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. Peter

    Who cares what church president goes to? Who cares if president is pro or anti abortion?
    When I get into taxi I do not ask what church taxi driver goes to and what are his/her views on abortion. I just care if guy knows how to drive and knows where to go.We should do the same when we elect president. We need president who knows how to do things. Basing choice on faith and abortion views is just plain stupid.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Rmax

      You nailed it. It is about leadership.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Justsayin'

      Finally...an intelligent comment on this board

      October 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • pam k

      Who cares? I care! A lot. I care if my president tries to tell me what to do with my body. I care if the president is part of a church that bought a California election to keep gays from having full rights of citizenship. If I were gay, this man would terrify me. I care if my president is going to use the book of Mormon to decide what is right and wrong. I care if Mormon church leadership will influence American policy by having a Bishop in the White house. They have proven themselves to have despotic control over their members. Honestly! I think it would be inappropriate for a priest, pastor, rabbi or mullah to be president. At base, the man has accepted some patently false notions as true. If the man can't think for himself, I really don't want him thinking for me.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  2. Jeff from Utah

    You know what the funny thing is? I'll bet all the candidates underwear is stained. Every last one of them including Romney.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  3. G-D

    Mixing 'emotionalisms' with 'politicalisms' is and has been and may well ever be the totem poles that 'socialisms' are carved from. While all socialistic totem poles are vivacious, they are muted with rationalisms' 'indifferentism' for religious variances and seldomly do they 'habitualize' their truanted' behaviors of the busted complications away from idealized rationalisms.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  4. Former AZ resident

    Such a nice man. Too bad he'll never be president.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  5. RAD

    Ask yourself, if Romney was Jewish, Catholic, gay, female, Latino (or whatever) and people spewed the type of vitriol for those groups that is present on this blog, would others come to their defense? During the 2008 election, I became disgusted by the racist attacks against Obama. Now it seems bigoted attacks against Mormons are fair game.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Mormons are not a racial or ethnic group so yes, they ARE fair game.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • The Dude

      Obama cannot control his race. People can decide from joining a Cult.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      You seem alright, at least you are thoughtful. Think about this. When an athiest or agnostic can be elected president, wake me up. There is no doubt in my mind that ANY candidate who actually wants to be president would have to (and probably has) lie about their religion to be considered. This is not good for our country as any ethical person would not consider lying and this eliminates many of the top minds in our country for consideration for the top office. Hense, magic underwear, Reagan and Dubya.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • plainrewd

      Alien orifice- it's morons like you that make this country look bad. What would Romney want to be president over a bigoted violent race?

      October 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Why do you say that? Please explain.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Henson

      I have asked myself! Mormons protest to be Christians when they are not, Obama never claimed to be white when he is clearly black!

      October 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Still waiting to know why you think I am a moron. Thanks.

      October 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • RAD

      @ the Dude

      Did I say racisim or bigotism? Google Bigot: "One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ." Is Obama a bigot? no. Is Romney a bigot? well, he can't be if he is flip-flopping. Are those intolerant of others who differ from them biggoted? yes! Are some posting comments intolerant of those who differ from them? Do they feed intolerance with active voice of intolerance?

      Please distinguish "differences" from "intolerance". Mormons are different, they belief things you don't, but it is a person's choice to practice intolerance against a whole people. I'm not defending flip-flopping Romney, I'm defending tolerance.

      October 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • twiddly

      Unlike everything else you list, religion is a choice (at least for adults).

      Yes, Mitt was brainwashed as a child like most of us with the various major religions, but it is his choice to continue believing/supporting the silly charade that is mormonism.

      Please have MItt explain how he will become a god and rule a planet when he dies.
      And why only he can be the ruler, while his wife is left to spew out spirit children to populate the planet

      October 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Denee

      I am a seventeen year old High School Junior. I am also the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in my family. There is virtually no support from my family members. I wasn't brainwashed into believing anything. I chose of my own free will to become a member. I felt that it was right. Just to clear a couple of things up, we are taught regularly that we should love our neighbor. Whether that neighbor be a gay man, an alcoholic, an atheist, or even an active anti-mormon. I don't want to come out preachy since I am hardly the person to speak for the church (Only been a member for a year) but I hate all the hate. Respect is what my parents taught me and love is the code I try to live my life by.

      January 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  6. Kay

    What's important isn't how you believe, but that you do believe, in something greater than yourself.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Why is that important?

      October 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Henson

      What are you joking, so its ok that the Mormon Church believes that non-whites are of the blood of Satan! It is important what you believe as how you believe! Most Important is that the Mormon's stop saying to the world they are Christians when they are not! The KKK believes they are a Christian group too!

      October 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Kay said, "What's important isn't how you believe, but that you do believe, in something greater than yourself."

      Kay has not responded to my question, why she thinks it is important to believe in something greater than yourself.

      October 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • twiddly

      That's the dumbest thing I've read all day!

      Ok, I believe that my cat is the creator of the universe. Does that satisfy you? No, of course not.

      What you really mean is that it's important that someone believe in something that _you_ approve of.
      And so now we see that _you_ are the decider of what is and is not a reasonable belief.
      Which can mean only one thing... oh my god, it's you, it's really you!

      All hail Kay!

      October 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  7. Henson

    The Book of Mormon was not written by God or by Christ, not even inspired by ether. Christianity is the belief in the New Testament, Judaism is the belief of the Old testament. The belief in the the Book of Mormon is what religion?? My problem is that Mormons claim to be Christan's when they are not!! You can believe what ever you want just don't claim to be Christan's when your not. It may not be a mistake that Mormon and Moron are so close, closer then Christianity!

    October 30, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  8. Kay

    It is nice to read an article that didn't have a political agenda. This article gives us insight into Romney the man versus the politician. Too often during campaigns we never really learn who the person is behind all the political rhetoric. We know only what the media, campaign staff and opponents want us to know. This might be a person I could support.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • iann

      Romney is a flippin' opportunist. He'll say anything to get himself elected. Hypocrisy to the nth degree. No ethical standards.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      You ARE joking right? Please tell me this is well executed sarcasm.....?

      October 30, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      Bishop Romney believes in celestial polygamy and he will be coming to take your late wife to Mormon heaven as his own. 😉

      They've already done it to millions of holocaust victims. Google "posthumous Mormon sealing" or "posthumous baptism".


      October 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Michael

      If people were to research the scope of the CORRUPTION in the mormon church........not to mention the misogyny, hypocrisy and racism.......they would not be so quick to say the candidate's faith doesn't matter. With mormons, IT MATTERS.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • twiddly

      Kay, the mormon shill. Too funny.

      Please explain why we should vote for a guy that believes he will become a god himself and rule a planet when he dies?

      October 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  9. CSM

    Nothing has changed. It is still a CULT.. and I will never, EVER vote for a Mormon for the White House. Secret undergarments anyone?.. lol

    October 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • iann

      For me, there' s no difference between the Mormon religion, and for instance, Evangelical Christianity. They are both cults. In fact all religion is mythology. Wake up you believers and start thinking for yourselves.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Kay

      By the dictionary's definition of cult, I think all religions fall into that category because we all worship. But when I think of a cult, I think of a person that tries to get people to worhip him or her in order to gain power over those people. More like Obama's techniques.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • plainrewd

      I bet you voted for the philandering Mr. Clinton.. He never wore undergarments because his underwear was always off. Bwahhhahh...

      October 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • twiddly

      That's really funny, Kay.
      Your description of Obama applies just fine to all politicians, so no, that doesn't qualify as a cult.

      It doesn't matter what you say the word means to you, the real meaning is the dictionary definition, which is "a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies." and yes, it does apply to all religions.

      Mormonism just happens to be flakier than most, and is easily as bizarre as scientology.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  10. Rmax

    An LDS mormon will be a great President. Let it be.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • CSM

      Hardly... The White House does not belong to Joseph Smith.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  11. antipathy

    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 2:15 pm |
    • WWCD

      All these anti-mormon/anti-religion remarks...you are all morons! I didn't know that religion was a requirement for an American President...I don't see why Mitt would want to run a country full of sadistic unmoralistic idiots! Its people like you who made the country what it is now– bad! You are the ones who brought this country down –spending beyond your means and buying left and right with credit cards. Then you have those lazy freeloaders who wait around for unemployment checks and don't even find ways to find a job! Pathetic! So get a grip and stop pointing fingers and change yourselves!

      October 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  12. Cdn. Observer

    The chief problem with electing a 'faithful' Mormon – Mitt Romney, in this example – to lead the war-plagued and debt-ridden USA is that Latter-day Saints have been systematically indoctrinated & psychologically conditioned – 'programmed' – to mentally flee from and trivialize facts that don't agree with their demonstrably erroneous belief system.

    For example, the 'keystone' of Mormonism, The Book of Mormon, has been proven by science to be a work of fiction. Yet millions of Latter-day Saints, 'faithful' Romney included, fervently believe the BoM to be what Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and eight generations of Mormon 'prophets' since his day have said it was (is): a history of the ancient Americas spanning some 26 centuries. It doesn't matter what 150 yrs. of science has PROVEN about the BoM, it comes down to how Mormons FEEL about the book. The main problem with structuring one's belief system in such a way is that emotions have NEVER been an INFALLIBLE guide to the truth.

    Since 1830, the Mormon Church has systematically indoctrinated millions of people, incl. Romney, to believe that religious nonsense is 'true', while facts and fact-based conclusions that conflict with church teachings and doctrines and LDS beliefs are not to be trusted. It was Thomas Paine, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, intellectual, philosopher, and writer, who said: “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”

    Why does any of this matter? Well, the last time Americans had a president who was psychologically 'programmed' to ignore facts that didn't agree with his beliefs, the USA ended up wasting $1T in an illegal war to 'liberate' 100's of billions of barrels of Iraqi oil (as many as 1.2M people died in the process due to violence, disease & starvation resulting from the conflict), nearly $5T was added to the U.S. federal debt, a man with experience as the Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association was put in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. subprime credit 'bubble' expanded hugely & then imploded, wiping out some $14T in global wealth & destroying millions of jobs, etc. Are Americans better off today because of that fervent religious believer in the White House? Clearly, no.

    If Romney becomes prez. and is confronted by facts that he doesn't like, will decades of Mormon 'programming' – "Don't pay attention to or trust belief-busting information" – kick in, with disastrous results? Quite possibly. Or what if Pres. Romney believes that he has received a 'revelation' from 'God', which Mormons are taught throughout their lives they can receive – via the 'Holy Ghost' – if they are 'worthy', to go to war with, say, Russia, China, Iran or North Korea, or all four? Will emotion-driven LDS 'programming' – decades of dysfunctional psychological conditioning – result in Commander-in-Chief Romney ordering military strikes? Could be.

    Americans may believe that such a situation would NEVER happen, but they fail to comprehend the self-deceiving power of fervently believing that one has a direct 'conduit' to 'God' & the ability to 'know His will', as do Latter-day Saints because of how they've been indoctrinated.

    Of course, 'God' 'wants' & 'commands' whatever the individual believes. There is no 'Heavenly Father' (or 'the Lord', 'Jehovah', Allah', etc.) 'wanting' and 'commanding'. But there are 100's of millions of people, Romney included, who believe there is. That's the power of religion to undermine clear, rational thinking.

    Beware of 'faithful' religious believers like Romney who seek positions of great political power and authority over military forces.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      So did Bush start a war in the middle east because he's Methodist. How about the Vietnam BS. Dam that catholic president and his Disciples of Christ vice pesident! Oh and by the way...UP YOURS Franklin Roosevelt! You and that episcopalian religion of yours getting us into World War II. What a crock!

      October 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • LizM


      October 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Joe

    Strange CNN talks about Romney's religion but does not talk about Obama's secret Muslim faith. Or that Michelle Obama cannot stand white children. She is so racist.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      lol – The Mormon trolls cannot contain their racism. It's inbred as part of their religion. 😉

      October 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • twiddly

      Oh yeah, Obama's muslim faith is so secret he had to go on tv to distance himself from the christian pastor he'd been going to for 20 years. Yeah, that's it.

      Does Mitt wear the mormon magic underwear?

      October 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      So if there the mormons are racist then why in the hell does BYU's football team have so many tongans and samoans on it. Oh yea they're all mormons too. Imagine that! LOL

      October 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • LizM

      If he is true to his word and is a temple-recommend holding Mormon, yes indeedy he is wearing his church-approved underwear!

      October 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  14. Son Of Man

    "No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." – Jim Morrison

    October 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  15. Carrie

    I like him so far. I want to see what a smart business dude can do. And I feel like I can trust a guy who's been so faithful his whole life (like he's for real, not just recent nice stuff). It was good to read this article.

    October 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      Would you like him to posthumously seal you as one of his polygamous celestial wives?

      He needs 72 so he can earn his Planet Kolob badge and become a planet ruler himself. 😉

      October 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  16. Henson

    The Book of Mormon was not written by God or by Christ, not even inspired by ether. Christianity is the belief in the New Testament, Judaism is the belief of the Old testament. The belief in the the Book of Mormon is what religion?? My problem is that Mormons claim to be Christen's when they are not!! You can believe what ever you want just don't claim to be Christens when your not. It may not be a mistake that Mormon and Moron are so close, closer then Christianity!

    October 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      They worship the angel "MORONi"

      You will see it on their church steeples – but you will NEVER see a cross on their steeples. (ask them why)

      October 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • John H. Emmett

      No........we are not "Christens"...................we are Christians.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  17. troy

    Did you all know that Mormons, for decades, wouldn't allow black people in their church? That they felt all non-whites were born with the blood of satan? It wasn't until recently that political pressure forced them to change. Mormons are all lily white cultist racists who believe in multiple wives and magic underwear. No way I want someone this dangerous as an American president.

    October 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      Yea we know Troy. You've posted it already. Did you know the Catholics held slaves to build there churches and do you think Pope John Paul I died of "natural causes" back in '78? Every religion can be trashed out there. Every religion does. That's the problem with this country, everybody bashing each others religion. A religion doesn't make a man.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  18. purplestikypunch

    Look, the Book of Mormon has been scientifically and archeologically disproven. We KNOW it's a fake. We CAN prove it. We HAVE. So, do you want you're president to believe in things that his prophets tell him that have no validity in science or education at all? Do you want a President that, because of his faith, has to deny scientific findings in order to validate his beliefs? How would that effect the country? If your president believed that the war in the middle east was a prophetic sign of the second coming, would he really try to avoid the war? Would he want it stopped? If you're president believed that gays need to be cured of their disease, would you want him making decisions about equality? This religion is a super farce. It's one thing to believe the literal bible. It's quite another to believe a literal fairy tale. But this fairy tale writes all the beliefs and rules that Romney is required to adhere to, and we don't need that influence in these hard time when REAL guidance is needed. "Hi, I'm Mitt Romney. I'm running for President.... and Dr. Seuss is my favorite non-fiction religious author. Vote for me... I'm not crazy".

    October 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • larski

      The BOM is no more false then the Bible, and neither of them is false. I have never heard that the BOM has ever been scientifically proven false. Besides taking religion out of politics and look at what each candidate has to offer us as Americans, ans how they can get us turned around as a country. As we get closer that is what I will be looking for as to what religion a person may be, or if they are not religious at all.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • larski

      I meant I will NOT be looking at a persons religion, that is pure stupidity.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  19. jasper

    Show me the golden tablets from GAWD, what a crock, you can't be president if your core belief is Mormonism.

    October 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • john master

      But it's ok if your core belief is racist anti-American like trinity church of christ and the rev. wright.

      October 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  20. TanCan93

    I have to admit, as a Canadian, I'm always amazed by the amount of coverage a candidate's religious orientation receives during the campaigning process in the US. I really don't see the benefit of an article like this except to provide a platform for religious attacks...not sure what it has to do with the politics of being president...but then again, you will probably just refer to me as a god-less Canadian 😉

    October 30, 2011 at 1:55 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.