October 29th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

The shaping of a candidate: A look at Mitt Romney's faith journey

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

(CNN) – A cop arrived at the roadside wreckage of a June 1968 head-on collision in southern France, took one quick look at the Citroën’s unresponsive driver and, according to one of the driver’s friends, scrawled into the young man’s American passport, “Il est mort” - “He is dead.”

The man at the Citroën’s wheel was Mitt Romney, who may have appeared dead but was very much alive – as is his bid today for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Romney was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church, when tragedy struck. It was a time of turmoil both in France and in the United States. Protests against the Vietnam War raged on, as did French disdain for Americans. Robert Kennedy had recently been assassinated, as had Martin Luther King Jr. a couple months earlier. France was still reeling from a May marked by riots, student demonstrations and crippling worker strikes.

There were six people in the car Romney was driving when friends say an oncoming speeding Mercedes, driven by a Catholic priest, veered into his lane. Among the passengers was mission president Duane Anderson – Romney was serving as his assistant – and Anderson’s wife. Anderson was injured, and Leola Anderson, 57, was killed. Like her husband, she’d been a parent figure to the approximate 180 Mormon missionaries in the field - their surrogate mother away from home. Now, she was gone.

“I don’t think [Romney] went around blaming himself, but in talking about it he’d shed some tears,” remembered Dane McBride, a fellow missionary and Romney friend ever since. “It was a very heavy experience for a 21-year-old.”

The mission president left France for six weeks to bury his wife and heal. A gloom spread over the mission field. Conversions dropped along with Latter-day Saint spirits.

These young men and women, who were already deep in a trying spiritual rite of passage, had to grow up and prove themselves in new ways.

In spite of his grief and a broken arm, Romney and a missionary companion – they always work in pairs – took charge. They traveled around the country visiting the others. Romney lifted up deflated missionaries with silly made-up songs. He taught them to visualize all they could accomplish and challenged them to raise their expectations, McBride said.

Romney increased the conversion goal for the year by 40%, believing they could and would recharge. In the end they surpassed Romney’s goal of baptizing 200 new members into the church.

It wasn’t such a stretch, though, for Romney to distinguish himself. Throughout his life, he’s been rooted in a faith that – whether he talks about it or not – helped shape the man and GOP presidential frontrunner he is today.

‘An American running for president’

Romney hopes to get the nod that eluded him four years ago.

Back then, during his first bid for president, he faced opposition from candidates including Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister and favorite of evangelical voters who billed himself as the “Christian leader.”

Romney has faced questions about his faith since first getting into politics in 1994, when he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy, whose attack on Romney’s Mormonism failed to gain traction.

Since then Romney, who was later elected Massachusetts governor, has played down his faith on the campaign trail. But he addressed it in a December 2007 speech, hoping to stem voter concerns about his faith and how it might influence him as a president. It was a speech he likened to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech, when Kennedy was in the running to be America’s first Catholic president.

“Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president,” Romney said. “Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”

He said, “No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith,” and that if he were to be elected president, he would “serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest.”

“A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States,” he said. “I believe in my Mormon faith, and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.”

Whether Romney’s confession of faith did sink him was a subject of debate. He hoped to deflect the focus on his religion while not speaking to doctrine or specific beliefs. In the whole speech, he only mentioned the word Mormon once.

Just days later, Huckabee would stir the pot.

“Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” Huckabee said to a New York Times reporter. Huckabee later apologized for the remark.

This time around, Romney remains strong in the polls and counts among his backers New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who endorsed Romney shortly after saying he wouldn’t join the race.

But Romney also has been distracted by pesky background noise. After introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the recent Values Voter Summit, Pastor Robert Jeffress said Republicans shouldn’t vote for Romney because Mormonism is a “cult.” 

Despite such efforts to instill doubt in voters, a recent CNN/ORC International poll showed that a candidate’s Mormon faith made no difference to 80% of Americans, and that 51% believed Mormonism was a Christian religion.

Beyond condemning Jeffress’s comments and Perry’s association with the pastor, Romney’s campaign has made it adamantly clear that it doesn’t want to discuss his faith. Repeated attempts to speak with the candidate, his wife, his children, his siblings - and, really, just anyone – about Romney’s faith journey were denied by campaign headquarters. Even the reins it has on those outside the inner circle appear tight. A local LDS Church leader in Michigan, contacted in hopes of finding childhood friends, forwarded CNN’s inquiry to campaign headquarters - prompting yet another slap down.

“What makes no sense to me is how you continue to push forward in writing about Gov. Romney’s faith journey when we’ve made it clear in every way possible that this is not a story we want to participate in,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an email.

Mitt Romney -- with wife Ann to his left -- hopes to become the first Mormon U.S. president.

Without talking to him, it’s impossible to say exactly what Romney believes. But what Mormons generally believe is this:

They count themselves as Christian because they accept Jesus Christ as the son of God and believe people are saved through his atonement. They believe the Bible is the word of God, and that the Book of Mormon (subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”) is, too.

Opinion: Who says Mormons aren't Christian?

They believe The Church of Jesus Christ, which existed long ago, was restored by a prophet named Joseph Smith, who founded the LDS Church in 1830. Central to their belief system is that God still reveals truth to modern-day LDS Church prophets, as well as to individuals – Mormon or otherwise.

Explain it to me: Mormonism | Video: Mormonism defined

They attend weekly services in chapels, also referred to as “wards” or meetinghouses, while their large temples (accessible only to those deemed sufficiently faithful) are utilized for the most important and sacred ceremonies, including baptisms for the dead and celestial marriages - during which couples are “sealed” for eternity. Mormons with temple privileges wear special undergarments as a reminder of their faith, and those who are devoted abstain from alcohol, tea and coffee.

Through faith, prayer and service to others, they strive to be more like Jesus and get closer to God. Latter-day Saints place great emphasis on families, believing that through them – and not alone – people can find a place in the highest level of heavenly society.

Families, Mormons say, can be united forever.

Growing up while abroad

The 19-year-old Mitt Romney who showed up for missionary training was different than the rest.

“Mitt stood out from everyone else,” said Byron Hansen, who flew with Romney to France in July 1966. “He already spoke French pretty darn good, while the rest of us knew ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir.’ He immediately jumped out as a leader.”

Romney, like many of the other young men called by church leaders to serve, had finished a year of college before he got his missionary calling. But he’d gone to prestigious Stanford University and came from a privileged and powerful background.

He was worldly, not intimidated, and he was eager to interact with people of different backgrounds, said Hansen, now a car dealer in Brigham City, Utah. “All the rest of us from no-name Utah had never been more than 500 miles away from home.”

Despite the comforts he’d known growing up, Romney wasn’t spoiled. Some apartments that housed missionaries around France lacked heat and water, but had plenty of fleas. Those sorts of conditions likely made Romney appreciate all the more the luxuries of the mission home, located in the ritziest part of Paris, where he worked and lived during the latter part of his two-and-a-half year mission. He and the others there were fed by a Spanish cook and enjoyed the benefits of maids.

What’s more, said fellow missionary and friend Dane McBride, the young men learned what time of day to peer through windows to watch Brigitte Bardot walk her poodles.

The scenery aside, “it was the nicest office I ever worked in,” said McBride, now an allergist and immunologist in Roanoke, Virginia.

Throughout his mission, Romney was the first to get out of bed each morning, forever focused on his goals and the lessons he’d teach, and he stayed gung-ho even when others faltered, Hansen said.

Romney didn’t shy away from approaching anyone. On Saturdays, a free day for missionaries, he’d be done with his laundry by 9 a.m. and coaxing everyone else out the door for bike rides in the mountains, tours in new places or football games.

“He was never one to sit around,” Hansen said. “You had to run to keep up with Mitt.”

He was both pragmatic and creative when it came to sharing Mormon teachings, McBride said.

“Neither of us cared for knocking on doors much,” said McBride, referring to the typical tact for Mormon proselytizing. “But we did it. We did it a lot.”

However, Romney was a big proponent of what McBride called “creative contacting.” In lieu of going door-to-door, he preferred to encourage conversations by building sidewalk kiosks or inviting French locals to play baseball or attend evening parties with American themes – complete with Western wear and guitar strumming.

Being a missionary in largely secular France deepened Romney’s faith because it forced him to wrestle with challenges, steep himself in study and prayer and face plenty of rejection, McBride said. Like others, Romney was no stranger to doors being slammed in his face or getting his behind kicked while heading down apartment stairwells. These sorts of encounters, his friend said, help a person mature and grow.

Establishing a connection with others in the face of adversity is central to the missionary experience, and it’s a skill Romney carries with him today, McBride said.

“Mitt knows how to find common ground with people,” he said. “You learn that being a missionary. … And it’s how you get things done in politics.”

Religious roots that run deep and strong

The groundwork for Romney’s faith journey was laid long before he put on a suit and, armed with his Book of Mormon, boarded a flight for France.

He comes from a long line of Latter-day Saints. Those who like to highlight what makes him different might point to how one of his great-grandfathers fled to Mexico, about 125 years ago, amid U.S. government crackdowns on what Mormons refer to as “plural marriage.” But many multigenerational Mormon families have polygamists in their family tree.

Plural marriage was introduced by church founder Joseph Smith but was officially banned by the church in 1890. Some 38,000 people aligned with fundamentalist offshoots of the LDS Church still practice polygamy, but they are a far cry and completely separate from the 14 million worldwide members in Romney’s church.

Romney’s late father, George Romney, was from modest means. He was born in Mexico to monogamous U.S.-born parents and left during the Mexican Revolution when he was 5. He went on to be CEO and chairman of the now-defunct American Motors Corporation, governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate himself in 1968.

Mitt Romney with his father, George Romney, who made his own mark as a leader in business, the LDS Church and politics.

Growing up Mormon in Michigan made Mitt Romney a member of a distinct minority. There were fewer than 8,000 Mormons in the state in 1945, two years before he was born, according to the LDS Church. It’s been reported that he was the only Mormon in his high school. While Mormon students in Utah could simply stroll across the street from school to attend early morning seminary before the first bell, longtime friend McBride said Romney didn’t have that easy, built-in outlet to strengthen his faith amid peers.

“Neither of us had benefited from that,” said McBride, who also grew up as a Mormon minority in Iowa and North Carolina. “We had been called on in school to defend our faith many times. … I remember from fifth grade on needing to defend my religion.”

Romney’s family, though, was active in the church. In 1952, his father was named Michigan’s first stake president. A stake is comparable to a diocese and has under its umbrella multiple “wards” or congregations, much as a diocese consists of parishes.

The LDS Church does not rely on professional clergy. Instead, church members are called to serve as volunteer leaders while holding down paid jobs. Church leaders rely on other volunteers as advisers. For instance, a ward bishop has two counselors, while a stake president confers with a high council of 12.

Being Michigan’s sole stake president meant Romney’s father – in addition to his full-time corporate work – oversaw ward operations, was the spiritual guide for the Latter-day Saint community and relayed messages from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

Like many practicing Mormons, the Romneys enjoyed “family home evening” every Monday, a time reserved to pray, study and sing together, McBride said.

Romney has spoken publicly about how his parents took him and his three siblings on mobile American history lessons, McBride said, loading up the family Rambler for cross-country tours to national parks, with stops at places like Mount Rushmore, Valley Forge and Williamsburg.

But McBride said the family also likely visited LDS historical sites, including points along the path westward traveled by Mormon pioneers who followed the call of Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, and trekked through treacherous conditions to arrive in 1847 in what is now Utah.

While Romney’s parents made sure their children were deeply connected to their country and their faith, Romney didn’t reside in a Mormon bubble. He was part of a bigger and more diverse world.

Ann Davies, the woman he fell for and now calls his wife, was Episcopalian when he met her during high school, and he knew she was the one for him.

After he left for college and then his mission, she began studying Mormonism, attended church with Romney’s parents and converted. He returned from France and proposed to her immediately. After a civil ceremony in Michigan, the two were married and “sealed” for eternity in 1969 during a sacred ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple.

The couple returned to college and began a family at church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, before moving to Boston, where Romney earned law and business degrees at Harvard.

Serving his LDS community

Romney rose in local church leadership while making his corporate mark. Along the way he applied many of the skills he’d displayed earlier, including his knack as a young missionary for turning challenges into possibilities.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, he served as a ward bishop – or part-time pastor – and stake president for the Boston area.

Romney delivered sermons, counseled couples, and made middle-of-the-night hospital runs. He monitored budgets, weighed welfare needs of immigrants and others, and drove outreach to different faith communities. He showed up at the homes of Latter-day Saints in need of help, taking on tasks such as removing bees’ nests.

Philip Barlow, now the chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, served as a one of two counselors to Bishop Romney in the early 1980s.

Each Saturday, the counselors would meet with Romney in his home in Belmont, a suburb northwest of Boston. And while the work was serious, it didn’t mean Romney always was. Barlow recalled the time Romney busted out with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and did a formidable moonwalk across the floor.

“The media is always reporting that he can come across as too polished,” Barlow said. “But there’s a real person there.”

Romney also was the kind of leader who built bridges with those suspicious of Mormons. When a chapel under construction in Belmont burned to the ground amid ongoing anti-Mormon sentiment, he turned the perceived arson attack into opportunity.

Non-Mormon churches offered their buildings to accommodate the needs of the displaced Latter-day Saints during the chapel’s reconstruction. While it would have been easier to pick one place to call a temporary home for services, classes and meetings, Romney accepted every viable offer he received – thereby forcing a rotation of interaction with different faith communities.

“It was an inspired move,” said Grant Bennett, who at one time served as a counselor to Romney when he was a bishop and later served on the Boston stake’s high council under Romney when he was president.

Experiencing the kindness of strangers offered relief to Mormons who had been feeling “a little under siege,” said Bennett, who first got to know Romney through church in 1978 and worked with him for five years at Bain & Company, a global consulting firm that Romney eventually led as CEO.

“In a religious context, Mormons are very good at serving each other and are often hesitant to accept help,” he said. “I think Mitt had the fundamental insight … that we’d be better off and [the other churches would] be blessed by helping us.”

It was the sort of decision perhaps born of being in the minority in Michigan and learning early to honor religious pluralism, said Bennett, now president of CPS Technologies, a high-tech manufacturing firm in the Boston area.

On the campaign trail and with media, Romney hopes to focus on matters other than faith.

In his religious roles, Romney had to delegate and call others to serve. Sometimes he believed in people more than they believed in themselves.

Andy Anderson, a retired researcher and writer in Kaysville, Utah, first got to know Romney amid tragedy. It was Anderson’s mother who was killed in the 1968 car wreck in France, and when his father returned to Paris, Anderson, his wife and children went along.

When Romney later moved to Anderson’s neighborhood in Massachusetts, Anderson said he helped Romney and his family settle in.

In 1989, Anderson said he was minding his own research business when Romney, then the Boston stake president, called him for a meeting. A group of new converts Anderson described as “Cambodian boat people” – united formally as a “branch,” which is smaller and less developed than a ward - had suddenly lost its president without warning.

In shock, he listened as Romney said, “Guess who’s the next branch president?”

Anderson said he’d been raised to accept church callings. But between the language barrier, the cultural differences, the poverty and the responsibility, this one seemed too much. He begged and pleaded with Romney. He told him he was unqualified, that he’d “never been president of anything.” He said, “It sounds like a really bad fit, Mitt.” But Romney wasn’t swayed.

“Andy, you know where this comes from,” Romney answered, referring to the Mormon belief that God can reveal truths to individuals. “It’s not me. You go talk to Him and tell me when you’re ready.”

For the next three years Anderson said he oversaw the poorest people in the Boston stake. The overwhelming task “nearly killed me,” he said. But along the way he not only fell in love with the community, he learned to believe in himself and see that he could be a leader.

“I count Mitt as a friend, and it has been a real pleasure to work under him,” he said. “If he was a real pain to work for, I’d know it. I’ve worked for people in the church I couldn’t stand.”

Women’s view of Romney

The Romney reviews from Latter-day Saint women in the Boston area were more mixed.

In the early 1970s, as the feminist movement gained steam, a group of Mormon women began gathering in Cambridge to explore the history of women in their church. They were looking for role models, stories that would inspire them.

With the help of LDS Church historians, they learned about their female ancestors and wrote a book, “Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah.” They discovered that a women’s newspaper, Women’s Exponent, was published in the late-19th and early-20th centuries and featured women’s writings that Judy Dushku described as “very feminist in their views.”

“We were reading about women we’d never heard of before,” said Dushku, a Suffolk University professor of government with an interest in gender. She and other “founding mothers” were moved to start a new publication, now a quarterly magazine: Exponent II.

That decision, however, was not received well by the LDS Church, Dushku said. She said the fact that it was independent and had no stamp of approval from church higher-ups, all of them men, rubbed some - including Romney - the wrong way.

Dushku said Romney encouraged friends to tell their wives not to participate. He made it clear he didn’t want the women behind the publication holding meetings on church property. Dushku and the others suspected it was under his direction that copies of the magazine displayed in congregations got dumped in wastebaskets.

The LDS Church is patriarchal in nature. Only men can serve as bishops, stake presidents and in higher leadership roles, including the combined post of church president and prophet. Only men are welcome in the priesthood, which in Mormon circles means having the authority, for example, to perform baptisms and offer sacramental blessings.

Dushku decided she could live with this and remains a faithful Mormon.  She said she and the others simply wanted an outlet for women to discuss issues unique to them. And while what they created may have seemed “radical” back then, she says there are Mormon women bloggers today who push boundaries much more than Exponent II ever did.

What got to Dushku about Romney was less his reaction to the magazine and more how she saw him treat women he was in a position to comfort and support as a local church leader.

Dushku has told the story of a woman, a mother of four, who was pressured by then-Bishop Romney to go forward with a pregnancy despite advice from doctors that a medical complication made it too dangerous.

She also recalled the story of a meeting between Romney and a woman whose ex-husband had been excommunicated from the church because of numerous affairs he’d had while serving as a bishop.

The woman asked Dushku to accompany her to the meeting, where Romney encouraged the woman to forgive her philandering ex so he could be re-baptized into the church and marry another woman.

The problem, Dushku said, is that the husband had never bothered to apologize to the wife he’d hurt, a fact she said Romney didn’t seem to care much about.

Since speaking out to media recently, Dushku said she’s been flooded with responses from Facebook friends. Most of the reactions are positive, thanking her for her courage.

But some friends have suggested she back off.

“How can you blame someone who has so many responsibilities?” one friend wrote. “He was young,” said another. “People change.”

Dushku said she affords Romney the possibility he may have changed, that he might handle such situations differently today.

“But compassion is a character quality,” she said. “I doubt he’s much different now.”

Her take on Romney, though, doesn’t jibe with that of Helen Claire Sievers, executive director of Harvard’s WorldTeach program, which brings volunteer teachers to developing countries.

Sievers, who’s been involved with Exponent II on and off since its inception, was the Boston stake activity director when Romney was stake president. She recalled being at a meeting in Dushku’s house in Watertown, outside of Boston, when women began wondering aloud about how their local church might better empower women.

“Often leadership in the Mormon church tends to pull far to the right, to out-orthodox the orthodox,” said Sievers, who later proposed to Romney that he should meet with the Boston LDS women to hear their frustrations and suggestions. Romney was willing to have such a meeting, even though it bucked the comfort level of church headquarters.

“I was really impressed that Mitt felt strongly that even if he could get in trouble with the hierarchy, he really wanted to hear what the women that were under his stewardship had to say so that they would feel as comfortable as possible in church,” Sievers said.

As a result of the meeting, which drew more than 150 participants, Sievers said adjustments were made, including allowing women to say opening prayers at church meetings. Romney didn’t have the power to change church doctrine, but Sievers said he could and did bend the norm to make women feel heard and more respected.

“Many Mormon men wouldn’t make that choice,” she said.

Serving outside the stake and ward

In his fulltime work life, Romney showed that his commitment to serving others extended beyond those in his ward or stake. His religious values came through in business decisions – sometimes trumping opportunities for financial gain.

Robert Gay, who was once a managing partner at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm Romney founded, recalled how Romney refused to put investment dollars into a deal with Artisan Entertainment because he didn’t want to profit from R-rated films.

But of greater note to Gay - who once served on the Boston stake’s high council with Romney - was something Romney did for him in 1996.

After Gay’s 14-year-old daughter went missing for three days in New York, Romney shut down Bain Capital in Boston and flew about 50 employees to New York to help find her.

The girl, who lived with her family in Connecticut, disappeared after going to a concert in Manhattan. Romney and the other Bain Capital executives put their “$1 billion investment firm” on hold, created a “war room” at a hotel, paid to print 200,000 fliers, set up a toll free hotline number and enlisted the help of a private investigator, the Boston Globe reported at the time.

They canvassed streets and talked to runaways. The girl was found in a New Jersey home, “dazed from a disorienting dose of a drug,” the Globe reported.

It’s not a story Gay likes to retell, though he did record a video testimonial about it during Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. Today, Gay would rather offer other insights, including the time another Bain Capital partner suddenly fell very ill and was hospitalized. Romney was the first person to show up for a visit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Gay now lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, and manages an equity fund with Jon Huntsman Sr., father of another GOP Mormon presidential hopeful. Gay called Romney “a devout Christian,” someone who has always been committed to “leading a good and purposeful life.”

What faith means for future

Romney, like the other prospective candidates for president, will remain under the microscope in the months ahead.

His past will be combed, his policies scrutinized, his record examined.

How much his Mormon faith plays into his political journey remains to be seen. But whether he likes it, whether his campaign can control it, the fact that he may be on track to become the first Mormon president in U.S. history will garner attention.

It’s a reality that Romney friends like McBride acknowledge, even if it disappoints them.

“The issues of his church are not the issues of this country. Those are personal issues,” he said. “I hate to see further articles [about his faith], but, on the other hand, what do you do?”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (2,731 Responses)
  1. Pest

    Mormonism gives "normal" Christians a good chance to understand how rational people view "normal" Christianity.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Jake John

      no such thing as NORMAL Christiians.. You either are or you're not.. Mormons are closer to Christians then any of these Evangelicals... Ask a mormon how much their Bishops get paid. Of their Sunday School Teachers or anyone else... These people teach you to be very independent...

      December 11, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  2. Deb

    Interesting. I didn't know there were Mormons in Michigan.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Oral Robert's Ghost

      Once again, Deb, you've shown that there are stupid people there, too.

      October 30, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Jake John

      Wow cant believe people would bad mouth a group of people just to do it...

      December 11, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  3. MS

    Why is there a blog on CNN discussing the faith of candidates? Is this really newsworthy? The piece actually looks and reads like a backdoor PR release from the Romney camp. First the picture: a very "presidential" pose, serious, replete with US flag pin, and with an insert of the Whitehouse. Now read the text: Belief, faith, family, a sympathetic reference. For a view of Mormonism from a different angle, check out South Park (season 7, episode 12)

    October 30, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Daniel

      It's in the religion section – idiot. That is why it is on CNN.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • ldean50

      it is a backdoor PR campaign for the LDS. Just google the author and see what you find – all pro-Mormon writing. I can't find out if she is a Mormon or not... I think there should be some self-disclosure for anything written about Mormonism. They have a new ad campaign called, "I am a Mormon." Have you seen it yet? They've taken over Wikipedia with their propaganda and bought out/muscled out most anti-Mormon web sites. I.E. google Parley Pratt, Romeny gggrandfather ... if you read what the Mormons wrote – he's a saint. They leave out the part of his being charged with Murder and Treason along with Joseph Smith (LDS founder). LDS is led by a secretive hierarchy. The sad part is the peasants of the LDS, just like the days before the Reformation, are innocent and haven't received the secret oaths yet. Beware the Mormon who smiles and will not answer – he has taken the oath of Blood Atonement – agreeing to sacrifice your life if secrets are revealed, okay to slit my throat if I am deemed a sinner by the church because that is the only way to save me. You think I'm making this up? read, ask, read, ask, question, read some more... investigate your authors.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Scott W.

      The fact that CNN is doing similar stories on each of the candidates escapes you how?

      November 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  4. Saaak

    You should ask Mr. Romney what his stance is on gay rights. I'm too bored to read through this garbage, but I am curious.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • JC

      Hated 'em, Loved 'em, Hate's 'em. 'bout sums it up.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Saaak

      Maybe more specifically you should ask him what he would do if one of his family members were gay.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Ender Wiggins

      If you're too bored to read anything, what good will asking Romney his stance on gay rights? You wouldn't read it anyway. You must live and breathe sound bites.

      October 30, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  5. Romney's Campaign Playbook

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP1eIqCFhMo&w=560&h=315%5D

    October 29, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  6. RB

    Faith for the media means acknowledgment of a set of "facts". It does not mean beliefs, trust, or heart-felt feelings. Mitt Romney is a politician, an man driven by ego, fame, fortune, and much more. He, and all his opponents have no "faith", they only pay lip service to theological notions to win votes. Damn the whole thing.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  7. Chris Gagne

    Wow! One of the few articles about Mitt and his faith that doesn't go off the rails on a crazy train in regards to explaining the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It shocks me to see all the articles where in people describe Mormon beliefs as mysterious, when there's over 52,000 missionaries willing to teach the faith at a moments notice. There's no charge, no obligation and they'll come to you on your time schedule. If you want to know what Mormons believe, call the church, they'll have the missionaries contact you or visit their web site, Mormon.Org.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Oh, I am so sorry. Did I Offend? You know who I can't stand more than any other kind of people? YOU MISSIONARIES. Leave people alone, mind your own business and go away. You are creeps and dorks. Come knock on MY door!

      October 30, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • JP0

      Their beliefs aren't mysterious, their beliefs are crazy.

      October 30, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • Jesus

      I don't need to call some slick salesman. Just read the Book of Mormon and UCLA Professor Fawn Brodie's bio of Smith, "No Man Knows My History". If you aren't convinced that this flawed belief system is the product of a con man, then you lack basic reading comprehension skills.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Krista

      You know very well that the "meat" is reserved for those who are allowed in the Temples. There are plenty of teachings and ceremonies there that are not discussed by the missionaries.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  8. Romney Schromney

    All I want to know is .... did his faith shape this week's positions or last week's?

    October 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Postino

      That's all you want to know? No wonder and incompetent president was voted into the White House. I'm guessing all you wanted to know about Obama was whether he was Christian and if he would give you a handout.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  9. GC

    Mormonism existed before Joseph Smith inven... er, restored it? Um... Alright.

    Take it from a religious historian: Mormonism is certainly not a Christian religion. I will agree with Pastor Jeffress. His rhetorical question some time back about Mormonism only coming about about in the nineteenth century, some 1,800 years after the Ascension of our Lord is spot on! But... Pastor Jeffress completely overlooks the fact that Protestantism only came about 320 or so years earlier. Why is it that he doesn't carry his claim that Mormonism is not authentically Christian to its logical conclusion? Just because you say you believe in Jesus does not make you a Christian. Our Lord Himself addresses this in Luke 6:46-49: "And why call you me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say? [47] Every one that cometh to me, and heareth my words, and doth them, I will shew you to whom he is like. [48] He is like to a man building a house, who digged deep, and laid the foundation upon a rock. And when a flood came, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and it could not shake it; for it was founded on a rock. [49] But he that heareth, and doth not, is like to a man building his house upon the earth without a foundation: against which the stream beat vehemently, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."

    October 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      There is no Jesus, hence, you have no argument.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      Mormonism isn't a christian religion? Cool, that's nice. What's your point? Oh right, you don't have one.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • GC

      Patriarchae, my point is that Pastor Jeffers' comments about Mormonism perfectly exemplifies the main problem with the hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of Protestant denominations (most of whom cannot agree on the time of day much less matters theological). Both Mormonism and Protestantism lack authentic Scripture, authentic Tradition, and the Magesterium. Nowhere in Catholicism will you find such provably false concepts like Sola Scriptura, Sola Fides, the pre-tribulational rapture, polygamism, Jesus and Satan being brothers, heavenly councils, spirit babies, etc, etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • GC

      Oh, and for everyone's edification, many Mormon rituals were adopted from Freemasonry, which has its roots in the mystery schools from c. 4,000 BC. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were both Freemasons.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • WWCD

      And our current president's faith was never questioned? We still don't know what religion Obama is! He looks like the biggest hypocrite there is. Just like you GC.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      DUH! Of course Obama is a hypocrite. He is most likely an agnostic, hence his intelligence. BUT he wanted to run for president and TRY to make a difference. So he had to lie and say he was a Christian. The dumb sh-its in this country won't vote for an atheist or agnostic or any other religion besides a Christian, so what can he do? That has always been the reason our presidents are always so stupid! Why don't you dumb as-s religious idiots let us elect someone smart for a change? This is YOUR fault. Morons.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Lance in TX

      You must not be a very good historian. Maby you need to do some research on 1st-4th Century Christianity and what led up to the Council of Nicaea and the politics that was involved with that.

      November 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Jake John

      It is Christian.. Very Christian.. Mormon is just the nickname given.. The Church is Church of JESUS CHRIST of Ladder Day Saints... WOW...

      December 11, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  10. RomneyLoser

    Romney is a loser ..Next Obama..Obama in Disgusie in Republican Party.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Disagree, Obama, given another term without the 60% majority vote and no filabustering could be a very fine president.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • ObamaFailed

      100% Agreee..Obama worst President America has seen..Have not seen any change and forget the meaning of CHANGE..Cheane for him living in a white house...Total failure our current President..So will be Romney total loser as of today..

      October 29, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • JohnSmith

      I agree with you ...He could not even beat McCain ..Perry will be out next President...Obama a big failure....Look what is happeining in America today..

      October 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Cleaning up after Dubya is very hard work. I would like to see you do it. Dubya is the worst president ever. You know it and I know. Sure blame Obama, but give him 8 years not 4 to clean the mess the replicans made.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • 4 Years is enough for OBAMA

      Do not beg for 4 more years...Once given prove it or GET OUT..

      October 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • 4 Years is enough for OBAMA

      I agree with you..Do not give this craps another chance..always EXCUSES for them..BLAME others ..Blame Blame..so they can survive....If you have GUTS SHOW me the MONEY..first time..

      October 30, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Henry

      Romney is a good man and will be the next president of the United States..

      October 30, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Dubya was the worst president in American history. Anyone who had to follow that mess would struggle. I will give Obama 4 more years. The cast of morons the Repubicans have out there won't even challenge anyway. Wow, talk about a bunch of nut-jobs.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • Jake John

      DUDE... OBAMA is doing fine... Check history and before he came in... I am not a Dem but given what this guy had to work with he has done fab. If you think we are going to vote for ANOTHER BUSH like PERRY... You don't know America.. We will have more 911 if Perry is in OFFICE...

      December 11, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  11. Jay

    That is a long story for someone who isn't going to be president.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • America.Needs Change without OBAMA

      You are correct.. America will be going down if this guy is our president...more failure than Obama..

      October 29, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Henry

      You're wrong about that Jay. MItt Romney will be the next POTUS and it;s about time we had a competent leader in the White House.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      It is late my friend. Quit drinking.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • Jane

      Wait and see.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:06 am |
  12. Patriarchae

    All prospective presidential candidates should be forced to keep their religions secret and out of the public eye. Religion is a personal belief out of all, and is meant to be SEPARATE from the political sphere. Religion and politics never have, and never will mix, all they do is distract us from the meaningful issues.

    As a proud atheist, this is a point that hits home hard for me, as I know that even a finely qualified atheist would never be elected because of the lack of separation between church and state in this nation. I have nothing against religion or the religious, but all I am suggesting is that religion be what it is intended to be: a private belief, separate from the political and social spheres.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Thank you.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  13. irma1957

    Three words: Scary, macabre and grotesqu

    October 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  14. JW

    At least he won't hide from the aliens . . .

    October 29, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  15. BlackDynamiteNYC

    Another chronically unelectable GOP candidate

    October 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  16. MythBusters

    While I cannot buy in to ANY religion (agnostic bordering on atheist) I think Mitt is a smart man (unlike the MOST of his fellow candidates) and is actually campaigning on IDEAS vs. just running for president. I may not share his faith, but at least I can respect the man.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • The commenter

      I totally agree, but I gotta say that I'm glad his isn't totally right-winged. I mean, at least he CARES about the poor, and actually doesn't leave it up to privatizing everything (all I hope is that we keep infrastructure development). Anyway I would say I'm COMPLETELY independent on political stance, don't know what I would run for. Anyway ROMNEY 2012!

      October 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  17. peakarach

    Jesus was born in the Bethleham in West Bank,that would make him an Arab not a white guy.

    October 29, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • MythBusters

      Speaking as a person of Middle Eastern heritage, Arabs ARE white people. They may not be European, but they ARE caucasians. And if you talk to modern anthropologists, there is actually no such thing as 'race'. We're all genetically the same with minor variations. Next topic, please.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Gotta agree with Myth on this one.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • Jim

      No... Jesus was born in SHOMRON (what you call the west bank of the Jordan) – that would make him a Jew. Not a moslem or modern day arab.
      Oh yeah – loved the article on Mitt. I have renewed respect for him and his talents now.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Jim, how do you know where Jesus was born. No one even know if he ever existed. Mitt is total dweeb. GOSH

      October 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Jesus was there..

      For some people they just live in today's world no history their Mom and Dad taught them..Not their fault their PARENTS..still they can learn and be better..But still this guy should not be our President..He was rejected last time ..never got the message still trying Greedy may be.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Jesus

      But according to Joseph Smith, Jesus visited the USA, not far from Branson, Missouri. Frankly anyone who believes that shouldn't be elected dog catcher.

      October 30, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  18. Rocinante

    "...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

    October 29, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      So I am sure we will rush right out and elect a truly qualified athiest or agnostic for the president. You are a dope.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Rocinante

      It means that when it comes down to the secular business of running the government, ones religious preference is not a concern. However, I believe that religious conviction can be a guide that can help one work through life's troubles.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      And......you are still a dope. You did not even address my post.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  19. *frank*

    Jesus came to America. True story!

    October 29, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Had blonde hair and blue eyes, too?

      October 29, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • David Johnson


      No good evidence,Jesus even existed... anywhere.


      October 29, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      David, Frank is kidding. You are kidding right Frank? Yes of course you are.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • AJW3

      Yesterday I uncovered some golden plates that debunked the 'Book of Mormon'. I quickly reburied the plates and now I am telling you that you will just have to trust me on this. According to the plates I am to spread the word of the falsenes of the Mormon religion.

      October 29, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  20. Sheik Yerbouti

    Practicing adult Mormons wear religious undergarments. All hail our commander in Chief. This is not embarassing at all, I am sure the rest of the world will understand.

    October 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • AGuest9

      So do Sikhs. Your point?

      October 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Really?

      While I don’t consider it “obviously stupid” for anyone to wear clothing which expresses his commitment to his religion and encourages morality, I do think it’s pretty stupid to write a post with your ignorance blatantly pasted all over it. Most of us are concerned about how his religious views might or might not affect his policies, but you on the other hand, are worried about his underwear and his name. (It’s Willard Mitt Romney by the way). Honestly though, I think it’s a good idea if don’t vot for him, in fact don’t vot for anyone, the country will be better off.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • shartoo

      Yeah, the magic underwear the secret rituals in the temple that include nudity, Joseph Smith the perv, goes on and on.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • SCFan

      Nudity in the temple huh??? Obviosly your ignorant and misinformed. This is exactly why our country wont progress. Beause of complete stupidity like this. I go to the temple often folks and I can assure you there is no nudity!

      October 31, 2011 at 11:55 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.