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. Doveab

    Kudos to this smart black woman! Sad to see the hate-filled left try and railroad her. CNN is so hilarious.

    May 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Umm...

      Where does it say the left has "railroaded" her. I have the same *eye roll* that I have for all republicans – no more, no less.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Sven

      It seems to be the sad nature of discourse today that "anyone who does not agree with me must be an idiot."

      May 1, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  2. TREer20

    naaa. I don't think so.

    May 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  3. Frank

    lol this broad is fooling herself if she thinks she's any more than a pawn in the hands of conservitards

    May 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  4. Saywhatyoumean

    “I’m not a victim, and I don’t allow anybody to put me in a box.”

    Glad to know that, Mia Love. Now why don't you go talk to the thousands of ex-Mormons who have been shunned by their family and friends for the rest of their lives just because they disagreed with certain church teachings. Maybe their perspective could shower you with some reality.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • coltakashi

      The highest concentration of ex-Mormons is in Utah, you fool. And Mormons do not "SHUN". tha tis a practice of some other religions, but the word does not even exist in Mormon scripture as a practice of the church. Even people who are excommunicated are generally invited to come to worship services! Bridges are kept open in the hope that some of them will come back–and many do.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Saywhatyoumean

      Shunning, excommunication, disfellowshipping – its all the same. A way to punish anyone who disagrees with you. And you are the fool – many of these people were BORN in Utah – where will they go ? Why don't you go talk to ANY support group out there and see what really is going on.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • OKBecky

      You're right that some LDS shun people who make bad decisions or leave the church. However, it is not church doctrine, it is not approved by the leadership. It is wrong. People who shun their loved ones because they choose a different path, are not following the teachings of this church. I'm LDS, and have been all my life, and I think part of the challenge for those who remain faithful is that they don't know quite what to say or how to behave around someone who has decided that "everything you're living is a lie." If you look up blogs for people who were Democrats as youths and in their middle-age switched to Republican (neo-neocon is an excellent example), you'll see that they too were shunned for choosing the "wrong" belief. But consider too that being LDS is not a Christmas-and-Easter religion; we don't even go to church for just one hour sometime over the weekend. It's not *wrong* or "creepy" to spend a lot of time in church activities, especially considering how many people today lament the end of community integration, where people used to know each other and plan activities together.

      Too, some people leave the church because they choose to engage in practices that are sinful or harmful. They isolate themselves from the church because they don't want the leaders or the members to judge them. Those who continue at church might wonder if staying close friends with someone making wrong choices, will incline them too towards making wrong choices. After all, even among people who are not LDS, if you spend a lot of time with someone who smokes, you're more likely to take it up. If people spend a lot of time with friends who do drugs, they're more likely to start taking drugs themselves. Or even if you spend a lot of time around people who read Harry Potter books, you're likely to start reading them too! (Good books, btw.) So I don't think "shunning" is quite the right term for a complex situation like this.

      One of my best friends in high school left the church when she was 17. I was stunned; but she'd also made some very wrong decisions before she ended up leaving. (Many people who "leave" the church don't actually request their names be removed from the rolls; they just stop coming to meetings and try to "fall off the grid.") Her peers in her ward did shun her because of the bad decisions she was making. (She's not active LDS even now, but she does herself say they were bad decisions; it's not just my "LDS bias" coming into it.) I wrestled privately with knowing what to do: if I stayed close friends with her, would that mean I approved of what she was doing, or that I thought it didn't matter? But if I stopped being friends with her, how would that make her feel? I asked my wise, wise mother for help, and she told me to think of what Jesus would do. And I prayed, and pondered, and decided that I liked my friend, and cared about her, and she knew that I didn't approve of her decisions, but if I stopped being friends with her because of it, she'd have nobody to encourage her in doing right, should she change her mind. She's not active in the church, as I said, even now, but we're still friends, and she told me recently just how significant it was for her that I did make that choice. The other kids were foolish, short-sighted, perhaps even cruel (teenagers can be cruel no matter what church they belong to).

      But I also have relatives who were raised LDS but are not active, or who were inactive but then decided to come back; relatives who had children outside of marriage, who have gotten drunk, who have gotten tattoos, who have become drug addicts. It's hard to know what to do, it's hard to know how to deal with the situation, especially because we're in a situation where both parties know what the standard is; it would be different if they had never been LDS and therefore had not once lived by a particular code of conduct. So shunning might be motivated by cruelty – but I think, from my own wrestles with this, that it is more like the awkwardness between people who used to be best friends, and then something changes and the relationship isn't quite the same. You can't assume the same unspoken values, you can't even speak in the same language because it makes certain assumptions about how terms are going to be interpreted. And I suspect that those people who are 'shunned' are isolating themselves just as much, because they are trying to avoid the inevitable awkwardness, and then blame their families or friends for not reaching out.

      May 1, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  5. Ronald Raygun

    i want one

    May 1, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  6. Brian

    This is nothing new. We have always had our uncles and aunts. Some of them were so dense they didn't know they were being used.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  7. Ray

    She seems very scripted and didn’t fully answer the question about Barack Obama. I think politicians shouldn’t be allowed to not wiggle their way out question. Do a better job of getting your questions answered.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  8. Rags

    Good for you, Mia. Don't let the rabble rousers belittle you. Stand up proud and be your own self!
    Every person, regardless of race, gender, age, and all other things we humans have in common, is equal to all others on this earth. Bar none!

    May 1, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Saywhatyoumean

      Tell that to the ex-Mormons who are kicked out of the church for questioning doctrine. The religious leaders of this cult are in control – they make the rules and dictate what their followers must do and not do. They say that apostates are under Satan's influence and can label anyone who disagrees with them as such. How many families have been ruined by these so-called prophets ?

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

    This poor Haitian woman has no idea about the cult she is a part of and it's sad that she will allow herself to be pimped by the GOP.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Rags

      Who says she's 'pimped'? You? Get a life cowboy!

      May 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Deb

      Mia ran of her own accord and wasn't expected to win. She gained support after her speech at the convention! She is awesome! It isn't about her race in Utah, but apparently those outside of Utah have a problem.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • CD

      Most respectfully.......Back off!!
      I am not black,female, mormon, republican nor conservative but rather a liberal, white dem for the most part who doesnt really have a faith I believe in however this women doesnt deserve to be disrespected by you like that.
      I'm not saying you have to embrace her or her beliefs but show some common decency.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  10. Christian R.

    Great article. One thing it does not mention is the fact that Mia Love is the Mayor of Saratoga Springs. She turned her city that was insolvent, nearly $3.5 million in the hole, to a AA+ credit rating. That is the highest rating a city that size can get. The same city has grown 1700%.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Sven

      She seems to be highly functioning for a person that so many posters here assume must be gullible, unsophisticated and brainwashed...

      May 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Umm...

      You have good spelling for such poor reading skills – it says she's mayor right in the article!

      May 1, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  11. Furious Styles

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZ...Lets see if we can spot her at the RNC this year. HIGHLY unlikely, especially, after they ran Michael out of town. haha Nice idea though.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Rags

      Your bigoted jealousy is in bright evidence.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  12. Sam

    Thats right. Use our own to destroy us. and the sad thing is that this woman does not even know how she is being used. Also, she is not African-American so she has no part in the struggle .

    May 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Religion

      What part of Africa are you from?

      May 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Greg

      I'm sorry you see the world as black or white. Your racism is bleeding through my screen.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Chris

      Sam using that critera that would disqualify several Prominent African-Americans including President Obama. Using that criteria he isn't African American either. His Father is from Kenya so I guess he is Kenyan-American just like this woman is Haitian-American. If you want to go down that road neither is Colin Powell because he comes from a Jamaican family. By those standards the only true African-Americans would be Michelle Obama, Herman Cain, Condoleeza Rice, Jesse Jackson etc.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • CD

      @Chris, actually if you are born here (like Obama) then you are an american regardless of who your mother or father was and you are still an american even if only one of your parents was one.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  13. Andy Christensen

    I congratulate her on her victory.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  14. Brian

    The irony is that the Mormon "Church" actively supported slavery before the Civil War.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Christian R.

      This is a common misunderstanding. The church wasn't abolitionist, but believed that slave holders should free their slaves but should receive compensation for the relinquishment.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Deb

      Wrong....Mormons' didn't have slaves and because they voted as a block and were antislavery they were forced out of their homes.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • AP

      @Brian – where do you find your facts? They were AGAINST slavery, that is why Missouri kicked them out with an extermination order. Because Missouri was a slave state and the Mormons were anti slavery and it made the slave owners there nervous that so many anti slave (Mormon) voters were moving in.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • kriste

      Slavery was NEVER supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People who owned slaves were not allowed to join. There is a well known incident of Joseph Smith giving his prize white stallion to a free black man so he could go purchase the freedom of his wife and child.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • CN

      none of this changes the FACT that until the late 1970s, african americans were not allowed to be deacons in the church. or do you guys deny that? too bad we didn't have youtube then. we could re-air the absurd commercials where the elders declared they had gotten a revelation from god that caused them to change their mind and realize that african americans should have equal rights. showing religion is entirely MAN made, not divine.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Rags

      It is NOT 'before the civil war' anymore. Or did you just wake up?

      May 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • R. Lynn

      And...the democrats fought against civil rights.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  15. John Tighe

    Wow, can she find anymore groups to join that think women and blacks are second class?

    May 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Rags

      Maybe your group? Which is .......?

      May 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  16. rebuker

    I feel sorry for this woman, the Mormon church see's black people as dogs, that God want's them to take care of, she is a token,

    May 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Rags

      I feel sorry for you and your low life outlook.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Greg

      Wow! I'm surprised how many bigots come out of the woodwork. I thought liberals were more accepting of people–at least this video demonstrates that Mormons are what liberals claim to be.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  17. mcp123

    Oh....and have to ask... since the mormon church pretty much directly preaches that women should stay at home and raise children. Why is this woman even in the limelight? Shouldn't she be at home like a good mormon woman raising children?

    May 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      assumptions, assumptions

      May 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Rags

      Fact, fiction, your opinion? Inquiring minds need to know not just spout hopes and wishes. This isn't where the tooth fairy resides.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • WorkingMormonMommy

      Funny. I am a Mormon, woman and a mommy and I work in the corporate world while my husband stays home with our children. I've never been made to feel belittled or told that I should be home. The only people who have ever belittled my husband for choosing to stay home with our children while I work were some of my coworkers who were not Mormon. I think your data is about a half century outdated. But then again, 50 years ago a lot more people believed all moms should stay home. Welcome to 2012, MCP123!

      May 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • OKBecky

      mcp123 – Think of the options that parents have: they can either divide labor and have one parent stay at home to care for kids while the other works, or they can both work and use the additional income to pay for childcare. Who is providing the childcare? Another parent? Someone who has to then pay someone else to care for his or her children? Or a young adult with little experience with children and life, and little personal investment in the character and development of the kids? Or a day care center where the child will get less personal attention than he or she needs because the caregivers have so many children to pay attention to? What sort of education does a day care worker have? More expensive places require bachelor's degrees; how many of these workers (predominantly women, especially since men are generally suspected of being closet pedophiles) have children of their own?

      In other words, if both parents go out to work, they must pay someone else to watch the kids. That person, if she has children, must likewise find childcare for her kids. Perhaps we could set up a communal style like they did in China, where everyone eats in massive cafeterias and the children are all raised by nursery workers. That did not go over well, even among an otherwise enthusiastic society. The alternative is for one parent to stay home with young kids and provide the care and attention they need. It means trimming budgets and exercising frugality to make one income work – and the parent who stays home is *usually* the woman, because (a) women birth the babies, (b) women lactate and feed the babies, and (c) women generally choose to stay home with the babies. My husband loves being with our boys, but I stay home with them, in part because I know I hate working full-time and so I prefer to have more free time to decide what I will fill it with.

      So if she doesn't have children, why stay at home and hide her talents under a bushel? If she does have children, then I'm certain she's made provision for them. I've been in college since before I got married, and our eldest child is not yet five. Hubby and I arrange our schedules so that one of us is home caring for the boys; if that is not possible, we find childcare. I'm graduating, so I'll have more time to do the fun things I've wanted to do, like spend more time at museums, the zoo, the aquarium, at parks, and just in the yard or the home learning about stuff and playing and doing art. Moms are not wasting their time. I can't find statistics, but studies have shown that LDS woman (and men) are more highly educated than the national average, and are more likely to have college degrees than the average American. Which means that many LDS moms have college educations – which is what we want our child-care providers to have, no?

      Children need their parents intensely for a short period of time (in the span of a lifetime). I will have plenty of time after my children are grown and gone, in which to take up a career. And at that time, I won't have to schedule around toilet training or Boy Scout meetings or dance recitals. But no one forced me to this; my husband and I discussed and agreed to this arrangement before we married, and just as I have had his full support and encouragement in completing my college degree, so I should also have that same support if I decided to seek employment outside the home. So you, mcp123, know not whereof you speak.

      May 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  18. mcp123

    One black person amongst a sea of pale white... wow...now THATS inclusiveness.


    May 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Deb

      There are more than 320,000 members of the LDS Church in Africa, most black!

      May 1, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Rags

      "ROTFLMAO...." Sorry, you left "fat" out of you equation, therefore it doesn't compute.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • OKBecky

      Gladys Knight (R&B/soul singer, with the Pips) joined the LDS Church as an adult, and her family thought she was nuts to be leaving her Baptist faith and joining "that racist cult." But over the years, more of her family and friends have joined the church and/or gained a better opinion of it. I think one reason fewer black people join the LDS church is because they see a lot of white faces and assume (prejudice? stereotype?) that "many white faces" = "racists". It's not the case. There are individuals, yes, who do hold beliefs not in line with Church teachings – I was stunned, for example, when I was 18 to hear the leadership chastising members for not allowing their children to play with "nonmember" children, because "they don't have our standards." I was appalled to learn that people – I suppose in the more insular Utah and Idaho communities – would refuse to allow their children to play with kids who weren't LDS. I grew up overseas on military bases and rarely had a fellow Mormon in my grade, let alone my class; can you imagine if I'd not been allowed to befriend non-LDS? Absurd!

      I think if people hold themselves aloof and refuse to investigate the Church because of these false assumptions, then they are perpetuating the "exclusive" appearance of things. We can't force blacks to enter our buildings and learn about us. But an example of diversity is the number of LDS friends I have who are in interracial marriages: black male + white female, white male + black female, white male + Indian female, Cambodian male + white female, Pacific Islander male + white female, etc. It is also common in the Southwest for there to be Spanish language wards or branches (i.e. congregations). I have black LDS friends from South Africa, from Ghana, from Central and South America, from Asia. They are happy, active, and integral in their ward communities. They are accomplished, educated, intelligent, and simply wonderful people. I'm personally from German and southern English stock, and that's pretty "white," but you're just trolling viciousness and here and perpetuating false stereotypes.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • OKBecky

      Just to be clear about the incident when I was 18: some of the members had been refusing to associate with non-members, or let their children play with them, on the assumption that "those people" didn't share our same values. The church general authorities were adamantly against that behavior. The gist of the address was that we have no business engaging in such prejudice, exclusion, or even persecution, and especially given our church's past experience being the victim of persecution, we should have a ready willingness to engage with anybody and to respect their beliefs and their right to worship (or not) as they choose. I could see for myself, as a teenager, that not every LDS person had high standards; just entering a church does not mean you have adopted its teachings for yourself. My best friends have rarely been LDS, but they have always supported me in my beliefs and helped me live them. I just wanted to be clear, since the sentence above didn't come out very clear.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  19. Keith

    I'm surprised she isn't gay too. CNN fails at race, religion and gender role baiting!

    May 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  20. Bob Loblaw

    This interview will be a classic example of subversive racism in society. Way to go CNN! 🙂

    May 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.