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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. blogo

    Just leave the second "m" out and what do you get" Moron religion! That's what I call mainstream!

    November 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Dum de Dum Dum

      blogo,

      I'm no fan of Mormons, but even I think that stupid letter drop is lame (not to mention sooooo old and worn out)

      November 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • dave

      Blogo,

      Lame is right! So is your level of tolerance for others who aren't like you.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • RoguePlanet

      Hate is not a religion. Hate is not an idealogical doctrine you can win hearts and minds by. Hate is just hate. You can worship at whatever altar you want, but until we stop worshipping at the altar of hate we will always be a divided nation.

      So take your offerings elsewhere. They're not wanted.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:15 am |
  2. YOU CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH

    WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND SORTA LIKE KARMA :)

    November 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  3. GOP Traitors

    Next step for Obama: LET THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH EXPIRE!!!! Keep you promise, Obama. Don't cave in to the obstructionist GOP. The people have given you the mandate. USE IT IF NECESSARY!!! The people will punish the GOP in 2014 and turn the House Democratic if GOP send the nation over the fiscal cliff. They HAVE to deal.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  4. blogo

    Religion is a sad testament to the stupidity of most Americans, and the Mormon "religion" top all of the other idiotic beliefs.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Mike.

      That's correct.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • billiamhe

      I disagree... Mormonism is still second to Scientology. Xenu be praised!

      November 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • dave

      I am glad to see that tolerance is alive and well and that people can live how they want without others calling them morons and stupid if they choose to believe in a supreme being (or not).

      November 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Christine Falk

      Your words scream igorance! Rather than throwing your negativity and hatred towards others who do not share your beliefs, perhaps consider accepting the fact that we are a country of different beliefts and ideologies. You clearly do not share his beliefs and I doubt he shars yours. Does that either of your right or on higher ground? No. Think outside of the box my friend. Diversity is what makes this country what it is. Ignorance and hatred only make you look like a jack a.....

      November 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  5. Dan, Tx

    I'm glad that the Mormon religion is now acknowledged to be just as valid as the Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, and other religions or no religion at all. America has taken a great step in acknowledging that someone's religion (or lack of religion) is not imporrtant – it is what kind of person you are that is important.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • blogo

      You mean the kind of of uneducated, stupid and ignorant kind of person?

      November 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Yeah, RIGHT.

      I wouldn't let my Labrador mate with one!

      Imagine Thanksgiving with them. Creepy beyond words.

      Ya wake up tied to an Altar, and they all got white robes and curvy knives!

      November 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Dan, Tx

      You give a great example there blogo.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'America has taken a great step in acknowledging that someone's religion (or lack of religion) is not imporrtant'

      you are deluding yourself. Try running as an atheist and see if you pass the first hurdle.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • ME II

      @William Demuth,
      Do you normally let your Labrador mate people of your own religion?

      November 8, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Lew

      How bout me Dan from TX try me on, 36 yrs in the Mormon church, was hoping as a ex Mormon for Romney to win, to expose more and more lies, I have a copy of the 1830 Bom and GUESS WHAT DAN ? IT HAS MORE HOLES IN IT THAN MY SWISS CHEESE, NOT EVEN LIKE MY 1975 MISSIONARY EDITION.

      So Dan when you are ready bring it on, oh, how many versions of the first vision were there ? should only be 1 right ? wrong

      November 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Jerome

      I'd have to disagree. Your religion shapes your world view, and how to be in it. For example, many Mormons (and regular conservative Christian evangelists) have an apocalyptic view about the "end times", that it is around the corner, and will usher in the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth. Believing that, could you see how Romney might be willing to push for a war that would hasten that "apocalypse", knowing that he and his brethren will be saved in order to spend those thousand years with their savior? Do you want that kind of person in the White House?

      November 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'For example, many Mormons (and regular conservative Christian evangelists) have an apocalyptic view about the "end times", '

      thats why the religious right have such a bee in their bonnet about Israel. They couldnt care less about the jews but a reformed Israel is one of the signs of the end times and they will try their hardest to push that path.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • RoguePlanet

      Maybe that's what separates me from folks who are devoutly religious, I don't have any reason to look at someone else's beliefs and just see an idiot, and I certainly don't look at someone else's belief and think that makes them any more or less than what they are. Hate's not productive, it is by its very nature destructive. Still, I'm not exactly going to love someone who hates me, but I do try not to hate, I just try to understand...or hit back.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:19 am |
  6. phil

    Not only did Romney lose, but he managed to destroy the reputations of Clint Eastwood and Billy Graham. Guess that magical Mormon diaper wasn't that magical after all.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • tony

      Actually it's the first example of the power of prayer that I have seen. :)

      November 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Linda

      Especially Billy Graham who had on his web site that mormonism was a cult, until Mitt talked to him. Then he removed it off of his website and actually accepted mormonism, knowing that the book they study from has nothing to do with the Bible. I will never respect Billy Graham again. He put his own religion aside to make sure someone that looked more like him had a better chance of being elected. Rev Graham has proved he is not a Christian, but makes decisions on race

      November 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Tammy

      @ Linda – I can beleive you respected Billy Graham in the first place – Ouch!

      November 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Pete

      If at any point in your life you respected Billy Graham then you are a dirt bag.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  7. gman324

    mormanism mainstream? when they can explain the magic underwear thing then i will consider them mainstream.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Christopher Walken

      I've said before, again, I say it to you now, Mormon, Doorman...Morman Doorman. It's, you know, catchy.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Alfredo

      The "White Horse" has been sent to the glue factory.

      Look up the "White Horse Prophecy" and Mitt Romney.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • dave

      No mormon calls it "magic" underwear. That is just a misguided term. Do you also make fun of the religions attire of muslims, catholics, jews, etc...? If you seriously want to know about the meaning and why it is worn, go to mormon.org for your answer.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • souptwins

      I'll take that challenge. LDS garments are not considered "magic" any more than any other religious clothing is considered "magic". Do you also say Jews wear "magic beanies" or Nuns and Priests wear "magic robes"? All these serve as a physical reminder of sacred covenants made to God by those who wear them. Nothing more. Since Mormons consider these covenants to be personal and private, the clothing is worn under their clothing. They can be felt by the wearer but not obvious to others. Nothing more. Just think if Clinton had a reminder of the sacred promises he had made. Perhaps he wouldn't have been impeached for lying about "that woman". Whether you give your permission or not, Mormons are as "mainstream" as any other major religion in the US.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'LDS garments are not considered "magic" any more than any other religious clothing is considered "magic"'

      .........
      General authority Carlos E. Asay adds that the garment "strengthens the wearer to resist temptation, fend off evil influences, and stand firmly for the right."
      'In Mormon folklore, tales are told of Latter-day Saints who credit their temple garments with helping them survive car wrecks, fires, and natural disasters'

      ......yeah, magic.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • dave

      Where does Carlos Asay say they are magic? He doesn't. Those are your words. What he is stating means that the garment is a reminder to the wearer of covenants they have made to live a righteous life. The symbolism is the reminder and is what should strengthen the wearer. I have never been taught or ever heard it taught that they are "magic" and that I will be physically protected. You provide folklore as proof of their "magic". Sorry to disappoint but they aren't magic.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • LinSea

      Alfredo, that so-called 'White Horse' prophecy is not, and never has been, LDS doctrine.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Tammy

      @dave says:
      Where does Carlos Asay say they are magic? He doesn't. Those are your words. What he is stating means that the garment is a reminder to the wearer of covenants they have made to live a righteous life. The symbolism is the reminder and is what should strengthen the wearer. I have never been taught or ever heard it taught that they are "magic" and that I will be physically protected. You provide folklore as proof of their "magic". Sorry to disappoint but they aren't magic.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
      Why do they need underwear to remind them to be a good person? I would think that if they studied their bible a little more they would not need to wear undies to help keep them on the straight and narrow? Just wondering? :)

      November 8, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  8. smart man

    All religions are mental illness. Delusions. Psychological by-products of being a small, helpless child. God is Santa for adults. A Father figure that rewards and punishes and grants impossible wishes to the ignorant. All religions fade away. All gods fade away. Science is all we have.

    God Is Imaginary dot com

    November 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  9. Shake

    People! Have you seen the "Great" Salt Lake? It is broken but it's okay to pee there though.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  10. William Demuth

    I'll bet ya Ryan gets some major Wisconsin wood when he is anywhere near Michelle

    November 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Willy

      "Wisconsin wood, near Michelle " ... Bachmann ?

      Peace...

      November 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Well, as for me, I want the Michelle sandwich

      One on my left, and one one my right. and me lookin down

      November 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Michelle Bachman is from Minnesota... More likely Marco Rubio...

      November 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  11. Mike

    I wish Mormons would not call themselves Christians. There are no more Christians than I am Jewish. The Jewish faith has 1 book (Old Testament). Christians have 2 books (Book1. Old Testament & Book 2 The New Testament). If you add a book to Old and New Testaments called the Book of Mormans, you are a Morman, not Christian. Mormans can still believe in Jesus Christ, just as I believe in the same God as the Jewish faith but that belief does not make me Jewish. The belief in a third book makes you Morman – not Christian. Christians do not belive in the Book of Morman.

    Evangelicals dislike Obamo and his policies more that they dislike the Morman cult.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • moi

      I mean seriously, WHO cares??? All religion began the same way, and they are all essentially cults by definition, so stop your whining: "my religion is more true than your religion!!". Wake up and realize that they all stem from the same origins: FEAR.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Well now, let's see...you used the word Mormon six times and only spelled it right once. Hmmm....

      November 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Make that 7 times...you can't spell and I can't count. Hmmmm....

      November 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • AJ

      The name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It says they are Christians right in the name. A Christian is someone who believes that Christ is their Savior by atoning for their sins. How can you tell someone else they are not Christian if they have professed to believe and follow Christ. It's time to accept the reality that Mormons are Christian and always will be.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • souptwins

      It's like the apple telling the orange they can't call themselves a fruit because they aren't an apple. Of course, many on these boards would call all religious people "fruits".

      November 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  12. veggiedude

    The so called 'Mormon moment' had more than its 15 minutes of fame, and has already accomplished its mission of acceptance. Did it not get off the 'cult' listing of Billy Graham? Sure it did. Be happy for that.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Wait a couple of weeks and it will be right back there on the list again...

      November 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. phil

    Because nothing says women's rights like a religion based on polygamy. Please Mitt, run again in 2016. Please?

    November 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • want2believe

      I heard this was just his warm up for 2016...

      November 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • dave

      Have you read the Bible? Moses, Isaac, Jacob, etc...all had multiple wives. Hmmm...does that discredit the old testament?

      November 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  14. Apple Bush

    Why I Hate Church by Apple Bush

    Churches smell like old people.

    Churches have weird textures like polyester.

    Chruches have bad music. Really bad music. There is one obvious exception.

    Churches still use PowerPoint.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nah, them Gregorians got that chant thing down pat!!

      November 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      There areTWO obvious exceptions. Thanks for catching that William.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Jazz Cat

      Yeah man, you know what really cooks is you get some Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius backing up the Gregorian chant cats man. Some of those young lions can really wail.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • William Demuth

      The Gregorian version of Stairway To Heaven is a cult classic.

      Great for bagin those counter culture chicks that work in the mall candle shop

      November 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  15. Bristol

    Let's talk about something more important.....like who will be the father of Bristol Palin's next child.......

    November 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • William Demuth

      OBAMA

      Whaose your daddy now?????

      November 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Christopher Walken

      Well...on the subject of children, you know, kids...some people will have them.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Scott

      She gonna have a Spirit Child?

      November 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  16. William Demuth

    I guess the whole "Better the Cult than the Keffer" thing didn't work out well for the Mormons.

    If the Fundies would rather have a black dude, exactly where on the food chain does that leave the Mormons?

    One step up from the camel jockeys?

    November 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  17. MrBeenThere

    Please... Please.... Please..... read up and research about the Mormon Faith, it's a American CULT Classic. It turned my stomach as a Christian I would rather have a Atheist as a President then some one of the Mormon faith.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • jeff slater

      Definition of a cult:
      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.

      I'm sorry that you have told Gold himself that he can no longer talk. I'm glad you are confused on the trinity thingy. I'm glad you have put an end to God communicating. I'm glad you said the 'ole Apostle thing was wrong, we just need highly paid pastors.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      sure its a cult but so heck so is christianity itself, it started as a personality cult of jesus.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  18. David

    Amazed me how evangelists could rally behind a Mormon. At least we won't have to find out how a Mormon would influence the White House for another 4 years.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • jeff slater

      would he have influenced it any more than any other president? Has Harry Reid influenced the Senate?

      November 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  19. some chick

    I dont care what religion he is....His behavior , words and actions are
    not Christ like. Too many lies, no humility and worst of all total disrespect
    for our Commander in Chief, the President of the United States. Like him
    or not , President Obama is the President- how dare he disrespect,
    and treat him so horribly. UGH

    November 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • miffmole

      Too many lies, no humility and worst of all total disrespect
      for the office...I couldn't have described the POTUS any better myself...

      November 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Ralph in Orange Park, FL

      Every time you post, it is the same post. Have you nothing original to say?

      November 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Perhaps...but it also tends to make people think you are crazy.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Art Leigh

      That's right my cat goes to church regularly!!!! That why dogs start world Wars, as do deer and Musk Oxen!!!!!

      November 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      like rain dances change the weather

      November 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
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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.