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Understanding Jon Huntsman's distinct brand of Mormonism
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman before formally announcing his presidential campaign in Jersey City, New Jersey on Tuesday.
June 21st, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Understanding Jon Huntsman's distinct brand of Mormonism

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

How key is Jon Huntsman’s Mormonism to understanding him and his rise as a politician?

His grandfather was an apostle in the Mormon church, his father is a lay leader in the church, and Huntsman himself was a Mormon missionary to Taiwan, which gave him the language skills that helped land his last job, as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China.

On the other hand, Huntsman - who officially launched his presidential campaign Tuesday - has publicly distanced himself from his Mormon faith.

“I can’t say I’m overly religious,” he told Fortune magazine last year, when he was still ambassador. “I get satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies.”

It’s not the only move that serious Mormons would consider slightly unorthodox. Salt Lake Tribune Washington correspondent Thomas Burr notes that one of Huntsman’s daughters was married in an Episcopal church.

And a Huntsman spokesman, Tim Miller, says the Huntsmans are raising their adopted Indian daughter “to learn about and appreciate her native culture and the faiths associated with it.”

“Jon Huntsman's Mormon roots run deep,” said Burr, who has covered Huntsman since his days as Utah’s governor in the mid-2000s. “Personally, Huntsman says he considers himself a Mormon, but he's also stressed that he gets inspiration from many faiths.”

It’s a contrast to the way  the other Mormon candidate in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has talked about his religious faith.

"Romney has not been shy about his love for his faith and gave a big speech in his 2008 campaign about it,” Burr said. “Those who know Huntsman and Romney would say that Romney is very active in his church, while Huntsman hasn't been as active."

A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the official name of the Mormon church, would not comment on Huntsman's or Romney’s level of involvement in the church.

“We leave comment on the role of faith in an individual’s life to the individual,” said Michael Purdy, a church spokesman.

But the differences between Huntsman's and Romney’s orientations toward their religion may have as much to do with generational differences as with levels of religious observance.

Matthew Bowman, an editor at a Mormon studies journal called Dialogue, says  Romney appears to embody the Mormon retrenchment of the 1960s and 1970s, when the LDS church defined itself largely in opposition to the broader American culture, which was seeing cultural upheaval and the sexual revolution.

That attitude prevailed through the 1980s. “Leaders of the church were very pessimistic about the way they talked about American society, using apocalyptic rhetoric, framing America as the new Sodom and Gomorrah,” Bowman said. “There was this real attempt to tell Mormons that we need to distance ourselves from the country, to be different.”

Romney, 64, came of age during that era, which Bowman says explains why he appears defensive about his faith, seeming to see it as something that sets him apart.

There are some who “would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction or disavow one or another of its precepts,” Romney said in a 2007 speech in which he confronted the so-called Mormon question head-on. “That I will not do.”

It’s hard to imagine Huntsman, 51, making such a dramatic vow.

Bowman argues that that’s largely because Huntsman – who was born in 1960, 13 years after Romney – is part of a subsequent generation of Mormons who see themselves as quintessential Americans, not so different from their non-Mormon friends and neighbors.

That new attitude is evident in the LDS church’s current “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign, which emphasizes that there are Mormons of all ethnicities and from all walks of life.

“Huntsman is a Mormon who thinks of his faith not as something that separates him from American culture or as something he has to defend or explain away, which is what Romney did,” Bowman said.

That’s not to say Huntsman is unobservant. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the newly minted presidential candidate occasionally attended LDS services both as governor and as ambassador.

A survey released this month by the Pew Research Center found that a quarter of American adults admit to being less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate for president.

The survey found that resistance to Mormon candidates was even higher among two groups: liberal Democrats and evangelicals, who overwhelmingly vote Republican. One in three white evangelicals said they were less likely to support a Mormon candidate.

Evangelicals form huge part of the GOP electorate in early primary states like Iowa and South Carolina.

If some GOP voters are more likely to vote for Huntsman because he seems less overtly Mormon, others may be less apt to because of his reputation as a moderate.

For instance, Huntsman signed a law that introduced civil unions for gay couples when he was governor of Utah, putting him at odds with his church, which strenuously opposes gay unions.

“I don’t know Huntsman at all, but his reputation is one of a moderate,” said Michael Farris, an influential evangelical activist. “If that’s justified, there’s no chance I’ll support him.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Jon Huntsman • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (1,219 Responses)
  1. Mark from Middle River

    Wow CNN Belief Blog Writers. All this talk about Huntsman and Romney being Mormons but nothing about Senate Majority leader Harry Reid being a Mormon.

    Come on CNN, please do not "go FoxNews" on us.

    June 25, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  2. Marie Kidman

    '
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSvqMBj-ig
    .

    June 24, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • NoMormonPrez

      NoMormonPrez

      Lots of pertinent info missing from the story.
      1-male mormons are considered Gods once they reach puberty.
      2-A married couple must have 6 children to get into the highest level of Heaven. (Anything less and you can only get into lower levels of Heaven).
      3-they believe that all non mormons are going to hell
      4-Non Mormons are not allowed into the Temple for any reason ie: wedding, funeral. Secretive and exclusive. Ask yourself why. What do they have to hide?
      5-The husband of the household rules. Period.
      6. The husband allows the wife to go to Heaven or not. Be a good dutiful wife and produce 6 heirs and maybe he will allow you to go to Heaven with him.

      They are a cult. I am a staunch Republican as is my husband and we both agreed that if a Mormon is running on the Rep ticket we will vote Democratic for the first times in our lives. A bad Democrat is better than a Republican Mormon. Please please read up on the religion if you are Republican and non Mormon. It is not a nice religion. It's very scary IMO.

      This information was explained to me about 2 years ago by a "Jack" Mormon. I also lived in Arizona for 3 years amongst them. I had no clue what they were all about until then. I thought they were just nice religious people. Not so. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply

      This post was removed after being posted for 8 hours. WHY???????????????????
      I'll keep reposting this. Apparently my message touched a nerve and someone doesn't want it told

      June 25, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Peace

      Can't believe I am reading so many false accusations about The church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. Go to new.lds.org to learn and know what they believe.

      June 25, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • What?????

      In response to NoMormonPrez: Every single "fact" you wrote about Mormons is incorrect. As an active practicing Mormon for my entire life I thought I'd heard just about every anti-Mormon sentiment out there but yours are all completely new. You can't get into the highest level of heaven without at least 6 kids??? That's hilarious!!! Where did you come up with that??? I guess most Mormons I know are not going to heaven after all.

      June 25, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • Jackie

      1-male mormons are considered Gods once they reach puberty.

      False. My little brother reached puberty, and I sure as heck don't think he's a God. Mormons believe that everyone (male and female) has the potential to eventually become like God at some point in eternity, and definitely not in this life.

      2-A married couple must have 6 children to get into the highest level of Heaven. (Anything less and you can only get into lower levels of Heaven).

      Again, false. There is no minimum number of wives or children required to get into the highest level of heaven. Temple marriage is a requirement, but the woman and man need each other equally. The man cannot get into heaven without his wife, or vice versa. There is no minimum number of children. A couple could have no children and enter into the highest level of heaven.

      3-they believe that all non mormons are going to hell

      Mormons don't even believe in the traditional sense of hell. We believe that non-mormons will get into different levels of heaven, which are STILL better than this earth. Also, being Mormon doesn't automatically mean you get into a higher level. A non-mormon who lived a good life could easily be placed higher than a Mormon who lived a sinful life.

      4-Non Mormons are not allowed into the Temple for any reason ie: wedding, funeral. Secretive and exclusive. Ask yourself why. What do they have to hide?

      First of all, we don't have funerals in the temple. Second, it's not that it's secret, it's that it's sacred. We're not trying to hide, we are just trying to keep it special. Many religions have areas that have restricted access. For instance, in the Jewish tabernacle in the Old Testament, only the prophet could enter the Holy of Holies.

      5-The husband of the household rules. Period.

      Husbands and wives are to help each other and make decisions as equal partners. That's how I witnessed it in my house growing up, in all my relative's and friend's houses, and that's how I expect it to be once I marry.

      6. The husband allows the wife to go to Heaven or not. Be a good dutiful wife and produce 6 heirs and maybe he will allow you to go to Heaven with him.

      Technically yes, but since the husband wouldn't get into the highest level of heaven without his wife, it's not like he's going to say no. Also, I have always been taught that no other person has the ability to prevent you from achieving the highest level of Heaven. If your husband is the kind of jerk who would expect you to subject yourself to him so he'll let you into Heaven, he doesn't understand the doctrine and he's obviously not very kind or loving. That kind of person wouldn't get into Heaven with or without his wife. However, that doesn't prevent his wife from getting into Heaven; it just prevents her from getting into Heaven WITH HIM. She would be given the opportunity to find someone else, who loves her and treats her with the respect she deserves, to spend the rest of eternity with, instead of some oppressive, domineering loser.

      July 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  3. Cougarblu

    You Americans and your wacky religions.....sometimes frightening, but ALWAYS amusing!

    June 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  4. edward

    Looking for help and support?..come to http://www.wpray4u.com and you will find it

    June 24, 2011 at 3:53 am |
  5. Zelda

    Mormons need to trust in the atonement of the Divine Savior Jesus alone and rely on none of their own good works, in order to be saved. Mormons are relatively more moral than other humans, but trying to be moral is never good enough, since all human goodness is tainted with filthy autonomy.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • thru and thru

      I fully and without reservation rely on the atonement of a divine savior, Jesus Christ; who lived a perfect life, shed his blood, in our behalf, in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary then rose triumphantly the third day. Reliance upon the mercy and merits of Jesus Christ is the only way to find peace in this life and hope for eternal peace and happiness in the world to come. That faith is what drives my actions of morality. "Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words."

      June 24, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  6. Ukorebi Francis Etim

    Men proposed, God disposed. And when God proposed who can oppose or disposed? If God be for Huntsman who can be against him??? I believe in God and his will for us. It just baffles me when men and women of sound mind will ever learn to put religion or race out of politics. Let's start to learn how to vote for the candidiate and not the party, nor the faith of the candidiate. I am a Mormon and I will forever be proud to be! Thanks.

    June 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Laura

      THANK YOU!!!!!!! It baffles ME that what with history has shown us we still have to look at religion or race to choose a candidate? What about their political platform? Their experience in economics? Their foreign policy? I think those thinks matter most.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  7. Ukorebi Francis Etim

    Men proposed, God disposed. And when proposed who can oppose or disposed? If God be for Huntsman who can be against him??? I believe in God and his will for us. It just baffles me when men and women of sound mind will ever learn to put religion or race out of politics. Let's start to learn how to vote for the candidiate and not the party, nor the faith of the candidiate. I am a Mormon and I will forever be proud to be! Thanks.

    June 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  8. Larry C. Wilson

    Electing a Mormon as President will no more make Mormonism the state church than elecing a Roman Catholic in 1960 made the Roman Catholic Church the state religion.

    June 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  9. billy in brooklyn

    Well someone who is not an evangelical or a right-wing nut job might just be okay for the job. Just keep the dinosaur deniers out of the White House puhlease.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  10. Monique

    There are so many errors in this article I don't know where to begin!

    Aside from grammar, the two biggest errors are that civil unions are NOT necessarily against the Church standards (it believes in equal rights for everyone) and this so-called "new age of Mormonism" as an excuse for how Huntsman describes himself is a bunch of balogney. Huntsman doesn't defend his religion because he's not committed. Period.

    June 23, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • JC

      You're criticizing a man who doesn't support an organization that, until 1978, was officially racist? I would consider that a good thing.

      Maybe the reason why Huntsman doesn't defend the Mormons is because the Mormons are indefensible.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Daniel

      I couldn't agree more. This author realy missed the mark. I'm over 20 years younger than Jon and my views are much more in line with Mitt. Huntsman simply has low moral fiber, like too many Americans today.

      I would also like to point out, the Church of Jesus Christ opposes changing the legal definition of marriage. It does not oppose Civil Unions as the ill informed author claims.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  11. james

    The problem with the Mormon religion is the amount of control required. In the secret (sacred, sorry same thing) Mormon temple ceremony the make a vow to give everything they have to there church. Then after that they allow themselves to be controlled all the way down to the underwear. When rubber hits the road most LDS people will follow blindly.

    Just like it was up to debate when JFK was elected, people just have to ask themselves how involved the Mormon élites will be in the presidency. Sadly the LDS church lost its neutrality with the whole prop 8 idea in California, but maybe that will be a positive rather than a negative to republican voters.

    June 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  12. Danny

    Stereotyping a group of millions of people is always stupid, regardless whether you're theist or atheist, liberal or conservative, black or white.

    June 22, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  13. Trevor

    I live in Utah and am very liberal and voted for Huntsman both terms. The only republican I've ever voted for. In a state that is very segregated in its mormon vs. non-mormon populations he did find a way to strike a balance with appeasing both sides. He lightened liquor laws (which many mormon leaders came out against) and in exchange banned smoking in parks and bars. Any social action made in Utah was made with the total view of the population, not just his religious followers.

    I personally would vote for him over Obama (and i'm Democrat). He was capable of making Utah the best ran states in the nation (according to balanced budgets, available services, quality of life). He was sorely missed by everyone (both conservatives and liberals) when he left.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • I love mormons!

      I am not a mormon, but I know a lot of them. They are great people.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  14. Jim

    If Mormonism makes people happy, leave them alone. Its the simple golden rule, "Do unto others as you would like to be treated." Its the same with any religion or political party. CNN, the other News Media and other parties are just trying to make a big deal out of something that shouldn't be so big. Americans are always afraid of the unknown, it seems like Mormons are just barely coming out of obscurity, and people aren't sure how to act. If we have fears toward Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, etc we just need to educate ourselves. As for who we should vote for in the upcoming presidential elections we need to educate ourselves mostly of what the candidates have done with their past political experience.

    June 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Catch a Clue

      The problem is that the Mormons don't leave others alone. Don't you recall how this religion in Utah spent millions to strip gay rights in California?

      Practice what you preach, hypocrite!

      June 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Jim

      Catch-a-Clue-
      One thing that people don't get is exactly what a Catholic Bishop said about Prop 8:
      “The ProtectMarriage coalition, which led the successful campaign to pass Proposition 8, was an historic alliance of people from every faith and ethnicity. LDS were included — but so were Catholics and Jews, Evangelicals and Orthodox, African-Americans and Latinos, Asians and Anglos.

      "Bigoted attacks on Mormons for the part they played in our coalition are shameful and ignore the reality that Mormon voters were only a small part of the groundswell that supported Proposition 8."
      Another good quote on Mormons and Prop 8 is by Jonah Goldberg from the LA Times:
      “The argument is that Mormons used illegitimate power, in this case money, beyond their numerical standing in the population to secure victory for the measure. … No, it's just that Mormons are the most vulnerable of the culturally conservative religious denominations and therefore the easiest targets for an organized campaign against religious freedom of conscience.”

      People also forget that Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts, and Massachusetts during Mitt Romney's time allowed gay marriage. Jon Huntsman also supported legislation that established civil unions for gays in Utah. So no one can generalize the whole Mormon population for any reason. As Bucky Ball said in an earlier post:

      It's like saying "Catholics don't believe in birth control", when in fact most American Catholic women DO use it.

      Its simple, do your own research, get the facts straight. Don't be prejudice, racist or anything like it. Just vote for what you believe would be best for our nation, and at the same time look at the history and acts of the candidate. See he or she for who they really are, religion or race does not define a person.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  15. .

    [i] we [/i]

    June 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Jim

      If Mormonism makes people happy, leave them alone. Its the simple golden rule, "Do unto others as you would like to be treated." Its the same with any religion or political party. CNN, the other News Media and other parties are just trying to make a big deal out of something that shouldn't be so big. Americans are always afraid of the unknown, it seems like Mormons are just barely coming out of obscurity, and people aren't sure how to act. If we have fears toward Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, etc we just need to educate ourselves. As for who we should vote for in the upcoming presidential elections we need to educate ourselves mostly of what the candidates have done with their past political experience.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  16. spamlds

    There is a power in Mormonism that has nothing to do with politics or political candidates. It has everything to do with the individual having a connection to heaven, to a God who speaks today. It has to do with a Jesus who lives and speaks today, not just through a centuries-old book, but to the heart of those who sincerely seek him. The bigots on the Christian right and the secularist skeptics miss the point entirely. Mormonism has power from heaven. It's followers enjoy peace of mind and the joy that comes from living the teachings of Jesus Christ, which includes service, sacrifice, and devotion.

    June 22, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Nonimus

      It is people like this that make me hesitate to vote for any 'deeply religious' person, not just Mormons, but any.
      We don't need a leader claiming divine guidance or divine justification for their actions. Down that road lay atrocities.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Don't Let the Facts Stand in the Way of Your Opinions

      Prove it. Give proof of your magical powers.

      Is that peace of mind real, or does it come from the the increaded use of anti-depressants that Utah has over the other states?

      How does Utah's high rate of suicide (7th in the nation) fit with your magic happiness theory? Women 15-44 years old commit suicide FOUR TIMES more there than elsewhere. In the rest of the nation, the leading cause of death for 15-44 year old males; in Utah, it's suicide. The Utah Department of Health has declared it an “epidemic”.

      How about murder rates? Utah is 16th out of 50 in the rate of murder of women.

      How about it's very high rates r-ape? The Utah Department of Health states that 1 Utah woman in 3 will be se-xually assaulted, and its the Mormon men doing it. And even though the reported rate is already higher than the national average, Utah is the place with the very highest rate of women failing to report the r-ape (88.2%) – the reason? Mormonism puts an extreme stigma on the victim.

      You can believe whatever you want, spamguy, but the reality of Mormonism is not the happy-happy "power from heaven" delusion you are peddling.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Jackie

      utah != mormons

      Did you know that, as a whole (not just utahns), Mormon women are 8 times less likely to be diagnosed with depression?

      July 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  17. aadams

    My issue with Huntsman is not whether or not he is a committed member of his church. To me there is a big issue of him being a total social and religious chameleon. When he was running for governor he pulled his kids out of private schools and put them in public. When he ran for governor his level of activity or mormonism wasn't "hard to define." He beat a much better candidate that sadly many ignorant mormons wrote off because he was not LDS. Last Huntsman has no finish. He didn't finish high school. Didn't finish college. Didn't finish his term as governor. Didn't finish as ambassador. Not to mention any business experience he has with his father's company is more of a trophy position than anything else.

    Sidenote: I find it truly sad to see people that preach the American ideal of freedom of religion and tolerance become such bigots. I would suggest that if you would like to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that you jump on Mormon.org and chat with someone online to clarify some of your knowledge about the LDS church rather than anti LDS propaganda that is clearly biased and quite comical to anyone that knows very much about the Mormons.

    June 22, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • The Bobinator

      > I find it truly sad to see people that preach the American ideal of freedom of religion and tolerance become such bigots. I would suggest that if you would like to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that you jump on Mormon.org and chat with someone online to clarify some of your knowledge about the LDS church rather than anti LDS propaganda that is clearly biased and quite comical to anyone that knows very much about the Mormons.

      A few concepts that I think will help.

      Concept A: Being critical of another group's beliefs is not being a bigot.
      Concept B: Accepting something as truth without evidence is stupid.

      The mormon faith is just as valid as any other faith, mainly because it shares the same quality of having absolutely no evidence to back up it's claims.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Reality

      An expanded view of Mr. Huntsman "finishing":

      "Huntsman was born March 26, 1960 in Palo Alto, California. His mother is Karen Haight Huntsman, daughter of LDS Church apostle David B. Haight.[2] His father is billionaire businessman and philanthropist Jon Huntsman of the Huntsman Corporation.[3] Through his father, Huntsman, Jr. is the great-great-great-grandson of early LDS Church leader Parley P. Pratt,[4] and a third cousin, once-removed, of politician Mitt Romney.[4]

      In 1975 (age 15), Huntsman earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America.[5][6] Later that decade, Huntsman dropped out of high school to pursue his passion as a keyboard player in a rock band called Wizard.[7]

      Huntsman later obtained a G.E.D and matriculated at the University of Utah, where he became, like his father, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Huntsman served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan for two years, attaining fluency in Standard Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien (Minnan).[8][9] He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania and received a bachelor's degree in international politics."

      Being a Mormon however forces him to believe in angels e.g. Moroni. Not a good "finishing" trait for a leader in the real world!!!

      June 22, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • George

      If you want to know more about the Mormon faith, try reading their book of Mormons or attending a service or two at a Mormon church. I have attended many churches, temple and such to learn a little about other sects and religions.
      Being ignorant of something and critical of it at the same time is the definition of a bigot.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  18. Allen

    The Mormon church is nothing more then a masonry cult. It's really subliminal Satan worshipping. Just because the devil doesn't exist doesn't mean there isn't retards that think they can derive evil magic from secretly worshipping Satan. Mormonism was created by the illuminati for brainwashing.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:14 am |
    • Jared

      One of the best comment scholars I've come to know. Can you email me your autograph?

      June 22, 2011 at 4:26 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      Could you expand a bit on how an uneducated man, (Joseph Smith), would be considered an "illuminati" ?

      June 22, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Jack

      the Mormon church doesn't worship satan. It is the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints. You don't have to agree with it's teachings but you should accept that it's beliefs in a restoration of God's true church today is just as plausible as as all of Christianity's (I include Mormonism in that group) belief in Paul's conversion through an angel, or Moses's witness of God in the burning bush.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Marc

      Wow! What a load of crap. Mark Twain was right, "The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that just aint so."
      By the way, speaking of retards, "nothing more then a masonry cult" should be"nothing more than a masonry cult" and "there isn't retards" should be "there aren't retards". Perhaps you learned your grammar in the same place you learned about mormonism.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Raymond Takashi Swenson

      That comment is utter hogwash. The three successive hour long meetings Mormon men, women, teens and children attend each Sunday may be boring, but they sure are NOT "satan "worship". In the main congregational worship service, called Sacrament Meeting, the ordinance of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper ("communion") is conducted and distributed to all. Just as Christ instructed at the original Last Supper, we take the bread and drink water in remembrance of his crucified body and his blood shed in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, the atoning sacrifice that enables us as sinful human beings to be reconciled to God and have hope of final reunion with our Father in Heaven, through the grace and righteousness of Christ.

      Each prayer we say is "in the name of Jesus Christ" and so is each sermon. We believe that Christ is the Son of God, and a resurrected, living person who, since his resurrection, visited with Mary Magdalene, with the apostles, with Paul, and "with above five hundred brethren at once". We also believe that the risen Christ also visited other people elsewhere on earth who had been taught by prophets to look forward to the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah and other prophets. Those who dismiss out of hand the possibility that Jesus would visit people in the Americas want to put Christ into a box, where they can limit and control him. We believe in a Christ who is, in the words of C.S. Lewis, "Good, but not tame". He can go when and where He wishes to go. If you don't want to believe he could visit your house in Cleveland or Santa Fe, then you don't really accept Him as real. After all, He ascended to heaven with the promise that he would return to earth.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  19. Reality

    It is called the Great Angelic Con:

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. ( And Romney and Huntsman believe in this angelic nonsense. Not good!!!)

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.
    Some added references to "tink-erbells".

    "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Apparently hallu-cinations did not stop with Joe Smith.

    newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

    "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."

    Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

    "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."
    And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

    "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."
    "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

    "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

    June 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Raymond Takashi Swenson

      What difference is there between believing in a real God and believing that God has messengers (the meaning of the word "angel")? For many religions, they are a package deal. Many serious believing Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims believe in the existence of angelic beings. It has not stopped them reaching the peak of their professions in science, engineering, medicine, psychology, literature, music, and any other intellectually challenging career. Even those who believe in such beings admit that their visits to mankind are rare occasions, and they are made only for the most serious of reasons. In particular, there is no reason to expect that someone who does not believe in their existence will ever encounter one, so if you lack the experience of ever encountering such a divine messenger, it is at least as likely to be your fault rather than the angel's!

      The testimony of many of those who have received such visits comes from people who gave every evidence of integrity in their dealings with mankind.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit/angelic state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      June 22, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Jes Sayin

      If you'd like to get a pretty good idea of Mormon history, read 'Under the Banner of Heaven' by Jon Krakauer. Pretty good book by a guy who thoroughly researched the subject.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  20. eff youall

    Is it just me, or are the so-called Christians often times the most insanely judgmental? I know many who aren't, but the comments are so bloody annoying!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Jim

      I agree, some comments are really annoying, from all groups.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • The Bobinator

      All religion is by definition arrogant. Because no matter what you believe you think that you're correct.

      So it's not surprising that they're judgemental, they honestly believe they have the answer. What's funny is that they're so disconnected from rational thought that they accept their ridiculous claims as "normal" while any one elses faith is "silly".

      Wasing your feet before praying, silly. Bread and wine becomng the body and blood of christ? Not silly.
      Believing that the seer stones revealed truth? Silly. Getting a divine message from a burning bush? Not silly.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • noreligion

      The fact that religious people in America, and especially the South where I am from, are so judgemental and hypocritical is exactly what drove me from the Baptist faith I once shared with my family. My church was full of old, snotty rich people who would "praise" the Lord during worship, then go out to eat and talk smack about the people they saw at church. It is just wrong and I don't understand how they justify their actions, but then again they think that showing up to church guarantees them a spot in heaven, but they will all end up in he-ll, where they belong. I think different religions are interesting and all, but I can't spend all my time worshipping something that I do not think is real, and has no evidence to support their claims, besides a book that has been tampered with since its inception. And Mormonism...give me a break. Some mormons are respectable people and many are successful in life, but your religion formed not even 200 years ago, by a man just looking for a way to make some money off of people he could brainwash into believing what he said. How do people fall into the trap of religion, where all the church wants is your money, not your undying faith to the "lord." I do respect all religions and the people who follow them, but they will never fool me into believing that I will be damned to hell for eternity, if I don't convert. Sorry but that will not work on me, and I hope other people see the light and see that most religions are a scam, and all they want is your hard-earned money. Don't be a fool, believe what you want and think for yourselves.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Raymond Takashi Swenson

      Exactly how you generalize your personal experience among Southern Baptists and apply it to Mormons is impossible to credit. The Southern Baptists would surely protest that Mormons are nothing like them.

      Unlike many Baptists, and other Evangelicals, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not taught that they have a certain claim on a heavenly reward. Rather, they are taught that they must weekly renew the covenants they made at baptism to stand by Christ and try to live his commandments, including the admonition to have a "broken heart and a contrite spirit", and seek to be worthy, through repentance of sin and invocation of Christ's atoning sacrifice, to someday stand in the presence of God at the last judgment. Mormons are taught they can only come into the presence of God if they are humble and dependant on the Grace of Christ, and express to their neighbors the same charity and l;ove that Christ holds for all of mankind.

      What is more, Mormons believe that all people who are basically sincere in trying to do what is right will be resurrected with the Just in the First Resurrection when Christ returns to reign on earth, and that all sincere worshippers among the Catholics, Baptists, Orthodox, etc., will have an eternal reward of life in the presence of Christ, which is about all they expect to receive. Mormons believe that the only people who "go to hell" are felony level actors who reject God and commit serious crimes against their fellow men. Even they will not be left to suffer forever, but will finally be redeemed by their own measure of suffering (since they reject Christ's atonement).

      Thus, Mormons believe that the vast majority of people, who are well intended in their actions, are going to be rewarded by god and "saved" in pretty much the sense they all seek. Mormons do not glory in the prospect of eternal suffering by people who are not members of their denomination. They don't believe any such thing will happen. And they know that they have a duty to endure to the end of their lives in faithfulness so they can qualify for the gift of eternal life that is offered to those who accept fully the power of God to transform mankind into His children, and "join heirs with Christ". So if a Mormon is self-righteous and proud of his religion, and think it makes him better than others, and preferred by God, he totally misunderstands the doctrines of the LDS Church.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:11 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.