August 4th, 2011
01:16 PM ET

Mormon presidential politics

(CNN)–America is not ready for a Mormon president, according to Christian author Tricia Erickson. On Wednesday she told CNN's Tom Foreman on In the Arena that she believes a practicing Mormon should not be president because of their theological views on the afterlife and governance.

CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi jumped into the fray on the topic with Foreman as well. He said while religious views shape Mormon politicians on a macro level, there is no evidence Mormon politicians have a "bat phone" to Utah and take orders from the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the church is formally known.

While the U.S. Constitution says "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States," Republican candidates for the White House Mitt Romney and John Huntsman – who are both Mormons – may have more ground to make up on this issue than previously thought.

Erickson, an ex-Mormon who has long been critical of the church, is not alone in her views.

Is America ready for a Mormon president?

A June poll by the Quinnipiac Poll found 36% of Americans would be somewhat or entirely uncomfortable with a Mormon president.

A June Gallup poll found 22% of Americans would not vote for an otherwise qualified Mormon candidate.

There may be a silver lining for Mormon candidates though. A July poll by the Public Research Research Institute and Religion News Service, found four of ten Americans know that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon and about half (46%) said they do not know his religious affiliation.

Of the 3,000,000 people who live in Iowa there are only 24,000 LDS members, according to the Deseret News' 2011 Church Almanac. The Deseret News is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, but is independently operated. The percentage breakdown of Mormons living in South Carolina is similar too.

With so few practicing Mormons in those early primary states, voters with questions about the tenets of Mormonism may not have many places to turn to ask impolite questions about the faith, allowing rumors and speculation to go unchallenged.

Explain it to me: Mormonism

This year the church has gone on a PR blitz with its campaign, "I'm a Mormon." It's goal is to break Mormon stereotypes and features a diverse group church members like a motorcycle builder, an African American couple, and Latinos. They bought an electronic billboard in Times Square just down the street from the Broadway Show the "Book of Mormon.” The satirical musical features the adventures of buttoned up and earnest white Mormon missionaries in Africa.

"Our Church is known for our efforts to share our message,” Richard G. Hinckley, Executive Director of the Missionary Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the Belief Blog when the ad went up. “This is one way to get to know us — through the lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

The campaign is set to expand to more cities this fall but The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday the church would not be buying ads in primary states to avoid the appearance of political meddling. "We know people will draw the wrong conclusions," Michael Otterson a church spokesman told the Journal.

We want to hear from you.

What do you think? Does a candidate's religion play into your decision to vote for them? What matters more to you policy or theology?

soundoff (318 Responses)
  1. HisStory

    Mormons should read the whole Bible, think for themselves, break away from indoctrinations, and stop using deceitful languages in theology.

    August 5, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  2. M

    This article is trash. Is this the best source you can find on Mormonism? Bye. Bye. CNN. You lost credibility.

    August 5, 2011 at 3:46 am |
  3. Socrates

    I find it a little disconcerting that the best CNN can do is find an anti-mormon ranting on her soap box. Mormon scholarship – both by those not of the faith (i.e. Jan Shipps, Laurie Maffly-Kipp) as well as those in it (Richard Bushman, Teryl Givens, etc) – is both plentiful and prevalent, including those who specifically study religion and politics (Patrick Mason, Sarah Barringer-Gordon, and Nate Oman). If CNN wants to continue this story (this is the 2nd time they have reported it), they should contact someone with some semblance of credentials instead a profiteer promoting her work.

    August 5, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  4. mike j

    Jews have no place in public office...errr, Mormons, sorry, forgot which religion were bashing.
    Seriously, you paranoid nerds, who cares, as long as he/she competent. Define that how you will, but clearly both mormon candidates understand business and economics better than freaking palin or maccain or any other candidate out there.
    Mormons are to be found on both sides of the aisle. Look it up. Although they tend conservative, intelligent people universally think for themselves and Romney, Reid, and Huntsman, are no exception, (even though i disagree with them on most accounts.)

    August 5, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • Jean Sartre

      IF you are an "intelligent person" you do not believe in a GOD...

      August 5, 2011 at 2:53 am |
    • mike j

      Good point. No wonder this country is so effed up; almost every president it has ever had has been, by definition, an idiot...

      August 5, 2011 at 3:37 am |
  5. GoodGuyGary

    Was Erickson, so-call ex-Mormon, excommunicated from the Mormon Church? What is she anyway?

    August 5, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Tricia Erickson

      No, I was NOT excommunicated. As a matter of face, as you know, when someone voluntarily leaves the church, Mormons constantly come back after them to get them back in to the fold/cult. It took me many years to just get the Mormon Church to take me off of their membership records (if they evere did). You know how it goes because you are Mormon.

      As convenient as it would be for you to believe that I was ex-communicated, in order to paint me as disgruntled and an ax to grind, this would be a false accusation.

      I left the church, pure and siimple, becuase I recognized the false teachings, and thousands of ex-mormons have and ran as far away from it as possible and in to the real loving God's arms.

      And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (from the Bible..the only word of God)

      August 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  6. Awkward Situations

    I would be more worried about the exponentially increasing knocks on my front door if a Mormon were to be elected president. "Have you heard the good news?!" SLAM!

    August 5, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  7. RAD

    As a fifth-generation Mormon who has lived in seven US states I am highly doubtful that the evangelical right will ever support a Republican Mormon candidate. I am equally doubtful that the media will let go of the issue because they can for once use the evangelicals to do their dirty work for them (like Fox does daily). It seems to me many journalists (left and right) may be equally uncomfortable with Mormons. Belittling and stereotyping them is the norm. What a sorry example of journalism. CNN is looking more like Fox everyday. Tricia Erikson...really?

    August 5, 2011 at 1:04 am |
  8. sc341

    I don't know if I can vote for a Mormon or an Evangelical. I've had enough of Evangelicals after 8 years of Bush. I have no wish to see another POTUS try to push Jesus or Joseph Smith or whoever they believe in down America's throat.

    Separation of CHURCH & STATE.

    August 5, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • we'restillhere

      So vote democrat

      August 5, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  9. Reality

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.
    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    (The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TD.


    August 5, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  10. TrannyGirl

    One of the very first things I look for in a candidate is whether or not he or she can get through an interview without mentioning their own faith. For example, if a politician seizes on an opportunity to expound on their personal beliefs in an interview, then I feel that they will allow their religion to influence policy and are not fit for public office. Personal religious beliefs have no place in elected office.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      You must be joking. Personal religious beliefs have no place in elected office???????????? Think about what you just said please. Since by their nature religous beliefs are about eternal things/values/truths, how is it possible in any way shape or form that a persons religious beliefs will not affect their thinking and ways of looking at things????????

      August 5, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      bibletruth,, which is the very reason a religious leader is so dangerous...he can invoke faith rather than logic into a decision and think it is the right thing to do.

      August 5, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Jean Sartre

      RELIGION has no place in the GOVERNMENT (PERIOD!)
      President Obama has literally – added to George Bush's "Offices of Faith Based People" in the White House – filled the White House with religious, faith-based, delusional people.
      He can hardly open his mouth without speaking to how much Jesus has influenced his life or saying "God bless you" or "God bless the United States of America." He gets daily scriptures sent to him every morning on his crackberry…
      I want my tax money to go to rational people and rational programs that benefit MAN... not some mass delusion!
      Go spout you inane nonsense in your country clubs with pews!
      Keep you delusions out of my secular government!

      August 5, 2011 at 3:10 am |
  11. Kefa

    Shame on you CNN for running the vitriol of this bigot twice! Stop propogating misinformation and hate.

    Is it a worthy discussion topic? Yes. But having a mudslinging anti-mormon misconstue mormon beliefs to kick off the discussion is disingenuious, if not subversely malicious.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Signe

      I wish Christians would focus more on what unites us–which is Christ–instead of osucfing on differences in denominations. I can relate to what you are saying. This may sound cliche, but I like to pray for God's direction and just see what happens 🙂

      April 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  12. Philojazz

    Your questions: (1) Does a candidate's religion play into your decision to vote for them? Certainly, as I always try to vote for the candidate with the fewest, or at least weakest, ties to organized religion of any kind. I vote for atheists and/or those of no religion as often as I have the opportunity, which, unfortunately for all involved, is not often.
    (2) What matters more to you policy or theology? This question is a joke, right? Are there actually Americans out there who would answer "theology"? If so, it is no surprise that our country has been going down the tubes for the last thirty-five years.
    Thank you for posing these questions on your website. I've enjoyed reading other people's responses.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  13. Aaron

    Simple solution to the issue...just ask the Mormon candidates if they'd put the Church's ideology over the law.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      As the bible plainly states....man should obey God's law any time it is in conflict with man's law. Obviously this makes 100% sense to anyone who thinks about it for 10 seconds. If one believes God is the creator, omnicient, omnipresent, omnipotent (all knowing, nothing hidden from him anywhere, all powerful, etc.) and loves you, there is no way you will break his law to keep some man's law.

      August 5, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • evolvedDNA

      Bibletruth...there is nothing in the bible that humans did not know before it came along..the Bible was written to control the masses using a supernatural being...mans law is the so called gods law. Until we put our trust in each other, and work together rather than reaching out to a god you have invented, there can be no understanding.

      August 5, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  14. Leslie Nielson Mandela

    I think CNN should research their interview sources a little more rather than just letting anybody on TV to stir up a little controversy. As far as I'm aware, Trisha Erickson has not held a legitimate job since sometime in the early 80’s. Her so-called “modeling agency” was embroiled in scandal over false advertising and tax evasion. Her so-called "crisis management" company is something she spun out of a short time acquaintance with Fawn Hall during the Gary Hart scandal in the 80's. I don't know that she has ever legitimately represented anybody else since then. I'm unaware of her "Angel Pictures" company being involved in actually doing anything anywhere. Her new book is self-published and badly written, quite apart from the merits of the subject. In other words, she's not a writer, has no expertise on the subject, and no background that would indicate that she should be considered a legitimate news source regarding Mormonism, presidential politics, or really anything. For what it's worth, I'm not a big fan of Mitt Romney or Mormonism. I am a big fan of CNN though, and am disappointed that they’ve chosen to lend Ms. Erickson the patina of legitimacy by featuring her on their programing.

    August 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Ed Vacarro

      Nice slander per se post ...CNN will have to turn over this ip address

      August 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Ed Vacarro

      Nice slander per se post ...CNN will have to turn over this ip address..Thanks for the help

      August 4, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Ed Vacarro

      How much more money must you spend and loose in court Ms Madella ...get you check book out for your latest lies about this author ..

      August 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  15. Stan

    Is America ready for a Mormon president? Let's ask a random Christian author who is critical of the church and find out what she thinks.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  16. Josh

    Boy, does she have an axe to grind. Religion doesn't matter. Period.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      For religious people religion matters the most. That is not to say that one would not vote for a person that had a totally different religion however.

      August 5, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  17. Pete

    It is hard for me to believe that reputable news sources would report garbage like this. Romney is 5000 times more qualified to be president than the current guy in the chair. He has led significant organizations, understands fiscal issues, and knows how to lead (something Obama clearly does not know). Romney's faith should have no bearing on his qualifications. The other point is that these so called news sources report this crap but they don't back it up with any facts. They cite, as sources, some disgruntled ex-mormon. Now there's fair reporting. CNN and others who do this are losers.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Jean Sartre

      Forgot to take your meds again today, Bill?

      August 5, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • malasangre

      things to research} black priesthood.....dannites,.....polygamy......mountain meadow......bank fraud......what happened in Missouri

      August 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  18. Separation of Church and State

    If Romney says that he believes in a Separation of Church and State, then his religion does not matter as much, but he has not said that he believes in a separation of Church and State. If he does not believe in a Separation of Church and State, then does he believe that Brigham Young was speaking for God, when Young said that interracial couples should be murdered on the spot? Obama condemned what his religious leader said, will Romney condemn Young's teachings on race? Hispanics, Native Americans, and African Americans deserve an answer from Romney!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • J Russell

      You should probably read this article and try to focus on ridding the world of other travesties. http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/blacks_chosen.htm

      August 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  19. Jack in Florida

    NO, our founding fathers set this country up to seperate Church and State. No reason to change things after 235 years.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  20. Real christian Perspective

    I am not looking for a Pastor in my President. His/her religious belief or lack of, should not be a factor in an election. I want someone who will put aside their religion and do what is best for the country.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Real Christian perspective...I agree ..well said...

      August 5, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • @R-C-P

      You're an atheist in disguise. There is no such thing as "the best" for a nation apart from Christianity. USA is an empire on a downhill because of the godless immorality.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • evolvedDNA

      @RCP..you are part of the problem ...Christianity is no guarantee for morality as the Catholics and evangelicals like to prove to the world. .I am glad that RCP has such an open mind, and we need more people like this to work together and discuss the issues with all members of the human race..its the only way forward.

      August 5, 2011 at 10:10 am |
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About this blog

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.