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.
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“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.
Sounds like you made a wise choice.
They are still a cult.. And I grew up Mormon, but at age15 I told my parents I didn't want to attend anylonger... They truly are a destructive bunch of haters..
B Graham is senile.
Hopefully he's on the next spaceship to his planet Kolob to consult with his gods.
If you think just because B. Graham removed the LDS from his listing as a CULT that now it isn't a CULT you are so wrong.
Joe Smith was snake oil salesman and the looneys that followed him are the same type Of desperate folks that followed Jim Jones, Jimmy Swaggerty, Tammy Faye and Jim Baker, Jerry Falwell and the list goes on. These are folks that need something to Klingon to in there life and anyone who shows them a little love can win their minds. NO FOLKS MORMONS ARE STILL A CULT AND GOD NEVER GAVE THEM GOLD TABLETS FULL OF INSTRUCTIONS.
and romney fades away into the distance...
And slightly more than 50 % of the population will remain clueless as to the opportunity this country just lost.
Even though I think its wrong for the mormonism to be branded alongside real christianity, if the mormons want to have a first president they should get behind John Huntsman. The guy has sterling credentials and pretty solid bipartisan ideas. He even has a foreign policy background which Mitt lacked entirely and was apparant in the third debate. Even in the GOP primary debates on stage they pointed out that Mitt was #48 in job creation as governor and Huntsman was #1 as governor. The GOP overwhelmingly voted Mitt and shunted Huntsman out, it was one of the most bizzare political moments I ever saw.
AmericanPeasant, I take exception to your first sentence. Mormons are real christians. They read the Bible, believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, they get baptised.... the list goes on... I always crack up when someone who doesn't know what they are talking about says with great conviction that Mormons don't believe in Jesus. The name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mormon is a nickname, not the name of the church. To say that they are not real christians shows that you are not well versed on the subject and thus diminishes the credability of everythig you said after that.
Romney received fewer votes from registered Republicans than McCain did in 2008. It's interesting how the GOP is scapegoating the outcome by blaming outsiders. However, the GOP doesn't want to talk about the "hush factor" - Romney being Mormon, which lowered GOP turnout. For months, plenty of church goers laid low and pretending all was well with Romney being the nominee. In truth, a good number of them had long been engaged in garage talk, whisper campaigns and spin cycles about Mitt's faith. The issue was one of the factors why GOP turnout was lower, but nobody in the GOP has the brass to admit it. Instead, they think it's okay to lie, pretend and be deceptive rather than be truthful about how they feel. It's yet another example how fickle, two-faced and fake the people are in the GOP. The minority supporters and candidates the GOP tries to need to keep in mind what happened to Mitt Romney.
kevin i 100 percent agree with you– i been saying on comment boards such as this that a mormon will never win–look the good news is we will never have a mormon on the ticket again–Everyone knows why the mormon lost–i sat out myself–said i was for over year
Now Mitt and all of the Mormons can go back to the fabled planet where the founder Joseph Smith got the Book of Mormon from aliens visiting our planet. And to think that half the country actually voted for this wingnut. Now another wingnut Karl Rove is making the rounds saying that Romney lost the election because the Dems suppressed the vote. What a bunch of losers!
The Fairies in my garden warned me about politicians who bring religion with them to public office.
Why do people spend so much time attacking others? I've known Mormons and Muslims that were all amazing and kind people. If I think they believe odd things, what do I care if they bring great values to this planet? Perhaps those spewing such hate need some lessons from these "crazies" so the world is a bit more kind.
Trolls, they are just looking to get a reaction. It somehow makes them feel better about themselves (however, in the end they are just more miserable). But we continue to turn the other cheek and love them that hate you.
If I think someone is a nut, I shrug and move on. The fascination with others' beliefs boggles my mind. Believe in Zeus for all I care, but treat me with respect and I will return the favor.
Guess what all you clowns i am gay, Latino, mormon and a republican who is proud of having had Mitt Romney run for office. Your crap about cults is nonsense don't speak unless you know everything there is to know. And don't speak like your religion is perfect cause there is no such thing. Enjoy another 4 years of nothing getting accomplished. Enjoy more hand outs to all those lazy fools who like to mooch of your taxes and mine.
How about we slay the greatest leach on our economy, THE CHURCH! NO MORE FREE RIDES WHEN IT COMES TO RELIGION, EVER RELIGIOUS ORGINAZATION IN AMERICA NEEDS TO BE TAXED ON INCOME, PROPERTY, EVERYTHING THE REST OF US ARE REQUIRED TO PAY TAXES ON! RELIGION THE BIGGEST FREELOADER OF THEM ALL. PRAISE TO GOD, AMEN.
I don't like to judge other religions but as a person of color I have faced many blatant discrimination in restaurants in Utah in getting seats. polygamy is certainly wrong and immoral and older en marrying young underage girls is even worse and add to this baptizing dead people of other relgions as Mormons is disgusting. What is even more outrageous is Rev.Billy Graham doing a favor for polticial expediency is unacceptable. i don't think it is ok for one cult (religion) to brand other cult (relgion) as bad. Bill Graham has no qualities to be called a reverend and needs to be fired for doing things so that he thought he could get some influence for removing mormonism as a cult. What is he willing to do next?
Cult as you may have gotten to know means a system of rituals performed by a religious group. The other two are these. A religious group which differs in mainstream doctrine with others of the same religion. The Mormons do not fit here as they are not Christians. However when they claim to be Christians then they are a cult. However the more serious of all the definitions of cult is a spiritually abusive religious group. Some ex-Mormons have had to be treated for spiritual abuse. This is the main reason Mormonism is called a Cult.
It is interesting that liberals call people that are critical of Islam bigots and then they turn around and trash Mormons like there is no tomorrow.
I personally think that Joseph Smith is just as believable as Saul of Tarsus. They are the two of the most successful con men in history.
It's not liberals–it's conservatives such as myself who "trash" your blasphemous religion –it wasn't liberals who sat out the gen election–it was people like myself
"They are the two of the most successful con men in history."
Oh please, don't flatter Joseph Smith. He's small time.
If Mitt would have won would he have put his hand on the Book of Mormon during the swearing in ceremony? If he did would the Tea Baggers have freaked? YES!!!
No he wouldn't have because Mormons believe the Bible to be the word of God. On top of that, when Romney became governor of Mass. he used a Bible. There is not a record of a single Mormon who has run for office who used the Book of Mormon in place of the Bible.
It doesn't matter because you will never see a mormon on the ticket again–also, the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God–In fact it is blasphemy
Mormonism is an American cult like all other cults that prevail only in America. No other country has ever had so many cults. There are at last count over 800 'Christian cults' alone in the USA.
Americans were not prepared to commit their vote to a cult follower.
Hie to Kolob.
"A church that prefers to keep private became very public." The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not prefer to keep private. We have a great story to tell that brings happiness to those who join us. Does a group that sends 50,000 of its members out as missionaries knocking on doors to share our joy seem like a group that prefers to keep private? I have seen this written on many occasions and it couldn't be further from the truth.
You don't want us to join you–you want to join us–and you have been rejected time after time
I think they are referring to the sacred temple rituals –they call it secret–you call it sacred
Your is just a crazy cult that is full of easily brainwashed people. Your book has NO basis in facts, it's worse than the Bible.
Larry, you hit it on the nail. We're if anything overzealous than secretive.
o'maly, don't you realize we want nothing to do with your people? You are lucky we let you live in utah in the 1800s.
You would think after 180 years of being rejected by christendom,our country that you would get it.. You will go the way the church of scientology is going–both of your religions were started by modern day prophets
Yet once your temples are consecrated, you don't let non-members in. Sounds pretty exclusive to me.
Really? Can I come and sit in on your worship service if I'm not a member, like I could any Catholic or Protestant or Jewish service? No? Wow, I guess you're sort of secretive then, aren't you?
Yes MC, as a matter of fact all are invited to attend our worship services. Go to mormon.org and type in your address and you can find the nearest Meetinghouse. Services typically begin anywhere between 9am and 1pm. And we invite all to enter into our temples and partake of the blessings that come from the House of the Lord. Of course anyone who desires to enter into the House of the Lord must be worthy. But again we invite all to become worthy and enter into his house.
Let me reiterate that anyone can attend our worship services (member or not).
Don't you do that to add to the flock?
"Does a group that sends 50,000 of its members out as missionaries knocking on doors to share our joy seem like a group that prefers to keep private?"
Symantics aside, there have been a few Witnesses that have knocked on my door wanting to share their joy too.
I've spent a lot of time with people of the Mormon faith, and you are all very nice, even the deeply repressed. I have read comments from Mormon supporters that say somehow we are just scared or afraid of your religion. Hint: We are not afraid, we just don't like it.
I've had first hand experience while dating (corrupting?) my Mormon boyfriend. But hey, I got to wear the undies.
Ya winder why Jesus said all of his followers should preach the good news not a certain number and not for a certain time think of it this way if ou tell someone about God you can make their life better if not you have blood guilt.
Mormons can't back their faith with the bible.
What I believe he meant to say was Mormons need to keep private, shut up, out of sight hidden in the wonderful state of Utah.
I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack but foe the life of me I can't understand how highly intelligent people can buy into this Mormon cult crap. God really appeared in 1830 or there about to give some con artist golden tablets. It makes more sense to believe in the Easter Bunny. I guess to each his own poison!
Loyal servant Mittens Rmoney has been vacuumed up to Kolob for a well earned holiday and badly soiled Magic Underwear laundering. He has been replaced on Earth with a wooden substitute. Few earthlings will detect any difference.
On Kolob, Mittens will be rewarded with many binders of Kolobian women and maybe a few Venutians. Some of them have at least 5 stomachs, but we think he will know how to feed them due to his experience with his many earthwives and anyway he can just lay them off when things get tight like he so often did at earthy Bain.
Our Earth comfort station plans have been delayed to 2016. That should give us time to seduce Ryan over from the Martians and their Catlicker nonsense.
Really, guy? Really?
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.