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. leonard

    C'mon we know president has no real power, the invisible hand and illuminati/Israel control USA. A president is just a cannon fodder

    May 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  2. Lenny Pincus

    One good way to shrink the government is to make DC smaller.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  3. Lenny Pincus

    "I’ll be president of the Romney-Is-the-Best-We-Can-Come-Up-With-for-President Club.” Man, that is the coolest thing I've read today. That's the kind of passion that made Led Zep IV. Love it.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Px

      Keep dreaming u idiot, i doubt u even hv a high school diploma. U write and make no sense. Stupid!

      May 13, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Dandini

      You are right... he is the best we can come up with... which means we all get behind him or lose...

      May 14, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  4. Voice of Reason

    Once a person succu-mbs to the lure of an afterlife and gives-up the precious human attribute to think rationally and logically in this natural world they may as well just off themselves.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      Since that is what you think, it's not very surprising you come across as woefully depressed. Hopefully things will turn around for you.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  5. Benjamin

    It's a little strange to call DC a stronghold for any religious group or ethnicity, when diversity is so strong. The Mormon Temple certainly dominates the landscape for a mere 2% of the beltway, but if that counts as a "Mormon Stronghold," then they had better look out for Annandale, which is a far more populous Korean stronghold, or maybe the incredibly popular mosque by Seven Corners, which may explain the even more incredible popularity of halal, kabob, shawarma and hookah establishments all over the DC metro area. And nevermind the very high hispanic population, which can probably be counted as mostly catholic. And that's even overlooking the even larger black population in DC and Maryland, which is mostly protestant. But going uncounted thanks to a lack of churches to count there's the secular population - the DC metro area is one of the most educated in the country (especially in Northeren VA), and they tend strongly towards disbelief.

    DC is no Mormon stronghold. It's an incredibly diverse area, with a million different viewpoints, and the Mormon community is one tiny piece of that very large mosaic. DC lacks much of the home-grown culture found in more organic cities like New York, but we more than make up for it with a melting pot of imported peoples, living together.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  6. Jesus

    It's a cult!

    May 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      Unfortunately, there are those who agree with you and can be quite hateful about it in the process. I have been to many churches in my life, and the only differences I noticed were in the details.

      A Christian is one who believes Christ is their saviour and lives using Jesus' life as an example, period. Anything beyond that is up for debate, and people shouldn't be persecuted for not falling in lock-step with everyone else and/or condemned for the misdeeds of a few among them. I find it very sad that there are some who would rather attack people then pull together under the banner of Christianity to accomplish great things.

      I have found that the people who seem to resemble true Christians the most are able to agree to disagree regarding denominations. It makes me wonder why some of these pastors we see denouncing Mormons are so vitriolic about it. Why so kind to those who are lost, yet so cruel to a fellow Christian? Maybe with Mormonism on the rise, their congregations – and therefore the offering plates – are shrinking? I can't think of any other reason...

      May 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      I agree Jesus. . .it IS a cult.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Jesus. . .are you mad that the US might be on the verge of electing a cult member to be POTUS? It seems like you might not be all that happy about it.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  7. Lenny Pincus

    So Mormons think Jesus fired it up in Upstate New York. Big deal. As long as we can hold gay dudes down and cut their hair, who cares?

    May 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      So we're back to that...

      The man's family said the story was "factually incorrect". Please consider how you hurt them when you stir that pot.

      They want to be left alone. Let them have peace.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • kerfluffle

      Right! Focus on the animal cruelty case of driving to Canada with the dog crate on the roof of the car!

      May 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      kerfluffle, if that bothers you, then yes...focus on that.

      Leave the man's family alone.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Dave

      What Romney did was wrong. However, Obama also admitted he bullied a girl. See his biography.

      May 14, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  8. moose

    I have been to LDS church they don't teach from bible they teach from there book believing christ was born doesn't make you christian they also have a living profit you talks to god and tells them what to do like a cult leader

    May 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      I doubt 100% you have stepped foot in a Mormon church.

      They teach from both the Bible and The Book of Mormon which is meant to be "in addition to" vs. "instead of" the Bible.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  9. Lenny Pincus

    Mitt Romney is my man. His great grandad had a bunch of wives, just like Abraham and Solomon. That is rock and roll. With stuff like that, Mormonism should be everywhere. Rock it, Utah-style.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Px

      Mr. Nonsense what are you trying to imply again... Are bullying and trying to hide at the same time?

      May 13, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  10. moose

    My only problem with mormon church is there are a business they own huge portions of stock in coke timex and many other companies they also own huge ranches and farms what other church does this they should be considered a bussiness. Also all memebers pay 10 percent tie and they stated 2.63 goes to helping people where is rest it.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      Sorry, but Warren Buffett runs the company Berkshire Hathaway, the largest shareholder of Coca-Cola.

      If any Mormons own stock in the company, it is most likely through mutual funds in their 401k accounts.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  11. Bootyfunk

    nothing surprising about D.C being a moron stronghold.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Px

      @bootyfunk, do u have to comment on every article that has to do with Mitt? and always giving a negative view, why can't u try n see some good side of the guy and his affilliation. u've been just too bais...pls just shut the fuucck up if u meant no good, u daamm idiotic atheis!

      May 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  12. warren

    The mormons are mad because we know they are a cult and we know they commit crimes against women and children.Warren Jeffs is their hero!

    May 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Well then....

      Wrong group ding dong

      May 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  13. Chickki

    Say no to the Mormon cult,they are not christians do not be fooled by their lies!

    May 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      ALL christian denominations are cults. ALL of them.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  14. Doobie Doobie Doo

    Mormons are usually good people. But Joe Smith was the Jim Jones of his era (minus the kool aid).


    May 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Scoobie Snack

      Yeah right, because Jim Jones was so good at attracting good people and organizing a thriving church to leave behind.

      "By their fruits ye shall know them" is a good test whether you are a Bible reader or not. Joseph Smith's fruits include millions of faithful, good LDS people and a Church that do good all over the world every day.

      Jim Jones... not so much. Doobie Doobie doo... not so much.

      May 14, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  15. Geraldine Jensen

    When I was 21 I left my mainline Christian church and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because I thought that the doctrines made more sense and I had received a witness from the Holy Ghost of their truthfulness. Other than to make clear the doctrinal differences between the LDS Church and my old church, I have never said anything negative about my former church. The vitriol expressed by many of those making comments here, says more about them the the LDS Church., something confirmed to me by non-members, many of whom, have had positive interactions with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

    May 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      Glenn Beck believes and forgives you. Geraldine, are you as crazy as Glenn?

      Does Glenn Beck represent LDS principles and values?

      May 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      True or False: The mormon church was started by an ex-con (literally, a con artist- including night digging for money, dousing, snake oil sales and banking fraud).

      It's okay to believe in fairy tales when we're children, but at some point we have to grow up and face the light of reality. That's not vitriol, that's reality.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      Orwell seen it before, c'mon...you can do better than that! Does Jim Bakker represent the principles and values of evangelical Christians?


      May 13, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Marcus James

      Mr. Mormon, Please explain to us what the mormons do to people they ex-communicate from the church (sometimes for incredible bad reasons). Thanks and good bye. You people are insane and in many ways worse than muslims who i define as 100% evil to the core. Other chirstians might have issues but you guys are beyond redemption. Only hell will suffice for the way you treat others outside the church and those who leave your church. If i were religious the first thing I would pray for is that there is no god because anyone with a brain so small can only be sent one way to hell if a god had to judge them for not using the gift of thought they were given (rather than impulse or animal instinct like a dog).

      May 14, 2012 at 12:57 am |

    Onas is Jewish or Muslim..... Don't listen to his cult!

    May 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • ONAS

      I am not Jewish or Muslim i am Bogomil, the original follower of Jesus

      Besides, you don't have to follow me I gave you verses to prove my point. Do you deny them?

      May 13, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  17. CD

    These people are scary.

    May 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm |

    We are ALL Christians – no matter if you are Catholic, Mormon, Protestant, Orthodox, Jehovas or whatsoever! RESPECT AND LOVE EACH OTHER, JUST LIKE JESUS DID!

    May 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • ONAS

      jesus is not Lord or God or w/e

      The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his SERVANT Jesus" Acts 3:13

      servant, not "god"

      May 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • ONAS

      no we are Bogomils

      : )

      May 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • IslandAtheist

      Jesus is the guy that cuts my grass.

      May 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • kerfluffle

      Jesus was one of Romney's illegal landscapers.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      JESUS IS THE LORD AND SAVIOUR, you are correct. Unfortunately, there are those who doubt that and can be quite hateful about it in the process. I have been to many churches in my life, and the only differences I noticed were in the details.

      A Christian is one who believes Christ is their saviour and lives using Jesus' life as an example, period. Anything beyond that is up for debate, and people shouldn't be persecuted for not falling in lock-step with everyone else and/or condemned for the misdeeds of a few among them. I find it very sad that there are some who would rather attack people then pull together under the banner of Christianity to accomplish great things.

      I have found that the people who seem to resemble true Christians the most are able to agree to disagree regarding denominations. It makes me wonder why some of these pastors we see denouncing Mormons are so vitriolic about it. Why so kind to those who are lost, yet so cruel to a fellow Christian? Maybe with Mormonism on the rise, their congregations – and therefore the offering plates – are shrinking? I can't think of any other reason...

      May 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      If by "christian" you mean, "delusional," then yeah... you're all the same

      May 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Dave

      Well said!

      May 14, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  19. ONAS

    John 20:17: "Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them,'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

    jesus is NOT God,

    'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to MY GOD and your God.'"

    May 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  20. ONAS

    jeuss is NOT God.

    Mark 13:32:"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

    if jesus (son) doesn't know about that hour how can he be God ?

    May 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm |

      Jesus is son of God.
      Study the bible and learn.

      May 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • ONAS

      I am the one bringing u verses and u have nerve to tell me to study bible? lol

      May 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • kerfluffle

      Yes, study the co-opted verse that passes for the word of some fairy beastie.

      Good one.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64
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.