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January 13th, 2012
10:59 AM ET

GOP poised to make history with non-Protestant presidential nominee

By Josh Levs, CNN

(CNN) - The race for the Republican presidential nomination is on track to break new ground: For the first time in modern political history - some say ever - the GOP nominee could be someone who is not a Protestant Christian.

Front-runner Mitt Romney is Mormon, as is Jon Huntsman. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are Catholics.

The only two Protestants in the race are Rick Perry and Ron Paul. Paul had strong finishes in the nominating contests so far but most political experts and Republican establishment figures say he is not favored to win the nomination ultimately. Perry has finished near the end of the pack so far but is hoping for a strong finish in the next-in-line South Carolina primary.

Neither major party has ever had a Mormon nominee. John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, was the only Catholic president.

Democrats have also nominated John Kerry, a Catholic, and Michael Dukakis, who is Greek Orthodox, but the overwhelming majority of Democratic presidential nominees have been Protestant.

Experts who follow the intersection of religion and politics say this year’s crop of Republican candidates reflects the changing electorate, the lasting significance of a Supreme Court decision, and shifting forces within American Christianity.

“Catholicism has been almost fully absorbed into the American mainstream,” says William Galston, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution.

While Kennedy faced questions from some voters over whether he would take orders from the pope, that kind of skepticism is virtually unheard of today, Galston says.

“The more interesting question is Mormonism. Because in many Protestants’ eyes, Mormons today stand roughly where Catholics did 60 years ago. They are suspect.”

But Romney, with his “unblemished personal life,” is in a unique position to help guide Mormonism into the mainstream of American politics, Galston says.

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley says Americans have achieved enough comfort with Mormonism to make room for a possible Romney presidency.

“Are we ready for a Mormon president? I think the answer is yes,” Brinkley says.

The Mormon population is growing quickly, and more and more people have Mormon friends, he says. “It’s no longer a fringe group growing up. It’s a powerful and important religion.”

Mormons have been recruiting Southern Baptists and Methodists to join their fold, making inroads in communities across the country and raising money, Brinkley says. “The Mormon Church is booming when some of the other denominations are struggling for cash and converts.”

Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College, says most American voters are “prepared to think about people who are not Protestant to be president.”

The GOP field of candidates this year is “mostly happenstance” – the contenders did not rise to the front of the pack because of their religions, Silk says. But the fact that their faiths don’t seem to be hampering their chances shows “real growth in the acceptance of religious pluralism since World War II.”

There’s also a broad political force helping bond voters across different denominations.

“In the past generation, denominational differences or religious differences have become less important than the split between modernism and traditionalism within each religion,” says Galston.

“So at this point, traditional Mormons, evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics have more in common with one another politically than they do with the more liberal elements within their respective churches.”

That break has been furthered as the issues that guide many voters’ decisions have changed over the past few decades.

“One of the big things that’s happened since the 1970s is that a lot of cultural issues have moved from the private realm to the public stage,” Galston says. “That’s happened whether it’s been abortion or gay marriage or the treatment of private schools by the IRS.”

It’s happened “much more explicitly on the conservative side than it has on the more liberal side,” Galston says.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which said women have a constitutional right to an abortion, was a turning point.

Before that ruling, Catholics were a solid, reliable Democratic voting block, “one of the most powerful constituencies in the Democratic party,” says Brinkley.

The Vatican opposes abortion rights. And as the Democratic Party became largely supportive of the Supreme Court’s decision, the Republican Party won over Catholics who disagreed with it.

“It turned a lot of Catholic groups from Democratic to Republican,” Brinkley says. “It flipped them.”

People within each denomination who support abortion rights and take liberal stances on numerous issues, meanwhile, have formed similar bonds on the Democratic side, with religious denominations themselves playing little role, the analysts said.

About half the U.S. population is Protestant. The American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College, published in 2009, found Protestants are 51% of the U.S. population, while Catholics are 25%. Mormons are at 1.4%, just behind Jews at 1.8%. Muslims comprise 0.3% of the population.

While a Mormon or Catholic nominee would be a first for the GOP, there’s some disagreement over whether he would be the first “non-Protestant” ever, or just the first in generations.

A December article for rollcall.com said “Gingrich’s nomination would make him the first non-Protestant to be nominated for president by the GOP.” A 2000 Slate article headlined “The Protestant Presidency” said Kennedy was the only non-Protestant “ever elected president.”

But Silk noted that it isn’t clear exactly how to characterize Abraham Lincoln’s religious affiliation.

The first Republican president “didn’t belong to any church, wouldn’t have described himself as a Protestant,” Silk said. At the same time, Lincoln expressed a deep belief in a God who is active in history.

Adherents.com keeps a list of the presidents’ religions. Four presidents were Unitarians, a movement that grew our of Protestant Christianity. Two presidents were Quakers, a group that is connected to Protestantism.

While the analysts CNN spoke to agree that the GOP field this year reflects the country’s religious pluralism, it remains centered only on Christian denominations, setting aside the question of whether Mormonism fits a traditional definition of Christian.

Just how much of a chance a candidate of another religion would have at the presidency is another question.

Some believe that Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000 who ran for the party’s nomination in 2004, was not hampered by being Jewish. “I don’t think that the classic triad Catholic-Protestant-Jew makes a difference at all,” said Galston. “Joe Lieberman’s candidacy foundered, but not because he was Jewish.”

But there has never been a Jewish presidential nominee. And just how a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or member of any other religion would fare is another question.

For some voters, the denominations of the candidates continue to be a relevant factor, the analysts said. Last May, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that about one-third of white evangelical Protestants would be less likely to vote for a Mormon.

In Iowa, CNN entrance polls show that born-again or evangelical Christians supported Santorum, a Catholic, well over Romney.

In New Hampshire, CNN exit polls from the Republican primary show that Catholics and Protestants both chose Romney over the competition. More Catholics – like voters in general - supported the two Mormon candidates, Romney and Huntsman, than the two Catholic candidates, Gingrich and Santorum.

Paul, for his part, came in second in New Hampshire, and placed second among Protestants and tied with Huntsman for second among Catholics.

Analysts agree that a candidate who does not believe in God would be quickly rejected by voters nationwide – even if he or she was raised Christian.

“Whether anyone would accept a professed out of the closet atheist, no,” said Galston. “You’d probably have a better chance as a former member of the Taliban.”

Weigh in on this story at Facebook or Twitter.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Politics

soundoff (951 Responses)
  1. Terry

    Sorry, this is not that big of a deal. Now, tell me that the GOP is going to nominate the first Member of the 99% Club, and not a Member of the 1% Club, and I will say WOW!

    January 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • sam

      Heretic! Someone who's not rich might actually understand the value of things, and care about how they impact others! Are you crazy??

      January 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Black

      The 99%? Or is it really only the 36%?
      Do they speak for all 99% of the country? No.

      "Thirty-six percent say they agree with the overall positions of Occupy Wall Street, while 19% say they disagree."
      (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/03/more-americans-supporting-occupy-wall-street/)

      January 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  2. get real

    Mormons are members of a bizarre science-fiction-like cult. They are not legitimate Christians, and they do not belong to any legitimate church. They are basically on par with Scientologists and Moonies.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • dionysus

      Most religions and sects starts off being outcasts and then they gain legitimacy. There was a time when it was considered crazy to be a Christian.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Scott

      who put you in charge of deciding who was christian? it would seen that if i profess christ as my savior and live my life according to his teachings, that make me a christian or do I have to join some fraternity to be able to claim such. does it have to be your fraternity? your hyprocrisy is so loud it hurts my ears.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Black

      If Christians are judged by their ability to truly follow Christ, then no one is Christian.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  3. O.T.

    This is just religious bigotry dressed up to look presentable. CNN is obviously pro-Obama and is going to take every opportunity between now and the election to remind voters that Romney is a Mormon.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • lroy

      Watch the spelling, people. Someone's going to type "moron" for mormon. Let's type LDS so there will be no confusion.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Josh

      Or maybe, "GOP poised to make history with non-Protestant presidential nominee" is news because it's true, never occurred before and therefore worth reporting? I think you're seeing what you want to see, not what's actually there. If Fox was around when Kennedy was running, I'm sure they would have said the same thing about his religion. As much as a shame as Fox is, it also would have been an appropriate story to run. Take of the politically tinted lenses. You might be tainting more knowledge than you're aware of...

      January 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Bob

      CNN forgot to mention our current Moslem President.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Black

      CNN forgot to mention that Bob is an idiot.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  4. Karl

    'Protestant' is a term used to refer to any christian denomination that is not under the church or Rome or the eastern Orthodox church. Within that definition Mormons qualify as protestants. They may not be widely like by other protestant groups in the U.S. but that doesn't change their classification. Of course there are people that claim they are cults but not even the U.S. government agrees with that classification.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Brian

      "Protestant" refers to churches that "protested" and broke away from the Catholic church. The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS claims to not have broken off from any contemporary church so it is therefore not part of Protestant Christianity. It would be better classified as Restorationist Christianity.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Robert

      That definition doesn't make sense when one considers that not every protestant sect was in existence when the Martin Luther broke out his hammer.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  5. billy

    Ron Paul is at #2 and is Christian. Did you forget him?

    January 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Sam

      Did you read the article? He is mentioned.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  6. dionysus

    "Analysts agree that a candidate who does not believe in God would be quickly rejected by voters nationwide – even if he or she was raised Christian.

    “Whether anyone would accept a professed out of the closet atheist, no,” said Galston. “You’d probably have a better chance as a former member of the Taliban.”"

    That belief in God is more important than the character and policies of the person running shows that we have a long way to go as far as maturity and tolerance goes. How can we deny someone, possibly a great person, the ability to serve our country based on whether or not they believe in the Abrahamic God? And then they have the gall to turn around and claim that THEY'RE being persecuted!

    January 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Robert

      Exactly! The day will come when our civilazation looks back on current religion as just another mythological system like Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian. It's no more rational, just newer.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  7. Trent

    The article is correct. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly nicknamed the Mormon Church, is not protestant. It is Jesus' church that He organized while on earth with Twelve Apostles and priesthood authority restored in these latter-days.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • get real

      The Mormons are a cult, they are not part of any legitimate church.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Lee

      Mitt Romney, a bishop, is descendant for one of those apostles. The Garden of Eden was in Michigan, by the way... And Jesus had at least 3 wives... Cool stuff!

      January 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Scott

      Get Real is not a legitimate human and should join a cult!!

      January 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Black

      @get real,
      "The Mormons are a cult, they are not part of any legitimate church."
      Careful, legitmacy based cult status, could be dangerous for all "churches".

      January 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I guess you guys forgot about Al Smith who ran as Democrat against Hoover in 1928. There have been a number of non-Protestant candidates for Vice-President. Also, William Miller was the first non-Protestant to be nominated for VP by the Republicans in 1964, Ed Muskie – VP candidate D '68, Sargent Shriver – VP Candidate D '72, Geraldine Ferraro – VP Candidate D '84,

    January 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  9. P.G

    .....and the first presidental candidate with magic underpants. Oh wait, maybe that was Clinton.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      If you're going in that direction, the correct answer is obviously JFK.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Sean

      And a good thing too, if I was president during the cuban missle crisis, I'd need some pretty darn special underwear

      January 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Black

      @Chuckles,
      Preferably lead?

      January 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  10. Sheila

    I know you people all want to believe that a Mormon is about to be President... but I have news for you. NO WAY that will ever happen. The nominee will absolutely be Newt Gingrich. Mitt will not get past Florida. The conservative base HATES Mitt Romney, and they have the final word on the choice of nominee.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Brian

      Yeah right! Romney is way ahead of Gingrich in the polls in Florida (which thus far have done well at predicting the winners), and pundits are currently attacking Gingrich's war on free enterprise. Gingrich is on his way out.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Black

      Good luck with that.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Realist

      Lol Newt. Lol We are trying to get rid of corruption not bring more in. Ron Paul is incorruptable!

      January 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • J.W

      I don't think that there will be a Mormon president. I think the president will be the same person who is already president.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Robert

      Sorry Sheila but while the Christian Taliban is loud, they're still thankfuly out number by sane Floridians.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Rich

      It really doesn't matter who the nominee is, as long as it's not Dr. Paul... Obama will win. If it's Dr. Paul, then the republicans might have a fighting chance.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  11. Carl

    I'll actually care when a non-christian gets the nomination of either party. Better yet, when this country finally gets out of the dark ages and allows an atheist into high political office maybe we'll start making some real progress.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • sam

      I'll bet there are plenty of atheists in office now, but they know better than to say so. They just nod and smile and talk about God when asked, because they know they'll get tarred and feathered by the whackjobs if they don't.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • lroy

      An atheist could never be president because that person by reason of the very definition would be unable to take the oath with the hand on the Bible. I'd rather have a pro-life Democrat (if there is such a creature), than a pro-choice or pro-abortion Republican. If Palin or Bachmann were in the race, this wouldn't be an issue because either gal would've won. I think there were a couple of Quakers in the presidential bin a long time ago(?).

      January 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Scott

      Pretty sure Nixon was a quaker and Thomas Jefferson was a diest! Ahh, the good old days.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • HellBent

      'An atheist could never be president because that person by reason of the very definition would be unable to take the oath with the hand on the Bible.'

      There's nothing stating than the oath (or any oath) must be taken on a bible. For an atheist, either Jefferson's bible or the Consti.tution should prove more than sufficient.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  12. Lee

    "banned mormon cartoon" youTube search gets you a lot of info as to basic precepts so you can decide for yourself if it's just another denomination or something totally different with Jesus having 3 polygamous wives.

    Fascinating stuff.

    Romney is a bishop descending from an original Mormon apostle so his rank is very high. Who you descend from is a major factor for mormons.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • TownC

      Or you could go to Mormon.org or talk to local Mormon missionaries.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Black

      'Sure, I use youtube for all my serious religious research.' ~Lee

      January 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Revan

      I'd recommend talking to both mormons and ex-mormons. You'll get two sides of the story, but they're both capable of answering any questions you might have.

      Asking someone who has absolutely no direct knowledge of the subject really won't help. I wouldn't ask my lawyer a medical question, as it were.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • John

      "Romney is a bishop descending from an original Mormon apostle so his rank is very high."

      He was also a stake president, which is even "higher". In any case, there isn't "rank" in Mormonism. There is a hierarchy of leadership but people are called to serve in a leadership position for a few years and then released. Only a few people have lifetime callings. So no, Romney's "rank" in the LDS church is not very high.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • lroy

      I've actually seen that. Did you check out the one about Jehovah Witnesses belief too? Yeah, but they won't vote because they do not believe in the US government.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  13. james

    Whats the big deal? We've had our first Muslim President....

    January 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • J.W

      idiot

      January 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • palintwit

      Don't look now Jethro, but someone is trying to hotwire your tractor.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Black

      What the big deal? james never got past the 3rd grade...

      January 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Carl

      Obama isn't Muslim, but so what if he was? Has our country's domination by Christian politicians really been so great?

      January 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Will

      At least Muslims are opposed to barnyard bestiality and fornication with sisters and other immediate family, which is more than I can say about evangelical Southerners

      January 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      It's comments like this that make me think that atheists WOULD have a better chance than a former Taliban. So, if Mullah Omar ever decides to run for Senate, I may have to reconsider my refusal to enter the political arena.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Josh

      Man, you really are stupid james. It's no wonder our country is quickly slipping from it's place of dominance in the world. We keep producing people possessing a 72 point IQ. PS Your sister said she's lonely.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Rich

      Stupid! And anyway, I have more respect for that religion, as it is a real religion that has real history.. Mormanism is a cult and the reason it spreads so quickly is because they tell them to breed as much as possible, and brainwash the kids so they have more members. Because they know the only people they convert are probably simple minded or easily led people.. That's one good thing I can say about them.. they look farther than a few years down the road.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  14. Kat

    I think there is something seriously wrong in this country where we focus so heavily on the president's religion. The separation of church and state should mean that it doesn't matter whether the president is protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Atheist, Muslim, whatever–the government does not and can not privilege one religion over another. That includes Christianity!!! Why are we as a nation so hung up on whether or not a candidate prays to Jesus if it DOESN'T MATTER?

    January 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • HellBent

      Because that's how the candidates want it. If we're squabbling over what their beliefs are, we won't noticed their lack of substantive policy on major issues.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Hellbent pretty much nailed it. It's smoke and mirrors.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Josh

      @HellBent- Well said. @original poster, also a good point.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  15. Moron

    Fact Earth was not created in 7 days! Fact the Universe is older then 10,000 years ago...Do I need to go on psychos?

    January 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • John

      You'll find that most Mormons would agree with you. In fact, "Mormon" scripture clarifies that the earth was not created in 7 days.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • lroy

      Well it the earth was created in seven days, but since God is outside of time, one day could be thousands of years. It's symbolic. I mean do people really believe the forbidden fruit was an apple (which was probably a fig)? And yeah, the earth is something like 4.5 billion years. Otherwise how can you explain fossils and dinos who lived millions of years ago.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  16. mirrorlogic

    Religion has been and always will be a tool used to motivate masses; most have all heard the opium of the masses quote - and just because it came from someone whose political views are contrarian to ours, doesn't make that statement less true.
    The real question is will we continue to at least strive for separation of Church and State or go down the slippery slope that leads ever closer to a Theocracy - which never had ended well in the entire history of mankind.

    January 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  17. Bill C

    This is only a story because CNN wants it to be a story. I know evangelical Christians are not crazy about a Mormon being the nominee but most of us are voting for him anyway. This schism that CNN is trying to paint is a myth, created by them to ensure Obama gets elected. Most of us just don't care.

    January 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • realitybites

      Because you'd vote for a Republican no matter who he or she is? What if the Republican was an athiest, or agnostic, didn't share your narrowly defined view of the world, and supported abortion rights. You know Romney tells you now he's against abortion just so you'll vote for him don't you? Ladies and gentlemen, a lot of Evangelicals, et al vote primarily Republican for one reason and one only. Repealing Roe V. Wade. They are are scared that if Obama lasts another term, they might end up getting a supreme court that tilts left and all their lobbying and money will have gone for naught. God gave you a brain. Stop insulting him and use it for his sake.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Josh

      @realitybites: Perfectly phrased. The ability to "critically think" is a skill that seems elusive to a large swath of the American population. When "faith" is the vehicle from which all discussion derives from, the conversation is no longer intelligent debate but instead becomes a religious pis#ing contest.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • realitybites

      Exactly irony. Nothing origianal here. Just a different twist to an already established medium. Heck, even Islam borrowed heavily from Judeism and Christianity to claim it was the real true faith. It, however, just denied that Christ was a messaiah and more of a prophet. I can't really ague w/ that part, just the one true faith Crap that everyone keeps trying to claim. My feeling is all of major religions hit the nail on the head but, fail to drive it through. Everyone claims their hammer is the one that will. An old Chinese saying states: " In the end all things will be known. " Professing you are the expert on things you don't know crap about makes you a fool. Getting a lot of people to believe and follow you b/c you claim you know all about those things and making a living off your "expertise" makes you a charlatan or a delusional egomaniac.

      January 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  18. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    First non-protestant and MEXICAN president

    January 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • realitybites

      1st of all, who decides what Christian spin off from Catholcism counts as protestant and non-protestant. As wacky as some of the tennents of Mormonism are, it's still a Christian spin off from the base church.

      2nd – Romey is the descendent of am illegal alien who fled to Mexico to practice illegal marriage rites. Mexico didn't allow him or his followers to become Mexican citizens and they ended up back in the US. Interesting twist. I wonder if Pancho villa rounded them all up and put them on a wagon headed back to the border/

      January 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • lroy

      You got a point there Real. Mormonism has only been around since the mid 1800s or so. So all those Mormons had to be another religion first, right?

      January 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  19. Corey

    Can somebody please enlighten us about the Mormons' "magic underwear" and its place within the LDS religion? What's the story with the underwear?

    January 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • gm40

      Many religions have special articles of clothing that symbolize or represent something important to them. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) wear an article of clothing under their everyday clothes (whether it be a business suit or jeans and t-shirt, etc.) that serves to remind them of promises they have made to God. By putting it on everyday, they have a physical reminder of those promises. It is worn under the everyday clothes because Mormons don't wish to "wear their religion on their sleeve" so to speak. It is NOT thought of "magic underwear" contrary to what some misinformed people call it. Instead it is thought of as a symbol of one's committment to keeping the commandments of God.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Carl

      gm40,

      In other words Mormon's like to keep God next to their genitals?

      January 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • sam

      Great place to keep a commitment. Hard to ignore/forget something that is snug against your balls, right?

      January 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Barkdull

      Perhaps the following quotation from Russell M. Nelson, one of the Church's leaders, will help:

      "The wearing of the temple garment bears great symbolic significance and represents a continuing commitment. Just as the Savior gave us an example of His ability to endure to the end, wearing the garment is one way we demonstrate enduring faith in Him and in His eternal covenants with us."

      The term "magical underwear" is a term that has been used by those who are uninformed and rather pejorative. In essence, faithful members of the Mormon faith, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wear the garment as an outward expression of an inner commitment to follow the Lord, Jesus Christ. Members who have been through the temple wear the garment. To learn more about the temple, I'd recommend the following Web site:

      http://lds.org/church/temples/why-we-build-temples/what-happens-in-temples?lang=eng

      I hope this is helpful to you.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Terry

      It is numbered so you can keep track of your wives.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • HellBent

      @Carl,

      Still sounds better than eating god.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • realitybites

      Hi, Pragmatist. You last statement reflects that his ancestors were illegal aliens in Mexico.

      January 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  20. JacobS

    Look, Mormons are not protestants because Mormons are not Christian even though they think they are Christian. That has nothing whatsoever to do with Mormons in American political life. That must not be an issue. It is irrelevant and should be dropped from public discourse. Enough already with this religion in the political life of this country. Get it out and back where it belongs and lets drop this religion and the candidates crap!

    January 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      So you're saying that only Christians should be allowed to run for presidency?

      Also, I know some mormans, and they are better Christians than most Christians I know. They are definitely Christian. This coming from an atheist.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Black

      Assuming you think you are Christian... what makes you so sure?

      January 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Sorry, read your op wrong. Ignore my question. But my point does still stand that mormans are Christian

      January 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • NeverTooL88

      Please enlighten me. Isn't a religion that accepts Christ, by definition, Christian? I've known some Mormons, and they believe in Jesus. So how does that make them not Christian?

      January 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • gm40

      Mormons most definitely are Christians. The correct name of our church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and believe that salvation comes only through His grace and mercy and never by anything we do on our own. For information of how Mormons view and worship Christ, please visit http://mormon.org/jesus-christ/ or talk to one of your Mormon friends.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • David in FL

      Thanks "best" I am a mormon, I have worshiped Jesus Christ my whole life and never considered that I was NOT a Christian.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Carl

      I'm an atheist and even I know Mormons are Christians. All you have to do to be a Christian is accept Jesus as the son of God and as humanities savior. That's what Mormons believe. I think Jesus was some guy who did a lot of good things, but people got carried away and started believing he was divine. Then they took his good messages of how to live a good life and corrupted them into a way to control and oppress people.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • John

      Mormons are Protestants because the LDS Church is not a break-off of the Catholic Church like all the Protestant religions are.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • sam

      All you have to do to be considered christian is say "I like Jesus."

      January 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Marc

      To everyone saying "all you need to do to be christian is belive in christ" your wrong. Thats the American way of doing things. Repeat rhetoric and forget about loads of dogma and theology! I am on the fence as to what I would call Mormonism. I say this as a life long student of many religions and philosophies (Spelling not being one of them) and as a Mormon convert. The easiest way to point out the differance between "typical christian" and Mormon "Super Christian" is that Mormons, unfortunately don't believe in Grace. I still do. If you don't know what I mean by Grace then you don't belong in a conversation on what a Christian is. The other differance is that "typical Christians" don't believe in continued Revelation, a rather nieve stance in my opinion, where as the Mormons believe that God didn't stop talking, people just stopped listening for a period of apostacy.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • realitybites

      Answer to your question NeverTooL88
      Christ is a word older than Jesus and has it's roots in Roman or Greek culture. It was used to embody the state of Godness which Jesus was aligned w/. Christ was not Jesus' last name. He didn't come from the Christ family. Jesus son of Joseph and Mary Christ @ 422 Olive Branch Ln, Nazareth, Jerusalem. 22415. Jesus was preachiing the presence of God in all as well has himself. Calling him the Christ was a way of declaring him a devine being embodying God's presence. If Mormons were to center their religion around someone other than Jesus, they would be considered non-Christian. However their view that they are the only true church must rankle Catholics who are tought the same about their own religion. Catholic is a word that roughly means the Christian Community, that is why many protestants (except the ignornant ones who take it literally) still recite the Apostles Creed w/ the word Catholic in it. One Holy and Apostolic Catholic church. The church was one organization at one time therefore Catholic. Mormons belong to the same community whether they want to or not or you want them to or not. The God is the same as so is the Messiah, we just differ on who and how the end game and results are. I'd place them as just another protests splinter from the Catholic base claiming to be the one true faith.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Pragmatist

      It's the term "Christian" which is misleading everyone here. Mormons (LDS) do believe in a person that is also named Jesus Christ, but not the traditional Jesus Christ that Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant Christians believe in. The Latter day Saint (mormon) version of Jesus is living on the planet Kolob, and Mormons believe that they too, will become Gods with Jesus, and join him on Kolob, if they follow their religious duties correctly. Mormon beliefs and history are fascinating, though not very plausible, unless you were raised inside their insulated culture . I urge everyone to study them, but not from the official LDS website or missionaries at your doorstep, as they both intentionally mislead curious outsiders. Google terms such as "Mountain Meadows massacre", Kolob, Urim and Thummim (the "rocks in a hat" that Joseph Smith used to "translate" the book of mormon). Did you know, Mitt Romney's great grandparents had moved to Mexico because they were polygamous Mormons trying to escape the US Govt?

      January 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
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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.