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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. curious

    will the religious right suddenly reneg on their acceptance of the "cult?"

    November 9, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Religious Right

      We never endorsed this cult leader!! We are master of denial!! He never had a chance!! We never believed he could win!! Except when we did because he was the only bet left on the table... but we always knew he couldn't do it!! Which is why we pulled the punch of course...

      November 9, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  2. 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 11:29 am |
    • LinSea

      Is "Cut and Paste" the primary skill on your resume? Your only skill, perhaps? Because the people on this blog never see you do anything else.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the new members of this blog- (for others, use the scroll bar)

      As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench ) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

      November 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  3. WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF EVIDENT

    On the night of the election, Romney said to Ann, come this time tomorrow you'd be sleeping with the President of the United States of America. Well, after Romney gave his concession speech and the couple returned to their hotel, a somber Romney sat silently in the bedroom suit. And as Ann begun to undress, she looked at her husband and said, honey how's this supposed to work...is Barrack coming over here or am I supposed to go over to the White House? Oops!

    November 9, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Huebert

      I loled. :)

      November 9, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  4. Sane Person

    Black people are cursed, magic underwear, gods from imaginary planets, polygamy, ancient Hebrews in USA, Jesus and satan being brothers, post-mortem baptisms, people becoming gods of their own planets.... What a stupid cult

    November 9, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      At the same time Rom has done charity work in Africa and Obama made potato salad in Chicago.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Sane Person

      @mark ... Guess Mitt is trying to save face for belonging to a racist cult.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • John

      Jesus said if you're not against me then your for me. The mormons believe in God, they believe in Jesus, they believe in the Holy Ghost. These are the base of their religion and its the same with the Catholics and any other Christian church. They all have differing doctrines, so go turn your biased hatred on some other christian and call them a cult. What scares you so much about a people that work, love God, country and family. Is it because they do it more than you and believe more than you. You hate mongering idiot.

      I know plenty of Mormons through my work and non of them are as biased, fearful and full of hatred as you.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Sane Person

      I'm not fearful or hateful, just pointing out the silly beliefs of this racist cult.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • LinSea

      Please explain how using lies, distortions, and misrepresentations of someone's beliefs as a means of spreading up hatred are the actions of someone who claims to be "Sane."

      November 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  5. Lue Blacknell

    I wonder if mitt ever thought about the first mormon to run for the presidency-& he was killed? Maybe his life was saved-who knows-but I think mitt wanted the presidency so bad-he could taste it. :) Now he can go back to finishing his car elevator & ann can go back to her dressage horse.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  6. history bear

    You truly don't understand the LDS(Mormon) church. they are insidious. First one gets a job, then engineers or hires a few more, they begin to get on school boards, county boards etc. and the next thing you know you find yourself surrounded and in many cases, shunned, by them. What they do is not all bad, in fact there are many admirable qualities but they purposely shut out non- mormons and do their darndest to turn everything around them to their religion and way of living.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Dallas

      You are so full of it! There is a Mormon in our office and most people here do not even know it as he does not advertise it – never mentions it. I will tell you this, he is a father of 3, hard working, nose to the computer and, according to his wife, and excellent father and husband. They are a closeknit family if ever there was one. Most of you people blathering about religions probably do not know what one is much less have one. You people are sad.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • LinSea

      I read the first few lines of your comment and my mind flashed immediately on the films I saw in history class when we were studying the pre-WWII era. Are you at all aware of the similarities between your statement and the propoganda films produced in Germany in the 1930s? If not, maybe you need a history refresher.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  7. robCM

    It is still a cult with a lot of magic.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • CAPT Mike Taylor USN Res Ret

      No its not. Prove your lame statement.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Barbara

      He did not seem very compassionate to me. His "victim" comment was a disgrace.
      I'm Catholic, and the finer man was definitely Barack Obama.
      Men like Mitt Romney are a very poor representation of Caucasian Christians.
      Good riddance.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      As you see that the African American turnout was lower than the first election and with their unemployment higher, there are many in that community that do not think that much of Obama as a good example.

      But, he did do well connecting to his Irish roots in his trip to Ireland. :) Guess Air Force One did not have the fuel to touch down in Kenya for him to connect to his Kenyan roots.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • RoguePlanet

      Hear, hear, Captain...I agree. The poster should prove that statement, and thank you for your service.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • John

      Ahh, Cult? yeah right! They believe in Jesus. They believe in God, They believe in America, They serve in the military. The offer community service, the give millions in aid around the world, second only to the Red Cross, and you think they are a cult? Get a brain!

      November 9, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • souptwins

      Jealous? Bet you'd like some "magic" in your life.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  8. Jeb

    Mormonism is a cult.

    At least Romney will be a God over his own planet when he dies.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • CAPT Mike Taylor USN Res Ret

      No its not a cult. Get educated.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    How quickly America forgets that Mormons swore an oath of vengeance against the United States.
    Brigham Young stated, "Furthermore, every one who had passed through their endowment, in the Temple, were placed under the most sacred obligation to avenge the blood of the Prophet, whenever an opportunity offered, and to teach their children to do the same, thus making the entire Mormon people sworn and avowed enemies of the American nation." (Confessions of John D. Lee, p. 160)

    November 9, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Dallas

      Well, while you are going back to ancient history, why don't you go back to Obama's father and his muslim ties? Mo r -n!

      November 9, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • CAPT Mike Taylor USN Res Ret

      Outside of the military (of which I've served 32 years) the church is the most patriotic organization I know of. You need to study more...

      November 9, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Kev

      So, you are saying Mormons blame the United States for the death of Joseph Smith? Mormons, many of whom devoutly serve their country and even sacrificed their lives in the service of their country, that Mormons vowed to take vengeance against the United States?

      November 9, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • ASorensen

      Taken way out of context. Remember, the governor of Missouri issued an extremination order for all Mormons living in Missouri at one point. The US then sent an army to Utah Territory to investigate spurious claims of an uprising. An army was coming and Brigham Young replied.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Kev
      Yes – that is exactly what I am saying.
      Until 1923, Mormons took an oath of vengeance against the United states.
      The Prophet Brigham Young was no fan of the US.
      Utah's application for statehood was denied time and time again because they practiced that with US Gov't called "the twin relics of barbarism – slavery and polygamy."
      The repeal of polygamy as a central tenet was about political expediency and was not proclaimed with any sort of enthusiasm.
      In the 1880's, the banning of polygamy became an official requirement for entry into the Union.
      Prophet Willford Woodruff's official statement in 1890 was "my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land."
      The next time Utah applied for statehood in 1896 – their 5th or 6th attempt – they were finally accepted.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Asorenson
      Don't forget about the Danites.
      Such a lovely group of Mormons they were.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  10. Robert

    First of all I didn't vote for Obama but you can be damn sure I didn't vote for Romney because he is a Mormon! Of all the religions-THIS IS THE MOST FAKE MADE UP BUNCH OF CRAP IN THE WORLD!!! Really!! Who in their right mind can even believe how this "suppossed religion" even came about? If you do--YOU DO NOT BELONG IN PUBLIC SERVICE!!!!! AS YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON ACTUAL FACTS. The lost tribes of Israel did not come to America you frickin idiots!

    November 9, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Mark

      Exactly!

      November 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Too bad you are not in your right mind.... but your hatred is easily seen.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • John

      Ignorant people only type in upper case. Go get an education, the do some research and you'll find out how much these people love God, Country and family more than most people. They have a higher standard of ethics than anyone I know.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  11. Netscanr

    Being a non-mormon now living in UT for the past 11 years, the possibility of Mitt winning the Presidency scared the crap out of me. We in utah call them the MORG. They function & act like the BORG on StarTrek. Hit YouTube and search for 'mormon rituals'. There's a guy that has recorded full-length hidden videos of 'temple rites'. Once you see what these people believe & do, you'll literally run the other way!

    November 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Antiphon

      I love it...the MORG! Yeah..Moab and the arches are wonderful places to hike and bike, but steer clear of Salt Lake. They kept trying to convert my family ...go figure white family of 4 with a dog in a station wagon! I guess we fit the bill. My parents, brother and I high tailed it out of there! If you want creepy, check out the animatronics at the temple...like Disneyland gone bad!

      November 9, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • John

      Hey star trek freek. No one here calls them the Morg. Until you understand the great love these people have for God, Jesus, Family and country. you will never progress. Go back to your government handouts.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  12. sockpuppet1984

    the truth is that Mormonism spent a great deal of time deflecting and hiding the truth about it's weirder beliefs and practices, and BECAUSE of that, the Evangelical right sold out and voted for a Mormon. But if the evangelicals were reminded of those beliefs and saw footage of ceremonies that actually take place within the Mormon temples, they would go right back to labeling it a cult. This was a matter of selling out because their utter hatred of Obama superceded even their religious beliefs. Hypocrisy in the extreme.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • John

      Its not hypocrisy at all. Just some people like you want to side with the opposition to good and persecute those who truly love God and his Son.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  13. AZdem

    I use to be in the Mormon church...I quit a long time ago! I could not believe in what they were teaching.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  14. LLP

    looks like it's back on to the cult list on the Billy Graham web site for Mormons!

    November 9, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  15. Khaleeshi

    I have no fascination at all for the LDS

    November 9, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  16. 13directors

    Thank goodness. I'm all about religious freedom, I swear, but these people are serious proselytizers. Religious freedom is not enough, they want to convert the world and concentrate its wealth in Utah. That's why they hate paying taxes, they want to send it all to Utah, but they want us to fight their wars. While Romney openly advocated for the Vietnam war, he fled to France to recruit new members by using a "mormon deferment."

    November 9, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • John

      Oh Please! Move money to Utah, Run away form the vietnam war. Thats about as absurd as saying Catholics want to send all the worlds money to the Vatican. Ignorance, ignorance, ignorance. Go get some education.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Or the Jews to Isreal, is what you would say if you were anti semitic. All of you hate group folks sound the same.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  17. Pablo

    This is not the end of the Mormon's atttempt to take over America's levers of power. Besides Reid, look for other Mormons in positions of power and influence. I expect G. Wahsington to be replaced with the Angel Maroni within 20 years on the dollar bill.

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

      That's funny, I don't recall the LDS church endorsing either candidate not to mention that not every Latter-Day-Saint voted for Romney. That there were some, including myself who voted for Obama.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • John

      Haha, More stupid, ignorant comments.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  18. kenny

    i'm so sick of hearing about other people's fairy tale beliefs, if you aren't adult enough to handle reality you need to stfu and go sit in the corner.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Galaxy Prime

      I'm with you Kenny. Adult religious followers believe in god because they want to keep experiencing that same feeling of security they had as kids of being watched over by their parents and Santa Claus. Time to grow up people.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  19. MRHD

    It was good to see politics move beyond religion, at least for this election. That evangelicals could embrace a Mormon shows that there may be hope for them yet to open their minds a little and become more accepting. I voted for Obama because my views align with his more, but it still was nice to see that there was not a Christian litmus test this election cycle. This country is supposed to be inclusive of all faiths and beliefs, maybe we are finally going to make that the reality.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  20. MarcNJ

    welp, looks it's back to the seer stones and magic underwear.

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

      What are you talking about?

      November 9, 2012 at 10:58 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.