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. Jeff from Utah

    Let me ask this. Is there any religion out there that is innocent?

    October 30, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Sircuts

      True innocence is in your heart we all know right from wrong , what is hurtful is sin regardless of any history fictional or not. Religion is the manipulation of the basic human desire to be the best person one can be. I would never blame a believer for being so faithful only the deceivers who take advantage of them. Yes Mitt is a good man I say that seriously but being a New Yorker I guess I'm just a little to street smart to buy into the tales he adheres to as religion.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • JD

      The religion known as atheism sure isn't.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Jeff from Utah

      Just keep something in mind sircuts. Not everyone from Utah is mormon and there are mormons that are really good people. I believe that there is a idiot in every religion. And there is no true religion as the mormons think they are. I'm not LDS believe it or not, but there is are people in my family that are. I love them and they love me and they don't care at all that what my beliefs are. So to think that there in some sort of cult is BS. I have my issues with the church. I have 38 years worth of issues. But I'm not going to use those issues to bash. It's flat out not healthy to hate.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Jeff from Utah

      Atheism is a religion? What planet are you from??

      October 31, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  2. Mormon Hawaiian Surfer's mentality


    Where's the money? The church never gave me a dime for me to enjoy! It's no business cult if you ask me.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Looks like you got the s,h,i,t end of that stick LOL Im sure they enjoy you're money haha

      October 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      Have you been giving your 10 percent? It's a business.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Sircuts

      No Temple For You! LOL

      October 30, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Mormon Hawaiian Surfer's mentality

      Show me a religion that hands out money for me to enjoy... when you find out, please let me know.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      I hear ya surfer. But don't tell me that the LDS chuch has no business or political interests. All religions do.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Why do you think Romney is Republican...s-h-i-t runs down hill and you are on the bottom. I am sure your Apostles enjoy that nice green cash they call god.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  3. Reality

    From p. 21:

    Obama is a Christian in name only therefore he does not believe in all of its mumbo jumbo. Romney, unfortunately, does believe in the Joe Smith hype which is disturbing in the 21st century.

    Part 1 – the Infamous Angelic Cons (all involved religions noted)

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (a huge Romney mental minus in that he somehow believes Moroni actually exists- not good for someone who wants to be president)

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    Then there is this:

    "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah." (More problems for the mental status of Romney.)

    October 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Sircuts

      What a bunch of nut jobs

      October 30, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  4. Sircuts

    I was at the Mormon.org website are those LDS Galaxy Underoos in the shopping section? I need a good Halloween costume.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • Mormon Hawaiian Surfer's mentality

      I dont denouce Breed'um Young at all, because most of the prophets had many wives. When Utah became America, we quit that practice more than 180 years ago. Cheers.

      I can give you a good joke, if your wife was having a bad day, all you gotta do is knock on the door of your other wife for a good time. LOL

      I am a one-woman man and one woman is all I can handle!

      October 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Sircuts

      So you prove my statement that no Mormon would ever denounce him yet he is a known Polygamist and Racist

      October 31, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Sircuts

      Even those on the outer fringes

      October 31, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  5. Mormon Hawaiian Surfer's mentality

    Christianity as a whole, is very confusing, because so many different churches claim to beleive in Jesus... we have the baptists differing with the catholics, and the catholics differing with the escopalitans, and then we have the lutherans differing from the methodists, and then we have the born-agains differing from everybody else on this earth. This goes on and on and on... blah blah.

    Jesus Christ when he was alive, he has his own church in his own name, The Church of Jesus Christ. That church fell apart when Jesus and his disciples (apostles) were killed by the jews. God was very angry with the people that he caused three days of darkness on the earth...

    After three days of darkness, Christ appeared to Mary, and to the other apostles and people. Then Christ told them there are other sheep not of this fold (old world) , and that he has to go to the other sheep (new world). Then he ascended up to the new world where there are other sheep living there. He established the priesthood in the Americas. That is where the gold plates turned up. The plates were translated into english.

    That is how we got the Book Of Mormon which is another testament of Jesus Christ,,,, so that is how we got the name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This church is the very same church established by Jesus Christ... We beleive in being obedient to the Ten Commandments, and we beleive in all the prophets in the Bible, and we beleive the Bible to be the word of God.

    We were just counseled not to use the word Mormon as a nickname because that nickname is reserved for the polygamists who broke away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    Those polygamists are the actual child molesters, and they beleive in arranged marriages etc. We stay away from those polygamist religious groups.

    Yes I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saint, and I am a proud mormon surfer from Hawaii... Dang my bad, I need to stop calling myself a mormon, and get used to the word LDS!

    October 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Reality

      Putting the final kibosh on religion to include Mormonism and therefore this blog. The moderators will now have to find a new job/Job.

      • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Business Cult I like that term it really defines the modern LDS agenda

      October 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Sircuts

      So you denounce Bringum Young? The man who had 55 wives?

      October 30, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Mr Chihuahua

      "After three days of darkness, Christ appeared to Mary, and to the other apostles and people. Then Christ told them there are other sheep not of this fold (old world) , and that he has to go to the other sheep (new world). Then he ascended up to the new world where there are other sheep living there. He established the priesthood in the Americas. That is where the gold plates turned up. The plates were translated into english."
      Lol you on da kine lol!

      October 31, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  6. Clay

    As a devout Christian it saddens me to see how people are willing define what others believe. As we read in the Bible, thou shall not judge one another. Our only judge is God and his son Jesus Christ. I would hope that anyone who professes to be a believer in Christ would respect one who professes his own faith in Christ and his teachings. It is obvious from many of the posts that many of these individuals know very little about Mormonism. I would recommend going to mormon.org to really learn what Mormons believe. As for Mitt Romney, his bid for president should be evaluated based on his credentials as a leader for this nation. It is one thing to not agree with his policy or views on the critical topics, its another to simply note vote for a candidate because of one's ignorance and views around Mitt Romney's personal belief in Jesus Christ.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  7. cgs

    All this mormaphobia is silly! All religions believe outrages things. So what!? Vote for the best candidate.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  8. Mike

    Well written, researched article Ms Ravitz. I'm always a little surprised by those who take the time to read an article like this, then write comments in such an immature and/or irrelevant manner. To each there own I guess.

    As for Romney – he does seem a little too polished, I does seem to have some political inconsistency . . . but can't you say the same about Ronald Reagan? Obama? Isn't that what we disliked about GW Bush?

    We always lament that we cannot get the nations best and brightest to run for political office . . . surely there are Americans more qualified than Obama, more intelligent than GW Bush. My feeling is that Romney may be THE MOST QUALIFIED presidential candidates we've ever had . . .

    What think you?

    October 30, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • K Robertson

      Some real insights to our possible future president. I am still uncertain, but not due to his religious preferences. Well written article.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  9. Mike-Bell

    Those that are maligning him for his faith and what he wears to remind him of his commitment to enduring principles, needs to reflect upon themselves a moment and consider:
    1. Jim Jones who? Talk about a evangelical having a cult following. But isn't that how most churches get their following; a charismatic leader that builds a following around him or her self.
    2. Carrying or wearing a reminder of ones commitment to enduring civil principles is nothing new. Wear a Cross or any other emblem of you faith? Do you wave it in the face of those not of your faith? Actually, I'm glad he keeps his emblems of faith private. Are his emblems of his faith magic? If you consider someone that does not violate their civil principles because they are reminded by the emblem magic; then yes, that is magic or a miracle.
    3. Are Mormons not Christian? By definition, anyone that professes Christ as their Lord, Savior, Redeemer, ... are Christian. For anyone to refute one's claim of being a Christian is an affront to their own claim.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Then why dont you just call yourselves Christians? Is it that whole Book Of Mormon Garbage that makes you Different?

      October 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Mike-Bell

      If you truly understood history; you would know that Mormon is the tag name that was given to them by antagonist such as yourself. So to accommodate your simpleton view; why not let it be simple for you? Surely you are not oblivious to the 'real' name of his church. 'The Church of "Jesus Christ" of Latter Day Saints'. Oh, and I do believe that the members of the early church in the Bible were referred to as Saints. And what do you refer to yourself as?

      October 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Mike

      Then why dont you just call yourselves Christians? Is it that whole Book Of Mormon Garbage that makes you Different?

      Hey Sircuts, I do call myself Christian . . . and I suppose the Book of Mormon does make me different in a way . . . hopefully a better Christian . . .

      October 30, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  10. DesignerFabric

    @Sircuts. Just curious, what happened to you in the past to hate Mormons? Clearly you got hurt, but I don't think you should blame ALL mormons for whatever experience(s) happened to you, I don't think that's fair. I'm truly sorry if you got hurt. But it's time to live and let live. Just a suggestion, I think it'd make you more happy. Wish you the best!

    October 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Sircuts

      I just read about their history and can't believe anyone would fall for that crap...In fact if you took away the Racism, Child Molestation, Treason, Blasphemy, Archeological Fiction...It was just be Christanity LOL

      October 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      So what is your religion then sircuts. I'm really curious about that?

      October 30, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      And have you ever been to Utah?

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

      Oh come on! I know you got it in you sircuts!

      October 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • DesignerFabric

      @Sircuts Clearly you are reading a one-sided version. Did you give the other side a fair chance? Many of these "histories" you claim to have read, I've read too. Most of them were fabricated by Joseph Smith's enemies. In actuality, if you look at real historical records kept in government records, Joseph Smith was accused of many things, but no evidence of any of them could be truly laid at his feet.

      The Mormons suffered horrible things at the hands of mobs in their early years. Men murdered, women ra-ped, children slaughtered before their parents eyes. I don't mean to be rude, but your slander and one-sided misinterpretations cheapen the sufferings that Mormon predecessors went through. At least be respectful enough to get real facts, and educate yourself properly. Not from backhanded internet sites, which is clearly where you are pulling your information.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      @DesignerFabric. Let's be fair here. There are 2 versions of LDS history. The LDS version and the non-LDS version. The LDS history is not all that innocent. But neither is any other religion.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  11. James

    What a great, fair, article. Well done.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • hipocrateshrugged

      Momorons believe that they are appointed by God to save this county. Damn..... Mitt Romney, his money and his political influence. This is a an man to be questioned like no other man running for the presidency. If you doubt me, I challenge you to investigate Mormon theology/

      October 30, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  12. Alisha Cannon

    For those of you scared to death of a Romney presidency should know more about this boogey man and his frightening beliefs. Like all Mormons, members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, Mitt is a disciple of Jesus Christ. He committed to follow Christ when he was baptized at 8 years of age. I am impressed with his family’s years of volunteer service, as a religious leader, missionary, $25,000 in tsunami relief, paying millions to build temples, chapels, feed those in need. Well done Mitt, you are a great example. You and Pat have raised a great family.

    Your Mormon neighbors should do their best to “be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” That is what Mitt has committed to, all Mormons have. I believe this in part is what makes him an excellent leader and very good person.

    If your Mormon neighbors don’t live this way, they have more to learn and need to change, but don’t we all? Mormon beliefs are no secret; all teachings, lessons, scripture are available free on the internet at lds.org and mormon.org. Their high standards will shock you! They are striving to be excellent neighbors, parents, friends, employees, people. Wish you the best, happy voting America!

    October 30, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Sircuts

      If that's nor prepared I don't know what is.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  13. Samsword

    I like how everyone disses on Mormons, but then when the world falls apart, everyone looks to them because they are reliable and selfless in their service. They give their resources and service, and ask nothing in return. In South East Asia, Mormons helped rebuild Mosques and Schools, but never once demanded proselytizing rights.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Thats another thing that Urks the hell out of me...Why do they make it a point to go to the farthest places in the world when we have people starving in our own country? Would save them traveling expense and make the country better as a whole if they helped the USA

      October 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Samsword

      They DO help people here. Regularly.

      Education Funds. Food and clothing donations. Assistance to jobless. Relief aid to Hurricanes, tornadoes, and what have you.

      Please do your homework, before you make uneducated remarks.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Samsword

      Oh yeah, and those "travelling expenses" come straight out members' personal pockets. Their two year missions are also paid mostly out of pocket. So.... yeah.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  14. Benjamin

    Mornomism has nothing to do with Christianity. They do not believe what Christians believe about Jesus. They are very deceptive in their talk about Jesus; never telling you the truth about what they believe.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Jesus gets you in the door ...only those that are "Temple Worthy" learn Lucifer freed them in the garden of eden while they watch guys like Mitt in their Bring'em Youngderooze

      October 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Mike

      For example they believe Jesus visited America, see the book of Mormon "3 Nephi 11: 7-12". I don't think any other Christian faith believes Jesus stopped by the good old US of A to say hello. That is simply insane!

      October 30, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Samsword

      They don't believe in the Nicene creed if that's what you're talking about... but then again, neither did Christ. Read the bible.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  15. Phil

    I would never vote for a mormon. I think their views are very skewed.

    I would vote for an atheist though.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Samsword

      I guess it depends on who you ask... A lot of people think Atheists views are skewed too...

      October 30, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • David

      Maybe you are prejudice. Just a thought. Last paragraph – must read....


      October 30, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Alisha Cannon

      Mormons share what they believe and ask YOU to pray to know for YOURSELF what to believe and how to live. Is that the kind of skewed that turns you off?

      Mormons believe "in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” I can live with those beliefs.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  16. Sircuts

    Just for the fact that everything is so Hush Hush about these cultists, public apologies, and the huge effort spent trying to make them seem normal tell me there is a lot of influence here and it does scare me.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      Yea it's too bad nobody will spend any money on you to make you seem normal...Life just isn't fair I tell ya.....LOL

      October 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Sircuts

      You're from Utah? Isn't that the state we had to take back from Bringum Young?

      October 30, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Sircuts

      LOL he said Bring'em Young....that he did what a child molester he was

      October 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      lol...You haven't got nothing back from Brigham Young. His followers still own the whole lot.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Yes but we made him step down as Governor or he was going to face charges of Treason thats how bad of a man he was.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      "Bring'em Young". Yea that's a good one. A Rodney Dangerfield classic..Keep it original please.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      Yea I read all the history. I mean I have lived here my whole life after all. And removing Young from governor did nothing. All the governors that were over the Utah Territory were nothing but show. Young had complete power the whole time.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Sircuts

      Wow Rodney was a Mormon Basher too? I feel honored!

      October 30, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Alisha Cannon

      so many secrets in the Mormon church, seems 50,000 missionaries is not enough and several websites dedicated to sharing them secrets, quiet please....I'm reading them

      October 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  17. Rocky

    I will never vote for anyone who is a member of a heretical cult. We need a Mormon in the Oval Office like we need George Bush back in office. Miit is a nice guy, but I will never vote for him.....ever.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Sircuts

      I like when they break out those snakes and start cheering and dancin...oh wait thats the other guys these Mormons suck!

      October 30, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Sircuts

      If you wore mormon underooze AND danced with big rattle snakes now that would be cool....wait I think Im on to something I smell a hit here!

      October 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Bill

      So Rocky, are you OK with the clown currently squatting in the Oval Office that worships the monkey-god?

      October 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  18. Bayousara

    Going from Episcopalian to Mormon is quite a leap over church doctrine and dogma. I could not do it, even for love. I know for a fact that Mormon women are not treated equally. I also wonder if Mormons take care of their own, what about the rest of us?

    October 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Dennis

      It seems to me it's an ever-increasing leap between Anglican and Episcopalian, too.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Sircuts

      So you like the red or the purple Kool Aide?

      October 30, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Alisha Cannon

      she may have prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is really a book of scripture a record written by ancient Prophets just like the Bible was. If she got an answer to that prayer and others she could believe in Jesus Christ, His atonement, His resurrection, His call to share what you know about His gospel, to serve, feed, support others regardless of their beliefs. With that knowledge and an answer to prayer, you can cross any divide, make any choice necessary

      October 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Susan

      Mormon women not treated fairly!? I call you out on that one. Interesting comment. If there is unfair treatment of women in the LDS church, it is by individuals who alone are not living the standards they promised to keep at baptism. You cannot discount a church by its unfaithful membership. If so every religion would be worthy of condemnation.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Tyson

      Obviously oblivious to the fact that the Relief Society is one of the "oldest and largest women's organizations in the world"
      Also that Utah was the second territory in the Nation to allow women to vote.
      Or maybe you just want to push propaganda and not actually facts?
      Well I have given reference and you have given none so hopefully people will know the truth.

      November 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  19. RichardSRussell

    Is Mitt Romney crazy to believe in Mormonism?
    Sure is. But so is EVERY candidate for president, because they all believe in the invisible sugar daddy in the sky.
    So, since religion doesn't serve as a basis for distinguishing among them, why not look at the things that actually matter for the good of the country?

    October 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Jeff from Utah

      Sounds logical....But there's none of that here at the moment...lol

      October 30, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  20. hippypoet

    who cares about his fuking journey thru faith when he is a polit!tion which by defintion works for the state or country and by those country's laws there is a separation between church and state! are people so simple they crave the misguided beliefs of others to feel better about themselves or are we triing to understand the lunacy of our citizens to believe something as pathic as a 3000 year old IDEA in order to act properly when voting in those who will run this country for the next 4 years a.k.a. voting in one who using rational thinking and logic to make choices! i am hoping for the latter! yet if i am to judge on past choices made by my fellow citizens, well then, i am left depressed with the knowledge of our enablity to make a rational choice concerning the governmentship of this country! so sad!!

    October 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Kareny

      It matters because what he did as a young person on mission in his faith says a lot about the type of person he was & could still be even though that was years ago.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:39 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.