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. Jafinha

    I don't like Mitt Romney and it has nothing to do with his religion, which is a joke just like the others.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  2. Jeb

    Romney has flip flopped on so many issues, he should debate himself.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Robert

      It's not flip flopping, its taking orders from the LDS church "Prophets". Every issue he has ever flopped on was from pressure from his church...No mormon would go against the church they make decisions for him.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  3. TheGodMyth

    Politics and Religion don't and shouldn't mix. Just look at the Middle East. Anyone showing strong religious/mythological tendencies is immediately disqualified as a viable candidate for President.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  4. Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

    If you grew up in Idaho, Utah, or Mesa, Arizona you will be subjected to Mormon influence right on your public high school campus:

    1) The Mormon seminary is on or adjacent to the public school campus. 😉
    2) Taxpayers pay for parking lots, cross walks, crossing lights, etc for the Mormon students.
    3) Mormon students are given credit for seminary courses. In the old days they were allowed to skip American History (so they wouldn't learn the truth about Mormon insurrections – ha ha)

    Mitt Romney supports this kind of blurring of church and state – at least for his own religion.

    Ask him if he will support Mosques on those campuses too. 😉

    October 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      The pressure and subtle intimidation on non-Mormon students is never talked about. Would you want your kids subjected to his kind of religious influence at a PUBLIC school?

      Then don't vote for Bishop Romney.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Jafinha

      I lived in Utah for 2 too long years and know exactly what you're talking about.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Jeff

      I've lived in Utah my whole life and I'm not a mormon but you need to get your facts straight. LDS seminaries ARE NOT on school grounds as the building and the grounds that they are on are owned completely by the LDS church. As far as getting a credit for a seminary class all I can say is good. When I went to high school you didn't get a credit and I thought that was BS. At least get an elective out of it. What is so different about religious studies in high school as compared to college? You get a credit in college don't you?

      October 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      The Mormon seminary building was right across from the gym and next to the math building. I thought it was a science building when I first went to high school.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      Jeff – I'll bet you get extra cookies from your Mormon boss for making that post.

      I remember how it worked in Idaho too. That's why I left. 😉

      October 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jeff

      I'm sure it was my little buddy in the magic underwear. But I guarantee you and will bet you a years pay that the building and the ground it's on is owned by the LDS Church. All seminary building are off of school grounds and always have been. Even on the college campuses. It illegal not to. It's call seperation of church and state so get your facts striaght.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Jeff

      Well I hate to tell you and your magic underwear this...BUT I'M NOT MORMON! Born and raised catholic buddy. And I do have lot of issues with the LDS church. 38 years worth of issues. All I'm saying is get you facts straight. I've lived here my whole life so I know what I'm talking about. And by the way...I'm rooting for Herman Cain.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • abc

      Seminary for LDS students has never replaced any school classes, especially history. No seminary buildings, or their parking lots are on school or public property, they are all privately owned by the Church. Nobody's taxes are used for anything associated with LDS Seminaries. Churches of any denomination are welcome to, and do have seminaries near high schools throughout Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. Catholic, Muslim and Protestant churchs all have thier own seminaries (or whatever they call their youth classes taught near the highschools) that I've seen here in Utah. This has nothing to do with separation of church and state. The subjects they teach each year are: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Early church history. The kids are taught things like; service to others, getting an education, being honest and moral, and forgiving others. If high school kids are willing to go spend an hour each day being taught those things, I can't imagine why anyone would think that's a bad thing.

      October 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  5. dilberth

    Faith is believing in lies. All religions are a cascade of lies. Mormonism is more a business partnership with tax free status.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  6. alan

    Considering it was a Mormon missionary who befriended my Grandfather and talked him into to joining the church at 70 years old, and than stole a million dollars worth of real estate from him, something the family knew nothing about until he was on his death bed, because he was too ashamed to tell anybody that he lost the family property. I will never trust another Mormon as long as I live.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • pat carr

      Wow how aweful. but that's what religions/cults do best: steal money. my parents gave most of our money away to the church as well

      October 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Henry

      That gets my vote for the most inane comment of the day. Was this grifter white, a male? You just eliminated a few billion people from your "trusted list".

      October 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • alan

      What difference does it matter what color the missionary was? i've been living in Utah for 20 years, and I will give you another example. My non-mormon sister moved into a new house and was immediately invited to a neighbors house for dinner, but when asked which ward she belonged to, my sister replied that she wasn't mormon. The neighbor withdrew the invitation and never spoke to my sister again. Years later, my sister joined the church when her 10 year old daughter wanted to go because all her little friends were mormon. Since than, my sister has turned into one of them by disowning her non-mormon family including me and her own mother.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  7. Jeb

    Romney will say or do anything to become President.

    His current positions on the issues is a TOTAL contradiction of his record on those same issues.

    He was for socialized medicine before he was against it.

    He was Pro-Choice before he was against it.

    He was for gay marriage before he was against it.

    Pick any issue and he's flip flopped on it.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Henry

      You miss the essential skill of governance, which is to play the cards you're dealt. Romney is not an ideologue. He is manager who has goals, but who realizes that governing at it's core is about cutting imperfect deals.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  8. Scheer

    Is CNN going to talk about Obama's "faith" and Reverent Wright?

    October 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Jeb

      Every news outlet has talked about Obama's faith literally hundreds of times. Any other questions?

      October 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Robert

      They covered it quite extensively and pretty one sided compared to this

      October 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  9. Robert

    LDS is the biggest money laundering scam the US has ever seen....Multi billions of tax free dollars spent to brainwash our country want to see what religious rule does? look up The Mormon War

    October 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • ldean50

      Robert – you sneeky little, Mormon you. State a negative and then instruct everyone to look up the "Mormon War" which is a dissertation written by Mormons to defend themselves against murdering 120 Methodists, men women and children at a place called "Mountain Meadow Massacre" (which should not be read on wikipedia – the Mormons have rewritten that as well). Instead of reading about a make-belief-"Mormon war" – I encourage all to rent the movie, "September Dawn" starring Jon Voight if you really want a history on the Mormon belief system. The love story is fiction – all the speeches and the massacre itself is true. My credentials are the fact that I am a descendent of one the 17 children who survived that massacre.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  10. Michael T Murphy

    It seems to me that you cant have it both ways, either Mormonism is a cult or it isn't. If you read the book of Mormon in the 5 th chapter it talks of Jesus and Satin being Brothers. Both would be created by God to serve Him in different ways but both created. This is in direct opposition to Christianity which states Jesus is equal to the Father and created Satin and always existed unlike Satin who was created.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Will R

      Hahaha I don't even know what to say to this. It is obvious that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about and have never read the Book of Mormon because it never talks about that. The doctrine is true, but it come from the Bible 😉

      October 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Scowl

      ...and here I thought "Satin" was a fabric. Therefore the Moody Blues' song must have been "Knights In White Satan".

      October 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  11. antipathy

    The Romney family comes from Michigan. As ostensible Republicans in Michigan the Romney family worked closely with the Democrat-UAW-AFLCIO troika. Michigan is now a failed state. Willard (Mitt) Romney used his family influence with Democrats & Labor Unions to get himself elected as a "Republican" Governor in the now-failing State of Massachusetts. Please explain how Mitt Romney stands for anything but more & bigger, failing Democrat government programs. Mitt Romney is a political shape-shifter unworthy of high office.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Robert

      Actually Romney's father was a Nazi sympathizer and was born in a Mexican Polygamy camp because its illegal in the US >>> "I believe in the faith of my fathers" -Mitt Romney

      October 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  12. Robert

    I went to a funeral of a Morman killed in Iraq serving in the Army at the start of that war. Beautiful ceremony, very patriotic. Romney thinks for himself. Seems to have courage to take unpopular positions. I voted for Obama who I like, but will likely vote for Romney. National debt now $14 trillion, is out of control will impact our freedom & security. Need smart leader with history is getting results,

    October 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Thayer

      You're a brainwashed moron. Mormons gullible naive idiots who follow the false teachings of perverted old men. You just go right ahead and try to put an idiot like Romney power.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  13. Darrin

    Growing up Mormon I agree they are racist they say they are not. However I constantly heard racist comments in church not just from followers, but also from leaders. Blacks were not able to hold the priesthood until the Mormons were looked down on for that decision. The Mormon leaders say God decided to allow blacks to hold the priesthood. So I guess that means God bows to peer pressure.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  14. Bryan

    Well done article, especially considering the limited access to the Romney camp. Really enjoyed reading about his moments of service to others and time spent in helping those in need. Serving others is what it is all about.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  15. G-D

    People will ever look under stones to find things underneath, sometimes a worm, a cricket and sometimes a roach. It's those boulders that one moves where you may find the really 'ugliness' things,,,,, makes one wonder if one moves a mountain what will one find underneath? A Perry? Or a Romney? Maybe,,, then again maybe not,,,,

    October 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  16. Douglas

    I suppose it's no worse than the string of Christian wackos who have governed from the pulpit in recent years, but worrisome nonetheless. What's wrong with this country where we insist that the candidates wear religion on their sleeves? I'll never forget the shiver running down my spine when Bush stated that he believed "God wants me to be president". Granted, the arrogance was in keeping with the way he ran his administration, but still....

    October 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  17. mtta

    I think Mitt Romney is the best candidate to lead the country out of the current economic mess. America desperately needs a level-headed leader with experience, integrity and wisdom.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Thayer

      Level headed? Lol. He follows a cult there genius.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  18. richpeay

    To "RIGHT ON": We came to this country so that we could worship the way that we chose. Our country is founded on " IN GOD WE TRUST" Now let's talk about the right person to help save our country that our forefathers fought for us to have. Take God out of our country and watch if fall. What ever religion you are!!

    October 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Jeb

      The country wasn't founded on "In God We Trust". That was put on our money in the 1950's.

      October 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Jeb, it's amazing that there are STILL idiots who blurt this nonsense. Do they really never read anything about American history?

      October 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  19. Jessy

    Belief in one sky fairy over an other is not a sane discussion

    October 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Yessj

      Sky fairy, you mean atheist and agnostic?

      October 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  20. Johnson

    It is frightening to think of. When you read the Book of Mormon you get a true idea of how cultish this religion is. And, I wonder how a Bishop of any Church could objectively lead our country.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
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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.