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. WillieLove

    1. Bible inferior to the Book of Mormon because of great and universal apostasy. So many "plain and precious things" were removed from the Bible and have to be corrected by modern-day revelation. Orson Pratt, an early Mormon apostle said, "Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution?" (is this not what publisher's of new bible versions say? we have "better" manuscripts?) Mormons belittle the Bible because their beliefs and practices are totally inconsistent with it.

    June 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  2. Abinadi

    I just felt the need to let people know the truth, yet again. I mentioned pages back in in this post that I can't help switching my beliefs back and forth because of the horrible programming that the mormon church put me through. Please, please listen to this video. It's an old cartoon and it was actually taken from a church cartoon that was originally shown to mormon youth! It's disturbing because mormons believe that they will become gods and that our God was once a mortal man!!!!


    June 1, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  3. shep

    What does it matter what they believe in? Because this is a Christian country. And Mormons aren't christians. The Mormon church is a cult. Vote for your Mormon messiah. Sounds like you would vote for a devil worshipper as long as you got a tax break.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  4. Kenjitheman

    LOL, some of you people are silly. What does is matter what they believe? What does it matter what practices they do? Liberals brainwash children also so we should never vote for the left either. Vote for the one who can get some of you out of work losers a job.

    May 30, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • peter

      kenj-It matters because i don't vote for scientologists or mormons–They brainwash their children like you say about liberals–Ok you little nerd–by the way i voted for santorum but the republican establishment wanted that loser mormon for the nom–Romney needs to get on his knees on tv and reject the religion of his forfathers–than i will vote for him-I don't know if you noticed but all these anti-mormon comments are from people like me–republicans

      May 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  5. Cheshire Songstress

    Reblogged this on The World's Moving Backwards and commented:
    This helps me realize where else I gained my love of government and politics. How I miss poli sci...

    May 29, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  6. Jessy

    Please, if you are going to research mormons, do it through and official mormon source, that's where you will find what they really believe. You wouldn't ask a baker how to fix the toilet? Don't ask a non-mormon what they believe.

    May 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • peter

      "don't ask a non-mormon what mormons believe" I am a non-mormon. Mormons believe that the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is the word of God.

      May 30, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  7. Geraldine Jensen

    Perter. never once while I was the member of my mainline Christian church, did I hear the pastor, or any member of the congregation say that they knew that this (their) church was true. Or even that they knew that the Gospel and all that it entails, was true. Now I don't blame them. Who could say that the notion of the trinity was true ..three, but not three, one. One, but not one, three. There is no passage in the Bible that says any such thing. Rather Christ prays in the great intercessory prayer, " Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." He is talking specifically about his apostles. They are obviously not one individual (or substance) but are twelve, whom He prays will function as one. We believe that our Heavenly Father, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost comprise the godhead, are physically separate, but function as one. This is a one of many true doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which correct sectarian misconceptions and are the reason why so many leave a former church or finally join a church. Like those described in Acts, they have received a witness from the Holy Ghost of the truthfulness of the doctrines taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And it is growing worldwide. There are now more members outside of the United States, than inside.

    May 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • peter

      Geraldine–trinity is the core of christendom which you don't believe–That not the problem–The problem is you believe the cursed christ of the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ written and preached by your cursed prophet Joeseph smith–The spirit that lead you to believe and be convicted of the truth of the book of mormon is the antichrist spirit.
      I curse your christ and his prophet joeseph smith. Even if you converted the whole world and i was the only non mormon i would never join such a brainwashed temple God.
      Just so you know–this republican will be sitting out the gen election as a number of other posts here by other republicans–White america and christendom rejected your kind a long time ago and put you in your place–utah

      May 29, 2012 at 3:59 am |
    • Kenjitheman

      O.K. seeing how there is only one christ, he must be cursed for all churches who believe on his name.your comment is stupid and you are going to give obama a vote if you sit out. So, thanks for nothing jack off. Don't vote so obama doesn't have to worry about it and don't hold your hand out either when you have no job.

      May 30, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • peter

      kenj–The christ that joeseph smith wrote and preached about is an anti-christ–They are not christians but a brainwashed cult of a cursed lunatic-

      May 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  8. Thor4

    I personally have no time at all for the Mormon so called religion.

    The Mormon church began with Joseph Smith who was a travelling magician and diviner. Before Joseph married Emma Hale he was found guilty of "glass gazing" the original court bill of 1826 showed that he was charged with this offense. The Mormons under Smith's control turned out to be a rough bunch . They stole and murdered. Joe was a polyamist with at least twenty-seven wives. They settled in Nauvoo Illinois and built the states largest city, in 1844 Joe and Hyrum were thrown in Jail. An angry mob stormed the jail and murdered them both. This martyrdomn insured the perpetual reverence to the so called great prophet Joseph Smith.

    People who have joined this "cult" have been indoctrinated into the views of people who run the "cult'. How many people from other religions that are not classified as a cult have to wear monogrammed underwear ? How many people have to purchase groceries such as flour , tins of food etc. from the Church and store them in their basement or laundry room in case the world ends!!! How many people have rules to follow if you are a female ; many many rules !!!!! The assets of the LDS church total more than 30 billion dollars with a gross income of 6 billion dollars. Mormons are expected to give 10 percent of their income to the LDS church.

    This is a superficial religion which is run by people who are only interested in money and power. If one looks back at 'cult' religions one can see the power that they have over certain people. It is very sad to see the day when someone can be in a position to be elected the President of the USA and be a member of the Mormon Church. Romney wants power and he has no idea at all what life is like in the outside world . His only interest is within his own financial kingdom. He is a man who is a compulsive liar and will resort to any way or means to get his way in life.

    May 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  9. Freedom From Religion

    AMERICA - please research the history and long-term goals of the Mormon Church before you vote for Mitt Romney! You think the pastor in North Carolina has some warped views - PLEASE read about the Mormons!

    May 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  10. Seyedibar

    A Mormon stronghold?? Washington DC is 2/3's African-American, who the Mormon church teaches are dark-skinned because of their sins. DC will never embrace that goofball religion founded on bigotry and hate.

    May 28, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  11. Geraldine Jensen

    I left a mainline Christian church fifty years ago to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My husband who eventually served as a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, did the same thing. This past Thursday, I attended a wedding shower for a young woman who joined LDS Church 2 years ago. She is marrying a young man whose family had left the LDS church, who returned to the Church on his own, served a mission, is graduating in accounting from BYU-Idaho, and has a job waiting for him. Her plans are to also graduate from BYU-Idaho. This Sunday we confirmed a new member of our congregation, age 16, who was introduced to the Church by LDS kids at rehearsals in a local theater group. Also, we listened to a speaker in our worship service today, (we have no paid clergy)who joined the LDS church in his early twenties, is married to an LDS woman and pursuing his studies at a local university. In the meantime, the congregation of my former church located very close to me, closed its doors several years ago. And while visiting my brother in the Midwest recently, who attends the church in which we were raised, he mentioned that his congregation was accepting the members of their nearest congregation which also had ceased to function. The reality is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing while most protestant churches are dwindling. I would also give one other example of the strength of the LDS church. My son who was close to finishing his junior year at BYU in business a good number of years ago, called a prospective employer about an internship available at his business. He spoke to the VP of the company telling him of his course work. When he said that he had served and LDS mission, the response of the VP was, "You're hired." He said that the experience of the company with return missionaries had been nothing but positive. I would also add, that recruiters of major companies as well as the military, flock to BYU. What is on display here with so many who have responded with such vitriol in this Comment section is: Mormon Envy.

    May 28, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • peter

      geraldine–Even if you converted the whole world to your religion it wouldn't make it true. The truth is the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the truth but a lie written by your cursed prophet joeseph smith–In hell he dwells-Google "droves of mormons leaving the church"–You will find that even mormon websites are admitting the fact–Your own president talks about it.
      You left christendom 50 years ago for the lds? Well, Always time to get out of the darkness and slavery of mormonism.

      May 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  12. Abinadi

    A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago . They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding...
    ALL BUT ONE!!! He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.
    He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.
    He was glad he did.
    The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.
    The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.
    When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"
    She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."
    As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him,
    "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.
    She continued, "Are you Jesus?"
    He stopped in mid-stride ... and he wondered. He gently went back and
    said, "No, I am nothing like Jesus –
    He is good, kind, caring, loving, and would never have bumped into your display in the first place."
    The girl gently nodded: "I only asked because I prayed for Jesus to help me gather the apples. He sent you to help me, so you are like Him – only He knows who will do His will. Thank you for hearing His call, Mister."
    Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"
    Do people mistake you for Jesus?
    That's our destiny, is it not?
    To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.
    If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day .
    You are the apple of His eye even though you, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.
    Please share this, {IF you feel led to do so}.
    Sometimes we just take things for granted, when we really need to be sharing what we know....Thanks.
    "Being happy doesn't mean everything
    is perfect.
    It means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections."

    I don't know the author of the above. I just saw it on an email and thought it was appropriate for the Sabath day.

    May 27, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  13. Jahanara hashi Depountis

    Hello Dear,
    My son is 7 years old. I have notice a lot that when kids play(6 to 12 years) , they get angry, physical , upset and distractive.
    This are common and normal but ; if no one watching them or correcting them; it's not safe and healthy. We want them to grow happy and alert. Remember, they are going to be our future generation. Thanks and Love.

    May 27, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  14. Kindness

    Some thoughts to consider without a typical ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Let go and let god".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome .

    May 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • John Adams

      How many reports have you added that comment to? Are you reading the reports or just tagging them with this declaration.?

      May 27, 2012 at 7:50 am |

      I can only say.... Mountain Meadows Massacre, think it won't happen again... your wrong.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  15. :)

    Elder Holland words this better than I ever could.


    May 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  16. Abinadi

    This is our truth, the truth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!


    May 26, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Abinadi

      This is anti-mormon propaganda by a dirty, low down coyote using my name, so if he is a thief and a liar, you know that the propaganda is misleading and false! For accurate information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, go to mormon.org.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Postino

      @ Abinidi - There are lots of people in the world who spend their time trying to tear down the Church of Jesus Christ rather than promote their own religion. Jesus brought his own teachings and many followed him; He didn't need to tear down the beliefs of others, he simply shared his own beliefs.

      That movie you provided has creepy music and mixes truth with lies to confuse people. It's probably best not to promote it on public blogs. Would you consider removing that video comment? By the way, thanks for your other comments, which are promote the values that Jesus taught.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Abinadi

      The abinadi who posted the above video is not me! He is a low-down thief who stole my name and is slandering me and pretending to be me. I guess I can't sue him since there is no monetary loss, but I can't imagine a more dispi cable thing than to steal a person's good name and use it to promote lies and propaganda and everything that person is against!

      May 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  17. dinak

    Stephenopolous had to "correct" the genius professor Obama when Obama stated that his religion was Islam. No one just says that. It wouldn't be natural. Obama said, "My Muslim religion...." and Steph had to quickly say, "You mean Christian." Who does that? As a journallist, why didn't Steph just let Obama finish his sentence? The media are a joke.

    May 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • peter

      I don't know what obama is but it doesn't matter since i never have nor will vote for him–If you ask me he is just the religion of what suits him–We do know beyond any doubt that romney is a mormon and he believes the book of mormon is the word of God–i don't vote for mormons or obama–

      May 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  18. Abinadi

    Do mormons worship Lucifer? How rediculous! Here are the words of a distant uncle of mine who was a world renouned heart surgeon before he became an apostle:

    Our Heavenly Father loves His children.15 He has blessed each with physical and spiritual gifts. Let me speak of each type. When you sing “I Am a Child of God,” think of His gift to you of your own physical body. The many amazing attributes of your body attest to your own “divine nature.”16

    Each organ of your body is a wondrous gift from God. Each eye has an autofocusing lens. Nerves and muscles control two eyes to make a single three-dimensional image. The eyes are connected to the brain, which records the sights seen.

    Your heart is an incredible pump.17 It has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. These valves open and close more than 100,000 times a day—36 million times a year. Yet, unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand such stress almost indefinitely.

    Think of the body’s defense system. To protect it from harm, it perceives pain. In response to infection, it generates antibodies. The skin provides protection. It warns against injury that excessive heat or cold might cause.

    The body renews its own outdated cells and regulates the levels of its own vital ingredients. The body heals its cuts, bruises, and broken bones. Its capacity for reproduction is another sacred gift from God.

    Be we reminded that a perfect body is not required to achieve one’s divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail or imperfect bodies. Great spiritual strength is often developed by people with physical challenges, precisely because they are so challenged.

    Anyone who studies the workings of the human body has surely “seen God moving in his majesty and power.”18 Because the body is governed by divine law, any healing comes by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated.19

    Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, “Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?” The likelihood is most remote. But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!"

    Does that sound like we worship satan? We worship God, the eternal father, and his son Jesus Christ, our redeemer!

    May 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Oops! The author of the above is Russell M Nelson of the council of the twelve apostles.

      May 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  19. truthman

    I became a christian after witnessing a Mormon practising Satanism. The Mormon was chaneling with demonic agencies right in front of me. He was turning the pages of my lifes history one after another. For months all this demonic stuff was happening. I was searching the Bible all the while. I read ISA 53 many times. I finally belived in Jesus. When I believed in Christ, all that weird stuff STOPPED happening and only then did I get peace.

    Th.e Mormons do worship Lucifer I learned. Go to youtube and watch Walter Veith. Click on " New Age Agenda"

    I'm just a witness to this. Not trying to stir up hate. Jesus Christ is my God, and not the one on the Mormon Marqee, Thats another jesus christ

    May 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Satanluv

      please you are talking childish nonsense..grow up

      May 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Mormons don't practice satanism. We worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are his disciples. It sounds to me like you were the one who was possessed.

      May 25, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Abinadi

      Dear untruthful, isaiah 8:20 actually refers to you and Peter. Read the words: 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
      21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. (Old Testament, Isaiah, Chapter 8)

      Peter has cursed God and Christ on a regular basis and you also deny him. There is no light in either one of you.

      May 25, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Dave

      Clearly I can't speak to your experience but it is very clear to me that mormons do not worship Satan. That is completely foolish. They teach people to follow the example of Christ, be honest productive citizens. If you believe that Satan would teach those things then I suggest you don't understand the scriptures yourself. Wasn't Christ himself accused of being of the devil. Your argument sound like theirs to which I would give the same response....a house divided against itself cannot stand.

      May 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  20. Michelle

    What mormons teach in their church is Love thy neighbor, obey the Word of Wisdom (Don't drink alchohol, or use tobacco, and generally try to be healthy), Do service to others, forgiveness ect. It helps people become better.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • truthman

      All deceptive systems do and say a lot of good things, thats what makes it so deceptive.

      J Smith and B Young don;t speak to the Law or the Testimonys, therefore there is no light in them. ISA 8; 20

      May 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Freedom From Religion

      What a crock! You are lying, Michelle! I'm a "non-member" (as you like to call us) who lived in Salt Lake City for 20 years. I guess I should expect lies from the likes of you who defend that church, since even Brigham Young said the Mormons are the "biggest and best liars in the world." I think THAT is what they are teaching - how to be a convincing liar! Whatever it is, it's done under the veil of "secrecy," which can never be a good thing because they wouldn't be so secretive if they weren't hiding something! And, if they were such an open and inviting church, the "members" would be more willing to discuss their "beliefs" with "non-members." They won't do it - it's an argument they know they can't win - that's why they isolate (for seminary training in Provo) and send 19 year old brainwashed boys all over the world to do their talking!!!!!

      The Mormon Church does not teach "Love thy neighbor." It teaches the exact opposite: intolerance of "non-members" . . and then they lie about it! Mormons only tolerate Mormons and they segregate worse than was done in the 50's! The bishop will advise you to disown your family if they choose to not be involved in the "club" and the people DO IT because they are SO brainwashed! The men believe they are going to be "Gods" and have their own planets some day, which gives all the little Mormon boys a huge "superiority complex." The little girls and women are taught to obey the men and hope that they "call your name" when you all get to that "planet in the sky." If your temple-married Mormon husband chooses not to "call" your name, well sister, you are S.O.L.

      Please, America, . . . before you vote for Mitt Romney, do a little research on the Mormon Church. And only a LITTLE is required to illustrate how warped this American-made religion really is - it's embarrassing and it's disgraceful the way they are running the show in Utah!

      Americans for the Separation of Church and State!!!!!

      May 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Jessy

      You're right freedom from religion, the mormon church has managed to keep 14 million men, women, and children quite with all of their deep dark secrets. Of course not. Come on now.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Jessy

      And when I say quite, I mean quiet. Sorry about that 🙂

      May 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Mathieu

      it mostly comes from the boottm up. I'll admit that there is a pride that comes from those who seem to have it all and it works both ways, but I'm thinking about pride in relation to self-sacrifice.I think that self-sacrifice can sometimes be done in a very positive way when it's a healthy person serving others. But there are also a lot of unhealthy ways to self-sacrifice, some of which lead to feelings of boundary violation, self-righteousness, resentment, pride, or entrapment. I have heard a lot of pain in the voices of women in various self-sacrificing roles and their criticism of others who are not making the same choices they are, and I think this is a kind of pride.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:59 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.