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. G-D

    To any LDS,,,,

    Do ya'll believe in your men acquiring a 'celestial planet' after one dies and one's wives and children will inhabit such planets?

    October 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • hippypoet

      and like a child you believe that if you behave you get a treat! difference is one is after dinner and the other is after death...one can happen while the other is taken COMPLETELY on faith – the child would have learned by now!

      October 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Not exactly the you put it. One of our prophets said, "As man is, God once was and as God is, man may become." So why is that more illogical than the belief that when we die we will all sit around on clouds playing harps for all eternity? When you think about it, it is very logical for even you evolutionists. What more logical idea is there than that we are going to evolve eternally, and that the ultimate result of evolving would be to become an all-powerful being? We call God Father? What did you think that meant? Do we just use words that don't mean anything? And, where do you think God came from? And, what do you think the purpose of all this is? Are we just here for no reason? That our loftiest goal of so wonderful being as man is that has so much potential is just going to end up playing a harp? Why a harp? Why not a trombone? Mormons are crazy? Give me a break!

      October 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Lindsey

      Dear G-D,
      I recommend you visit http://www.mormon.org to answer your question.

      October 30, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • Grinunbarrett

      Based on the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe that if we endure to the end Mark 13:13 we will be joint heirs with Jesus Christ in all that the Father hath. Romans 8:16-17. It is obvious that the major majority of the posts I have read are submitted by those who do not have a clue of what the Bible teaches, nor what the earth and the heavens actually teach. Those who believe there is no God and use a phrase to explain him away is in my opinion a phrase of convenience.. There is nothing on earth or in the heavens that does not testify of a Supreme Creator who is Jesus Christ. Nothing magic about it or the temple garments worn by the saints. The greatest distance most people can see is not sufficient to view the God of all creation. He is not an invisible man, He is an exalted glorified Man and all will one day know where of I speak.

      October 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Scott

      @ Abinadi: You are very good at weasel words, lets simplify it, Is G-D right or wrong?

      Also we have a great deal of evidence that physical evolution exists. We have absolutely no evidence that the spiritual evolution you suggest exists. The idea that a single individual is going to evolve in any way, shape or form is totally ludicrous and the idea of a population spiritually evolving is even sillier. You might just as well suggest that the specific clock radio by your bed is some day going to evolve into a television set. It just doesn’t work that way. Read some books

      October 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Scott

      @ Grinunbarrett: Get a grip. In one sentence you say “There is nothing on earth or in the heavens that does not testify of a Supreme Creator” and then you say “The greatest distance most people can see is not sufficient to view the God of all creation.”. In the first you say any one can see god anywhere. In the second you say most people cannot se god anywhere. Much as religious types like to talk out of both sides of their mouths at the same time, you don’t get to have it both ways. You truly demonstrate that you do not know “where of I speak”.

      October 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  2. Bret

    I think that it is sad that so many Americans have become so blindingly hateful of other people. Wasn't that one of the original great things about America, we accepted individuals from all different backgrounds and beliefs. Anymore it seems as though if someone doesn't believe or think the exact way you do, they are immediately hated and despised. It comes from all sides, religious to non-religious and non-religious to religious. Christian to Muslim and Muslim to Christian. Mormon to Born-again and born-again to Mormon. Why can't we all just figure out that the other person may actually be a decent person, even if they think differently than us. History is written with examples of pure hatred that leads to indescribable suffering. Lets learn from history and start to appreciate people from all backgrounds!

    October 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  3. AE86er

    Mitt Romney for President???
    What are they thinking? Pat Robertson would get more votes than him.

    October 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not even if every voter in the country were stoned and drunk.

      October 30, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Kristina

      Perhaps you've been living under a rock but he is the GOP frontrunner and has beat Obama in some prelim polls.

      October 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Even Pat Robertson thinks the GOP candidates are too far out and he is the creepiest dude EVER. He doesn't disagree with them, he just wants them to hush up so someone can get elected.

      October 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  4. LMB123

    Sunshinestategirl – I liked your comment. Some of the posters here are pretty sad. It reminds me of the line on one of the hymns "those who reject this glad message will never such happiness know" How true!

    October 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      What a crock of sh-it! Oh wait.....I am......feeling......sad 🙁

      October 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  5. Sunshinestategirl

    I'm still trying to figure out which Latter Day Saints beliefs would be "bad" for the United States;
    1. Being honest in your business dealings?
    2. Honoring your family commitments, being faithful to your spouse ane providing for your children
    3. Looking for ways to volunteer in meaningful ways – tutoring, building parks, helping the widows or hurriances survivors?
    4. The choice to not smoke or drink?
    5. Prayer – does it really disturb people that much that someone prays for guidance or courage or for their child to get well?

    All this crap that some of you are claming as "facts" is really just sad. What you don't seem to get is the happiness, the peace and the comfort I find from my faith. And you all want to condemn that and for what – what do you want?

    Individuals in the church are not perfect but then neither are the ones outside the church; we don't all have the same cultural or political views but then neither does the rest of the world. But one thing we do have in common is we love the Lord Jesus Christ and strive to be more like him. I have known many LDS people in my life and what I've seen is people who are there to serve others – to listen, to prepare meals, organize events etc. I know that wherever I go in this world i – wherever I find myself – if I suffer a tragedy I can call the local Bishop, a perfect stranger, and someone will respond. And that's a bad thing?

    During the economic debate Romney was being citicized and asked a question and he responded with what I consider the most important words spoken in this whole debate process "...because I care about people" – I don't think I've ever known an LDS person that didn't.

    October 30, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Jimbo

      I think the earlier teachings from Joseph Smith about God coming from the planet Kolob, and the current teachings that blacks are the cursed descendents of Cain. The belief that woman are unable to gain salvation on their own apart from their husbands, might have some implications for many women today. The fact that Mormons believe american indians are remnants of the lost tribes of Israel in spite of the fact that genetic and archeological science tell us this is absurd, sends up red flags for me. The fact that the Book of Mormon they revere as inerrent and factual has never received any archeological
      authentication from anyone other than Mormons, also frightens me. How can these lost remnant of israel peoples, the Aztecs, the Incas, and the Mayans, be portrayed as riding horses and having chariots when the Spaniards brought horses to the Americas in the 14th century? The most trivial investigations show most of these beliefs are based upon shear fantasy. A person who can readily overlook such fantasy and accept it as reality is not a person I want in charge of our country.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • GIvemeabetteroption

      @jimbo that doctrine about cain is false. I'm a mormon and my wife is black. Not true, not practiced. Go look up 2 Nephi 9:34. That kolob crap also misconstrued. Women can receive salvation without being married. Good job on spreading lies. I won't deal with the rest of drivel you have spewed.

      October 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • tricia

      Yup......Warren Jeffs loved everyone too........

      October 30, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  6. LMB123

    Sircuts – "Joseph Smith published his book as Fiction"? – Where do you dig up such regurgitated crap?

    October 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Louis Nardozi

      More mainstream blabbage about candidates they'd prefer we elect. However, in the National Federation of Republican Assemblies Presidential Straw Poll, which is NOT controlled by the mainstream media, the results were as follows:

      "In the Iowa voters result, Paul took 82%. Following him were Herman Cain with 14.7%, Rick Santorum with 1%, Newt Gingrich with 0.9%, Michele Bachmann with 0.5%, Rick Perry with 0.5%, Gary Johnson with 0.2%, with Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman 0%."

      October 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Sircuts

      The complete lack of any objective archaeological or historical proof

      October 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Thanks Louis but we already know Republicans would never elect a cult member like Romney...And thank you CNN for reminding us he is a Bishop in a cult.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  7. kavita gunaji

    It is sad that the country does not see how it is being punished for what it cast upon Northern Africa. Just because Libyans were dissatisfied with the plight of their Government, and because they protested, Obama thought it fit to bomb their monuments and Gadhafi's buildings. Now, if some country more powerful than ours such as Saudi Arabia decides to give the people in the streets what they want and start bombing our pentagon and the white house, how would the Americans like it? So, the white house people decided to let Mike Myers insist that the protest is only against corporate America and not the government. So, once again we are seeing danger for the world trade center and a staged act upon the white house and the pentagon. Can you fathom the evil that rules us? Oh, vulnerable, morally weak American that even your father plot against ye. This is a pact between the white house and the middle east and they are sending dead weight into the streets to cause unnecessary chaos. I understand the wrath of the people, but then they should have said something when the white house gave the orders to bomb Libya. At least with Iraq, it was called for. Thank you for listening to me.

    October 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  8. Jamie

    Yes, Mormonism is ridiculous. But so are all other religions. You only get one life. Try to make the most of it.

    October 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Anyone who believes this crap is to gullible to be president. Even Joseph Smith published his book as Fiction.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • GIvemeabetteroption

      Well I think that would include any Christian president since the USA's inception. If you are thinking that being swallowed by a whale or a man being raised three days after he died were hard to believe then its easy to disbelieve the BoM. But if you do believe the stories of the bible, there is nothing far fetched contained with the BoM.

      October 30, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  9. LMB123

    Magic Underware you are on the Earth only to spread lies. When you finally go, say hello to the father of all lies(Satan). He will be very pleased with you for doing his work.

    October 30, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      My dad passed away recently. He was a hardworking blue collar man who loved his God and the Bible dearly. So please forgive me for re-posting this. 🙂

      When my father retired in Idaho he became a school bus driver. Each day he drove the Mormon kids to their seminary building – during school hours on a PUBLIC bus. (One high school in town didn't have the Mormon seminary building on campus.)

      One day he and another driver asked if it would be okay to bus some of the Catholic and Lutheran kids to their catechism classes. My dad was looking forward to helping other kids find God too.

      Within two weeks the Mormon director fired both of them. I wonder why... 😉

      October 30, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Can you give an example of one of these "lies"? Or are you the one who lies?

      October 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      @sircuts – what kind of "Christian" would disparage and disrespect my father – even after his death?

      October 30, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      @sircuts – my question was meant for LMB123

      October 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  10. Sircuts

    Bishop Romney? LOL That means he actually preaches fairy tales and collects big tax free money for it...I heard of freedom of religion I never heard of freedom of cults...Its not like anyone can just walk into a Mormon Temple it is very secretive and for good reason...

    October 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Sunshinestategirl

      Romeny did once serve as a Bishop – he also served as a Stake President which means technically we should call him President Romney not Bishop Romney as far as church protocol. Just like in a political setting he is Governor Romney – even though he is no longer in office. And if you read the article you know LDS clergy don't receive financial compensation – they work full time jobs and spend another 20 or so hours tending to their congregation.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Grinunbarrett

      Sircut; Your ignorance is shinning through. You should read Matthew 12:36-37

      October 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • GIvemeabetteroption

      Mmmm there are numerous publications that describe what happens in temples. If you would like to see what a temple is like on the inside and have a personal tour visit lds.org for a list of temples being built. After a temple is built a open house is conducted so that anyone can enter the temple and understand what the building is and what is done in it. After the temple is dedicated it is for members who live the commandments of Jesus Christ. Calgary Canada will be opening a temple in 2012. If you'd like to come see it yourself feel free.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  11. FiVA

    @West – Oh I'm so sorry, did my comment offend you? Did all my hate in my two sentence comment get to you? Are you going to troll me the same way I'm trolling you? Since you decided to spread some hate I felt like doing the same. So by your logic, you are also one of those hypocritical teabagging trolls. Does that make you happy big boy?

    October 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  12. popeye1128

    If there was ever a time for an atheist/agnostic president it is now. All this religious testing to be a presidential candidate creeps me out. To think a person's moral compass is based solely on their religion is stupid.
    I've seen both religious and non-religious people be equally evil.

    October 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

      Almost as creepy as Bishop Mitt posthumously marrying your deceased wife as his own to bolster his celestial polygamous harem.

      Google. "Mormon posthumous sealing" or "Mormon posthumous marriage".

      October 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • GIvemeabetteroption

      That is actually impossible under church doctrine. If Mitt was married to a woman, and she died and he wasn't sealed to her before her death he could have his sealing submitted for acceptance by her. No one on the other side would be forced to accept an ordinance performed on earth. As for someone being able to marry someone else's dead spouse? That's pure nonsense. Nothing like that happens at church.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Grinunbarrett

      But you don't normally see them be equally righteous. Those whom I have communicated with, were they elected to the high offices of the land, would first move to rob their fellow citizens of their right to religious freedom leaving only those who are atheist or agnostic free to worship their god.. The conversation on this site is evidence of that. All of you will understand one day in the future.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  13. 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 6:57 pm |
    • Sircuts

      they baptized Adolf Hitler in 1993

      October 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  14. john swanson

    If Kennedy,the womanizer and a so called great CATHOLIC was PRESIDENT then any person in any religion can be PRESIDENT of this great country.So leave the MORMONS alone be cause they are CHRISTIANS.MY kids are MORMON and im not but i know for sure they are christian.

    October 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Saturn

      Even if Mormons are Christians, why does that suddenly mean we should leave them alone?

      They're still delusional.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  15. Magic Underwear is the GOP Fad

    Would you object to a Mosque being built on your child's public school campus??

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

    1) The Mormon seminary is on or adjacent to the public school campus (in my case it was on, and I mean ON, campus).
    2) Taxpayers pay for parking lots, cross walks, crossing lights, etc for the Mormon seminaries.
    3) Mormon students are given credit for seminary courses. In the old days they were allowed to skip American History (So they wouldn't learn the truth about Mormon militia insurrections?)

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

    Ask Mitt if he will support Mosques on those public campuses too.

    October 30, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Sircuts

      These people are like Nazi's with name tags

      October 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • tricia


      October 30, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • tricia

      Mormons.........they chose a name for their cult that is soooooo close to the word MORONS...........that is no coincidence

      October 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  16. Johnny 5

    Religion is a WMD and should play no role in the leadership of our country or any other.

    October 30, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Thats why this Moron Mormon has no chance...everyone knows these people are brainwashed that is why it's a cult

      October 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Sunshinestategirl

      Are you suggesting we should elect an athiest? They don't have a great track record as leaders either, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  17. Sircuts

    "...no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith," _Bringum Young Good Luck with that "Bishop" Romney

    October 30, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  18. LMB123

    The Mormon Church has not practiced poligamy for over 100 years. In fact if you practice it, you are excomunicated. But here is an interesting fact: Abraham who is a revered prophet by Christians, Jews and Muslims was a poligamist and God saw fit to make great covenants with him. Isn't that interesting???? (By the way that's in the Bible, not in the Book of Mormon.

    October 30, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Yes we know it is your underlying goal to return to the good old days....I am sure your cult has a wild tangent based on that Bible passage.

      October 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  19. Sircuts

    Some of you claim that what the anti mormons say is harsh and hateful but all we are stating is facts...something CNN knows nothing of. I have yet to see a mormon denounce the Racist, Polygamist, Traitors they call prophets and gods.

    October 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Eric

      Facts? Oh really? Most of what I see are twisted facts.

      October 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Sircuts

      give me one example of a twisted fact? Do yo denounce Bringum Young? He had 55 wives and said only Joseph Smith can get you in heaven...you stand by that statement?

      October 30, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • FiVA

      @Sircuts – Yeah you are stating facts, from wikipedia lol.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Our prophet has told us to not practice polygamy for over 100 years. We are not racist. Every worthy man can hold the priesthood. We are not traitors either. We actually follow US law even though the Church was attacked and the government did nothing when it was starting out. The freedom of religion was ignored for the Mormons. We were not traitors, the mobs were.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  20. tricia

    Did God create man or did man create God as nothing more than a way to instill fear into the common people? The uneducated parties that are willing to believe ANYTHING in their desire to get to heaven........I am so sick and tierd of some of these politicians running solely behind religious asperations. Obviously, they forgot that government decided to separate church and state a couple of centuries ago. Maybe they need to put down those bibles and pick up American History books. I don't go to church to read history and I don't want my politicians dabbling in the removal of freedoms such as gay rights, abortion, and gun control based upon religious platforms!

    October 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Sircuts

      The scary thinh is obviously they control the media as well...The true facts are just to shocking.

      October 30, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Eric

      And you do realize that Romney is NOT running on his religion, unlike Huckabee four years ago.

      October 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Saturn

      All religious political figures run on their religion, whether they make it explicit or not.

      October 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • tricia

      When a politician makes political decisions based upon the teachings of their religion.........THEY ARE IN FACT RUNNING BEHIND THEIR CHOICE OF A RELIGIOUS CULT

      October 30, 2011 at 8:35 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.