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My Take: How Romney could transcend Mormonism with civil religion
Mitt Romney in Illinois, which holds its primary on Tuesday.
March 20th, 2012
08:13 AM ET

My Take: How Romney could transcend Mormonism with civil religion

Editor's Note: Dan Birdsong is a political science lecturer at the University of Dayton, teaching courses on the presidency, campaigns and elections and media.

By Dan Birdsong, Special to CNN

(CNN) - There has been a deliberate and concerted effort on the part of the Mitt Romney campaign, even before it officially began, to divert attention from the presidential candidate’s Mormonism by attempting to connect with primary voters by talking about a shared civil religion. But to be effective Romney must take this strategy much further.

What’s civil religion? It’s patriotism’s kissing cousin. It’s a kind of deeper version of nationalistic pride. It is an effort to link patriotism to morality and virtue. Think the phrase “God and country,” or the solemn reverence so many Americans have for our nation’s founding documents.

Romney puts himself at a disadvantage to his rivals and past presidents because he cannot, or is unwilling to, seamlessly link his faith to his patriotism.

Such a strategy would enhance what media types call his “personal narrative” and would go a long way toward forging a strong emotional connection with voters. Here’s how he can do it:

1. Talk about a sacred Constitution

Consider this: For some, the Bill of Rights is seen as analogous to the Ten Commandments. And even though the Bill of Rights is a human creation - and thus imperfect - many see the Constitution as sacred, beyond reproach.

Recently in Arizona, Romney used this sentiment on the campaign trail, saying the nation’s founding documents “were either inspired by God or they were written by brilliant people or perhaps a combination of both. …”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Here we see Romney attempting to preach a version of American exceptionalism that many believe, but it comes off as soft, and fits into the troubled “Which Mitt?” brand.

A year ago, before Romney officially announced his candidacy, he said President Obama didn’t “understand what it is that makes this nation so successful, so powerful, so good.”

These rhetorical choices go beyond normal patriotic rhetoric and reveal Romney’s belief in America as good and the Constitution as sacred. They have the flavor of civil religion, but Romney remains too vague and needs to be more declarative.

2. Present himself as America’s patriarch

In the current campaign, Romney sings a song of American greatness.

After his win in New Hampshire, Romney tried to culturally connect with voters by defining his campaign as “... saving the soul of America.”

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“We want to restore America to the founding principles that made this country great,” Romney said. “This election, let’s fight for the America we love. We believe in America.”

Romney’s words paint the election as a moral imperative and a redemptive narrative.  By giving America human qualities, Romney makes himself the patriarch who can lead America back to a redemptive path.

Yet his rhetoric rings hollow because he does not define those founding principles, nor does he share a personal anecdote to connect to voters. You preach to the choir to get them to sing, but Romney needs to preach to the unconvinced.

3. Use civil religion to compensate for his Mormonism.

The former Massachusetts governor must convince the GOP primary voters that he is enough like them to rally the suburban warriors to join his campaign, and he must quell the quiet queries about his religion.

You see, Romney is facing a political reality: people don’t know much about Mormons. And as Ishmael reminds us in "Moby Dick," “Ignorance is the parent of fear.”

A recent Pew study found that when asked for one-word descriptions of presidential candidates, “Mormon” was the most common answer when describing Mitt Romney.

In June, a Gallup Poll found that only 76% of Americans would vote for a Mormon. The Pew Center found that while 68% say being a Mormon wouldn’t matter to their vote, 25% say they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate.

While these perceptions are troubling for a country that values religious freedom, they are a political reality for the Romney campaign.

Indeed, these perceptions may help explain why Romney failed to win evangelical voters in Iowa, South Carolina, Missouri, Minnesota, or Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.

4. Follow the lead of previous presidents

Past presidents have spoken with civil religion rhetoric, some more directly than others.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were masterful in their weaving of civil religion into their rhetoric, allowing them to connect emotionally with the American public.

In comforting the nation after the Oklahoma City bombing, President Clinton called on the American people, “…to purge [themselves] of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil.  They are forces that threaten our common peace, our freedom, our way of life.”

President Bush in 2004 made this appeal tied to the War in Iraq: “… one of the Iraqi men used his new prosthetic hand to slowly write out, in Arabic, a prayer for God to bless America. I am proud that our country remains the hope of the oppressed and the greatest force for good on this Earth.”

Both Clinton and Bush authentically tie a sense of religion to what it means to be American and what America means to the world.

A 1980 campaign ad for Jimmy Carter strikes an overtly religious chord as the commercial pans from the spine of a Bible to a shot of Carter sitting behind his desk.

The message is clear: Carter’s religion is part of his character.

Twenty years earlier, John Kennedy, our first Catholic president, went to great lengths to reassure the public that he could separate his religion from his governing.  Times have changed.

5. Look for a “Book of Mormon” moment

When Romney downplays his religion and speaks vaguely about his love of country and Constitution, he fails to seamlessly link his faith to his patriotism in creating his personal narrative. I’m not convinced that this is a smart strategy for Romney.

He appears to lack a core belief in something, thus we voters lack information to connect with Romney.

What he needs is a “Book of Mormon” moment.  In the Tony Award winning Broadway musical, Elder Price reaffirms his core beliefs via song.

But Romney shouldn’t just sing, as he did with "America the Beautiful" last month.

Romney could start by saying: “I believe that my faith in God led me through the tough times. I believe this because I’ve lived it. I’ve doubted myself as a young missionary, but my faith was my anchor. And, I believe that I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for my faith, my family and this country.”

Without a statement of his core beliefs linking to his life experience, Romney’s personal narrative is shallow and his civil religion rhetoric will continue to ring hollow.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Birdsong.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (440 Responses)
  1. Anne

    Just because Romney's faith is different from most christian religions doesn't make it wrong. And religious freedom should mean that one is free to worship as one pleases. It shouldn't be about being in lock-step with everyone else. If people are SO uncomfortable with the Mormon faith, look it up in the encyclopedia. You might learn something. Oh, I forgot, learning isn't a cherished idea anymore. Silly me.

    March 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  2. Philojazz

    In June, a Gallup Poll found that only 76% of Americans would vote for a Mormon. The Pew Center found that while 68% say being a Mormon wouldn’t matter to their vote, 25% say they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate.

    "While these perceptions are troubling for a country that values religious freedom, they are a political reality for the Romney campaign."

    Great opportunity for you, Mr Birdsong, to comment on how we American atheists are perceived and treated in this country that "values religious freedom". But you didn't mention it. Too bad. I guess you're okay with the status quo. Who knows, maybe in a future column?

    By the way, I'm not holding my breath for the "patriarch" Romney to treat me or my fellow atheists with ANY respect. Not that President Obama is that much better in that regard, but at least he admits we exist and are loyal and valued Americans.

    March 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Robin

      nicely said

      March 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  3. billwalker

    The Mormon 'faith' isn't all that much more ridiculous than any other organized religion. (There's a left-handed compliment for you.)

    March 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  4. I'm_Skeptical

    "Embrace America's Faith?" You mean money?!

    Mitt's not only embraced it, he's gotten it pregnant!

    March 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  5. Mormon dotORG

    If you want to learn more about Mormonism, don't expect a presidential candidate to be a Mormon missionary! Mitt's already been there and done that in France 40+ years ago. Go to http://www.mormon.org to learn more!!

    March 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • I'm_Skeptical

      No thanks! You can keep your magic underwear and I'll keep my money!

      March 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  6. GREAT COMMENT by CaptianObvious!!

    GREAT COMMENT by CaptianObvious!!

    The author's point is well taken. However, I feel it is a little misinformed.

    In 2008, Romney DID say ALL of those things the author mentions. This did not help his candidacy at all. The Author of the present article assumes many people will treat Romney, his religion, and his deep faith in God with respect...as seen in 2008, there are many in America, including among Romney's fellow Christians and believers in Christ, that will not respect his devout belief God.

    I am sorry, but after seeing how this man has been treated, and occasionally still is treated, for his faith, I do not begrudge him one bit on remaining (more or less) silent on his devout beliefs this campaign season. After all, the clown Huckahillybilly made an absolute circus out of Romney's faith last go around, which only served to detract and distract from the real issues. I think Romney learned a lesson about "casting pearls before swine." No, they might not be pearls to you, but they are to Romney. And, yes, any man (or woman) who does not have the human decency to respect another man's "pearls" is, indeed, "swine."

    Second is that the author of the article seems to know very little about Mormon Christianity. Romney is not touting mere civil religion; rather, he is closley adhereing the the core tenants of his faith. Namely, one of the LDS Articles of Faith states that, "We claim the privelege of worshiping all mighty God according to the dicates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privelege, let them worship how, where or what they may." Mormons do not see it as their job to force any one to accept their beliefs and, rather, are taught to respect the differing beliefs of all men (and women).

    I think that the author is mistaking Romney's conviction to his faith for his being non-committed. I can assure you that Romney, who is a former bishop and high priest of Mormon Christianity, is surely committed to his belief – he just sees no need to force others to see his religion in the same way he does...and rightly so. If the author understood Mormon Christianity, he would know that Mormons believe that the freedom to choose was the sole reason over which the war in heaven was fought. (See the Book of Revelations). In other words, Mormons believe that freedom, and especially freedom of choice, is a divine and God-given right. Romney simply knows that such rights need to be respected.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Deborah

      Mormons also believe that they will become Gods of their own planets; lucifer was Jesus' brother; that they are the "only true church". They believe in 3 levels of Heaven; that Jesus is our brother; and in plural marriage D&C 132. Their leaders are chosen by their wealth so they do not need to be paid although their entire living expenses are paid for.
      One other thing, they swear an oath to the mormon church in their temple rituals. If a mormon where president which will come first, his oath to his church or his oath to his country????

      March 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  7. krehator

    A president that will only represent his own people. Great. If only representing one's party wasn't bad enough, now we are going to throw religion into it.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  8. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    March 23, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things"

      ~`You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...
      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!~`

      March 23, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • krehator

      And faith in an invisible Sky God created by a 3000+ year old goat herder is better?

      March 23, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • MAtteo

      Using your same logic then Athesim has been proven not to work. Considering all of the folks that have had bad luck or died or what not after not praying.........

      March 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • billwalker

      Say WHAT ! ?

      March 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Matteo

      Come on Bill. You understand exactly what I am saying. To those who say prayer has been proven not to work and as examples they point to all the time when someone has prayed and nothing has happened. Well there are many times when no one has prayed and nothing has happened. And many times when people have prayed and something has happened and many times when people have not prayed and something has happened. Get my point?

      March 24, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  9. Joy

    The outrage is here, this is an awful law and someone needs to fix it quick! Poor family! Poor KID!

    March 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  10. RandomThoughtNetwork

    Great article.

    There is only one true religion: Freedom.

    It is based on a simple creed: All individuals are created equal, with an inalienable right to life, liberty and property.

    It has only one commandment: Thou shalt not use force or fraud on your fellow man.

    Membership in the one true religion is not measured by how badly you want freedom for yourself (Even tyrants and thugs want freedom for themselves). It is measured by how true you are to the cause of not violating other’s freedoms.

    The high priests of freedom are the individual men and women who keep the eternal torch burning in their hearts.

    The government is its altar boy. Its job is to perform and preserve the sacred rituals: defense, rule of law, contract enforcement, and equality before the bar of justice.

    Freedom is inclusive, tolerant and multicultural: It does not care about skin color, economic status, or ethnicity.

    It is not jealous: It does not care what other religions or belief systems you belong to, as long as they are true to the creed and obey the commandment.

    The only thing freedom does not tolerate are those who use force or fraud in violation of life, liberty and property (no matter how noble they claim their cause to be).

    Freedom is worth living for.

    Freedom is worth dying for.

    God is a freeman.

    In the judgment day, he will only want to know one thing: Were you a member of the one true religion?

    Freedom: Become a member today.

    March 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • CaptianObvious

      The author's point is well taken. However, I feel it is a little misinformed.

      In 2008, Romney DID say ALL of those things the author mentions. This did not help his candidacy at all. The Author of the present article assumes many people will treat Romney, his religion, and his deep faith in God with respect...as seen in 2008, there are many in America, including among Romney's fellow Christians and believers in Christ, that will not respect his devout belief God.

      I am sorry, but after seeing how this man has been treated, and occasionally still is treated, for his faith, I do not begrudge him one bit on remaining (more or less) silent on his devout beliefs this campaign season. After all, the clown Huckahillybilly made an absolute circus out of Romney's faith last go around, which only served to detract and distract from the real issues. I think Romney learned a lesson about "casting pearls before swine." No, they might not be pearls to you, but they are to Romney. And, yes, any man (or woman) who does not have the human decency to respect another man's "pearls" is, indeed, "swine."

      Second is that the author of the article seems to know very little about Mormon Christianity. Romney is not touting mere civil religion; rather, he is closley adhereing the the core tenants of his faith. Namely, one of the LDS Articles of Faith states that, "We claim the privelege of worshiping all mighty God according to the dicates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privelege, let them worship how, where or what they may." Mormons do not see it as their job to force any one to accept their beliefs and, rather, are taught to respect the differing beliefs of all men (and women).

      I think that the author is mistaking Romney's conviction to his faith for his being non-committed. I can assure you that Romney, who is a former bishop and high priest of Mormon Christianity, is surely committed to his belief - he just sees no need to force others to see his religion in the same way he does...and rightly so. If the author understood Mormon Christianity, he would know that Mormons believe that the freedom to choose was the sole reason over which the war in heaven was fought. (See the Book of Revelations). In other words, Mormons believe that freedom, and especially freedom of choice, is a divine and God-given right. Romney simply knows that such rights need to be respected.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Primewonk

      CaptainObvious wrote, "Mormons believe that freedom, and especially freedom of choice, is a divine and God-given right."

      So why baptize dead people who had no intention of ever being Mormon?

      March 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • bryan damasin

      MITT ROMNEY 2012!!! God is with you...

      March 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Cat MacLeod

      Okay, someone is practiced at thinking. Posts like that give me hope for the species.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • ernesto

      Neither this article nor the Captain take on the idea: Is Mormonism TRUE?

      There are no Nephytes, there are no Laminites. DNA testing has shown that Native Americans DO NOT come from the Middle East.

      And yet Mormons believe that Jesus Christ came to these fictional civilizations. Should we all adjust our theological textbooks to refer to Christ's THIRD coming simply because Joseph Smith wrote a novel?

      This is so easy to check that when a person states how "committed" Romney is to his religion I shudder. Not because I want Mormons to change to my belief system, but because it shows that Romney hasn't even a little vestige of CRITICAL THINKING that I believe comes in handy as President.

      He has outspent the other candidates 10 to 1, and has derived his main source of income from the same types of shenanigans that got us into the recent downturn. He did not start at square one and is a self made man,...oh no...his father was a governor and ran a major automobile manufacturer.

      These Mormon questions are softball and easy, and yet I never see anyone on these posts ask the question: ARE THESE BELIEFS TRUE?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Abonado

      Ernesto, your ignorance is showing!

      March 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Deborah

      Mormonism has not been proven; there is not one shred of evidence to prove any of it. If they come to your door, ask many many questions. Don't be misled!!!

      March 23, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  11. Gramajane

    I agree!

    March 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  12. Silverbullet

    Below was posted by HereticX

    "I want a candidate – any candidate – that puts aside the religious BS. Belief in God is fine (and I'm not talking about Jesus or the dude on the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel), but all that crap between us and him/her/it needs to go. Empathy, law abiding citizens, and leaders who unite is all a nation needs. Humans don't need dogma to know compassion and to do right by their fellow man.... it sure hasn't helped the GOP. All religion does is divide, divide, divide. Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Baptists.... all frickin' afraid someone of a different BS faith will be in charge fearing they will impose their beliefs on them. What about the rest of us that don't want any faith-based beliefs push on us?!?! Bigotry hides behind religion and their so called 'faith'. I hope I live to see the day when a candidate boldly says faith and religion is irrelevant to govern a righteous country."

    I would like all his/her/its concern one by one because I believe that most (if not all) have the same concerns when it comes to Religion and Politics.

    1.)"I want a candidate – any candidate – that puts aside the religious BS."

    -–Each of and everyone of us have our own wants, needs, desires etc. But we must have to realise the fact that when it comes to Government and Politics, it's not our own as individuals that matters but the VAST MAJORITY's.

    2.)"Empathy, law abiding citizens, and leaders who unite is all a nation needs"

    ---Reas.sured that there are lots of qualified individuals that would meet and even exceed such standards and expectations that can be found in the Religious sector. One of which is Mitt Romney and he's winning the Republican Nomination now.

    3.)"Humans don't need dogma to know compassion and to do right by their fellow man"

    --I would say "maybe", but you must realise that it has been a big help for those who believe. And statistics shows that at least 80%+ do believe in what you called "dogma". Can't we just let these BILLIONS people do good things for any reasons they believe in?

    4.)"What about the rest of us that don't want any faith-based beliefs push on us?!?!"

    -–You seemed so worried about it. Relax, witch hunting era is over and gone. Live your life in the modern times and in the country that each and every citizens are given the right and freedom to believe and NOT to believe.

    5.)"All religion does is divide, divide, divide."

    --–On the contrary, it has a huge and significant part in keeping our indivisibility in the country by stopping the widespread communism in the country in the early 50's. It America has been "a nation "INDIVISIBLE under GOD" since then, till now.

    6.)"I hope I live to see the day when a candidate boldly says faith and religion is irrelevant to govern a righteous country."

    Actually, you're not the first one with that hope. There were fews that have the same hope many centuries ago. All of them died in vain. Some...have died in misery.

    Don't let yourself to become like them. Live your life to the fullest based on what is given to "ALL" and NOT in your own wants and expectations because most of you are born that way but are not born a special child. Unless otherwise, you have 47 chromosomes.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Silverbullet

      Should be read *I would like to address all his/her/its concern one by one because I believe that most (if not all) atheists have the same concerns when it comes to Religion and Politics.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Silverbullet

      less and no time to proofread.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " Relax, witch hunting era is over and gone. Live your life in the modern times and in the country that each and every citizens are given the right and freedom to believe and NOT to believe."

      Really? We recently had a 16 year old girl in Rhode Island sue to get a blatantly christian prayer banner removed from a public school. She, and her family, received thousands of death threats – from good christian folks.

      In recent validated polls, HALF of all (good christian) Republicans in Mississippi said that interracial marriage should be illegal – no reason those "colored" folks should be able to contaminate the white folks gene pool.

      We see good christins – by the thousands – denigrate, castigate, beat and bash gay folks on a daily basis.

      We have good christian candidates for President who want to make abortion and birth control illegal. Who want to stop pre-natal testing. Who thinks it's stupid to want to go to college, and who think women should stay at home.

      So, pardon me for not believing your bull about there being no witch hunts. You folks are doing it on a daily basis.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Jesus

      - You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!! .. .. .. ... .. .

      March 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  14. Money Pacquiao

    Then again, my million dollar question is...How far CNN would allow these bias artticles of bias writers to be published on their site?

    March 21, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Just so you know

      Money P,

      I'm sort of biased against people who do not know how to use the word 'biased' correctly.

      March 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  15. Jamie

    Cult:

    "1. A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
    2. A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister."

    That would be the official English Language definition. You keep saying "Mormonism isn't a cult" as if your subjective definitions of words in your own mind is the same concept that everyone else holds. The very label is an insult by nature, and an intelligent viewpoint is not based on labels and generalizations, but rather specific facts and ideas combined with reasoning and critical thinking. It makes it too easy for you to counter; simply state an opposing viewpoint and deny the label. If, for instance, we were having an intelligent conversation-like open-minded people have as opposed to blind devotion to ideologies- about the factual and recorded doctrine of mormonism, along with the proven evidence of scandal and political funding, you'd find it much harder to defend your silly little pyramid scheme.

    Your leaders are crafty Capitalists; you're brainwashed pawns. Your mind was gifted with a cerebral cortex and yet you repress the very thing that elevates you above the animals.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Cody

      What you fail to understand is that the word "cult" carries more meaning than your cut-and-paste definition exhibits. As you well know, "cult" is synonymous in the minds of most people with the Branch Davidians and like groups. In reality, your definition of a cult could fit any religion. Indeed, you have also conveniently only cut-and-paste part of the definition that fits your opinions – which sounds like the way you have studied "mormonism."

      Cult:
      1. formal religious veneration : worship
      2. a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
      3. a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
      4. a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
      5. a. great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
      b : the object of such devotion
      c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

      Finally, your castigation of my religion is laughable. You obviously have only researched my religion from those strongly opposed to it. I'm sure that approach will work well in life, especially when you decide to learn about the Jews from the writings of Nazis.

      By the way, as an Attorney, I don't "blindly" follow anything without obtaining the facts for myself (and yes, from the source if possible).

      March 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • myklds

      Very WELL PUT, Cody!

      March 21, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • billwalker

      Hi Jamie, In a way, all religions are cults, but only the largest ones have a university or a football team.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  16. Primewonk

    Why the need for these republican candidates to try and "out-Jesus" each other?

    Are we a theocracy? No.

    Does our Consti.tuition require our officials to be Christian? No.

    Are our laws and consti.tuition based on the Christian bible? No.

    Is the United States a Christian nation? No.

    Should it matter what faith, if any, a candidate for any office holds? No.

    Should a candidate for any office use his faith as a ploy to garner votes? No.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • momoya

      Jimmy Carter made a big deal out of it when he ran.. Since then the Christians have believe they control the election, and candidates pander to those folks so as not to risk losing their vote.. The christian right are a huge voting block and can determine an election.. Think "tyranny of the majority."

      March 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Primewonk

      I remember campaigning for Carter in 76. I remember the Playboy interview and the "lusting in my heart". I lived in Iowa then, so got see quite a bit of the candidates. I honestly don't remember a lot of Jesus yelling. But hey, I was a college student, and for some of us, the 70's were a very, very long decade.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  17. Reality

    AS THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD:

    Joe Smith had his Moroni.

    "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."

    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.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • 1st

      @Reality, It's written they'll be as stiff necked as their Fathers. That's a yourself (REALITY) check.

      March 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Reality

      Acts 7: 51, a passage Luke stole directly from Exodus 32:9.

      Followed by the following:

      Only for the newcomers:

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      March 22, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  18. s1ster jud1th

    It seems to me that those who do not believe in anything use blogs like this to come out with all their passion. I'm sorry they don't believe, but it is their right. Why can't they accord to those who do the respect one person deserves from another? While members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do proselyte, they do not compel anyone to accept their message. If those who don't believe could at least do the same it could be a civil, non name calling, non disrespectful discussion.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Bob

      That'd all be fine if you believer morons didn't vote and didn't affect laws and policy.

      March 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • momoya

      People who don't believe in god, or your god, still believe other things.. We atheists do nothing that you wouldn't do if 90% of the population believed in magic fairies that acted in the same way you claim your god does.

      March 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • 1st

      @Bob & Momoya, We who are of GOD: know that thee who know GOD hear us; he that is not of GOD hear us not. They are of the world so they speak of the world and the world hear them. "Learn to Love, that's all we need". 1 life, 1 love, 1 KING. LOVE IS LOVE ALWAYS.

      March 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • momoya

      No, you don't know it.. You assume it; faith is just assuming that you're right because you believe you are right because you assume you are right because you believe you are right... and on and on.. If the knowledge of god was obvious there'd be one religion and no divisions within god-belief.. Why do all people of various god beliefs all use the same chemistry and math?. Because they MUST believe in the same principles of math, but they CAN disagree on god's nature.. Anybody can have an opinion, and since no opinion of god is any more useful than another, there's no way to tell whose god belief is closer to the truth..

      March 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  19. Brother Maynard

    Do you believe the following?
    "Joseph had a heavenly visitaion, in which an angle told him of the sacred history of the Hebrews. This history was engraved in Egyptian on tablets of pure gold. These tablets were buried in a near by hill. Although Joseph was illiterate he obtained these tablets and translated them into his local dialect, through the spirit of God. Thus creating the tenets of the true religion"
    Now, You are probably saying to yourself "Wow, that is a silly story. Who would believe that ?" Welcome to the world of logic and reason 🙂 You are an Atheist! ( at least of the Mormon religion ). See it really isn't that HUGE of a leap is it. It is actually easy.
    By they way Mitt Romney DOES believe that. Make you think if he should be running the nation if he can be duped so easily by a silly story.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • MMMccm2013

      I not only believe it I know the Book of Mormon to be true. It is another witness to the prophetic callin of the Prophet Joseph Smiith.

      March 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • CaptianObvious

      God spoke to the prophet Samuel when he was 12. Why is it so hard to believe he would speak to a boy who was 14?

      I am sorry, but the heavens are not closed. God is not dead nor does he sleep. The great God of the Universe loves and cares for his children. There is something of the divine in all men. It is just whether they choose to accept that truth and live after their divine heritage.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  20. Doc Vestibule

    The LDS are all about the money.
    "Ti.thing is an important test of our personal righteousness. President Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918) said: “By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. … By it it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 276)."
    To make sure congregants are paying up, each year they must go before a Bishop for a Ti.thing Settlement.
    A member is questioned in a one-on-one interview with the Bishop to ensure the member is paying a full 10%.
    Those members who are not paying a full 10% lose their temple recommendations and therefore are in serious jeopardy of losing their Celestial blessings.
    If a member cannot get into the temple, they cannot learn the secret handshake, secret password, secret "new name" and special “sealings”.
    Without these, the member will be unable to pass Joseph Smith and the angels who guard the entrance to the Celestial Kingdom.

    And where does the money go?
    According to the Deseret News Agency, the propaganda arm of the LDS, the Church has spent some $750 million internationally on charitable works since 1984.
    They have also spent 4 times that amount (approx $3 BILLION) in ¼ of the time to build a mall in Salt Lake City.
    Mormons are told: "if a dest.itute family is faced with the decision of paying their ti.thing or eating, they should pay their t.ithing." (Lynn Robbins, General Conference, April 2005).

    March 21, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • Johari

      That is correct and true. Good observation. It is a business. Some members know it and some members don't and some don't care. Would you like to start comparing other religions and religous history. What people are obsessed with is the mystery of successful modern day corporate religion, particularly when it is an open cannon....and know one really can "officially" declare Mormon doctrine final. Yes...a mystery. So now, what does this all have to do with the price of tea in China. I'm more perlexed at ignorant obessions rather than political and community corruption. Lets stick to corruption and understand the politicians are politicans until they break a law. Huh? yeah....what a concept. Please bloggers go get an education.

      March 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • CaptianObvious

      Actually, this is neither true nor correct.

      The numbers you cited of the $750 million are not only outdated, but only take into consideration a single fund - the humanitarian aid fund. Meanwhile, the vast charitable work of the LDS Church is done through FAST OFFERINGS, bishop storehouses, the deseret industries, the perpetual education fund, mormons helping hands, etc.

      The truth is that independent and third party organizations have vetted the LDS Church as being one of the most effective charities in the world at having a dollar-for-dollar impact because of its largely non-paid and non-compensated leadership.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Mitchell Moore

      Using the story that God spoke to a 12 year old doesn't prove that God spoke to a 14 year old who translated golden tablets into the Book of Mormon. Where are those golden tablets anyway? Oh, right. The angel took them back to heaven with him. Don't need any proof around since the gullible mortals will believe anything that kid tells them... and they did.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:42 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.