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May 1st, 2012
02:41 PM ET

House candidate and rising GOP star is black, female - and Mormon

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - To call Mia Love a minority is an understatement. She’s a black woman who won an upset primary race to become the Republican candidate in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. If elected, she’d be the first black Republican congresswoman in the House of Representatives.

Love, who has attracted lots of national Republican support, also stands out because of her religion: She’s a Mormon. The politician is a poster child for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ campaign to present a more diverse face to a historically very white church.

“There are a lot of people who have tried to define me as a person,” Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, told CNN’s Kyra Phillips in an interview Tuesday. “I’m not a victim, and I don’t allow anybody to put me in a box.”

Speaking from Salt Lake City, she said, “There may be some challenges. But ... I love this place and love the people that are here, and I represent their beliefs and values.”

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Love is featured in a video series produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as part of its “I’m a Mormon” campaign, which aims to bring the faith of about 14 million members worldwide into the mainstream.

In the CNN interview, Love talked about how Mormonism would affect Mitt Romney’s candidacy more than her own, which is happening in the most Mormon state in the nation.

“You know I don’t think those are the issues that Americans really care about,” Love said when asked about the role of Romney’s religion in the presidential campaign. “I think Americans care about jobs, the economy; they care about the debt and deficit spending. … Being a Mormon is part of who he is as a person, and I don’t think it should deter from the issues.”

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Love’s “I’m a Mormon” video shows her working as the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, her current job.

“I am the mayor of Saratoga Springs and I love it,” she says in the video. “I get to make this life better for me and better for others.

“My friends from back home are always saying, ‘What are you doing in Utah?'” she says in the video, referring to her East Coast upbringing. “What they don’t know is that when I came here I felt accepted.”

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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mormonism • Politics • TV-CNN Newsroom

soundoff (2,038 Responses)
  1. ItSOnLyME

    Black, female, Mormon Republican – seriously? She's got to be the only one there is. Everything the Republican Party and the LDS church stand for is what she isn't.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • souptwins

      Maybe it's your assumptions that are wrong. Actually, no maybe about it.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      I could understand you're comment if you didn't know what the Mormon church stands for. If you did, I don't think you would be making that comment.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Ali

      I know a lot of LDS people who are also African American. On a side note, there are more Latino members of the LDS church than there are White. It is an international church, but oftentimes people aren't as expposed to that information in the US because there is stigma about it being a "white" church here.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  2. J. Mark Lane

    God I hate these arrogant "journalists". The way this half-baked interviewer talks to this remarkable, self-made, successful, intelligent woman... is absolutely disgusting. I'm a lifelong left-Democrat. But I am also a person who was raised in the Mormon church, and apart from that, a person who respects differing political perspectives. Mia Love is a force to be reckoned with, and someone to be respected, now only for what she has accomplished, but also for what she stands for. The idiot journalist, on the other hand, is a moron who doesn't deserve the space she occupies on this planet.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  3. Logik

    Sure – and a lamb can decide it's a wolf and hang out with other wolves. What could possibly go wrong!?

    May 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  4. Lisa

    Wow another black NAZI,she must be stupid or color blind.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • me138

      nice one bigot.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Logik

      Even a few Jews fought for Hitler- there are always a few deluded people with no common sense...

      May 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • JamesO

      The Nazis had Jewish collaborators also, we all know how that turned out. To be perfectly frank with you, the LDS candidates are a lot more progressive than your typical republican. For example, Huntsman and even Mitt Romney was very liberal in many of his views before he turned all Bizzaro to get the Tea Party/Extremist republicans behind him. I doubt he will march to this beat if he was to get elected. However, with the economy recovering, unemployment going down, the stock market at a 4 year high, ending two wars, and OBL dead, I seriously doubt Mitt can beat Obama. All in all Obama has been a really good president, considering the baggage he was left with.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • souptwins

      James– while disagreeing with you assessment of Obama's presidency, I do agree that most LDS politicians are quite a bit more centrist than most would think. Certainly more so than the Tea Party folks.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  5. Mike

    Having an African-American Female saying the usual GOP talking points against the President is a powerful weapon. I believe she's sincere, and in that regard she's no different than any other Republican who is full of hyperbole and empty on substance.

    "I think we're losing jobs"

    No. We've had 6 months of consecutive job growth.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • blam

      Why are u calling a HAITIAN african american? amazing how racist people are

      May 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Ali

      Many Haitians have African ancestry. The island of Hispanola (Haiti/Dominican Republic) was unfortunately the home to A LOT of the African slave trade. In all likelihood she has ancestors who were indeed African so it isn't technically incorrect to call her African American.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  6. Dead Straight

    Token, Like Condi and Colin. That party could care less about minorities.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  7. Klaas Jan

    What a joke this thing is

    May 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  8. cgs

    Go Mia! I hope you win!

    May 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  9. Logik

    Not a good choice of Religion for a black person.....

    And [God] had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities." (2 Nephi 5:21)

    May 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Ryan in Miami

      You are taking that verse completely out of context. It has nothing to do with black people.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Ali

      I would have to agree with Ryan. I think that more research is in order really understand the scriptural reference. There many people are black and LDS and are so because they have gained a deeper understanding of its doctrine.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  10. zip

    Do a wiki search on Parley P. Pratt, Mitt Romney's great grandfather. Learn why he was killed by a jealous husband. Oh yeah. He also had 12 wives.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      Dude was killed by a jealous "HUSBAND" and had "12 WIVES." You're just the person I wanna be taking pointers from.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  11. deeceeuci

    A black, female Mormon...Can't wait to see how this plays out for the GOP.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  12. sarah

    I have to say there is something uncomfortable about the interview, "Wow you're black and a woman?! How can this be?? Explain yourself??" Try saying that to a new hire and see how well they take it. It's kind of insulting.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • souptwins

      That was what stuck me most too. Talk about unprofessional interviewer!!

      May 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      Thank You for saying that! I totally agree.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Ali

      Agreed!

      May 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  13. me138

    Wow a Black Republican sure brings out the racist democrats.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • sarah

      Sadly.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • me138

      Its never really been a secret how dems feel about blacks.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      LOL! There were so many racial microaggressions and invalidations in this interview it made my stomach turn. I wonder if the interviewer realizes how much her questions stem from assumptions about this woman's identies. She just told you she doesn't like to be put in a box!

      May 1, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • ItSOnLyME

      Excuse me? Who are the people holding up signs (on national television, without a shred of shame) saying "Don't Re-Nig"? You need to get just a tiny, itty bitty bit real.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Ali

      Unfortunately there are racists in every political party...........

      May 1, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  14. krak

    I didn't realize black folks were allowed in the cult. A very weak mind indeed if she's following a religious cult,

    May 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • souptwins

      Don't know what "cult" you're referring to but the LDS church has had black members since the days of Joseph Smith.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • mickey1313

      soup,lie. The lds didn't allow minorities until the1970's

      May 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Ryan in Miami

      @ Mickey, You are misinformed. The LDS church as always allowed blacks to join the LDS church, but did not allow blacks to hold the priesthood from a period beginning during Brigham Young's leadership and ending in 1978, when all blacks were allowed to hold the priesthood.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • souptwins

      No "lie" Mickey! You're clearly confusing "membership" with holding the Priesthood. Blacks have always been members even in pioneer times. There's even evidence that J. Smith ordained the Priesthood to one black man. It was after him where things fell apart with that part. No one really knows the origins. Much of America, including many religions, didn't allow blacks to hold leadership positions in their churches well into the 20th century. I personally knew some black members pre-1978.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  15. Norman

    how can a black person be a Mormon? wasnt it just a few decades ago that Mormons thought blacks didnt have souls? well-blacks are against gays-another suppressed minority so I guess anything can happen! blacks are so silly

    May 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Denise

      Is this a serious reply, Norman? Because it just doesn't seem like it.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Ali

      There has never been a time in the church's history when a person could not become a member because of they were black. It w

      May 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  16. Alex

    If she were a lesbian and in a wheelchair she'd be unstoppable!

    May 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      LOL! I feel a little conflicted about seeing the humor in your post, but it definitely highlights the spectacle alluded to in this useless piece of journalism.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  17. Dot

    Not too long ago blacks were not able to hold the priesthood – now the GOP is making a spectacle of this woman like she is something special. Most people have no idea what the Mormon church is about and the influence it has over its members.
    They might act like they have a choice – but really are told how to live and what they must do to get into the Celestial Kingdom.
    Don't think it will be any different if one of them holds a really high office in this land.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • souptwins

      If the LDS Church is so controlling, how do you explain Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch both being active members? If that's their goal, you'd think they'd do a better job of it.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • me138

      Even a shorter time ago blacks were hated and lynched by the democrats. And it was almost a guarantee that a black person was a republican

      May 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Scott

      Desmond Tutu? I think you show your ignorance.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Ali

      I can see your point about LDS people not having a choice. I have gone through that same thought process myself, but have chosen to remain a member because I realize that I believe that the doctrine is true. If you have a knowledge of its truthfulness it becomes more than just a choice, it becomes the way you want to live.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Ali

      You believe it is true, and that is fine, but you cannot claim to have knowledge of it's truthfullness because it cannot be shown to be true. You believe it based on faith.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  18. Greens47

    Black, Mormon and Republican. A curious mix to be sure. The first is simply a biological fact of birth, the second a strange religious fantasy and the third a very conservative political affiliation. She is an anomally indeed and has some very choppy waters to navigate. Hope she has thick skin!

    May 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Waj

      Mia Love is our mayor but I see signs of her being to much to the right of developers in this growing town. She and other elected people need to seriously look at building and land use problems. I won't vote for her for that reason.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  19. Kebos

    What astounds me most (and it's not the Mormon angle....that is so old) is that she would be the first Republican black congresswoman elected to the House of Representatives. Really! It's 2012. It has taken that long? I'm shocked.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  20. Duke

    Typical lefty "news reader"! You notice that it's not the Conservatives who are making an issue of this, it's the lefty's at CNN. The left is full of race baters and predjudices.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Bad education

      Oh, I see, and the right isn't full of hypocrites and race haters? Come on Duke, live a little, get a life in the real world.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • denny

      Liberals hate everyone who is different than they.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:49 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.