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. Non-Mormon in Idaho

    I was forced to Idaho six years ago for my job with a international company. Idaho might as well be called Utah. It is dominated by Mormons that rule everything from local and state governments. Jobs are only filled if by individuals that live in the right ward. Idaho government, the education system and legal system – DA’s and police are filled with illegal, underhanded dealings all protected by the collective “Ward”. I send my daughter to a private Christian school so she doesn’t have to attend a Mormon public school. Mormon seminary buildings sit on the same property as public schools – no separation of Church and State in Idaho. The Mormons run the state I am forced to live, they will not get my vote to run my country! Take it from a non-Mormon that has to live under their dominance it is no way to live.

    May 14, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • toughcrowd

      Please provide evidence of "illegal, underhanded dealings" and in exchange, you will get your credibility back.

      And be sure it proves SYSTEMIC abuses. After all, every religion/profession/group has bad apples.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Solar

      Amen to toughcrowd.
      P.S. Mormon seminary are also located next to schools and on school property in many other states in America such as California and Washington. I would assume the same applies to some foreign schools as well.

      May 14, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Solar

      Also California and Washington are solidly liberal, secular states so if having a seminary building on school grounds truly was a violation of church and state I think they would be the first ones to take action against it.

      May 14, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Renegatus

      Amen to that. I too live in Idaho, and left the church after being tricked into baptism. I was lucky my parents werent LDS so they didn't care when I left the church. But everything here is run by them, and it's often sickening to see so many 19 year old girls married to 21 year old men and they already have a child to tote around. Anti-Mormon Idaho Brigade... stay strong my man!

      May 14, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Solar

      Please tell us how they tricked you into baptism. Was it with money, land, candy, or did you get baptized, have a bad experience in your life that, right or wrong, you have placed squarely on the shoulders to avoid taking personal responsibly and are now using the church as an excuse for your problems.
      I am amazed at how often I hear stories like this in which it was the church that got me fired, or ruined my family, or deceived me, without any recognition of personal responsibility.
      That being said hope all worked out well with you.

      May 14, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  2. So much hatred

    The hatred for Mormons here amazes me. Hatred for others is usually taught by parents or religious leaders. Sad.

    May 14, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  3. mcineri

    too bad VA isn't DC. quit grouping us in with those people

    May 14, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  4. Conservative Christian

    Sorry to disapoint some people but like I said I cannot support a cultist,I have voted repub every election,this time im sitting out,I will not sell out my faith,and know many of you will. I would gladly go vote for Santorum but not a cult leader Romney.

    May 14, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Abinadi

      Sir, you can call yourself a Christian all you want, but you, Sir, are no Christian!

      May 14, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • MormonChristian

      You cannot be a Christian and preach hatred as you do...

      May 14, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Solar

      While I disagree with your assertion that Mormonism is a cult I do applaud your desire to elect righteous men who hold the teachings of Christ close to their hearts.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Solar

      Lest my comment be misconstrued I meant "elect righteous men and women".
      Also MormonChristian relax, he is not preaching hatred. He is simply following the convictions of his heart.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • toughcrowd

      Are you still here babbling hateful gibberish?

      I was really hoping you'd be gone by the time my ears stopped bleeding from the last batch of comments.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • toughcrowd

      Solar, normally I would agree with you, but you really need to check out some of the classics from this one earlier in the thread. This "Conservative Christian" is an imposter.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Laughing Atyou420

      Conservative= Bigot
      Christian= ignorant

      Any questions?

      May 14, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • toughcrowd

      Laughing Atyou420, your equations only apply to this particular "Conservative Christian" variable. To extrapolate those terms out to include everyone, you would in fact be labeling yourself.

      By making generalizations when you are unfamiliar with the other variables (i.e. you don't know me or anyone else on this board unless you are a paid troll) you will arrive at the wrong answer every time.

      May 14, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  5. Solar

    Post a fair minded, accurate article on Mormons and the antimormon's can barely, if at all, keep their venomous hate from spilling into their posted comments.
    If a group is formed for the sole purpose of destroying a religion whose sole purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ which is love and peace, then what can we infer about said group?

    May 14, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • toughcrowd

      You're absolutely right, and I will even grant you the whole "fair minded, accurate article" thing to boot!

      May 14, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • big love

      Can we have a Jehovah vice president and A 7th Adventist Secratary of state? Why not have all the cults running the show!

      May 14, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Orwell seen it before

      Don't be a bigot and a hater. Scientologists are needed to run American government, they would be good VP running mate for Bishop Mitt.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • toughcrowd

      Orwell seen it before & big love, you DO realize bigotry can go either way, right?!?

      Your hypocrisy is showing! Better tuck that in before it trips you up...

      May 14, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  6. Bill Fitzgerald

    So Romney listens to a Gospel that teaches him to love and serve your neighbor and country and obama sits at the feet of a preacher for 20 years who hates america, jews, freedom......... and now we get to choose who will be the next POTUS. mmmmmmmmmm and this is a difficult decision?

    May 14, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • David

      As opposed to Romney who's religion bars all non-white from Haven and thinks they all become gods/goddesses when they die in this life? lol

      May 14, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • golds

      Romney's religion doesn't bar any nonwhites from heaven, but welcomes all. As the article said, there are more mormons outside of the US than inside, including Asians, Africans, Latinos, Polynesians; in fact, almost every race worldwide.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  7. Conservative Christian

    Im a repub and wont vote for Romney,I wont support a cult leader.What on earth was the gop thinking by having a cult leader as our candidate wth!!

    May 14, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • toughcrowd

      I suspect you are as much of a Republican as you are a "Conservative Christian" by your comments.

      That was an example of sarcasm.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • MormonChristian

      Careful....people called Christianity a cult in its early days too. Follow the advice of Gamaliel.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  8. rtbrno65

    Of course DC is a Mormon stronghold. They go to where the power is. DC is everyone's stronghold for that reason.

    May 14, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Martin

      The same reason it's also a Freemasonry stronghold.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  9. big love

    I hate the Mormon cult so much, that I will be voted for Obama!!!! There selfish and mean and want to convert everyone!

    May 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      " I will be voted for Obama!!!!"

      Somehow that makes sense to me...

      May 14, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • big love

      Voted = voting thanks to my iPad autocorrection. When I type Mormon , my iPad autocorrects with the word cult!

      May 14, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • toughcrowd

      Clever you!

      May 14, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • stebar2

      I'd take that iPad back if I were you...

      May 14, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • big love

      I should take my iPad back, and you should go back to Utah, being they both are defective...

      May 14, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • MormonChristian

      More like "big hate". Christ never hated anyone or taught hate. You expose your real master by your words.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  10. Alex

    I'm surprised that all the Protestants and Catholics are happy campers with a Mormon President.
    Republicans Christians would rather have a Mormon President than a Protestant black Democrat,it is amazing .

    May 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • I'm surprised too

      I'm surprised you would think it's strange that someone would for someone based on issues rather than religion.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  11. Dr,Montalvano

    As Mark Twain correctly said: Mormon is "Chloroform in print," A fraudulent fabricated book that stole 25000 words from the Old Testament, plus 2000 from the New Testament., plus an amount of lies and false statements....

    May 13, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Martin

      And even though it was "translated" in the 1820's, somehow the translation came out in the form of 1611, King James English. Righhhhhhhhhhht !

      May 14, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • stebar2

      You've obviously never read the book.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • MormonChristian

      You forgot to mention which words were "stolen". The ones that confirm Isaiah's prophecies of the restoration of Israel and Jesus as Messiah. There's a reason why those words are in there, and in plain print. Paul and Jesus also quoted from the Old Testament to show fulfillment of prophecy. You apparently don't understand either the Bible or the Book of Mormon.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • golds

      The Book of Mormon is not written in the precise language of King James. Linguists, including non-mormon ones, have found distinct language patterns for each prophet who wrote in the Book of Mormon, and definite Hebrewisms. Joseph Smith used King James words when he translated, because he was a product of the early 1800s where the Bible was read daily in families, and words like thee and thine depicted sacred respect. He was comfortable with those words, but the form of the book itself is different.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:18 am |
  12. Conservative Christian

    The mormons had the nerve to make fun of christians on these forums calling babtists and catholics ,evangicals crazy,well We are christians not Mormons who distort and pervert the bibles teachings.The mormons are a cult that will stop at nothing to spread their false beliefs on us and lie or hidewhat they really are about,These Mormons are a sick bunch and please dont sell out and support a bishop cultist just to get obama out,we may have to wait a little longer for an honest christian to represent us but its worth the wait,dont sell out to a cult.

    May 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • HowdyDoo

      As a child in southern Idaho the Mormons ridiculed us Christians calling us "Gentiles".

      If Christians are Gentiles then what are Mormons?

      May 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Ryan Evans

      ah cnn... now you're a mormon missionary in addition to an Apple corporate spokesperson. way to keep your integrity.,

      May 13, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  13. Doobie Doobie Doo

    I'm sorry. But this is REALLY informative about mormonism . If you have the time, give it a look.


    May 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • HowdyDoo

      Totally creepy.

      May 13, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • God created dumb ppl so we all can have a laugh

      Why are these fools looking for things on youtube like it is a creditable source, because it is not, yes sorry to say youtube is not a strong argument for any argument. For an example look at the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPrlcyEExnI ....It looks cool right, probably wanna go try this, but to save you the trouble and mess i'll spoil the fun and tell you it does not work. This is an example of voodoo science we have used in my science class. IF you want to make allegations towards these good people go to the source and than report. You people are no better than those conspiracy theorist nut jobs.

      May 13, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • spc1

      there are no trutbs to be found oon this blasfamous site.. I have been censored and blocked for putting on a fioht for right! and have been insultingly but not ashamedly rebuked by this lopsided biased digusting site of a disguiise iin the name of reporting!

      May 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Dr,Montalvano

      excellent video. Thanks for posting.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Martin

      Greatly appreciated. Scholarly and accurate.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • big love

      Thank you for that video, I will be posting it on many sites to educate people with the truth!

      May 14, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • golds

      Biglove, and as you post it your credibility will come into question as you use the university of Youtube as your source.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  14. Conservative Christian

    these wackos think they are christians when they distort the bible teachings and worship Joesoph Smith the crook.These are some sick culltists that have sisterwives, molestation of women and children,brainwashing,force women into submission,these are a bunch of sicko puppies and dont listen to their lies they are all wackjobs.

    May 13, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • God created dumb ppl so we all can have a laugh

      What you say concerning the bible could be said toward any Christian faith. If not than why do almost every Christian sect differ in their gospel teachings and interpretations. Research your allegations before you blab your silly mouth around.

      May 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Anthony

      write your name coward! You Mr. so-called Christian are so full of shat your eyes are brown!!

      May 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      "Conservative Christian", take a cue from the Mormons and lay off the caffeine...

      May 13, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Are you sure you're a Christian?


      May 14, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Conservative Christian... you see why loving a god before loving your fellow human being causes problems? You are, first and foremost, a human being...not a Christian, Mormon, Hindu Muslim Jew what ever.... while you wallow in the cults of death, life is passing you by. The ego of religion is the itch causing the world to scratch... Your religion, your god is no more real, has no more proof of existence than the myriads of others that inhabit the human mind.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • big love

      Right On my brother! Just remember when your dealing with a cult, they only believe with what there told with there hive mentality. There just like ants, but with magic underwear, they just need to go back into hiding in there ant hole in Utah.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • cigarlover

      Very well said EvolvedDNA!
      I am amazed at the amount of religiosity that this presidential election is churning out. Can't believe that this country, crying out loud for economic revival, continues to be lost in religious debates and religion mandated social issues.
      The religious right (read Christians) in America are holding everyone by their balls to listen to their way of life and thinking. Just pathetic.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • God created dumb ppl so we all can have a laugh.

      to "Anthony": name is Brandon, anything else i can do for you my brother. Seems like you need happy pill or mouth wash with a potty mouth like that. If we aren't Christians that is news me, and must of been told lies all my life. Shoulda known with such Christ like examples like you that i was on the wrong path. I am so glad someone finally told me what i believed in, Lamo, what next your gonna tell jews they aint jewish.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • toughcrowd

      cigarlover, except for your first sentence, I agree with you.

      Just signed up tonight (hold the applause) after reading some of the ignorant comments about Mormons here because 1) casting a ballot in an election should never be based on agreeing or disagreeing with a candidate's religious views. As you mentioned, our country has WAY bigger fish to fry at the moment, and 2) whenever someone targets and persecutes a group of people without knowing the facts and/or spreading falsehoods, they should be challenged. That is 100% un-American.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Edfromnebraska

      Wrong! I am a Mormon and I know what I believe.......If anyone including you REALLY wants to know what Mormon's believe, why not go to the source and ask a Mormon what he or she believes. Any critic can tell you what they have heard from their religious leader or what they think Mormon's believe, again if you really want to know as a Mormon. So I will give you a source to get CORRECT answers to your questions... Go to Google and type in "Articles of Faith" and you will learn for yourself what the critics of the church don't want you to know............

      May 14, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  15. apooramerican

    While all you people are being manipulated and twisted to conform to some stupid thing like gay mirrage and how this religion is this and that guy whos in that church wants you to vote for this other guy because travon was murderd and those 2 guys are hugging and making out. Do a search on Fed clears China's first US bank takeover and see whats really going on out there. Wow we are so back in the dark ages in this country

    May 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • toughcrowd

      No idea what that first part was about, but I agree with your last sentence.

      The second to last...I will check it out. I'd say that's worth a peek if true.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  16. Conservative Christian

    I agree 100% Mormonism is a cult and I will not vote for Romney and sell out my faith,I urge all conservative christians to think hard before supporting a cultist bishop.I want obama gone too but I will not sell out to a cult to get there.Mormans are a sick bunch and should never be allowed to be the leader of this great nation,say no to the cultist and maybe in 2016 we will find an honest christian to vote for.

    May 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Butch

      Honest Christtain...is like an honest mormon...THEY DO NOT EXIST!

      May 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • God created dumb ppl so we all can have a laugh.

      Sounds like you need to be educated, look up the word cult and think before you speak, you really just make yourself sounds dumber than you might be, but can't promise anything you just might be dumber than a bag a nails. If you would like info the LDS church ask a missionary, but i doubt you will because all you want is to hate someone because that is the Christ like thing to do.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • HotAirAce

      All religions are cults. The LDS are just wackier than most others.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  17. GO AWAY

    Nothing wrong with mormons that a shotgun and shovel will not fix!
    Lying, cult following, brain-washed losers!

    May 13, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Butch

      I'll bring the shovel!

      May 13, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • God created dumb ppl so we all can have a laugh.

      lol, well with a comment like that it sure makes it clear who really is the crazy ones. I would classify people like you with those of the old KKK. Wow i am so freaking jealous, why couldn't my mom marry her cousin, than i could be just like you an ignorant bigot.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • stebar2

      If that doesn't qualify as hate speech, I don't know what does. Too bad the 'Report Abuse' link seems broken.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  18. Kamereon

    When will the rest of the world's religions (and cults – don't want to leave out the Mormons) figure out that money is what it is all about? Judaism, Mormons, and Evangelicals have figured out how to sell God and get rich.

    May 13, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  19. Mormon magical underwear

    I urge anyone to go to youtube and look up morman magic underwear,the reporter is spot on rofl,while your at it look up mormon cults and ex mormons telling their horror stories.Any mormon will argue they are the nicest people you will ever meet,but is that not what a cultist would say?,like they are going to tell you they break the law and believe in this nonsence,this is why they are so secretive

    May 13, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • God created dumb ppl so we all can have a laugh.

      your an idiot, scared and secret are two separate things. Garments are not magic underwear, but a symbol of the promises they have made to God in their temple. A reminder of the way they have promised t live their lives, and if they are blessed for their obedience to those promises then that is no different anyone else being blessed for their obedience and not magic.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  20. Wally

    Wow. The lefties are more bigoted and closed minded than ever.

    May 13, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Px

      The leftists are no good for america, soon they will approve marriage b/w wowan n a dog. They uphold to no human and natural values of the society.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:07 am |
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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.