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. Mormon magical underwear

    Go back to planet Kolob where you think god lives and wash some of that mormon magical underwear you fols worship and revere so much. You weirdos and you magical underwear crack me up lol, out of all the things you consider sacred uyou think your undies have power,maybe the skidmards do have power,the power to repel people because the skidmarks chase them away rofll. Say no to Bishop Skidmark and his cultist agenda lol.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • MikeB

      Why are you fixated on people's underwear?
      The only thing magical about any emblem of one's faith is that they reverence the symbolism of their commitment of fidelity to God and their Spouse. In this day and age; that is magic or a miracle.
      In some ways I'm glad they keep their emblems to themselves. It's a lot better than some that flaunt it and shove it into our faces.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      Listen to MikeB, forget the magic underwear. It's about the magic etch a sketch.

      When he shakes it, like in the movies, we will all forget and the Bishop will rule us oh so righteously.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  2. JWH

    I am 70+ and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and am very proud of it! My wife, five boys, and one daughter are some of the finest individuals I know. Yes, the kids got up at 5 a.m. for Seminary; yes, there are 3 Eagle Scouts in the bunch; yes, three of them served 2-year Missions inside and outside the U.S. And I was not a "Mormon" nor was my wife for 30 years, but we have always appreciated the members we knew prior to our becoming members of the Church. They were friendly, helpful, kind - but excuse me, guess I'm just repeating the Boy Scout Law. There's no lawlessness in our family, no drunken driving, there is good health and kindness shown to others...hurricane victims, the elderly, people who need help in all respects. I could never ask for more. I even respect the way they DO NOT insult other religions. Hmmmm–do I detect Paulbots in the vicinity?

    May 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • MikeB

      Those are the things that the antagonist are in the gall of bitterness about. (gall and wormwood, bitterness of spirit; deep resentment.) They don't feel better about themselves unless they have someone to mock or look down upon. It is the bottomless pit that antaganist find themselves in and resent anyone that has a perceived sense of purpose or worth.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      Paulbots? Is that like BishopBots? Toughcrowd and mikeB are hard shift workers, striking out helping the haters not hate Starship Romney. The magic etch a sketch guy, promise them something, money, power, redemption, position, status or success if they stop those hating ways that keep the bishop from being POTUS.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • MikeB

      Orwell seen it before – Rational and Reason are things that some just can't seem to grasp.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      That is so righteous MikeB. The haters should obey, it would be so much easier for them.
      their reasons are obstacles to Bishop Romney becoming POTUS, this is unreasonable to block the will of a bishop.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • MikeB

      Orwell seen it before – A 'Free People', Families, and Churches are obstacles to 'Totalitarian' Governments. Which is why those three are targets of Dictatorships and Tyrants.
      I doubt that you are on these post to promote anything of god report. Just here to distract, redirect, divide, agitate, ... Yep, to carry out the Obama campaign strategy.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      MikeB, I thought you were working for Obama! Did they not tell you?
      Forget it, keep going after haters.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  3. TJM

    For anyone truly interested in understanding a presidential candidates true religious beliefs and those of your Mormon neighbors throughout the world, please go to http://www.mormon.org

    May 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      I prefer media matters. Hard work you guys, between your wackiness and the haters, this blog is quite informative as to how tied up Bishop's Romney and the Mormon machine corp mesh.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • MikeB

      Orwell seen it before – Then you admit that you are a minion for Media Matters and are on here just to agitate, malign, deceive, divide, ... In other words, carry out Obama's campaign strategy.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      MikeB do you not know? I control media matters and all things Mormon & Klingon?
      Murdoch and Ailes wear my choke collars, little boy. I command you to stop the haters and restore Bishop Romney to his destiny as POTUS. He is chosen, unlike his father who merely trained him.

      I am also the big voice in the wizard of oz. step back.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  4. joesoph was a con man

    I cant believe anyone would try to defend the Mormon church when they have been so hostile toward the religious teachings of the bible,they have distorted the word of god and turned it into a circus.These cultists need to realise the gig is up america knows that the mormon religion is a crazy cult and the smart people stay away.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • MikeB

      You obviously are void of any benevolence to entice Mormons to change their ways.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      That is righteous MikeB. Get the hater, now is the time to restore, restore, restore, restore....
      No benevolence to the south park hater. Intruder alert.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  5. Ellen G. White

    I'm Obama and I approve this forum, thank you CNN for exposing the truth!

    May 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • MikeB

      Don't you mean. Thank you Media Matters for spinning the propaganda. All tax exempt and funded by Obama's sponsors.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      Thank you MikeB. You matter, along with your friends out to stop the haters and stop that French Gaul of bitterness.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • MikeB

      It's actually 'gall' or 'wormwood'.
      Orwell seen it before – Surely you're not one of the worms.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Orwell seen it before

      MikeB you flip flop, you wrote Gaul and gall. which is it?
      French bitterness does have a sublime appeal to it.
      But if you are talking about the stuff in jesus' crucifixion, stick with gall.
      Just don't confuse the haters, they are about to vote Republican.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  6. Tom G

    As a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which most non members refer to "Mormon" most if not all of the non-mormon statements in this post are untrue. Growing up as a Christian I began to question some of the more fundamental parts of chrisianity. The concept of trinity which is not in the bible, the baptizing of infants, the condition of men and women if not baptized prior to their death and marriage and the condition of families after this life. Since I have joined I have felt closer to Christ and desire to be more like him by emulating his teachings in my life. It is not easy, but it is my utmost desire. Don't listen to the false statements contained herein. Do your own research, you and your family will be blessed. It is by the grace of God that we will live with him again. Do your homework. Most negative statements that you read about the religion come from those who have never investigated or from those who left the religion in disgrace.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Samantha

      Quit trying to spin it,Mormons are a cult that is twisted.You folks brainwash and try to control women and children,you folks are bigoted toward mainstream christianity.You cultists need to all stay in Idaho and never bother the rest of us with your sick beliefs,please stay away.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • MikeB

      Samantha – Do you have a Heart or even understand the Atonement of Christ. Your post are laced with the Gaul of bitterness.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  7. Richard "BONEHEAD" Cheney

    It's a cult. The foundations of Mormonism are so incredibly far fetched. The world is only 6,000 years old, a special planet called Kolob is where privileged Mormons will rule and it only gets more crazy the further one reaches into their beliefs.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • MikeB

      You don't even have that correct. You must be regurgitating the hate and venom you've been hearing from the pulpit. Kind of like those G. D. America sermons.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  8. Samantha

    I tried to be friendly with my mormon neighbors but if they treat other religions like they are the devil,the hell with them then.Mormons want to be respected but act like they are superior to other religions and races and thats just the tip of the iceberg.I cant wait till I can sell my house and move away from these weirdo cultists.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Davis

      Whatever. I have witnessed other religions taking the same approach. Pot calling the kettle black.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • MikeB

      Apparently you don't realize that there are more Mormons outside of the U.S.A now. And they're not a majority light skinned (Mixed Race or Otherwise). It is stereotype to consider all light skinned people as 'White'.
      Just what is it that you do that they can't warm up to without compromising the standards?

      May 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  9. Samantha

    When my mormon neighbors found out I was catholic they treated me and my family like we were the devil,then i herd that they were calling us gentiles,wth is that all about.They acted like we were filth because we were not a part of their cult and I hate everyt minute that they talk bad about christians and treat us like we are 3rd class citizens.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • TJM

      Samantha, I am so sorry that happened to you and your family. One of my best friends is Catholic and we have so much in common with our faiths. Yes there are differences, but we find them interesting points of respectful discussion. I hope someday you will come to know more members of the LDS church and have better experiences with them. We are taught to follow Christ and love and respect all God's children. Unfortunately, as in all faiths, there are those who follow the teachings taught and those who do not. But, fortunately, these are the minority.

      Best wishes!

      May 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  10. TJM

    I am a Mormon and a mother of four beautiful daughters. I feel encouraged in my home and at church to be the best person I can be. I am encouraged to be kinder, more knowledgeable, educated, and to strive to be like Jesus Christ. We believe He is the Savior of the world. It is to Him we look for salvation. We honor Joseph Smith for his role as a prophet, just as all Christians honor Moses and other prophets. But Joseph Smith is not our Messiah. Only Jesus Christ fulfills that role. No matter what anyone says or believes, as an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I know I am a Christian and am free to choose how and what I want to believe. Like all good Christians, I am a student of the Bible, I seek to follow Christ's example and look to Him as my hope, through His grace, for peace in this life and salvation in the life to come.

    I hope in the conversations that follow, we can all remember we can disagree and share arguments without belittling and degrading those who see things differently.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Ellen G. White

      TJM it's simple, the bible warns us against Joseph Smith!

      Deuteronomy 13:1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder,
      Deuteronomy 13:2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them,"
      Job 13:4 You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you!
      Isaiah 9:15 the elders and prominent men are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail.
      Jeremiah 7:8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
      Jeremiah 23:13 "Among the prophets of Samaria I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray.
      Jeremiah 23:21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied.
      Jeremiah 23:25 "I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!'
      Jeremiah 23:31 Yes," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, 'The LORD declares.'
      Lamentations 2:14 The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.
      Lamentations 3:37 Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?
      Ezekiel 13:10 "'Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash,
      Zephaniah 3:4 Her prophets are arrogant; they are treacherous men. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law.
      Zechariah 10:2 The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • TJM

      I am sorry you feel that way. I know all these quotes from the Bible and they warn against deceivers. Joseph Smith was no such man. Mormons only worship God and HIs son Jesus Christ; we have no idols. The same God you worship is the same God I do. I know I will not convince you of this in a thread. I do not intend to. I just hope that as you try to seek for understanding of people of my faith, you will go to websites endorsed by our Church. There you will find our true beliefs. Not those of people filled with fear and hatred.

      Try http://www.lds.org or http://www.mormon.org

      May 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • MikeB

      Ellen G. White – By their fruits yea shall know them. Matthew 7:16
      What you offer here are thorns and thistles and are not of the Spirit.
      Do you know what the fruit of the Spirit are? Galatians 5:22

      May 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  11. Mormon magical underwear

    Yeah these weirdos have no place in any kind of gov office.Take your magical skidmarked underwear back to your church please we dont want them in the whitehouse.You people are sick and your lies will not work,you are all brainwashed cultists that are being controlled.The mormons are out in force on these forums to try and make you think they are normal,but they are the furthest from that,do not believe their lies,they are cultists and please for the sake of god underwear has no powers roflll.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Davis

      Wow, you are sooooooo funny!

      May 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Sam

      What are you talking about? After reading your comments it appears that you are the one in need of help.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  12. David Koresh

    Kokaubeam vs. Higgs Boson

    May 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  13. David Koresh

    What I have learned from this thread is Mormisim is a lot worst then I thought! "Eep Op Orp Means I love you" – Official Kolob Greeting

    May 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  14. Joe

    Dont support the weirdo MORMON cults,say no to Romney,dont sell out your faith,stand up for what is right and reject these cultists!

    May 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Sam

      Can you explain to me how Mormonism is a cult?

      May 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  15. Joe

    Mormon dont want others around because they dont want us to see how screwed up their beliefs are,they dont want outsiders telling their people they are being brainwashed.They dont want us to plant the seed theat they are wrang and perverted for what they do to women and children.Mormons are a cult and need to be given no credit to anything other than thay are a Twisted cult that is non christian that believes in brainwashing and controlling women and kids,not to mention countless other crimes I will not get into.

    May 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • souptwins

      By all means attend a Sunday service next week (respectfully, please) and see for yourself all these poor brainwashed women and children. Mormon women are among the most educated and competent I know in all fields of endeavor. Don't forget to see how many references you hear about Jesus Christ being the Savior of all mankind as well. Please– come see our "secrets" for yourself.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  16. Scott

    One thing i do know about mormons is they dont play well with others. if you live near them (Mesa AZ , SALT LC) you know what im talking about. their kids will have nothing to do with kids who arent mormon, and they will make you feel like an outcast if you live among them. I have lived in many places and have never cared what religion people were until I lived near mormons. Most christians dont care what religion you are if your neighbors, but mormons although friendly on the surface will have nothing to do with you.

    May 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  17. Nick

    My family moved to Utah when I was 5 and I made a bunch of friends. We played everyday that first summer. After about 3 months, my friends parents found out my family was not Mormon. My friends were told by their parents that they could no longer play with me and I went from having a bunch of friends to zero friends. I didn't understand it when I was 5 but I have always had a strong dislike of that religion ever since.

    May 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • mormonandgay

      Nick, I am so sorry that you were treated that way. It was wrong of them. Our church leaders constantly remind us that we must be kind to and befriend those who do not believe as we do. I hope you can see past the mistakes of those people to see that the majority of those in the LDS faith are kind and outgoing. Those of our faith who shun others who aren't of our faith are not truly living their religion.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • David Koresh

      Mormom and Gay, does it get any worst?

      May 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • mormonandgay

      David Koresh does what get any worse?

      May 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  18. Jimbo21

    Why is it so hard to believe that repubs wont sell out their faith to support a cultist like Romney?I am a conservative republican and hate the idea we have a mormon candidate,they perverted the christian religion to make it fit their selfish needs and i cannot support that.I will not support a non christian cultist,these Romney bots sent to these forums to make Mormonism look peachy will not work,we know what you did to our christian teachings,we know what you do to women and children,we know how you brainwash,we know you are a cult and will fight and lie to make it out like you are so wonderfull.America knows better,and those that sell out to support this cult shame one you!

    May 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Mormon Expert

      I'll be voting Libertarian. Thats what I recommend to people who cant deal with Mitt the Flip Flopper or Mitt the Mormon/ Both.

      May 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Jw11

      How sad to see he negativity here. Look how angry you are. Obviously you didn't have a very happy childhood. Your anti Mormon slurs amuse me more than anything. This is like a worker at burger king trying to describe how to perform open heart surgery. you have no clue what your saying lol

      May 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  19. carlyjanew6


    May 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  20. mormonandgay

    I am a mormon and I am gay, but I choose not to act on it. If you want to learn more, you can read here:

    May 14, 2012 at 1:45 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.