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. WillieLove

    19. If Jesus was conceived as a result of a physical union between God and Mary, how was Jesus born of a virgin? (Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, pg. 50 and Doctrines of Salvation, by Joseph Fielding Smith, compiled by Bruce R. McConkie, Vol. 1, pg. 18).

    20. If Mormonism is the restored gospel, why is there no mention of temple marriages in the Bible?

    21. If the Bible is not entirely translated correctly and if the Mormon church really has a prophet, seer and revelator, why have they not produced a correct translation of the Bible?

    22. Why did Christ not return in 1891 as Joseph Smith predicted? (History of the Church, Vol. 2, pg. 182).

    23. If Jesus was being married to Mary and Martha in Cana, why was He invited to His own wedding? (John 2:1, 2; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, pg. 210).

    March 7, 2012 at 2:38 am |
  2. WillieLove

    16. One law of reproduction is that everything reproduces after its kind. How is it then that God and His wives, who according to Mormon teaching, have physical glorified bodies, produce children without physical bodies? (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22; Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie, pg. 750).

    17. A major emphasis of Mormonism is that the Mormon church is the restored church, with everything practiced as it was in the early church. Why then have the Mormon leaders failed to restore the scriptural practice of using the "fruit of the vine" in the "sacrament" service? Why is water used? (Matthew 26:28, 29 and Doc. and Cov. 89:5, 6).

    18. If Mormonism is the restored church which is based upon the Bible, why are Mormon leaders so quick to state that the Bible is "translated wrong" when faced with some conflict between the Bible and Mormonism?

    March 7, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  3. WillieLove

    12. Joseph Smith stated that without the ordinances and authority of the priesthood no man can see the face of God and live (Doctrine and Covenants 84:21, 22). He also said that he saw God in 1820 (Joseph Smith 2:17). Joseph Smith, however, never received any priesthood until 1829 (Doc. & Cov. 13). How did he see God and survive? In which was he in error: his revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 84:21, 22 or his experience in the grove?

    13. If a spirit is a being without a body (See Luke 24:39), why do Mormons teach that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones? (See John 4:24 and Doc. & Cov. 130:22).

    14. If the Father is Elohim and Jesus is Jehovah (as Mormons teach), how does a Mormon explain Deuteronomy 6:4, which in the Hebrew says, "Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah"? Also, if the designation LORD God (Jehovah Elohim) is a reference to two individuals, why are singular pronouns used in Deuteronomy 6:13?

    15. If the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel, why doesn't it teach that God was once a man?

    March 7, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  4. WillieLove

    8. If God the Father was once a man, why is that doctrine not supported by "Latter-day revelation"?

    9. How can any men ever become Gods when the Bible says, "Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me"? (See Isaiah 43:10).

    10. Since Mormonism teaches that only God the Father had a physical body at the time Adam was created, why did God say, "Let us make man in OUR image"? Why didn't H say, "Let us make man in MY image"? (See Genesis 1:26).

    11. If Adam is the "only God with whom we have to do", did Adam create himself? (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pg. 50, 51).

    March 7, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  5. WillieLove

    4. If the Book of Mormon really contains the fullness of the gospel, why does it not teach the doctrine of "eternal progression"? (See Doctrine and Covenants 20:8, 9).

    5. When God was a man (according to Mormon theology), where did He live before He could create a planet upon which to live?

    6. When God number one was a man (before He became God), who created a planet upon which he (man number one) could live? (See Revelation 1:8; 4:11).

    7. God said, "Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any." How can there be Gods who are Elohim's ancestors? (See Isaiah 44:8 and Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pg. 123).

    March 7, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  6. WillieLove

    1. If the principle of "Progression" is unalterable, why has the principle broken down two out of three times right within the Godhead? (See the next two questions).

    2. If Gods are individuals who have passed through mortality and have progressed to Godhood, how has one person of the Godhead (the Holy Spirit) attained Godhood without getting a body? (See Acts 5:3,4).

    3. If Gods are individuals who have passed through an earth life to attain Godhood, how is it that one person of the Godhead (Jesus Christ) was God before He received a body or passed through earth life? (Matthew 1:23 and Hebrews 10:5).

    March 7, 2012 at 2:30 am |
  7. WillieLove

    Deity of Jesus Christ Denied

    The Deity of Jesus Christ is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, yet the Mormons deny this truth. Exalting man to "god status" is apparently alright, but Jesus Christ is not acknowledged as the eternal Son of God in the Mormon church. The Mormon Jesus was a preexisting spirit who was exalted, just as Mormon followers hope to be exalted someday.

    God is a Trinity (I Jn. 5:7), and the second Member of that Trinity is the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1:1 says that "the Word was God," and John 1:14 tells us that "the Word was made flesh." Jesus Christ is the Word incarnate, and John 1:1 tells us that the Word was God; so Jesus Christ is God.

    Jesus allowed Thomas to address Him as "My Lord and my God" in John 20:28. In Isaiah 9:6, He is called "The mighty God" and "The everlasting Father," and we read in Micah 5:2 that Jesus is "from everlasting."

    Our Lord allowed people to worship him in John 10:38 and in Matthew 14:33, and since He is "God with us" (Mat. 1:23) He also has power to forgive sins (Mk. 2:5). Jesus Christ is clearly Deity, yet this doctrine is denied by the Mormons.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  8. WillieLove

    Multiple Authorities

    The Bible declares, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20) However, the Mormon Church claims that other writings, such as the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's writings are also authoritative. In fact, Joseph Smith taught his people to doubt the accuracy of the Bible: "...it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 10)

    March 7, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  9. WillieLove

    Mormon Writings Support Polygamy

    "...if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery...And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery." (Doctrines and Covenants, 132:61, 62)

    Jesus Christ held a slightly different view (Mark 10:6- 9). There is no way a man can be "one flesh" with more than one woman. A man and his wife are supposed to picture Christ and his church (Eph. 5:23-32), but this symbolism is shattered by the Mormon heresy of Polygamy.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  10. mickey

    GOD: God is the Creator of the universe in all its dimensions and the source of Knowledge in all sentient beings.
    God has sent a New Revelation, a Teaching and a Pathway to rekindle humanity’s relationship with the Creator as we face living in a declining world. The New Message comes with the Will and Power of God to unite the world’s religions, to end our ceaseless conflicts and to call forth the greater gifts that each person has brought into the world. The New Message is the largest Revelation of its kind ever to be given to humanity.
    We stand at the threshold of Great Waves of environmental, economic and political upheaval and change which will alter the face of Earth. Humanity must unite to prevent collapse from within and subjugation from without.
    Each of us has been sent into the world for a greater purpose, waiting to be discovered. This greater purpose resides beyond the realm and the reach of the intellect, in Knowledge that lives deep within us.
    KNOWLEDGE: Knowledge is the core reality within us, a deeper mind beyond the intellect, and is our direct connection to God. Knowledge represents the part of us that has never left God. Instinct and Intuition are at the surface of Inner Knowledge.
    We live in a Greater Community of intelligent life in the universe for which humanity must prepare.
    We live in both a mental and physical environment. The mental environment contains forces that affect our thinking and emotions and that can dominate us until we become strong with Knowledge.


    February 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • jimtanker

      These are all assertions for which you have NO evidence of.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • WillieLove

      The Mormon-Masonic Connection
      by Peter Farley

      March 7, 2012 at 2:47 am |
  11. Sylvester

    I missed the part in the article that shows anything wrong Mitt Romney did, which the reporter would be more than happy to report about since that's what they live for; Oh, he advised the woman to forgive her ex husband even though he never apologized? hello? didn't Jesus teach us that we should forgive our enemies in his main speech which is the sermon of the mountain?if this woman kept hating her ex, wouldn't this hate jeopardize her salvation as well? oh, he told a woman she didn't have to abort, contrary to what the Doctor told her... did she or her child die? The reporter failed us here because after all this digging she could easily find what was the outcome or, did she omit it on purpose? I've been an African American "Mormon" for 22 years and if the Church was any more racist than average society i would know by now, people that know history know that the main excuse to ex pulse the Mormons from Illinois and Ohio into the west was because they held slaves among them as regular people. Which religion should a candidate belong to in order to become President? oh, he should be an atheist? I happen to disagree with Mitt Romney in many issues and most likely will not vote for him but can we please let his religion in peace? Let's wise up people: The decisions of a President are regulated by law, even though he has some discretion the country would not allow anyone to go way beyond his limits, for that we have impeachments. Thaks

    January 21, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  12. Iqbal Khan


    January 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  13. Therese

    A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.

    I think this is a pretty reasonable position in a pluralistic society.

    January 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  14. Solomon

    Governor Romney's views on religion and morality do matter. Would we elect a follower of Warren Jeffs? Most likely not. Romney is a follower of Joseph Smith, an exceptionally flawed man who was at least as bad as Jeffs (in fact Jeff's inspiration). Joseph Smith illegally "married" at least 30 women, several of whom were teenagers and others who were already married to other followers (in today's courts he would have gone to jail just as Jeffs has for "marrying" girls). At the time he lied to the world, in the name of God, that he only had one wife. Also in the name of God, he commanded his first wife to accept his polygamous relationships or she would go to hell (D&C 132). As a former official in the LDS Church, Romney is a devoted and committed follower of Joseph Smith. Unless he is willing to disavow Joseph Smith, he should not be president—just as we expected President Obama to disavow Reverend Wright for much less. If President Obama was held accountable for Reverend Wright, why is Romney not held accountability for his commitment to an immorally compromised, dishonest and racist cult leader like Joseph Smith? If Senator Bird was pressed on his early involvement with KKK leaders, why is Romney not pressed on his ongoing dedication to extreme racists like Brigham Young, who he accepts as a true prophet of God?

    January 8, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Thingsastheyreallyareandastheyreallywillbe

      yeah and from now on all catholics who become president should denounce their murderous popes because that would make them less acountable for their actions and make them a good president. men are punished for their own sins and not for addams transgression

      January 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  15. khm

    My compliments to the author. This article is unusually accurate about the beliefs of the LDS people. I am also a life long Mormon, having served as a missionary just like many, many other LDS men and women. I can tell you that Mitt, like the rest of us, is not perfect but he is a man of great integrity who understands and respects the separation between church and state. Although I like Mr. Romney as a presidential candidate, I am quite skeptical about how much change a president can actually effect. My great hope is that his ability to get dysfunctional organizations back on their feet will help heal this nation.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • Paul

      So why did Jesus say we should be "no part of this world"? If "the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." 1 John 5:19, which government does Satan not control?
      In a book called "On the Road to Civilisation, A World History" (Philadelphia 1937) it said, "Early Christianity was little understood and was regarded with little favour by those who ruled the pagan world.......Christians refused to share certain duties of Roman Citizens......they would not hold political office."
      If was good enough for the first century Christians to keep away from politics, why are you doing what they dared not?

      February 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  16. Lopez


    January 8, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • government spy

      Are you a troll or are you serious?

      Christian nation? You kidding me? That's why the "Christians" are supporting legislation to reduce taxes on rich, and eliminate social programs that help the poor.

      This about this: if your Christ were to vote in an election, would He vote Republican? I'm not saying he'd vote Democrat either, but do you think He'd support a Newt, a Mitt, a Ron, a Rick, or the other Rick? You think Jesus would stand with the rich while they take benefits away from the poor, all the while moaning about what parasites the poor are, and that the rich pay too much as it is?

      That's your Jesus, buddy. Think about what it means to be "Christ-like" before you open your mouth about this "Christian nation."

      January 8, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Paul

      The USA is no more Christian than any other government. In fact the Bible says that Satan controls governments of today. Try reading the Bible. For example James 4:4 or 1 John 5:19.
      Jesus said "They (Real Christians) are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world."
      True Christians are preaching about Christ's Kingdom and supporting it not the politics of today. In fact God's Kingdom we pray for in the Lords prayer, according to Daniel 2:44 will "crush" all other governments in the near future.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  17. government spy

    Normally I think someone's religion should not have much bearing on their political appointments.

    But it's glaringly obvious that Mormonism is completely false. You might as well be voting for a Scientologist. It's not the religion that's the problem, it's one of two things: Either you are easily duped, and will fall for anything, including a shyster's made up hokey pseudo-Christian religion, or you know it's a complete falsehood and claim to be a follower anyway, just for personal gains.

    Either way, Mormonism isn't the main reason why voting for Mitt is a bad idea. It's a bad idea because Romney is two-faced. On the podium, he has a complete lack of personality. He believes whatever his campaign manager tells him will receive the best chance of getting elected. Pro Choice in Mass., but Pro-Life while running for President; for health care mandate in Mass. but not for the USA, flip-flop, fli-flop. He's about as blandly two-faced as you can be, while remaining completely without any passion or life in his campaign. It's as if a cardboard cut-out is running for office. You can just attach whatever word bubble you want.

    January 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Bobby

      You sir are the worst of any who profess to follow Christ! You are a religious bigot not worthy of Christ's redeeming grace. You judge others without investigating for yourself. You trust others who tell you a story and blindly you regurgitate the filth spread by another! You are no different the the Pharisees Christ warned us about!

      January 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • government spy

      Except I'm not a Christian. Nowhere in what I posted makes any claim to being Christian. In fact, what I said could pertain to all organized religions, now that you've gotten antagonistic.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Paul

      To Government Spy,
      I am a Christian and what you say is quite true. True Religion, the religion of God's Word does not teach that Governments of today are Christian, but instead aligns them with God's adversary Satan.
      Christ's true followers have no part in politics as it is currupt as Satan it's ruler.
      Christ's true followers show love for their brother and would be involved in preaching about his Kingdom not Satans.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  18. Douglas4517

    Where was the equivalent story on Barack Obama's past? I don't recall ever reading anything about his youth, his college years, in depth stories on his family, or about his friends, his accomplishments in his twenties, how he came to settle in Chicago, his community organizing days, and so on.

    January 6, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • VT

      Actually, people tried to find out about obama.... but most of it was (and still is) hidden by the 2012 candidate. Obama is the same guy who spent over $800 K in the last elections just to keep his birth certificate hidden. There's your answer.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  19. devilish

    His religion should not have a baring on anything unless he uses his religious conviction to govern as president. We have seen that with son Bush, and what that got us into.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  20. eyesopened

    What do you think about we as the free people of the USA? are we enjoying the life we were handed down to us? do we have it worse now then say 40years ago and why? is there a so call president that will be able to fix or even come near to bringing this issue on how we as people are into creating not only debt for ourselfs but debt for others? and last but not least has our political system or our boys and girls in Washington gone soft by way of holding to the 1st amendment? even Jesus agreed that alcohol, politics, and religion do not mix.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Paul

      You are absolutely correct and what is more Jesus' Kingdom will destroy the political powers of today in the near future. True Christians have no part in supporting Jesus' rival Satan and his political powers, but preach God's Kingdom and to love their brothers.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:40 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.