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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.

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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.

- Dan Merica

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

soundoff (1,823 Responses)
  1. calico

    This election was a momentous achievement for Americans. That an African American and a Mormon were the candidates. Tolerance is here America whether you like it or not. Bigotry, hatred and intolerance are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Today I am truly proud to be an American. The candidates were not judged on their religion or skin color but by the content of their character and their abilities to run this great nation of ours.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  2. AVG GOPer

    IIs this chain of comments what we consider "political discourse" nowadays? The FACT is, Mitt Romney is a good man. A hard working man, with a good family. He ran for office based on his life experience and his ideas for how to lead America. He lost the election, fair and square. And now America will be taken in the direction envisioned by the current President. And Mitt and his supporters must live to fight another day. That's all. I feel sorry for this boards hatred, sarcasm and bigotry. Is that what President Obama encourages?....I think not.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Netscanr

      Mitt left a trail of devastation in the course of making himself and Bain rich. There are interviews/video of families & companies Mitt & Bain destroyed & then took residual monies. Given the vote, Mitt would have looted the country.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Khaleeshi

      Romney's entire campaign was based on lies and distortions. He offshored American jobs for profit and took those profits offshore so he didn't have to pay his fair share of US income taxes. I guess it depends on what you think makes a good man, but my feeling is that you and the rest of the middle class would have been screwed so the 1% could rake in even more – assuming you're not a millionaire or billionaire of course.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  3. Mike

    I find it downright digusting how the left villified a man because of his religion. Calling it a "fake" religion or a "cult."
    So much for the party of inclusiveness. It is ok to be a Mormon as long as you're a Democrat apparently.
    So in that regard Harry Reid practices his religion (a Mormon) but Romney is a member of a cult.
    Can there be a particular group of people more hypocritical than the Democratic Party?

    November 9, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      How about all the Republicans who continue to say that Obama is a muslim?

      November 9, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Netscanr

      ANY mormon running for president will face the same challenge. Mormonism is NOT mainstream. No other recognized religion or faith recognizes mormon baptism. Mormons are NOT Christians. It takes more than 'believing in Christ' to be a Christian. Joseph Smith said 'all christian faiths had it wrong'. What he created was exactly opposite of 'christian faiths', so you can't do one thing & say another. Hit YouTube and search for mormon rituals & watch the secretly recorded videos. You're in for an eye-opening discovery!

      November 9, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • OliverSudden

      No, Mike, any Mormon (even a Democrat) is fair game.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • captain america

      How about the Americans that say canadians should mind their own F'n business. There's your sign.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • The Truth

      @Mike – Do you republicans really have this short of memory's? It was the Republican primary's and the republicans themselves who cast the first stones at Mormonism. It was only about 9 months ago that Newt and the rest bashed Mormonism as if it was a red headed step child.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • RoguePlanet

      Mike – You're assuming these comments are coming from the Left. You know what happens when you assume. These folks aren't even always saying they're Christians, much less liberal.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  4. ghastly

    The teafascists lost the election for Mittens. Scared the hell out of a lot of voters.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  5. ghastly

    May you all be touched by his noodley appendage. RAMEN!

    November 9, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • John

      LMAO!! I needed a good laugh this am thank you :)

      November 9, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  6. Ting

    ' I laigh at Mormons when they come to the door and tell them to find a real religion'

    There is a "real" religion?

    November 9, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • John

      Nope, you guys are right on that...LOL
      But it irks them more if you give credit to another religion while slamming theirs..hahahaha
      They ruined the islands as well

      November 9, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  7. John

    Mormanism.. fake religion.. You really think John Q Morman wlaked inot the ROcky moountains and discovered the missing commandments?? LMAO!! He struck a deal with Indians for their gold and formed his own religion... Its a joke at best. I laigh at Mormons when they come to the door and tell them to find a real religion, that their religion is the most fake of them all. They also practice prejudice. Dont go to their church? Try getting a job in a mormon owned company. I put mormons on the same level as muslims. We dont need either of them

    November 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Kyle Dasan

      All religions are fake...

      November 9, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • John

      Very true Kyle.. very true

      November 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Mike

      How hypocritical of you liberals. Why does Romney's faith matter to you at all? Since when do you get to decide what someone believes?
      Isn't your party the one that wants to keep others out of their lives? Apparently as long as you're a Democrat you can do whatever you want but Lord forbid you be a Republican, because then no matter what you do it is wrong.
      I will NEVER vote for a Democrat and you can thank the likes of you for that position. I simply cannot stand the hypocricy coming from the left each and every election cycle.
      The government needs to get out of my life and leave me the hell alone. I don't want them involved in my life AT ALL.
      I don't want their crummy health insurance, I don't want their crummy retirement plans, I don't want their crummy welfare, I don't want their crummy anything. Leave me be to my own affairs and if I want for anything I certainly don't want the government to help. They do way more harm than good.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • William

      If Mormonism is a fake then why can't anyone disprove the book of Mormon. The intellectual debate over the book continues today and it has been raging since 1830. It is such an obvious fake then the book aught to bare that out. It ought to be obvious to the average reader that it is a fake. If someone can disprove the book .... it would save me a lot of money. 10% of my gross earnings. .. However ... every criticism I have ever read of the book completely misses the point. It glosses over much to focus in on an absurd detail of no significance. I would need an good explanation for the origin of the book. Because my honest read of the book informs me that it is from God.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • LinCA

      @Mike

      You said, "How hypocritical of you liberals. Why does Romney's faith matter to you at all? Since when do you get to decide what someone believes?"
      I couldn't care less what you, or anyone else believes. Stupidity isn't illegal, at least it wasn't last time I looked. You are free to believe in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, or any other creature you fancy. So does Mittens. I respect your right to believe as you see fit.

      But just because you have the right to hold these infantile beliefs, doesn't mean I have an obligation to respect the beliefs themselves. Beliefs don't automatically deserve to be respected, just because you have a right to hold them. Beliefs need to earn that right. Pointing out how unreasonable, and even downright irrational some of these beliefs are, is my right. I even consider it my personal obligation. It is a public service.

      You said, "Isn't your party the one that wants to keep others out of their lives? Apparently as long as you're a Democrat you can do whatever you want but Lord forbid you be a Republican, because then no matter what you do it is wrong."
      It doesn't surprise me that you seem to have difficulty distinguishing between ridiculing silly beliefs, and trying to force beliefs on others. It is the republicans that are running on a platform that includes forcing their Taliban-like beliefs and morals on the sane part of society.

      Writing discrimination in the US and State constitutions. Banning self determination for women. Preventing medical procedures. All cornerstone policies of the GOP, and all based on some silly beliefs.

      You said, "I will NEVER vote for a Democrat and you can thank the likes of you for that position. I simply cannot stand the hypocricy coming from the left each and every election cycle."
      Suit yourself. But, may I suggest you take a close look in the mirror?

      You said, "The government needs to get out of my life and leave me the hell alone."
      If you live in a country, you get to deal with government. It's just the way things work in an adult world.

      You said, "I don't want them involved in my life AT ALL."
      You have the option to go elsewhere.

      You said, "I don't want their crummy health insurance, I don't want their crummy retirement plans, I don't want their crummy welfare, I don't want their crummy anything."
      Like, I said, you can leave.

      You said, "Leave me be to my own affairs and if I want for anything I certainly don't want the government to help. They do way more harm than good."
      You don't drive a car? You don't expect the fire department or the police to come to your aid if you are in trouble? You don't want the military protecting your country?

      May I recommend that you take advantage of the health insurance and seek help for your obvious mental illness.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • LinSea

      John, I've read several of your comments and if there is some kind of contest out there for creative lying, you will definitely have a good shot at winning first place. You came up with some real whoppers there, dude. With any luck, the prize will consist of a prescription for Haldol.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  8. lindaluttrell

    One more bitter pill to swallow: not all prayers are answered...

    November 9, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  9. Terry

    The ONLY reason that more white evangelicals voted for Mitt is as much as they fear and loathe Mormons, they fear and loathe people of color more.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • kousa

      You are absolutely correct! If Barack Obama was a white man I doubt very seriously if Billy Graham and other big named conservative religious leaders would have overlooked the fact that Mormonism is a cult. They sold their souls to back a cultist because it was so much better than a black man in the "white" house.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • kousa

      You are absolutely correct!

      November 9, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Mike

      Still telling that sad old lie? You liberals are so confused and convoluted that I actually think you really do believe the B.S. you're spewing.
      So I suppose I am 100% correct in saying then that Obama ONLY won because he was black? He ONLY got the black vote because of his skin color?
      For a party who hates it when others stereotype them you sure are doing plenty of stereotyping of your own.
      Obama is the most extremist of liberals ever to hold the Presidency. THAT is why the conservatives voted against him.
      Sure there are always going to be a few racists out there who won't vote for the guy because he is black but he gained WAY more votes because of his skin color than he lost. There isn't even a debate to be had about that.
      His liberal views are caused some 47 million people, or however many it was, to vote for someone else.
      It is the rest of you who keep buying the lies and drinking the kool aid that think because he failed for four years he will miraculously be successful now. What a crock.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  10. clubschadenfreude

    what's the excuse for how that mega prayer for Romney did not work at ALL? Is it that Romney wasn't "pure" enough? Was it that the LDS religion is nonsense? Was it that there is no god at all?

    November 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  11. mattski

    The Mormon moment - when Billy Graham pulled references to Mormonism as a cult form his website for purely political gain. Hypocrisy squared...

    November 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • clubschadenfreude

      I wonder, will Billy and Franklin put that stuff back up since their god "obviously" didn't find Mittens a worthy candidate to place into power (Romans 13)?

      November 9, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  12. SaltyBob

    Ahhh the end is near for the Gop and its Flat earth, burning of witches, child abusing B.S., as well as attacks on wemon, hispanics, the 47% that dont fit into the GOP perfect world. Smell the burn Gop that`s your Idea of the perfect white Rush L, world ending. Note keep out of our bedrooms schools and add fair play to your game plan and you might make a come back in 20 or so years.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • William

      SaltyBob,

      Way to rub in the salt! What happens when half the people in the country are taxed but not represented in the next 20 years? You think that would be good for America? I would say that this becomes a powder-keg long before 20 years. Best to not throw matches on dry tinder.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • beezers

      Wow, the Democrats control the Presidency for two terms and you think that's the end of the GOP? You don't know much about politics, do you?

      November 9, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  13. kd

    The Mormon Moment was glossy ads and PR, nothing more. The minute people actually learned about the religion, it turned them off even more. Mormons were better off when they were obscure. Now they're seen as really strange.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • William

      I think you will be sadly disappointed by the future with respect to the amazing growth of the Mormon church.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  14. William

    My opinion here ... I would need to write a book to back up these assertion and so I will not do it here ore anywhere:

    Mormons are the most miss-understood people in the country and it is completely ok in this society to miss-represent them and so the author has an easy time writing about them because he does not need to check his facts therefore this article is full of such knee-jerk stereotypical arguments.. It does not represent truth about Mormons ... only what is commonly thought of them.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • clubschadenfreude

      Of course you won't back up your assertions here because you can't. Always good to try to claim that you have *all* of the answers but golly, just can't find the time to put those answers up where people can see your nonsense. The LDS is no more or less ridiculous than any other religion. All religions claim that their followers are special snowflakes, that they have some hotline to a magical being and that they can pray and have things happen. They also have one other thing in common, they have no evidence that their myths are true at all. Their prayers fail and their people are nothing special.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • John

      Mormanism is a fake religion based on gold. Simple as that. Yeah god hid the last lablet in the Rocky mountains until the 1800's and had a bunch of gold laden indians gaurd it. Whats really amazing is the brainwashed people who follow the religion and Ann Romney has no clue what a working person or mom goes through on a daily basis.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Ting

      John, name a religion that is not man made and fake.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Netscanr

      Folks, got to YouTube & search for mormon rituals or mormon temple, etc. There's a guy who has secretly recorded many full-length temple rituals. Once you see what these creatures do in their temples, you'll understand just how whacked they really are!

      November 9, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  15. Dulby

    Billy Graham has embrace of mormonism says something about the evangelical christians. Evangelicals are anti-intellectual. Either Graham do not understand his evangelical faith or he does not know what mormons believe. I believe its a mixture of both. I am evangelical, or should I say "Reformed Evangelical" and fromn what I study about mormonism they still believe Jesus is the half brother of Lucifer (Satan). Romney did not get to rule America but maybe he will get to rule his own little planet when he become a god. By the way, does anyone know what level is Romney in the Mormon Cult?Mormonism is not Christian. Shame on You Billy Graham. Support him politically, that is your choice, but Billy Graham is not God to change the scripture to make Mormons christians.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • faye62

      OMG...Half brother of Satan?....How can anyone follow a faith that it's founder had 55 wives? It was started on the wrong foundation and there it will stay for me. I know people can be redeemed but the Mormom church has too many issues for me to follow. A faith should have a correct doctrine from the start.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • clubschadenfreude

      Yawn, one more Christians who is sure that his version is the only "right" one. And one more Christian who has no evidence of that at all. Nice when you make fun of someone else's religion but can't seem to realize your own is just as ridiculous and that it has just as much evidence of being true aka *none*.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • randy

      Wow. Really? Jesus "half brother of Satan"? What extensive study you've done (dripping with sarcasm). It's ignorant fools like you who pose as educated that leads to this sort of tripe being propagated.

      The doctrine is simple. God is the Father (Creator) of all, Lucifer rebelled against God, the Father, and Jesus the chosen Savior of the world and was therefore cast out and became Satan. We are all created by God therefore are all brothers (in that we have the same Father (Creator). Jesus was the first, the most just, and the best of God's creations (with God in the beginning) therefore God chose Him as the Savior of His (the Father's) creation.

      Stupid people with little minds making much ado about nothing.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  16. jb1963

    I hope Mitt takes his freak show family back to Utah and never leaves there.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Karl

      He's not from Utah.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • heysus

      He has a house in Park City

      November 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Jim

      That's a resort area–vacation home.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  17. stephen l. walkinshaw

    Why do we as intelligible people continue to elect people you believe in gods, demons, ghost, miracles, prayer, only a stupid child would believe such things.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  18. Daniel Uzza

    Mitt lost for two reasons. One, was that God would not allow the Mormon prophecy about bailing out America to come true made by a false prophet. Second, judgement on a pagan America is about to intensify, unless America repents.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • mattski

      Then hellfire and brimstone comes next? What is this? The 19th century?

      November 9, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Grab yer pitchforks, torches and phials of holy water kids!
      TIme for a witch hunt! Yeeeeeeeee haw!

      November 9, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • LinSea

      There is no such prophecy. I've heard of the one you are referring to, and it is NOT Mormon doctrine.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  19. 2357

    I sensed spiritual outrage in heaven when Mitt showed up at Billy Graham's house with a suitcase full of money, and Billy sold his soul. So it turns out now God would rather have a pagan Caesar than an apostate who profanes the name of Christ. Billy I thought better of you.

    November 9, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Fairy Tale Warfare - I love it.

      Someone should come out with a video game. I'd love to see it have cartoon characters for God, Billy, Mitt & Jesus, and a sprinkling of Mormon deities. They could have the Angel Moroni dancing the Macarena as a distraction. I've got to get to work on this idea.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • kd

      We have a winner! 2357 – Most Bizarre Post

      November 9, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  20. S.R

    Religion the greatest lie ever perpetuated on the human race. There is a god or creator but the proof is in science not made up stories written by human beings to further their ambition's. Pull your heads out of the wash!!!

    November 9, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Dulby

      Science? Science change everyday. Physics and Chemistry, ect. 100 years ago is not the same today. Is this the proof you desire, things that are in flux? I am a scientist and I can tell you science does not and cannot prove much. Not because the Mormon Cult is found to be false mean that the God who created all things, through Jesus Christ, does not exist. The problem and confusion is when every create a god and claim that god is the one. God does exist and it is not the Big Bang Theory that goes completely against science. If we truly look at science and the posiblity for the universe to create itself we would realize that all these atheistic theories violate basic scientific principle like causality, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamic. No where in science can something come from nothing. This means that we had to start somewhere, we need an axiom, and that starting point is, "In the beginning God created... Genesis 1:1. If you can prove that something can come from nothing then I will gladly repudiate my Christian faith and rest my trust in myself.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:42 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.