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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. Kurt

    It's amazing to me how little people know about mormonism. I'd say it's a great church with great people - but I'd say that about most religions. Good luck Romney! And good luck President Obama! You've got a lot of work to do.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  2. lilred

    I did not like Romney and did not vote for him, and I am not Mormom. However I believe all faiths should be honored. Unfortunately he did not believe in the rights of women gays, etc. although asking that his faith be respected.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Reload

      Actually he does believe in the rights of women, gays and minorities. You just bought into the dreck that CNN, messNBC, Bill Mahr and the rest of the liberal media was spewing.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • N Will

      Unfortunately you fell victim to the Obama campaign's strategy of divide and conquer.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  3. Barara

    The so-called christian right would vote for the devil himself if he told them he was a christian.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  4. Sane Person

    All Christian beliefs are pretty wacky and illogical, but Mormonism takes the cake... The sky cake

    November 9, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • SALLY

      YOU ALL HAVE A LOT OF NERVE, SIMPLE MINDED INSULTING RELIGION OF ANY KIND.
      FYI: THE ONLY REASON WHY THAT IDIOT WON WAS NOT FOR THE MAJORITY VOTE BECAUSE IF IT WAS TRULY FROM THE PEOPLE HE'D BE GONE. NOW YOU WILL ALL HAVE TO LIVE WITH YOUR CHOICE OF A SOCIALISTIC SOCIETY, THAT'S TELLS YOU HOW MUCH YOU CAN MAKE, WHAT YOU MEDICAL NEEDS WILL BE OR WON'T SO NOW IT WILL BE ALL POOR OR RICH. I GUESS WE SHOULD ALL LEAVE OUR JOBS AND DO WHAT THE REST DO, NOT WORK LIVE OF THE SYSTEM, GET FREE MEDICAL AND SCHOOLING!!! OH AND A FREE PHONE!!

      November 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Turn off the caps lock you damn idiot

      November 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  5. justlyeducated

    Mormonism was founded in the 1800's? It was restored then. Get your facts right, cnn.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  6. Reload

    For a group that is supposed to be open and inclusively, you liberals are sure a bunch of bigots toward Mormons. Someone explain to me why one can't get away with this kind of slander toward any other group but it is OK to aim this vitriol toward LDS people. I guess in the liberal world it’s OK to be a bigot, even chic, just so you're spewing is aimed toward selected groups. Hypocrisy? Yea, I think so. If you were to say these things to my face, this Mormon would knock you on you’re a$$ or die trying. What a bunch of low-life liberals you are.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Sane Person

      All religions are stupid, brainwashing fairy tales. Not just Mormonism. Happy?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Huebert

      I'm actually quite fond of Mormons. Most of them are kind friendly people. My only real problem with y'all is that you never have any tea or coffee in your house.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Sane Person

      By the way, you can't kick my a$$.. I'm wearing my magic underwear.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Rich

      Liberal = Hypocrisy. Liberals are only open and accepting to people who agree with them.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Wrong, rich. I'm accepting of e everyone, and I will fight for your right to believe in your silly beliefs. But I also have the right to make fun of them. Isn't freedom great?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • chris

      I don't know, maybe because these degenerates take 11 and 12 yr old little girls as wives. I think that's a good enough reason to despise them.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Rich

      Sane person. Oh, I see, you just find enjoyment belittling groups of people and their beliefs. Doesn't that run counter to the liberal message? How do you think people would respond if instead of making fun of Mormons you were belittling gays? You can't see the hypocrisy in that?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Rich

      Chris. Only splinter groups do that sort of thing (ie FLDS). NO Mormons marry underage girls.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • topfuel500

      Great christian response, isn't your life supposed to be your witness so us non believers will wonder what great thing you have in your life and that will be your opportunity to tell us the great things about your religion?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Rich, being gay is not a choice.. Being Mormon is. Making fun of beliefs is okay, making fun of the way a person was born is uncalled for.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  7. Rob

    To all of the Mormon haters, obsession noted! Just look at all of these posts yet they all claim to have no interest.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  8. lejaune

    If I were Romney, I would get several more wives and live happily ever after in a Mormon settlement.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Ben

      I can tell you are not married. No married man would want more than one nagging him.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • LinSea

      Either you don't comprehend the difference between the actual Mormon church which banned polygamy almost 125 years ago and the groups that splintered off and formed separate churches so they could practice polygamy, or you are being a hateful person who enjoys trashing others. I hope it's the first.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  9. WJanet

    Mormonism based on a Science Fiction book just like Scientology, smart really smart people!

    November 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  10. Journey

    Romney wasn't LDS anyway...he worshiped $$$ only.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Journey

      ...and same goes for Ryan...about as Catholic and devoted to the poor as Daddy Warbucks.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • N Will

      If donating 25% of your annual income to charity is bad, he must be really "bad" in your book. Compare that to the percentage that Obama or Biden donated to charity.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  11. RoguePlanet

    Abandon all reason and decorum, ye who enter here.

    I thought the Right was bad.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • locutus

      the right is evil incarnate

      November 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  12. MacInBlack70

    THANK GOD HE LOST! THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    Now we can get back to business on repairing this country it's economy and all. But first FIX CONGRESS!

    Implement some sort of mechanism that is similar in fashion to the " impeachment " for presidents. If members of congress are Obstructing everything out of spite because of who their Commander in Chief is , then the American people can decide to IMPEACH the obstructionist congress member(s)! Simple as that! If members of congress won't let the Commander in chief do his job then FIRE THE BUMS! IMO

    November 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • RoguePlanet

      That's actually how a dictatorship works, not a Democracy, but thanks for playing anyway. Next time, bring an informed opinion. They're sharper and harder to hit.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Huh?

      You are silly. I guess you don't really understand how our democratic republic works, do you? Please note, that although BHO won re-election, nearly 50% of everyone in the entire United States disagrees with what he plans to do. Also please note that the democrats are just as obstructive when they are in the minority. Works both ways. If you remove obstructionism, when Republicans reclaim the Presidency in 2016 it would be the end of the Democrats under your brilliant plan. Think before you speak.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • larryb

      why?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • RoguePlanet

      ...this coming from one who worships an invisible bully in the sky.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Huebert

      Predestination renders that claim impossible.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Jackson

      I'd ask you to back that up with scientific data, but your kind doesn't believe in science.....

      November 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  14. larryb

    I am just happy I will never have to see 30 romneys on a stage all dressed alike ...ever again

    November 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  15. nola1234

    Does Mormonism permit lying for self gain?

    November 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • socialmediacontrol

      It must because the Failure (aka Romney/Ryan) 2012 campaign sure did some major lying and flip flopping.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • JK

      Apparently, all they have to do is give enough money to their church to get a planet of their own to rule. Romney couldn't wait and wanted to ruin our planet first, probably for practice. I don't understand how anyone can be so gullible as to believe what Mormons believe, and we certainly don't need a gullible bully as our president. Our political system is such that selling one's soul is necessary to be elected to higher offices, but I think Obama at least started out as a genuine person. It's too bad he's so indebted to some really sleazy groups that helped him get elected. Just look at Vilsack and some of his other unfortunate appointees.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • LinSea

      No, nola1234, it does not. But if lying bothers you, JK's comment starts out with an outright, baldfaced lie, so maybe you should ask JK if lying is permitted under his/her personal belief system or if that was just a statement made out of pathetic ignorance.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  16. Dzmanderson

    Cult
       [kuhlt] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    2.
    an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
    3.
    the object of such devotion.
    4.
    a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
    5.
    Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • SamiAm

      Of course Mormonism is a cult. And to his credit, Joseph Smith is the greatest con man of all time. But this supposed "religious tolerance" is simply evidence that there is a much larger intolerance still alive: racial intolerance. White evangelists couldn't bear to see the black man remain in office so they voted for the white man, despite his belief in the whacky religion that undercuts their own Christian beliefs.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • SamiAm

      whacky CULT that is.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Huh?

      @SAMIAM

      You are silly. What are you talking about white people couldn't stand to vote for a black man? You are either completely uninformed, or very stupid. Look at the demographics on voting before you make an idiotic comment. A very large portion of white people vote for BHO. (Who, by the way, if half white also). Evangelicals didn't vote for him because of ABORTION you idiot – nothing to do with color. Think before you speak.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • RP1509

      Then I guess by the definitions copied from the dictionary ALL Christianity are "doomed" to be a cult in the entireity. All Christian faiths worship Christ. Would that not make each and every one of them a cult??

      November 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  17. cajr

    people hated mormons but voted for a guy who hates whites and praised a preacher is an absolute racist for 20 years?? wow.

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

      His Mother whom he loved very much was White , so are the Grandparents who raised him.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • The Truth

      cajr found words hard to understand, letters put together to mean things, separated by spaces which also gave meaning, coupled with punctuation's and even a capital letter or two!!! Oh the humanity!!! Fortunately he found the right party for him, the one with few words but plenty of spin...

      November 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  18. RoguePlanet

    One man's religion is another man's "cult.". Freedom of religion doesn't just mean yours. We all have the right to our faiths, or lack thereof. We are all Americans. Maybe before posting mindless drivel about someone else's faith you should consider the legacy of this great nation, her long and proud history of providing certain inalienable rights, and the fact that most of you sound like a$$clowns with the anti-Mormon crap you're posting on here. Christianity used to be considered a "cult," and that didn't turn out well for the Romans. Give a man his faith, don't beat him down for it.

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

      By the way: Democrat, liberal, white, middle class, middle-aged, Atheist Obama supporter, just so you've all got your targets straight. Fire away.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • CrimsonSky

      You need to relax Rogue Planet! Mormons beliefs don't seem that far apart from Scientology beginning with Joseph Smith's "discovery of tablets" to Ron Hubbard twisted visions, so go ahead and blow another gasket on that posting too.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • RoguePlanet

      CrimsonSky – Spend five minutes reading any other page and wade through the waist-crap being dished out, maybe then come back and post an informed remark instead of brainless pap, kid.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Jackson

      What do you mean "used to"? There are plenty of us who still believe Christianity is a cult

      November 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  19. NorCalMojo

    Mormophobia

    November 9, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  20. john316

    The end of the report says it best...."it is no stranger than the others" ....meaning...they all are....and yes...they are ALL Cults of one type or another.......so if someone wants to be part of a cult...that's fine...just don't make the rest of us go along with it...and make laws to enforce it....the churches have a long history of persecution and intolerance of others....

    November 9, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • NorCalMojo

      So you're saying it's wrong to put someone in prison for say.......making a derogatory film about a prophet?

      November 9, 2012 at 11:38 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.