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. T3chsupport

    Romney seems like a good guy, and as an agnostic, I've never had anything but pleasant experiences with LDS members. But Romney is neither the best Republican, or Mormon in the field here. Still, seems like a decent enough guy. Certainly the lesser of the major evils currently on deck.

    October 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  2. Nick

    Now please understand my comments are to think about. If faith or religion has no place in politics then whether a person is Christian, Muslin, Hindu, Budism, etc makes no difference. What a person truly believes is a basic part of the way they think and act. It is not like a coat when you come in the house you take it off. I would challenge everyone to seek out the meaning the pastor was refering to in calling it a cult. I would bet that his understanding is different from those who disagree. What do evangelical Christians understand that would class a person a Christian? In the article even in the Mormans there are Mormans that are not good enough or spiritual to be presence in some of their rituals. Check the internet for the differences between Baptist, Mormans, Methodist, Penticostals, Quakers, etc. Then check for what they have in common. Remember don't be one of those that said "Don't confuse me with the facts, I've already made up my mind."

    October 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  3. Cassarit

    Romney is a decent guy and any fool would be smart enough to pick him over Obama. But he is probably NOT a Christian . A Christian must accept Christ as the EXCLUSIVE path to slavation, in accordance with the revealed word.

    Romney believes that a prophet came after Jesus and conditioned salvation on an adherence to his teachings in addition to the acceptance of Christ. This is apostacy pure and simple. Also Mormons hav added their own Book of Mormon to the accepted canon of the revealed word and that by itself is enough to disqualify them as Christians.

    becauser he has altered the revealed to include the Book of Mormon. He has also accepterd a modified path to salvation which

    October 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Mark

      did not John prophesy Jesus' Second Coming? Did not angels prophesy of His retuining. Paul too prophesied. Each did so after the Lord's assension. Prophecy is the way God reveals his will to his children. Yes we thankfully have His word is the Holy Bible but I like the idea that He still loves me enough to communicate His will today too.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • for crying out loud

      We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. the one born in Bethlehem to a virgin. the one who died on the cross for our sins then was ressurected three days later and ascended to heaven. We believe he is the same today, yesterday, and foreve. What Christ do you believe in?

      October 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  4. LMB123

    Henson, judging from your comments you have never read the Book of Mormon, if you did you'd find out that it speaks of Jesus Christ as the Savior. In fact it speaks of Christ as much as the Bible does. But then again you don't know that, because you prefer to comment on things you know very little about. For your information Mormons also believe in the New Testament and Old Testament and study it as much as the Book of Mormon. Go tell your preacher to stop telling you lies. He does that because he does not want to lose his "flock". After all they pay his salary (as compared to Mormon ministers who DON't get paid.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Mbane

      Who cares what the book of Mormom says. Anyone can write a book and preach it to poor uneducted souls who will believe it. Doesn't make it true. Only shows you that those who believe it are not all there.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  5. TommyTT

    I knew Mitt Romney when we were in high school together in Michigan. I'm a life-long Democrat and I'll probably vote Democratic in the next presidential election. But I can tell you from direct, first-hand experience that Mitt's integrity is just as solid and forthright as his supporters claim. He's an honest man, he's bright and he's talented.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      You Mormon trolls get more clever at how to appeal to the mainstream.

      This is bogus Malarkey from an indoctrinated GOP troll – not Mitt's good ole pale.

      October 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • TommyTT

      Magic Underwear, you are incorrect and making things up. Mitt and I went to Cranbrook School together in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I was slightly older than him but we shared several classes and worked together on a number of school activities.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  6. Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

    Mormons believe in violating the separation of church and state – when it suites them.

    In Idaho, Utah, and parts of Arizona there is a Mormon seminary building on virtually every PUBLIC high school campus. If not, they utilize PUBLIC school buses to bus the Mormon kids to-and-from the seminary. (In my case it was ON the public campus.)

    This is what Mitt Romney believes in. Would you want your kids feeling that kind of religious pressure and invasion at a PUBLIC school??

    I wonder what they would say about building a Mosque or Synagogue on the PUBLIC school grounds?

    October 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Sean

      It seems like we need to do our research somewhere other than Google. Most of the comments here include false information. You need to validate your sources. First of all, seminary buildings are built on privately owned church property. Second, the bus system dropped the students off at school and the students have release time to walk to the privately owned building off of public property. Third, if using an offensive screen name directed at a group of people who believe in faith and family, and differ their beliefs from yours is bigotted. You said it I didn't.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  7. carm

    Hell will freeze over before Republicans will choose Romney for their leader, because the majority of Republicans are Christian. God forbid a Mormon lead them!!

    October 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Sean

      I could not have said it more intolerant, "back woods", or uneducated myself! Thanks.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  8. Jeannot

    CNN's People crusade against Romney. I was wondering when it would start.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  9. Elijah

    Excellent article. Thanks for the impartiality.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  10. Steven

    O.K. some info from a former mormon that lived in Utah. These fanatics believe that if you are not one of them you are below them and they should pity you and convert you because they are the only ones to receive exaltation. They use their religion to run their businesses and every aspect of their lives. There is no place in government for these nuts. If you want to see what the u.s. would be like then go to Utah, where the state controls all aspects of the publics life. Check out some of the states laws. I for one cannot believe that I am saying this but if Romney pulls the republican nomination then congrats on a second term Mr. Obama. NoRomney 2012..
    P.S. downtown Salt Lake City is a jungle at night, so obviously their approach to things don't quite work anyways.
    sincerely, A REAL AMERICAN.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • RickinSLC

      I too am a non-mormon in SLC. I think you're way off. I've only been treated with respect by the mormons.

      October 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  11. pam k

    Put simply, there is no separation in the mid of a Mormon between their faith and their ability to lead or act. If Mitt Romney can believe the fantastical notions of a known charlatan, defined by use of a seer stone, from a language that has never existed, and which promises to turn men into gods of their own planets inhabited by their wives and children, I can Never trust his judgment.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Thank you for the common sense post.

      October 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • cykill

      doen't matter. if you are a true believer, you should be excluded from the chance to hold office. Just what i need, some dude who believes that there is an invisible man living in the sky having control of nuclear weapons...wonderful

      October 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  12. Rose

    I would agree with those that question the intelligence of anyone that could believe in the LDS church after doing any amount of independent research into the origins of the faith. However, I also know that when you are born and raised in any culture or faith it is very difficult to "think outside the box" especially if you and your family have thrived in that faith or culture. Much like Scientology there are examples of very successful and happy people who practice various forms of Mormonism. That doesn't make the theology more believable to discerning people, but it does provide evidence for the innocuousness of the faith which causes the greater society to accept it as a "mainstream religion".

    That said I do not think that Mr. Romney's faith would influence his decisions if he were elected anymore than John Travolta's faith would influence his ability to act in a film. Neither one of these men are really representative of the average male member of either of these faith communities.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • cykill

      it's called brainwashing...

      October 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • cykill

      ...and John Travolta would not have access to nuclear weapons...

      October 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • West

      First, you're incorrect about Romney: he is very much a mainstream member of the LDS church. But more importantly, isn't "someone who can think outside the box" exactly what America needs?

      October 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  13. chrisg

    There are many issues in our country which need attention. If an individual is a christian is not one of them.
    If believing in a creator of all things is your thing, so be it. But, to utilize such a belief to manage the citizens of America without an ounce of evidence is ludicrous. Keep your personal beliefs amongst your friends, family and yourself. Keep it out of politics and government.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      That is great and I don't disagree, but what are YOU going to do about it?

      October 30, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  14. PRP

    I read about Mormon faith on google. Mr. Romney belongs to this faith. I feel he is not the right person to be the next President of USA.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Larry b.

      Why go to Google to learn about them? Why didn't you go to their website, there is the best place to learn about them. That church is the most open church in the world. They put all of their beliefs on line for all to see, and you go to Google to see what somebody else says they believe....seems to me that you and all that bunch like you NEed to ask a Mormon, and not some person who has really no idea what they are talking about.
      Some of you guys slay me.

      October 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  15. KT

    ThePresidential religion issue surfaced because of a Texas preacher who said that Mormons weren't Christians. It was an ignorant and impulsive statement. Newt Gingrich made an interesting comment in the recent debate, saying that it shouldn't matter to which faith a candidate belongs, but it was more important that a candidate have a faith, because without a faith, where does one base his judgement. Without God there is no guilt, without guilt how do we differ right and wrong....so why have laws. Whatever a candidate's religion, one should research and study before making unfounded statements. Everyone who runs for a public office will have his/her life exposed; if a belief in God is part of the core, then that coincides with the principles that originally shaped this country and have made it a democratic and desirable place to live. Try forming this country today with core values on a decline. So for me, I am going to consider the driving force of one's decisions, and if it is a faith, then so be it because I love our country and I am proud of the individuals (forefathers) who had the insight to form "one nation under God with liberty and justice for all." Don't let the liberal views of today blemish a government that has successfully run for 235 years on a foundation of God.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      There are so many mistakes in your post I wouldn't even no where to start. You don't know your American history, clearly.

      Additionally, you said Newt G said something interesting? Not possible.

      October 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Henson

      Its the fact that Mormon's proclaim to be Christians when there not!!!! The Book of Mormon was not written by God or inspired by him. Jews believe in the Old Testament, Christians the New. Mormons believe in the Book of Mormon so they are not Christians. Mormons hide and say they are Christians in order to be accepted. Never have had problem with anyone that is a Mormon the have some great values and some crazy ones too, but they are not Christians simple!

      October 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Henson

      Its the fact that Mormon's proclaim to be Christians when there not!!!! The Book of Mormon was not written by God or inspired by him. Jews believe in the Old Testament, Christians the New. Mormons believe in the Book of Mormon so they are not Christians. Mormons hide and say they are Christians in order to be accepted. Never have had problem with anyone that is a Mormon they have some great values and some crazy ones too, but they are not Christians simple!

      October 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Steven

      Being from Ga and particularly the area Newt Gingrich is from, I can tell you that if you listen to anything he says you are the 1% . Newt Gingrich is a good ol' boy from Ga. and If you don't think that he is corrupt you yourself are as gullible as people who think Romney is not going to let his religion guide his presidency. all we need is a cultist in office that could lead to great changes, I am sure. Please engage your brain for engaging your mouth.

      October 30, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  16. fistface

    Jessica Ravitz.... Americans can do without Religion in our Political Arena.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  17. Alien Orifice

    It is the Republicans who ran up the deficit that the Democrats inherited. Give me Bill Clinton any day, despite his personaly shortcomings (no pun intended). Obama has great potential to be a true leader and make a difference. Give him two terms. Reagan and Dubya got two terms and they were total morons. At least Obama has a brain.

    Look at these choices for president folks:

    Michele Bachmann: (The 10 Craziest Michele Bachmann Quotes: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-10-craziest-michele-bachmann-quotes) She is crazier the Palin and that is an impressive accomplishment! Christian Creep.

    Herman Cain: In October 2011, Herman Cain described the Occupy Wall Street movement as "un-American". He further stated, "I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Yeah, why bother with facts.

    Newt Gingrich: His own party has turned him into a political outcast.

    Ron Paul: Ron Paul doesn’t know if he is Libertarian or a librarian, but at least he speaks his mind. Which is exactly why he is un-electable.

    Rick Perry: Regards evolution as a theory. I could go on but nuff said. Please oh please now more Dubya’s!!

    Mitt Romney: Cultist (they all are) but he lies about his faith. He once said, "Well, we’re going to have to hang the ‘Obama Misery Index’ around his neck." Nice.

    The others will withdraw so I won't bother with them. The biggest problem is, they ALL just come off STUPID (because they are).

    Sure Obama is learning on the job, but I believe he is the real deal If the republicans would stop blocking him at every turn and be part of the solution rather than the problem, This could be a very successful 2 term presidency. And he is presiding over one of the toughest eras in our country’s young history.

    Additionally, no matter what happens in the elections. Unless you are rich and/or willing to be on the take AND Christian or pretending to be, you can't get anywhere in Washington. That is bad because it omits the huge surplus of knowledgeable, intelligent and morally sound people we have in our great country from wanting to run for office. That is why we have that mess if idiots running for president!!!!

    October 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • fistface

      Clinton was a good President, most people could care less if he got oral in the white house.... The only real big ding against him and the last 20 or so Presidents is that they just let Government get bigger, and bigger, and bigger and have done absolutely nothing about shrinking it.

      October 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I thought balancing the budget was good, then Dubya decided the best thing for the USA is to completely destroy our financial credibilty (and murder lots of people). Now Replicans, like they always do, are blaming the person who is stuck with trying to fix the mistakes made by the Republicans. Business as usual.

      October 30, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  18. bob

    Ever go to the fair? this so called church is there with what looks like a lie dector. Ther separate couples and ask the woman if the hubby beats her and call her a lier if she says no!! We have been married 15yr and I can not think of a person I would rather be with. I have NEVER RAISED A HAND TO A WOMAN AND NEVER WILL. ALL THAT DO ARE PU..... GUYS. I tell ya this church is NUTS! bush was bad enough bt this guy???

    October 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • rjm

      Uh... OK. I'm Mormon and have NO IDEA what you are talking about. It's made up, or mixed-up. In any case, it isn't mormonism.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  19. scliddiard

    I wish everyone could read this article, it would help them realize what kind of a person Mitt is and what Mormon/LDS people are like.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • The Dude

      Racist Nutjobs?

      October 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  20. NoGr8rH8r

    Who cares what religion Romney is? They're ALL make believe mumbo jumbo! Any candidate who claims to be religious, should be an instant "tip off", that they're not grounded in REALITY! Keep your nonsensical Gods out of the equation.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Sean

      Tell that to the founding Fathers of the United States Of America.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:01 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.