a bitterly intolerant and tyrranical guy who was more like Stalin than Jesus.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • JP0

      @Sven: Actually all you have to do is read the Book of Mormon to see that Joseph Smith was a con man.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Kev

      Well when you comment about magic underwear it looks like you can count yourself as among those who know next to nothing.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Sven

      @ JP0 – "All you have to do"?!?!?! Mark Twain didn't call it "chloroform in print" because it was a good read!

      November 9, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  16. AmericanHumanist

    Mormonism is worthy only of laughter and scorn.
    No practicing Mormon should ever be allowed to become the most powerful man in the world.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • arekayjay

      Agree!!!!

      November 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  17. Anti-bigot

    It's always interesting to see all the posts from the self righteous Obama supporters who, while claiming to be the party of equality and charity, in the same breath prove what BIGOTS they are by attacking Mormons. Your comments about Romney, magic underwear, Joseph Smith are hily offensive. They are almost identical to the biggoted comments the Clan made against African Americans in the 20th Century. Remember Birmingham, Mississippi.....none of you are any different then they are....u r all Hypocrits, liars, and Pigs.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • peter

      It is not obama supporters–christendom as well as our country rejected your cursed prophet and his cursed christ in the 19th century–It was because republicans like myself who sat out the gen election that romney lost

      November 9, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • JP0

      So far I don't think anyone has made a Mormon step into the street when a Christian approaches on the sidewalk.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • JP0

      @peter: It didn't matter. There aren't enough of you to make a difference.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  18. pockets

    ALL religions MUST END, for the world to advance. Believing in a sky-god stuplifies people. Its a mental illnes of the highest order. Something is lacking in these people who still go to "temples" in the 21st Century. But there are signs that all this insanity is ending, and the sooner the better.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  19. ThankGodItsOver

    I think that they added an extra "m" in the headline.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  20. MagicPanties

    cult cult cult cult cult

    November 8, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • floridamom1

      Just another story to try and smear the Latter-day Saints. Check the definition of a cult and I think you will find it fits all religions. But when the storm comes, at least we all know that Mormon's will be prepared. But, then I suppose most of the liberals on this site will expect those who prepared for that storm to give them their stuff because they were too busy pretending money grows on trees to actually prepare for what is coming.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Anti-bigot

      It's always interesting to see all the posts from the self righteous Obama supporters who, while claiming to be the party of equality and charity, in the same breath prove what BIGOTS they are by attacking Mormons. Your comments about Romney, magic underwear, Joseph Smith are hily offensive. They are almost identical to the biggoted comments the Clan made against African Americans in the 20th Century. Remember Birmingham, Mississippi.....none of you are any different then they are....u r all Hypocrits, liars, and Pigs.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Damocles

      @anti

      So you, the anti-bigot, close your rant with biggoted remarks. How wonderful.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • peter

      floridamom–you will inherit the wind along with your cursed prophet

      "liberals,liberals,liberals" sorry, it was republicans such as myself who sat out the gen election -You will never see another mormon on the ticket again... Oh, and if this "mormon end time" or whatever you are referring to, you people will be the first to go because you are weak and you believe in a lie.
      Christendom as well as our country rejected your cursed prophet and his cursed christ in the 19th century

      November 9, 2012 at 12:15 am |
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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.