May 12th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

With or without Romney, D.C. a surprising Mormon stronghold

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Alexandria, Virginia (CNN) – A few hundred Mormons filed into a chapel just outside the Washington Beltway one recent Sunday to hear a somewhat unusual presentation: an Obama administration official recounting his conversion to Mormonism.

“I have never in my life had a more powerful experience than that spiritual moment when the spirit of Christ testified to me that the Book of Mormon is true,” Larry Echo Hawk told the audience, which stretched back through the spacious sanctuary and into a gymnasium in the rear.

Echo Hawk’s tear-stained testimonial stands out for a couple of reasons: The White House normally doesn’t dispatch senior staff to bare their souls, and Mormons hew heavily Republican. It’s not every day a top Democrat speaks from a pulpit owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And yet the presentation by Echo Hawk, then head of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, is also a perfect symbol of a phenomenon that could culminate in Mitt Romney’s arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next year: The nation’s capital has become a Mormon stronghold, with Latter-day Saints playing a big and growing role in the Washington establishment.

The well-dressed crowd gathered for Echo Hawk’s speech was dotted with examples of inside-the-beltway Mormon power.

In one pew sits a Mormon stake president – a regional Mormon leader – who came to Washington to write speeches for Ronald Reagan and now runs a lobbying firm downtown.

Behind him in the elegant but plain sanctuary – Mormon chapels are designed with an eye toward functionality and economy – is a retired executive secretary of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A few pews further back, the special assistant to the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan sits next to a local Mormon bishop who came to Washington to work for Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and now leads a congressionally chartered foundation.

Mitt Romney, who would be the first Mormon president if elected, is the son of a Cabinet secretary under Richard Nixon.

“In a Republican administration, there will be even more Mormons here,” whispers the bishop, Lewis Larsen, pointing out prominent Washingtonians around the chapel. “Every Republican administration just loads up with them.”

Regardless of which party controls the White House, Mormonism in Washington has been growing for decades.

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

When Larsen arrived in Washington in the early ’80s, there were a just handful of Mormon meetinghouses in northern Virginia, where he lives. Today, there are more than 25, each housing three separate congregations, or wards, as they’re known in the LDS Church.

“There’s been an absolute explosion in Mormon growth inside the beltway,” Larsen says before slipping out of the pew to crank the air conditioning for the swelling crowd.

The LDS Church says there are 13,000 active members within a 10-mile radius of Washington, though the area’s Mormon temple serves a much larger population – 148,000 Latter-day Saints, stretching from parts of South Carolina to New Jersey.

Signs of the local Mormon population boom transcend the walls of the temple and meetinghouses.

Crystal City, a Virginia neighborhood just across the Potomac River from Washington, has become so popular with young Mormons that it’s known as “Little Provo,” after the Utah city that’s home to church-owned Brigham Young University.

Congress now counts 15 Mormon members, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That means the 2% of the country that’s Mormon is slightly overrepresented on Capitol Hill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, is the highest-placed elected Mormon in Washington.

Even many Latter-day Saints joke about Washington’s “Mormon mafia” – referring to the number of well-placed LDS Church members across town – though they cringe at the thought of being seen as part of some cabal. (Echo Hawk, for his part, left the Obama administration a few weeks after his chapel presentation for a job in the LDS Church hierarchy).

“No one talks about Washington being an Episcopalian stronghold or a Jewish stronghold,” says Richard Bushman, a Mormon scholar at Columbia University. Talk of “Mormon Washington,” he says, “represents a kind of surprise that people who were thought of as provincial have turned up in sophisticated power positions.”

Bushman and other experts note that, despite Mormons’ growing political power, the official church mostly steers clear of politics. It’s hard to point to federal legislation or a White House initiative that bears distinctly Mormon fingerprints, while it’s easy to do the same for other faiths.

For example, the White House’s recent “compromise” on a rule that would have required religious groups to fund contraception for employees was mostly a reaction to pressure from Roman Catholic bishops.

Nonetheless, Mormon success in Washington is a testament to distinctly Mormon values, shedding light into the heart of one of America’s fastest-growing religions.

And though the official church is mostly apolitical, most rank-and-file Mormons have linked arms with the GOP. Romney’s own political evolution mirrors that trend.

Such forces help explain why Mormons’ beltway power is poised to grow even stronger in coming years, whether or not Romney wins the White House.

‘A ton of Mormon contacts’

For many Washington Mormons, religion plays a key role in explaining why they’re here.

Larsen, who sports a brown comb-over and tortoise shell glasses, arrived in Washington in the early 1980s as an intern for Hatch, also a Mormon.

He landed the internship courtesy of Brigham Young University, his alma mater. The Mormon school owns a four-story dorm on Pennsylvania Avenue, not too far from the White House, which houses 120 student interns each year. It’s the school’s largest such program in the nation.

“Part of our church’s tradition is to be connected with civic life, to make our communities better,” says BYU’s Scott Dunaway, who helps place students on Capitol Hill, at the Smithsonian and other Washington institutions. “We don’t believe in being reclusive.”

It’s a perfect characterization of Larsen. He grew up in Provo, in the shadow of BYU, and wanted to prove he could make it outside of Utah.

“Kids growing up in the LDS Church have been told, ‘Go ye out in the world and preach the gospel of Christ - don’t be afraid to be an example,’ ” Larsen said, sitting in the glass-doored conference room of the foundation he runs on K Street.

“So we are on our missions, converting people to Christianity,” he continued. “And coming to Washington, for me and probably for a lot of people, came out of that interest. We see it as our career, but also we’re going out to preach the word of Christ.”

For Larsen, that usually means correcting misinformation about Mormonism or explaining Mormon beliefs and practices – you really don’t drink coffee, ever? – over lunch with co-workers or at business functions, rather than on-the-job proselytizing.

He learned about integrating work and faith from Hatch. He was initially shocked to discover that the senator prays in his office each morning. Larsen and Hatch developed what the bishop calls a “father-son” relationship, with the intern rising up through the ranks to become Hatch’s chief Washington fundraiser.

“We would go on trips, and I’d quiz him on the plane: Why did the church do this? Why didn’t the church do this?” Larsen said. “He was like a tutor to me.”

Now, as the head of a foundation that educates teachers about the U.S. Constitution, the bishop helps other young Mormons with job leads and introductions. Larsen was appointed to the role by Hatch and the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Much of Washington’s Mormon professional network is still anchored by BYU, which operates a handful of big, well-connected alumni groups with major Washington chapters. The most prominent is BYU’s Management Society, a global organization whose biggest chapter is in Washington.

At the chapter’s recent alumni dinner, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the guest of honor. She has strong ties to the Mormon community and has hired Mormons as top aides. Says Larsen: “Condi’s got a ton of Mormon contacts.”

Patrice Pederson also knows how to work a Rolodex. A lifelong political activist, she moved from Utah to Washington last year and soon tapped into BYU’s local network.

Pederson served as the U.S.-based campaign manager for Yeah Samake, a Mormon running for president in the West African nation of Mali.

Samake traveled frequently to the U.S. to raise money and build political support, so Pederson enlisted the help of BYU’s Management Society and other groups to host events for the candidate.

Both in Washington and across the U.S., many Mormons are watching his candidacy.

“Members of the church on Capital Hill were anxious to introduce the candidate to other members of Congress,” says Pederson, sipping an herbal tea (Mormons eschew black leaf teas) in a strip mall Starbucks near her apartment in Alexandria, Virginia.

“It’s cool to have a member of the church running for president in Africa.”

Beyond making connections, many Washington Mormons say the LDS Church provides an ideal proving ground for careers here.

Unlike most churches, it has no professional clergy; from the bishop to the organist, each role is filled by everyday Mormons, most of whom have other day jobs. As a result, Mormons take church leadership roles at an early age, speaking publicly at Sunday services almost as soon they learn to talk.

“My kids grew up in the church, and we get together for three hours on Sundays, and each member needs to get up and speak,” says U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “By the time they graduate, they have all these speaking assignments that other teenagers just don’t have.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, says Mormonism provides ideal training for aspiring politicians.

“For those who grow up in the Mormon church, they are taught skills that allow them to be successful in a tough city like Washington,” says Chaffetz, who converted to Mormonism shortly after college.

Young Mormons also hone leadership skills by serving missions away from home. The missions last from one and half to two years and happen when Mormons are in their late teens and early 20s and often include intensive foreign language training.

“Young Mormons are more formidable in public settings and international settings than others,” says Terryl Givens, a Mormon scholar at the University of Richmond. “Normally you would have to acquire more age and work experience before you feel comfortable and useful at NGOs and think tanks.”

Chaffetz, whose son is serving a mission in Ghana, says the experience is the perfect preparation for political careers.

“They learn rejection early on,” he says. “If you’re going to be in politics, that’s a pretty good attribute.”

Christina Tomlinson served her mission in nonexotic Fresno, California. But working with the Laotian community there, she acquired the foreign language skills that landed her first internship at the U.S. State Department.

“I look back at that and it’s nothing but divine providence,” Tomlinson says one night at an office building-turned-chapel in Crystal City, after a weekly discussion about Mormon teachings. “I would have never made those choices.”

When she arrived at her foreign service orientation in the late 1990s, Tomlinson was surprised to find that a half-dozen of her State Department colleagues were also Mormon. The thriving LDS community at State even runs its own e-mail list server so Latter-day Saints can find each other wherever in the world they’re stationed.

Like former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who used the Mandarin language skills acquired through a Mormon mission to Taiwan to help secure his job as President Barack Obama’s previous ambassador to China, Tomlinson leveraged her mission to get ahead at State, where she now serves as special assistant to the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“I’m basically the chief of staff for the president’s representative charged with implementing U.S. foreign policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she e-mailed on a recent plane ride back from the region.

Language skills acquired on a Mormon mission helped Christina Tomlinson get her start at the State Department.

At the point of a bayonet

Like many Mormons, Tomlinson says her professional life is driven by a faith-based patriotism that sounds old-fashioned to modern ears: “I just really wanted to serve my country.”

But that distinctly Mormon patriotism was hard-won. From their very beginning, Mormons had tried to forge a special relationship with Washington. And for decades, they failed.

Joseph Smith, who founded Mormonism in the 1830s, petitioned the U.S. government to protect his fledgling religious community from the violent persecution it was experiencing, even meeting repeatedly with President Martin Van Buren.

But Washington refused, provoking Smith – who Mormons consider their founding prophet – to run for president himself in 1844. He was assassinated by an anti-Mormon mob in Illinois well before Election Day.

In the face of such attacks, Mormons fled west, to the territory that’s now Utah. But they continued to seek ties with Washington, dispatching representatives to the capital to lobby for statehood.

Congress refused to grant it. Instead, Uncle Sam disincorporated the LDS Church and sent the U.S. Army to police Mormon territory.

In the eyes of Washington, Latter-day Saints were flouting federal law by practicing polygamy. The feds saw the LDS Church as an undemocratic rival government that threatened Washington’s power.

Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founding prophet, ran for president in 1844 but was killed before Election Day.

Mormons would eventually ban polygamy, paving the way for Utah statehood in 1896. But Congress nonetheless refused to seat the new state’s Mormon senator, who also served as a top church official.

For four years, the U.S. Senate held hearings to grill U.S. Sen. Reed Smoot and other church leaders, alleging that Mormons continued to practice polygamy despite promises to the contrary.

“The political trial was as much a galvanizing cultural moment as was Watergate,” says Kathleen Flake, a scholar of Mormonism at Vanderbilt University in Tenneessee.

When Smoot was eventually seated – after the LDS Church took further steps to stamp out polygamy – he managed to become a Washington powerbroker. He would chair the Senate Finance Committee and act as a presidential adviser.

“He was Mr. Republican,” says Flake. “For a while there, he was the Republican Party.”

Smoot’s unflagging pursuit of legitimacy in Washington, despite the city’s bias against him and his faith, symbolizes what many call a uniquely Mormon appreciation for American civic life. It helps explain the Mormon fascination with Washington to this day.

It may seen counterintuitive, but Mormons’ early exposure to persecution at the hands of other Americans – aided, Mormons say, by the U.S. government – wound up strengthening their patriotic streak.

In the face of attacks, Mormons clung to the U.S. Constitution and its unprecedented guarantee of religious freedom. They distinguished between the document and those charged with implementing it.

Mormon scripture goes so far as to describe the U.S. Constitution as divinely inspired, establishing a unique environment in which Mormonism could emerge.

“Mormons are superpatriots,” says Columbia University’s Bushman. “Joseph Smith said that if the government was doing its job as laid out in the Constitution, it would protect Mormons from their enemies.”

Mormons began to shed their Utah-only siege mentality and fanned out in the early part of the 20th century. Their patriotic streak, which translated into military enlistments and applications for government jobs, led many to Washington.

That wave included J. Willard Marriott, the hotel chain founder, who launched his business career by opening an A&W root beer stand here. He would go on to forge the kind of deep political connections that would help make Willard “Mitt” Romney his namesake.

Washington’s Mormon community got another boost in the 1950s when President Dwight Eisenhower appointed a top church official, Ezra Taft Benson, as his agriculture secretary.

“Mormons took it as a sign of maybe, just maybe, we’re being accepted,” says Flake. “It signified a cultural acceptance of Mormonism. People thought Mormons believed weird things, but also that they were self-reliant, moral and good neighbors.”

As Mormons became more accepted, they became more upwardly mobile, landing in parts of the country that could sustain careers in commerce, academia and government - another reason Washington was a big draw.

By the time there were enough Mormons in the eastern U.S. to justify the construction of the first Mormon temple east of the Mississippi River, the church chose a site just outside Washington.

The temple opened in 1974, shortly after another high-profile Mormon – George Romney, Mitt’s father – left his post as Richard Nixon’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

“The Washington temple served as a symbol of the triumphant return of Mormonism to the east,” says Givens, the University of Richmond professor. “Mormons left from the point of a bayonet in the 1800s and the temple is this gigantic symbol that says ‘We’re back – and we’re back in the nation’s capital.’ ”

The Mormon temple outside Washington was the first such temple built east of the Mississippi River.

Unlike Mormon meetinghouses, where members meet for Sunday worship, temples are grander buildings reserved for certain rites, such as proxy baptisms for the dead.

To this day, the first monument many Washington visitors see isn’t a federal landmark. It’s the massive Mormon temple, its Georgian marble towers and gold-leafed spires looming above the trees on the Washington Beltway like an otherworldly castle.

The temple houses a J. Willard Marriott-financed mural of Jesus Christ’s second coming, which features a picture of the Washington temple itself in the background.

“Are you implying that the millennium will begin in Washington?” a temple visitor once asked Marriott, referring to Jesus’ return.

Replied Marriott: “What better place is there?”

Good at organizing

These days, the Mormon impulse toward Washington is often as much political as patriotic.

Patrice Pederson - the campaign manager for the Mormon running for president in Mali - made her first foray into politics at 15, hopping the bus from her home in the suburbs of Salt Lake City into town to intern with a Republican candidate for the U.S. House.

“I remember that when Bill Clinton was elected, I wore all black to school that day,” says Pederson, who was in junior high at the time. “I was mourning the death of liberty.”

When then-Vice President Al Gore visited Utah, Pederson protested his speech with a homemade poster that said “Blood, Guts & Gore – Healthcare’94.” (She can’t recall the poster’s exact meaning).

Pederson’s activism as a “total hardcore right-winger” continued into her 20s. She put off college at BYU to start a “pro-family” advocacy group aimed at lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations. The work brought her to Washington so frequently that she decided to relocate last year: “I had more friends here than in Utah.”

Pederson’s path to D.C. speaks to the growing Mormon/Republican alliance since the 1960s, driven largely by the emergence of social issues such as abortion and gay marriage and the rise of the Christian Right.

“In the 1950s and ’60s, Utah became Republican,” says Bushman. “It’s partly about being anti-communist, but it’s also a response to the 1960s and the decay of old-fashioned moral virtues. It’s an anti-1960s movement, and the Republicans seemed to be the party of old-fashioned virtues.”

Pederson’s roommate, Kodie Ruzicka, grew up squarely in that movement, with her mom heading the Utah chapter of Eagle Forum, a conservative Christian group founded by rightwing icon Phyllis Schlafly.

In the 1970s, when the Catholic Schlafly led a successful grassroots campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have made gender-based discrimination unconstitutional, she enlisted the help of Mormons.

To its opponents, including the LDS Church, the ERA was the work of radical feminists who wanted to upend traditional gender roles.

Much of Schlafly’s organizing was among evangelicals, and “given the sometimes hostile evangelical line on Mormons, [Schlafly’s] Mormon outreach was kind of revolutionary,” says Ruzicka, who now works at the Justice Department. “But we’re good at organizing, and we have a lot of useful structures for it, so that was useful to her.”

Today, Mormons head Eagle Forum chapters across the West, including California, Arizona and Nevada, as well as Utah.

Bridge-building between Mormons and the conservative movement helps explain the Reagan administration’s push to hire many Mormons into the White House - which further cemented the alliance. That bond continues to lure Mormons to D.C.

Ruzicka, for one, continued in the political footsteps of her mother, arriving in Washington in her mid-20s to lead a nonprofit that promotes safe haven laws, which allow young mothers to legally abandon young children at fire stations.

Beyond hot-button social issues, U.S. Rep. Chaffetz says the Mormon faith engenders support for limited government.

“The church is very adamant about personal responsibility, and for people to voluntarily participate in service,” the Utah Republican says. “There’s this feeling that service is not something that should be mandated by government.”

The LDS Church, for its part, insists it is politically neutral and that it avoids pressuring Mormon elected officials to tow a church line. “The church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians,” the church’s website says.

Mormon experts say the church’s support for a relatively strict separation of church and state is born of the U.S. government’s refusal to help Mormons in the face of early persecution.

And after being accused of setting up a rival government around the turn of the last century, the church is loath to be seen giving marching orders to LDS politicians.

The church did, however, play a leading role in passing Prop 8, California’s gay marriage ban, in 2008. Church officials called it a moral cause, not a political one.

Plenty of critics disagree. But neither Mormon bishops nor church officials are known to lead the kind of church-based legislative lobbying efforts that Catholic bishops or evangelical leaders do.

Mitt Romney himself embodies the reluctance of Mormon politicians to connect their religion and their public policy positions, in contrast to politicians of other faiths.

That reluctance also appears to be born of anxiety over Americans’ lingering questions and doubts about Mormonism. When Pew asked Americans last year what word they associated with the Mormon faith, the most common response was “cult.”

In recent weeks, Romney’s newfound position as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has produced a mix of excitement and worry among Mormons. That’s especially true in Washington, where politically savvy Latter-day Saints send out frequent e-mail round-ups of Mormon media coverage to their LDS networks.

“A lot of us know it’s ultimately a good thing, but it’s hard to feel like it’s a good thing because so much of the publicity is about things you wouldn’t talk about in polite company, like my underwear,” says Pederson, referring to the enduring fascination with Mormon undergarments.

Like many conservatives, Pederson is suspicious of Romney.

“I don’t like his waffling, to put it gently, on life and family issues,” she says. “But if it comes down to Romney versus Obama, hand me the pom-poms. I’ll be president of the Romney-Is-the-Best-We-Can-Come-Up-With-for-President Club.”

For now, Pederson is working with the National Right to Life Committee’s political action committee to raise money for the Romney effort, even as she makes up her mind about how actively she wants to promote his candidacy.

Some of her calculus is about weighing political reality against her conservative idealism. And some of it is about her next professional move. It’s a very Washington place to be.

- Video by CNN photojournalist Jeremy Moorhead

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • DC • Jon Huntsman • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (3,419 Responses)
  1. b


    May 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  2. lewy

    you know wahtever you say about the mormon church has been said over and over and still the church grows

    May 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • edwardo

      There was a time when everyone thought the earth was flat too. The belief grew and grew. Until someone with some brains debunked it's stupidity.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • lewy

      what religion is edwardo

      May 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • lewy

      2 ashamed to say or just embarresed to say

      May 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  3. Russ Wilson

    I thought the article was well written. The purpose of the article was about Mormons serving in our government. I continue to be shocked at what people have to say about Mormons. It appears many of you do not have a life. Get one. If religion is the problem you are having with electing a president, you may not deserve to vote.

    May 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  4. ya

    Why does CNN always portray the early days of Mormonism as some sob story? They were perscuted and had to run to Utah, but that is because they were breaking the law and engaging in polygamy. They ran to utah to avoid being arrested for breaking the law... Moreover, they killed a bunch of unarmed men, women and even children at the mountain meadows massacre, so its really not like they were innocent religous refugees

    May 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • lewy

      why do people still tell the sob story of blacks in america. they were hunted and kept as slaves. it is called heritage

      May 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • ya

      I don't think you can compare slavery to upholding laws against polygamy.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • lewy

      of course i can. when men and boys were herded into a cabin and exterminated not for polygamy but because they believed in something greater than what was the trends of the time. get you stories straight

      May 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  5. lewy

    mormonism is the fastest growing religion in america

    May 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • edwardo

      People will believe anything. They're sheep!

      May 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  6. Writerscramp

    I don't care if we elect a president who worships Spongebob Squarepants as their God, as long as that person is someone who will do what they say, not lead us into war after war, along with a president who is not the puppet of his corporate masters

    May 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  7. O.T.

    This article is hate journalism. It is part of a campaign by CNN, subtly executed, to make it clear to voters that Romney is not a Republican candidate but a Mormon candidate who should be feared b/c of his political beliefs. It should be condemned by conservatives and liberals.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • O.T.

      religious beliefs (of course political too, in CNN's view)

      May 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • lewy

      i agree. like our bloggs are really important

      May 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • edwardo

      I'm all for a "hate article", as I despise Mormon's, as much as they despise me. Actually, I don't despise them, just their retarded religion.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Cardiac50

      Hmm. is any of it untrue in any fashion whatsover.. or do you simply fear people having different viewpoints than yours?

      May 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  8. Maria Carvalho

    The Mormons should wait until they inherit their own planet (they really believe that) and start afresh with their agenda.
    That said, I consider Romney unfit to be president not because he is a Mormon but because he has no real understanding of this country. It's hard to see clearly form his ivory tower, it distorts his vision, clouds his reasoning. Ignorance and arrogance are a volatile, dangerous mix.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  9. PJ

    Any religion which receives it's scripture out of a hat, has a polygamist and pedophile as founder, condemns anyone who does not obey the rules, believes that Satan and Jesus were brothers and men before they became God.........is a weird religion and scary to think they are planning to take over our Government.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Gavin Ford

      It's no weirder than any of the others.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Spencer

      These are examples of misunderstanding and misinformation that circulate in popular culture but are completely untrue. Prophets are never popular in their own time. They force people to evaluate whether they actually believe is real or is only a story found in a book. I testify that God has called a living prophet just as he did in days of old to prepare the world for what's to come.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • lewy

      yes and any religion that relies on scripture that has been translated 42 times or more is closed to the truth

      May 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Donald

      To get information on Mormon beliefs go to Mormon.org then decide what Mormons believe.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • edwardo

      @Spencer – A prophet? Mittens? He's realy that special? He's a mega-millionaire chosen by God? Isn't easier for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom? So now God chooses a rich man as his prophet? Pathetic !!

      May 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Bill

      So a Muslim president is better? A religion that has a major tenant to kill all infidels–i.e. any non Muslim. I may not agree with Romneys religion, but it doesn't bother me like ODUMA's Muslim agenda.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • edwardo

      @Bill – I have never witnessed, in 4 years, the prez practicing Muslim beliefs. I see him bowing to the Xtian god. Don't worry, Xtians still monopolize everyone.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  10. Cult


    May 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Spencer


      May 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • O.T.

      Yes, Romney is often attacked for his religious beliefs on political forums. Literally, I have never seen a liberal condemn it. I condemn racial comments about Obama because they are wrong. Liberals seem to feel whatever-it-takes-to-get-elected takes precedence, no matter how repugnant, or how dangerous to society.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  11. Spencer

    As an active Mormon who is a Priesthood holder I can tell you personally that our church is not based on the Bible. That being said you might ask if our church is based on the Book of Mormon. The answer is absolutely not. Our church is based off of what the Bible is based on.... God speaking to prophets! Let's be honest with ourselves, the world is in complete chaos. Wouldn't NOW be the best time in history for God to call another prophet just like he did anciently to clear up the confusion and prepare us for the 2nd coming of His Beloved Son Jesus Christ? I testify that he has.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm |

      And just who might this "new prophet" be? Mitt Romney? I'm a lifelong Mormon & I know for a fact that Romney is NOT called by God. I feel sorry for my fellow Mormons (my elderly dad included) who subscribe to that belief.

      May 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • perennial2

      That's the best you can do? Spencer, spin-off cr*p is still cr*p.
      As for the point of this article, the irony of all the Washington haters is that the DC area is one of the most conservative and religious places in the country, chocked with military bases, to boot. Could be why GOP politicians never want to leave when their term is up! But that also has to do with the cash that flows their way from all the military lobbying and contracting.

      May 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Thanks for showing us just how crazy religious thinking is.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  12. n8263

    It is immoral to impose your religious superstition on others.

    You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you fear mortality or are seeking meaning in your life. It does not take a genius to figure out all religion is man made, so for humanity's sake, please stop lying to yourself.

    Deluding yourself in religion does not change reality. Lying to yourself is probably the worst possible way to try to find meaning.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • lewy

      yes and your ancestors crawled out of a swamp billions and billion ago. that would make you related to an ass

      May 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Donald

      Is it also immoral to impose your unbelief on others?

      May 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Gavin Ford

      no truer words have ever been said, n8263. Thank you.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Bill

      IF" religion" is defined as a belief– then your "religion" is to believe in no God and therefore you should not push your religion on people.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  13. lewy

    you know it is either the catholics or mormons that is the true church. the rest are just break.-offs

    May 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Danman

      The true church changed the sabbath to sunday on the pope's work alone. GOD said it was Saturday. So that makes the TRUE church the Jewish Church, the oldest one, duh...

      May 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • perennial2

      They all stole from Buddhism ... just not the good parts.

      May 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  14. Donald

    Mormons are involved in public service because they love their country and care about the future of our children. Mormons are very diverse as evidenced by prominent Mormons being involved in both parties. The church does not tell its members what political philosophy to follow or who to vote for. The church just encourages its members to be involved in the process.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • John Taylor

      I bed to differ.


      May 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  15. Danman

    I shoulf fear ignorance too. And fight hate, misery, suffering and death.... and hunger.... and having my social security cut off by a right wing mormon president who is really a nice christian guy who just wants to give me a job...yeah right.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • lewy

      danman you are quite funny. it is good that we have people like you to laugh at

      May 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • edwardo

      Lewy is a brain-washed blind sheep, following another swami into the pit of no where.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  16. JDKimbrough

    Are you kidding me? What biased political crap. CNN, you have lost it. Would you ever post "An Islamic Washington" as is being perpetrated by our current President? As a Christian, I would much rather have a Mormon President than a Muslim President. And all you nuts that want to argue that Obama is not Muslim, just read his own book and look at his actions. Open your eyes you sheep.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • longtooth

      Seek counseling. People like you can be helped.

      May 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm |

      You are severely brain-damaged if you still think Pres. Obama is muslim. Seriously, he supports GAY marriage? That is proof right there he is not of the Islamic faith. Barack Obama is CHRISTIAN! Get used to it. Btw, I am a lifelong Mormon but would not vote for the robotic liar Mitt Romney if my life depended on it.

      May 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  17. Danman

    I believe in Christ and I fear only hate, misery, suffering and death.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  18. Danman

    I've already got my own planet to populate, it's this one. Hello babby momma'

    May 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. lewy

    are you affraid that it might be true and you don't want to change your life into something other than ignorance.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  20. Danman

    I have a masonic ritual that will fix you! If I could just get this dress off....

    May 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • lewy

      you see what you want to see

      May 13, 2012 at 2:41 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.