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 Soprano

    Thank you, Dan Gilgoff and CNN for providing an intelligent piece of journalism. This is thoroughly well researched, and provides an accurate representation of who Mormons are, what we believe in, and how hard we work to make any corner of the world we live in a little better and brighter. I am saddened by the hate speech, misinformation, and intolerance included in this comment stream. It is in such stark contrast to the positive and enlightening report. Life is so short. Why should we waste any precious time trying to tear down and mock others, when there's so much good we can do to build our community, and help lift one another? Thank you again, CNN, for choosing to set a high standard of journalism for building bridges of understanding and respect.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Higbsib

      And life is sweet and sound for you, without contention as long as we all concede to the mormon way of life. Right?

      May 17, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
      • Mormon Soprano

        My dear Higbsib, life is not "sweet and sound". It's life. Which means it's hard. We all carry our own quiet sorrows and heavy burdens. My suggestion is that we try to be a little kinder and gentler to each other. You are mistaken; Mormons do not expect all to "concede" to our way of life. The eleventh article of our faith states our view on religious freedom: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

        May 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  2. kolob

    Do a wiki search on Mark Hofmann. You won't believe it.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  3. Samuel

    You know, none of the protestant churches could possibly be the true church because they all apostatized from the Catholic church and can claim no authority (Isn't that why we call them protestants?) Christ founded his church on priesthood authority. Hebrews 5 says, " 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
    5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee." Aaron was ordained to the priesthood by Moses, the prophet, and Moses received the priesthood from his father in law, Jethro. John 15:16 says: "16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit," Christ never intended that minsters and pastors run helter skelter preaching whatever they please and taking priesthood authority "unto themselves". He intended that his church be run by revelation administered by a prophet. Only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the organization of the original church and is administered by a prophet of God. It is the only church today that is administered by verifiable priesthood authority with most churches not even bothering with authority at all!

    May 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • peter

      Samuel-chritendom rejects you–you are the church of joeseph smith and his claims
      cursed in hell is your book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ and cursed if your prophet joeseph smith in hell forever and ever.
      All of chrsitendom rejects you as does white america–mormons are cursed to the 7th generation–When i see romney, i see a broken emotionally unstable man because deep down he knows the religion of his forfathers is a lie and his prophet is a fraud.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Samuel

      Well, the world rejected Jesus Christ's church the first time it was here. Why should it be different now? If you had lived in Christ's time, would you have accepted him as savior or would you have crucified him?

      May 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • peter

      samuel–Your religion has nothing to do with jesus christ,christendom, or what happended 2000 years ago to what happneded in 1828–Your religion worships a cursed prophet and his cursed christ–Your jesus christ is cursed forever and ever–Cursed is the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ and the modern day prophet.

      May 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  4. peter

    I voted for santorum in the primaries and i would of voted for any of the other republicans if they were the nom. However,i will be sitting out the gen election because of this mormon.

    The truth is that the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God. It was written by a man named joeseph smith in 1830. Cursed is this modern prophet and cursed is hie christ he wrote and preached about. Mormons are cursed even to the 7th generation

    May 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Peter, just out of curiosity, have you even read the Book of Mormon? What do you even know about it? What do you think it is about?

      May 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • peter

      No one has to read it to "know" if it's true or not because the name of it spells out the lie that it is. With that said, years ago i have read through it and im not kidding i started to laugh after i put it down. However, it's no joke because at that time i said –ha ha ha–today i know that mormons are in real trouble

      May 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Abinadi

      So, why are you so mad at Mormons? Did one do a dastardly deed to you? Did we convert some of your congregation? Did one run off with your sister? What in the world?

      May 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • peter

      Abin–nothing that you mentioned–I have intolerance of people claiming to be part of christendom who are not-You–lds- are just flat out blasphemy–ron hubbard is mentioned a few times here-He is an inventor of a false religion as well–However, he never claimed another testament of jesus christ–Two mondern day false prophets–but it is better for ron hubbard than it is for your cursed,wretched prophet

      May 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Abinadi

      See Peter, as soon as you stand up for me, I'll take you down a peg. That's what us mormons do. We're never wrong and anybody that isn't a mormon is NEVER right!

      May 17, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  5. nurseteacher

    Mormons are a "cult!!" they supposedly changed their polygomy status to become a state. How can their religious beliefs change that easily? Joseph Smith was a bigamist who used "God" to support his wishes to have many wives. Polygomy continues to this day among a group of "true" believers forcing young girls to get married to older men. Girls are often "brain" washed to believe they must follow their religious leaders to early marriage. Extra young men are sent away to not interfer with the marriages. Mitt Romney and his wife wear "magic" underwear (now isn't that the silliest thing you have ever heard about? We need separation of church and state and must refrain from voting for anyone with the name of "Bishop" in front of their names. I am even concerned about my own church now that we are accepting of Romney because of the "gay" statement of our president. We have forgotten all about the fact that we once (last year) said that Mormonism was a "cult."

    May 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  6. Mosiah

    I have to admit that I feel a great deal of guilt over the things that I have said to different people on this chat board. I am being paid by the Mormon Church to defend their beliefs and even propagate them amongst the general public. Each post I put on here makes me feel more self-loathing than I can admit, because even though I'm unemployed, and they are paying me to survive, no amount of money can make me believe in the cr*p that I've put on her about how wonderful the Mormons (LDS) are. I can see now that all I'm doing is creating contention and hatred and that I'm saying that Mormons are supieror to all other people...especially if they are NOT mormon. That makes me sick to my stomach.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  7. Tim

    I just did a little research on Mormonism and Joseph Smith. pfffffttttt LMFAO!

    May 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Johnporter

      Exactly! When you do your OWN research, not the propaganda given by the mormon church itself (and you can access court records, federal records, etc...that prove the mormon church is a dangerous cult) you WILL find your own truth. Not what mormons try to tell you or sell you on with their fuzzy, sweet commercials. Find out for yourselves!!!!!!!!!!!! Be a real American Citizen and empower yourselves against this cult that is called mormon!!!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  8. Ron Paul 2012

    that could culminate in Mitt Romney’s arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next year" Here at your quote I quit reading. Let us just say that there possibly could be another sitting at Pennsylvania Avenue next year, Ron Paul. He is winning large amounts delegates and delegates choose the R nominee, (yes I know the media is not letting you know). So as an LDS person I would not vote for Romney because he is the same as O. Big government, big spending, more wars, less liberty.
    Ron Paul is the true hope of America and the millions that are with him and the millions that are catching on. America is broke and going down fast, if you don't want the U.N. to take over this country, tune in to Dr. Paul and be inspired and enlightened.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • wow2

      really? ron paul? you need to stop dreaming and pick either of the 2 actual options.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  9. mark

    mormon missionaries blond white hustlers....they all look like gay boys to me....last week i told two of these fruits to get of my property....or i will let my dogs out they run like little girls

    May 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  10. mark

    no mormon in the white house....they are no christians..its a cult if you h ave to ask yourself if you vote for somebody who wears magic underwear....

    May 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • John

      Mark is not a Christian either. 🙂

      May 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  11. Mosiah

    4 And it shall come to pass that I will smite this my people with sore afflictions, yea, with famine and with pestilence; and I will cause that they shall howl all the day long.
    5 Yea, and I will cause that they shall have burdens lashed upon their backs; and they shall be driven before like a dumb as s.
    6 And it shall come to pass that I will send forth hail among them, and it shall smite them; and they shall also be smitten with the east wind; and insects shall pester their land also, and devour their grain.
    7 And they shall be smitten with a great pestilence—and all this will I do because of their iniquities and abominations.
    8 And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will utterly destroy them from off the face of the earth; yet they shall leave a record behind them, and I will preserve them for other nations which shall possess the land; yea, even this will I do that I may discover the abominations of this people to other nations. And many things did Abinadi prophesy against this people. (Book of Mormon, Mosiah, Chapter 12)

    May 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • LisaHutchins57

      Right mosiah...and thank you for pointing out from your book of mormon WHY we don't need more hatred in the world. Does it make you and your fellow mormons FEEL GOOD that non-believers will be "smite?" I mean seriously? Like we need ANOTHER religion (actually cult) that spreads fear and hatred? Don't you have any idea what people are really like in this world? Don't you think we want LOVE over VIOLENCE and HATRED from a mormon god?????

      May 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Mosiah

      Lisa, are you REALLY going to preach to me how wonderful, upstanding people you are? Oh, please! Slander, theft, bearing false witness, blasphemy, hatred. Is this what your churches teach you in Sunday School? That is certainly not what we teach in the Church of Jesus Christ! Maybe you people should read the Bible sometime. You say you are the people of God? "8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
      9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (New Testament, Matthew, Chapter 3)

      May 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • matt

      it is interesting how we never learn from the past. Scripture that all christian's believe such as what is contained in the Holy Bible should tip us off on not repeating the past but instead we just cycle. this scripture in mosiah is talking about the people of their time not our time. It is talking about their intolerance of people that believed in the gospel of jesus christ. It's saying don't be ignorant of the past. Mormon's don't want anyone to burn. All people are inherently good regardless of religious beliefs. They believe in charity and good works. Despite constant persecution and slander they have grown into a large global following. Mormon's don't FEEL GOOD because of someone else's misfortune.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Mosiah

      Hmmm. Did I say this scripture was about anyone? It was just a scripture I like because it had my hero, Abinadi in it. Here is a nice scripture from Micah: "7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.
      8 ¶And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
      9 Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
      10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:
      11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:
      12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:
      13 Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.
      14 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.
      15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard. (Old Testament, Micah, Chapter 5). What color are lions?

      May 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Tim


      LMAO. Do you have any idea the enormous amount of credit you are giving to this fraud? He's no different than L. Ron Hubbard.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • LisaHutchins57

      So readers, decide for yourself who is the kinder. I have pointed out issues with the mormon church that are real. And yet I am attacked mercilessly by them. They accuse me of heinous things and still provide no proof why someone should be a mormon unless they are a bully. American Citizens, stand up to this cult. Stand up to these liars. Stand up to their history by researching it and finding out that they believe they will become GODS! Stand up to mormons and say NO MORE!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Joe

      I noticed you live or lived in Utah. Were you a Mormon? Why did you leave the church?

      May 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Joe

      The above was @ Lisa.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  12. LisaHutchins57


    May 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  13. Omowale

    Mormonism is simply American racism in religious garb.............the so-called theology of mormonism is nothing more than a collection of European American early 19th century religious notions and racial dogmas that Joseph Smith cobbled together in the mist of his madness.
    Mormonism is very eurocentric and we know that extreme eurocentrism is very close to nazi ideologies. Perhaps that is why Mormonism is considered a "pro-white" religion by the David Dukes and the stormfront crowd.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • matt

      Joseph smith was known for selling his possessions to help buy freedom for slaves. I'd hardly say mormons are racist considering their are people from every race that are mormons. The hearsay complaints about the prophets joseph smith are quite ignorant. He was a prophet of god like moses or noah. And they too were persecuted and slandered although their life's work was to save people. By their fruit ye shall know them and any intelligent person can see that the mormon church is not a cult of 14-15 million members worldwide, they are a church and know for their relief efforts in many countries.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • kalwal

      Where is your proof matt? Show us proof that your boot-legging Jo Smith did ANYTHING for anyone but himself. I want numbers I want references and I want court-level proof because that's the only way to stop you lying SOB mormons!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  14. david

    Club Mormon –

    If CNN really did its homework, the real story is how corrupt the origins of the Mormon Church are (the history is still out there for research). Fact is: If a Mormon discusses their scripture, they would be the fastest shrinking church on the planet.

    May 17, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  15. LisaHutchins57

    Right Jack, like you're not already a mormon posting that comment on here...most of us aren't that dumb. If you need to sell your church that badly, you really need to look inside yourself and ask why it's so important that EVERYONE believes the same thing when it's based on a child molesting, boot-legging criminal....

    May 17, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Jack

      Why is everyone so angry at me for just asking a simple question? You know, I think I am becoming more Mormon by the minute. It just seems that the devil would act the way you are acting, like people did to Jesus!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Jack

      You know what? Never mind. I'll just ask the missionaries. They don't act like you do!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • LisaHutchins57

      WOW Jack, you're also a megalomaniac to tell me that I'm acting like the devil...in the same breath that you're saying you're not a mormon. I think your discussion has surpassed this article and entered the realm of sanity, or the lack thereof. You've really got some problems if you think someone questioning the mormon church is the same as acting like the devil. Wow. Good luck with that!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Missel

      You can criticize the Mormons all you want, but the ones I know are really decent people. I just wish my son would act more like their kids. They must be doing something right!

      May 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • LisaHutchins57

      Misel, I grew up in a mormon family. I'm a 7th generation mormon. I live in Utah and if ANYBODY every comes here they know that most of the children are out of control and hyperactive in stores, restaurants and entertainment venues.. Whatever family you're seeing, with good children, has nothing to do with being mormon and it's insulting to propose that a non-mormon could never raise children correctly. If your son is messed up, it's your fault and no "church" is going to fix him.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  16. Mosiah

    I have a question. Why are the evangelists so terrified of the Church of Jesus Christ? Is it because that church has the truth? If it is the truth, why not just accept it? Why do you fight so hard against the truth? It has been demonstrated by Abinadi that the Protestant churche's teachings aren't based on the Bible. They aren't organized the way Jesus organized his church and they have no priesthood – no apostles or prophets. And, as Abinadi said their concept of the trinity is based on paganism, presided over by Constantine – not on the Bible. Why do you fight so hard against the truth?

    May 17, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Marklngr

      Well mosiah, it might be people like you that push people away from the mormon church. Anybody that claims they are the only ones that know better or that one church is the only right one, is easily profiled as a cult member (look it up). Your anger and fanaticism over being a mormon that is superior to any other church, shows that your church attracts like-minded, troubled people; in doing so, you're proving to us why we cannot have a President in the White House that belongs to your church. Talk about out of touch...

      May 17, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Jack

      I think Mosiah asked a fair question. I was curious and invited the Mormon missionaries into my house. All they talked about was Jesus Christ. I mentioned it to my minister and you would have thought he had seen a ghost! As we talked he became really angry and started shouting at me. I didn't do anything wrong. Why was he so angry?

      May 17, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • peter

      Jack–that story is an outright lie-but you are a mormon and that part i believe

      The truth of the matter is christendom rejects the mormon religion for what it is-The book of mormon is not the word of God written by joeseph smith in 1830. Cursed is the prophet and cursed is his christ that he wrote and preached about-No one is terrified of mormons–i find them to be a weak people in darkness and slavery and i feel sorry for them.

      May 17, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Jack

      My minister didn't have any answers to my questions either. He just got angry. Mosiah brought up prophets. Can anyone tell me why there are no prophets today? That is something I have wondered about. Why no prophets? I'm sorry, but to me it seems logical that God had prophets up until Jesus, and then none. Why?

      May 17, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • LisaHutchins57

      Nice try, Jack-the-mormon....but the Pope is considered the equivalent of a prophet and that goes all the way back to Jesus. Besides that, why does the earth need prophets? It doesn't seem like they did much in the Old Testament except go around and tell people to destroy "non-believers." One of the discussions that mormon missionaries go over when they are teaching "investigators" is that we need prophets today to guide us. That is why it's dangerous to have a President in the White House that is told that he must OBEY every word of his prophet (mormon).

      May 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Mosiah

      Lisa, the first pope was actually a bishop. Do your research. After the apostles died, there was great confusion as the saints were persecuted, slain, and the church went underground. The first pope seems to Marcellinus In about 304 a.d. This appears to be during Constatine's time. He may have appointed the first pope. Thus the pope may have been appointed by a pagan. If you are Catholic, you should know your own history. I was recently reading about Pope Alexander VI of Banquet of Chestnuts fame and who sold the papacy for money to the highest bidder. It is well docu mented that many popes achieved the office through murder. You must ask yourself if God, who is Holy, would really run his church through such men. We must come to the inescapable conclusion that the church had apostacised from the truth and was not the church that Christ established.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • LisaHutchins57

      PULEASE mosiah (taken from the book of mormon...can we say...freak?)

      You can call the Pope a bishop (and do your own research you ignoramus because he's not a bishop, he's levels above that!) but the Catholic Church considers him to be the equivalent of the Prophets of old in the Old Testament.

      Dang, people like you need to get a life. You think the rest of us are SO ignorant that we wouldn't dare know better or we wouldn't dare challenge your silly beliefs. You're a young, silly cult; you've hardly been around and only because Romney is running for president are you SHOVING your beliefs down the throats of people that know better!!!! Get a grip man!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  17. Schadenfreudean Psychologist

    NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY, the biography of Joseph Smith by Fawn M. Brodie, tells all anybody needs to know about the founder and archetypal 'head fraud' of the LDS church. These scammers don't belong in public office - especially in federal office. Send them back to Utah or whatever hole they crawled out of, puhleeze!

    May 17, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  18. LisaHutchins57

    Is it just me or is this abi...guy some kind of crazy man? I mean, he's going on about mormon beliefs and then he's off again....
    Anyhow, it's important today to remember that Jospeh Smith made himself a General and wanted to rule the United States under a self-formed theocracy. How can we have a President that follows a religion that not only believes that, but MUST follow every word the church tells them to?

    May 17, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • peter

      lisa–this republican will be sitting out the gen election–i don't vote for mormons

      There are 2 abinadi–one is a real mormon and the other is a troll

      May 17, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • LisaHutchins57

      peter....a troll? From reading your posts you claim to be a christian and yet this "troll" has done nothing to you and you call him or her a troll. It seems to me that you and the abinadi guy have a lot more in common than you'd like to admit: hatred.

      May 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Abinadi

      i think Lisa is the low down Varmint who stole my name. She doesn't mind llying, cheating, and slandering and she is defending herself. I think such a person would also stoop to just about anything including stealing and slandering my name!

      May 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  19. Crlclrk


    May 17, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Mosiah

      Slander, theft, bearing false witness, blasphemy, hatred. Is this what your churches teach you in Sunday School? That is certainly not what we teach in the Church of Jesus Christ! Maybe you people should read the Bible sometime. You say you are the people of God? "8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
      9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (New Testament, Matthew, Chapter 3)

      May 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • LisaHutchins57

      mosiah, DENY that you are taught in the mormon church that you can become a god. Deny it right here, right now! There is nothing inaccurate about this article, you are just scared of the truth getting you!

      May 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • wow

      This is full of half-truths and blatant lies; I don’t know which is worse.

      I believe I am a son of God and as such have the potential to be like Him. I also believe Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  20. Abinadi

    I can't control myself! I feel so torn between who I am and what I believe. I know the mormon mafia will get me for confessing this, but I hate the mormons! I was brainwashed by them and I want to be a healthy gay man again with the right to marry!!!!

    May 17, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Mosiah

      Shame, shame, shame!

      May 17, 2012 at 1:00 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.