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Bias against Mormon presidential candidate unchanged since 1967, poll finds
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is trying to become the first Mormon president.
June 21st, 2012
01:19 PM ET

Bias against Mormon presidential candidate unchanged since 1967, poll finds

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Bias against a Mormon presidential candidate hasn’t budged in 45 years, with 18% of Americans saying they would not vote for a well-qualified candidate who happened to be Mormon, according to a Gallup Poll released Thursday.

The survey points up potential challenges for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is vying to be the first Mormon in the White House.

Gallup first asked Americans about support for a Mormon presidential candidate in 1967 when Romney’s father, George Romney, was running for president. That year, 17% of Americans said they would not vote for a well-qualified Mormon for president.

George Romney dropped out of the race after making a gaffe about the Vietnam War, and Richard Nixon won the GOP nomination in 1968.

The shaping of a candidate: A look at Mitt Romney's faith journey

“The stability of resistance to a Mormon presidential candidate over the past 45 years is an anomaly,” Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport wrote in a survey report, noting that “resistance to a candidate who is black, a woman, or Jewish has declined substantially over the same period of time.”

The survey also found that four in 10 Americans do not know that Romney is Mormon. Gallup found that those who know Romney is a Mormon are also the most likely to back the idea of a Mormon for president.

But the national learning curve on Romney's religion "suggests the possibility that as Romney's faith becomes better known this summer and fall, it could become more of a negative factor," Newport wrote in his report.

CNN Explains: What’s Mormonism?

"Those who resist the idea of a Mormon president will in theory become more likely to realize that Romney is a Mormon as the campaign unfolds," Newport wrote.

Bias against a Mormon candidate is significantly higher among Democrats and independents than among Republicans, Gallup found.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Twenty-four percent of Democrats and 18% of independents said they would not vote for a well-qualified Mormon who was nominated by their party, while 10% of Republicans expressed such opposition.

Resistance to a Mormon candidate was much higher among Americans with lower levels of education, with 23% of those without a high school diploma saying they would not support a well-qualified Mormon. Six percent of those with postgraduate education shared that view.

In his report, Newport said that it’s “unclear how the current level of resistance to the idea of voting for a Mormon presidential candidate will affect the election.”

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“History shows that these types of attitudes in and of themselves are not an impediment to victory,” Newport wrote, citing a 1960 poll that found 21% of Americans would not vote for a well-qualified Catholic candidate for the presidency.

Later that same year, John F. Kennedy won the White House.

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In an interview earlier this year, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land predicted that Romney’s Mormonism would become a bigger political challenge for the candidate - not because of anti-Mormon bias among evangelicals but because of that bias among independents.

Most evangelicals already “know what Mormonism believes and most of them are prepared to vote for Mitt Romney in a general election against Barack Obama in spite of his Mormonism,” said Land, public policy chief for the country’s largest evangelical denomination.

“The 40% of electorate that’s independent, most of them have no idea what Mormons believe,” Land said. “But they will all know what Mormons believe by the general election.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (2,017 Responses)
  1. John the Historian

    Will Willard Romney first ban all Gays and then legalize polygamy or the other way around ?

    June 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • .

      Neither

      June 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  2. John the Historian

    Is Romney going to ban alcohol in the very unlikely event of becoming president ?

    June 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • .

      No

      June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  3. John the Historian

    Now if Joseph Smith found these tablets in new York why are they not on display ? Explain to me why the Indians of that area are not mormon ? Now if Joseph Smith died in a gun battle defending polygamy why do mormons officially say polygamy is now wrong ? Why has polygamy only been wrong since 1890 ? What was important about that date ? Now if Blacks are no longer considered evil since 1978 what happened that year to make the mormon cult change their position ? Do I see flip flop ? Now gay mormons why is this considered evil ? Romney first said he would do more for Gay rights than Ted Kennedy. Do I see flip flop ? Why is caffeine evil when the medical community is now saying caffeine is good for you. What is evil about caffeine ? Will Willard want Nauvoo, Salt Cake City, or Kolob to be the new capital ??? i knew a mormon who married a catholic then got divorced. I just want to know what was her punishment in the mormon cult. They didn't have children so was that good or bad ??? Just curious !!!!!

    June 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • dyslexic dog

      let me put a stone into my hat and then put my face into the hat and I will have long winded, completely illogical answers to all of your questions my friend.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  4. dyslexic dog

    and all the Christians that are so obsessed with telling gays that they are wrong will turn a blind eye to the cult Mormonism and vote for Romney. Shows how hypocritical the Christian religion is!

    June 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  5. John the Historian

    Now when mormons have these secret polygamist marriages in their temples do they keep the wifes hidden like the mormon Warren Jeffs or do they get divided into different communuties ? Where do all the children form the planet kolob go to ?

    June 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  6. John the Historian

    Why don't mormon cult followers have statues for all the polygamist wifes of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith ? If they have statues of that murderer Brigham Young ?

    June 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  7. Reality

    Romney suffers from a form of the Three B Syndrome i.e. he was Bred, Born and Brainwashed in his religion. For this reason, he is unable to think past the shackles put upon him by one of the great con artists, i.e. Joseph Smith.

    Obama also suffers from a version of the Three B Syndrome. For this reason, he is unable to think past the shackles put upon him by the likes of Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

    June 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  8. Doc Vestibule

    The only reason the LDS rejected polygamy in the first place was to gain statehood.
    TIMELINE:
    1847 – Mormon settlers arrive in Utah (including Brigham Young)
    1850 – Utah application for statehood declined
    1856 – 2nd application for statehood declined due to the LDS admitting to practicing "twin relics of barbarism," slavery and polygamy
    1857 – President Madison sends troops to quell the rebellion in Utah amidst accusations of polygamy and other immorality. Mountain Meadow Massacre
    1858 – Young deposed as governor
    1862 – 3rd appliation for statehood denied. US Congress in the process of prohibiting plural marriage by federal statute.
    1871 – Young tried for polygamy
    1877 – Young tried for his part in the Mountain Meadow Massacre. Dies the same year.
    1879 – US congress upholds Morill law that bans polygamy
    1882 – Application for statehood denied as Utah failed to meet requirement of "a republican form of government"
    1880-89 – Various federal laws passed imposing penalties for polygamy. Ban of Polygamy an official requirement for entry into the Union.
    1890 – "Divine Revelation" comes to Mormon prophet Willford Woodruff in which he states that "my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land."
    1896 – Application for statehood accepted

    June 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • other david

      thank you for the very selective history lesson. . If statehood was as important as you suggest I wonder why they didn't acquiesce earlier. 40-50 years is a long time to hold doggedly to the doctrine of polygamy. Unless of course you don't feel like you are authorized to reverse the doctrine. That would make sense. When you die why don't you ask God yourself why He changed course?

      June 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  9. Dickie

    The truth about "magic underwear": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cbfgmorIGE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    June 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • .

      Dickie, I don't really understand all the fascination with my underware, but I will try to explain. The underware you are referring to is not magic, but there is power in keeping the commandments of God. People who keep the commandments do not suffer from being thrown in jail or being shot (don't steal, lie, or kill), have good marriages and families (don't commit adultery or covet or drink alcohol) are more prosperous (take one day a week to rest), and have better health (don't smoke, drink tea, coffee or alcohol). We are taught to be honest and do good to others and make good employees, neighbors, and citizens. In short, we stay out of trouble. The underware you are referring to is a personal temple and reminds us to keep the commandments, because sometimes with all the corruption around us, it is easy to forget. So, what is wrong with that?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Dickie

      Dot, but most normal people manage to live good, clean lives without full body underwear with weird symbols on them. And that is just the tip of the wacky, weird Mormon belief system.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  10. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    There is a god. There is no god.

    WHO CARES!

    I guarantee no man has ever heard from, seen, talked to, been visited or impregnated by any god. Therefore, no man can claim he knows what god wants, how god wants me to live, to dress, to eat, what laws establish, etc. And since all religions have been made up over the years by a handful of crackpots who claim to be privy to some special, esoteric inside info for no one else but them, I can easily accept that even if there is a god, the best anybody can do is try to figure it out for themselves and not let ANYONE or ANY ORGANIZATION to tell them what to think.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Hey Zeus

      I'm curious, what does your guarantee provide people, should you be incorrect?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Hey Zeus: So instead of thinking for yourself, you would rather let someone else tell you what to think? I mean, yeah....people have existed before me. And what do you know? Yep, they've thought about this "god" idea in the past, too. Oh and look, some of them even wrote down their ideas. So just because someone beat you (and me) to the punch on thinking about such concepts, then surely they must have been CORRECT! RIGHT? That's your logic? Just because someone WROTE IT DOWN first (or at least before you even thought of it), then it MUST BE TRUE!

      June 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • dyslexic dog

      Zeus - you're awesome!

      June 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  11. a brief overview

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q6brMrFw0E&w=640&h=360]

    June 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  12. ???

    how can THAT many people in an educated country not know about Mormonism? People ... don't you ever read?!?!

    June 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • TR6

      @???:”how can THAT many people in an educated country not know about Mormonism? People ... don't you ever read?!?!”

      Sadly, no, most of them don’t read and don’t get me started on the sad state of what passes for educated in this country

      June 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  13. Dom

    I see that.

    What I am trying to say is that if Atheists would say : I do not believe because you have failed to prove your belief / Claim and left the subject, Agnosticism would not exist. When Atheists started stepping over the lines of logic (like theists have) Agnostics separated themselves and said, Theists, your still wrong because you can not prove your claims and Atheists, your wrong because you are trying to argue a disbelief.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • TR6

      @Dom:” Atheists, your wrong because you are trying to argue a disbelief.”

      So I would be wrong to argue against the existence of UFOs?

      June 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Dom

      Agnostic/Gnostic and Atheist/Theist are not mutually exclusive terms.

      June 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  14. Dickie

    This Mormon cult is on a mission to take over our nation and impose their beliefs and way of life on all Americans. Be very scared, especially if you are a woman or minority..

    June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Primewonk

      These fuundamentalist Christian cults are on a mission to take over our nation and impose their beliefs and way of life on all Americans. Be very scared, especially if you are a woman, gay, black, hispanic, liberal, an atheist, or educated.

      There. Fixed it for you.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Dwight

      Mormon doctrine is women-friendly. Mormonism rejects the post-Biblical Augustinian doctrine of original sin, which held that humanity inherits the sin of Adam and Eve in which they ate the forbidden fruit. This sin was historically blamed on Eve, and was thought to be the source of women's submissive and dependent state and many Christian denominations use this as a basis for making women subservient to men. Not so in Mormonism. Mormonism rejects this doctrine of original sin which relegates women to an inferior position and which is a post-Biblical doctrinal development.

      In 1842 (when women were usually constrained to home and hearth), Joseph Smith encouraged the women of the church to form their own organization, and said the church could not be correct until the women were organized. Women have always had a say and a vote in church affairs. The first women to vote in municipal elections were women in Mormon settlements, and women voted in Utah Territory until the Federal government disenfranchised them in 1887. Advanced education for women has always been encouraged. Some of the best formative writing about our faith sprang from the pens of erudite and educated women, such as Eliza R. Snow and Emmeline B. Wells. Brigham Young and other early leaders not only encouraged university education for women, but sent their own daughters to eastern universities. The assumption that Mormon women are subservient lacks factual foundation.

      In his counsel to the bretheren of the Latter-day Saint Church, Brigham Young (the 2nd President of the church) said the following," Bretheren if you must choose beetween educating your son and educating your daughter–Educate your daughters for it is they who will raise up the next generation. You sons can earn their way through the toil of their hands." (late 1800's).

      Brigham Young, President of the LDS Church, also taught: "As I have often told my sisters in the Female Relief Societies, we have sisters here who, if they had the privilege of studying, would make just as good mathematicians or accountants as any man; and we think they ought to have the privilege to study these branches of knowledge that they may develop the powers with which they are endowed. We believe that women are useful not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds, and raise babies, but that they should stand behind the counter, study law or physic [medicine], or become good book-keepers and be able to do the business in any counting house, and this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large."( Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1997, p. 135)

      In 1869, Utah gave women the vote. In 1887, the federal government took the vote away from Utah women (Edmunds-Tucker Act)

      Below is a typical example of what I have consistently been taught all my life (over 50 years) as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

      Speaking of men in the church Gordon B. Hinkley said taught the following (from July 2002 Ensign Magazine)

      “Section 121 goes on to say: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
      “By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:41–42).

      “Our behavior in public must be above reproach. Our behavior in private is even more important. It must clear the standard set by the Lord. We cannot indulge in sin, let alone try to cover our sins. We cannot gratify our pride. We cannot partake of the vanity of unrighteous ambition. We cannot exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion upon our wives or children, or any others in any degree of unrighteousness.

      “The wife you choose will be your equal. Paul declared, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11).

      “In the marriage companionship there is neither inferiority nor superiority. The woman does not walk ahead of the man; neither does the man walk ahead of the woman. They walk side by side as a son and daughter of God on an eternal journey.

      “She is not your servant, your chattel, nor anything of the kind.

      “How tragic and utterly disgusting a phenomenon is wife abuse. Any man in this Church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood. Though he may have been ordained, the heavens will withdraw, the Spirit of the Lord will be grieved, and it will be amen to the authority of the priesthood of that man.

      “Any man who engages in this practice is unworthy to hold a temple recommend.

      “I regret to say that I see too much of this ugly phenomenon. There are men who cuff their wives about, both verbally and physically. What a tragedy when a man demeans the mother of his children.

      “My brethren, if there be any within the sound of my voice who are guilty of such behavior, I call upon you to repent. Get on your knees and ask the Lord to forgive you. Pray to Him for the power to control your tongue and your heavy hand. Ask for the forgiveness of your wife and your children.” (Gordon B. Hinkley, Ensign, July 2002)

      June 22, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Crazybaldguy

      THe Idea that one group of people (in this case so called "Christian-Cults" are trying through politics to "impose" their beliefs on another group is a bit disingenuous. The reason I say this is because this is the point of Politics and the basis of our Republic (here in the US) See, everyone living has a set of beliefs. Some believe in Buddha, or Jesus or maybe believe that God doesn't exist (still a belief system). We all as a nation try to get laws enacted and view how a Nation should be governed based on their own frame of reference. So to say one group should have no say in the national debate called politics is in itself discriminatory. Do I want others to agree with my beliefs?Do I want laws written that support Christian Morality and Ethics? Yes, very much yes. I won't apologize for that. You have a right as Atheist or whatever belief system to push for laws that reflect your beliefs. It is the duty of duly elected officials to wade through those beliefs and try to come up with a set of laws that Protect the citizens and infringe the least on everyone. Does anyone actually believe that everyone can be pleased with every decision all the time? We need to vote for either candidate based on what they they will do (hard I know, You have to listen to what they say as well as look at what they did and does that back up what they say) So you don't like the candidates religious views. Well, So what? Do they fit the majority of your views? then ttake the good with the bad. I care about the ones who won't vote. They don't count or matter anymore. They took themselves out of the picture. They get what they get. You don't vote? then don't go crying about how bad the country is. You lost that right.

      June 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  15. Indy

    So the GOP nominated Nixon instead of Romney Sr. in 1968 – how did that ultimately work out for the United States? Years were wasted in scandal (Watergate) and government mistrust. It’s too bad the voters did not shut Nixon down in the primaries of 1968. Hopefully in November 2012 Americans will not be overcome by religious bigotry. Shut Obama down by voting for Mitt Romney.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • dyslexic dog

      So you want a man who believes this laughable book written by an acknowledged con-man as our president? That alone should be enough to disqualify him! Scary stuff!

      June 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  16. Indy

    Everyone is still missing the "BIG PICTURE" here. So the GOP nominated Nixon instead of Romney Sr. in 1968 – how did that ultimately work out for the United States? Years were wasted in scandal (Watergate) and government mistrust. It’s too bad the voters did not shut Nixon down in the primaries of 1968. Hopefully in November 2012 Americans will not be overcome by religious bigotry. Shut the corrupt Obama dictatorship down by voting for Mitt Romney.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • kerfluffle

      That is the weakest argument for supporting Willard that I have ever read.

      I am embarrassed for you.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • dyslexic dog

      So you want a man as our president who believes this laughable book that was written by an acknowledged con-man?!?! That alone should be enough to disqualify him! Scary stuff!

      June 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  17. Wait What

    I think Dom is right. Religions ignore the burden of proof and Atheists often try to prove negative assertions.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • kerfluffle

      I would have to say, that you have no idea what atheism is, nor shall you, until you transcend the confines religious dogma. I do not know a single atheist that has ever tried to 'convert' or influence another. Rather, the idea is to live and let live.

      If only theists would practice that same mentality.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Crazybaldguy

      Kerfuttle, The reason Theist (or in my case CHristian) doesn't blindly turn an eye to atheist is that if I am right then the Athieist I know I "live and let live" without saying anything and when we die. I have to watch as that atheist is judged and he/she can point and look adn say "Why didn't you tell me?" If I see a building burning in the back of the house and I walk on by without alerting the people I see in the window that would be awful and show a serious lack of love. We try to warn people and lead them to the Lord because we truly believe what we preach (Some don't admittedly but true Christians do) If I believe you are going to hell and I don't say something. That is the worst kind of hatred.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  18. Dom

    @ OldSchool
    I am very well aware of what you are trying to say, I am well educated in Philosophy. The burden of proof is always on the claim that X exists rather than on the claim that X does not exist.

    Just because you "CANNOT LOGICALLY PROVE A NEGATIVE ASSERTION" does not mean that people do not try to.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • OldSchool

      Yes, and they have been trying for millennia, to no avail. From my perspective this makes it an utterly baseless and irrational position or belief to hold. I am an atheist, I do not absolutely dismiss the possibility that there is some miniscule chance that a god or gods exist, I just have been presented with no evidence to support the claim so I see no reason to hold such a belief. It is no different than, say, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. It is within the realm of possibility, albeit extremely narrowly, that these things may exist – but there is no supporting evidence so I do not feel the need to have "faith" in their existence. HOWEVER there is plenty of historical evidence of the imagination and fabrication of these beings by man, enough so that it would lead a reasonable person to say with fair certainty that they do not exist.

      Also, the claim of agnosticism is not just that they "don't know", it is that the answer is "unknowable". This demonstrates an absence of intellectual curiosity – laziness even – that I simply cannot support.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Dom

      Agnosticism says that there is a possibility that the truth is unknowable ... not that it IS unknowable. Meaning, we may find the truth some day... or it may be out of our reach as a species ... i don't know.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Howard

    If you want to learn about anti-American, racist, sermons, go to the church Obama attended for TWENTY YEARS !!!

    June 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Dickie

      What does that have to do with the freakish beliefs of the Mormon cult?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • SteveM

      But .. I thought he was a secret Muslim! Will you idiots ever get your story straight?

      June 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  20. Dom

    atheists make truth claims all the time, by telling what they think about the viability of God.

    Theism = there is a god ... Atheism = there is no god ... Agnosticism = neutral party

    Agnostics are portrayed as the ultimate villain because they refuse to take a side w/o factual information and are bullied by both sides to choose a side.

    You say that no one "knows" but I have literature from Atheists and Theists both claiming they DO know... they just fail to back up their claims.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Dom .. you keep missing it.
      Theism = BELIEF in a God(s) A-Theism = NO belief in a God(s) Agnosticism = No proof means no belief either way.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Dom

      Yes I believe I said that.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      The difference is the word "belief". Your post stated both claim they DO know .. a belief is NOT knowing, that is the difference I was trying to point out to you.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Dom

      @ If horses had Gods
      Great debate ... I think we have very similar beliefs over shadowed by "names". I find these topics fun but I have to get some work done.

      /cheers.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Dom .. I completely agree.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
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