August 30th, 2012
03:53 PM ET

Convention’s Mormon speakers expected to shed light on Romney’s faith life

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Mitt Romney is famously quiet about his Mormon faith, but his campaign has said that some of Thursday’s speakers at the Republican National Convention will shed light on the candidate’s role in the church - and that Romney may open about his faith, too.

Thursday’s invocation will be delivered by Ken and Priscilla Hutchins, Mormons whom Romney befriended in their Massachusetts ward - the word Mormons use for church. Another Romney Mormon friend and former co-worker, Grant Bennett, will deliver a prime-time speech.

The speakers are part of the campaign’s broader attempt to humanize Romney at this week’s convention, which has played host to a prominent speech by Romney’s wife, Ann, and will feature speeches from more Romney friends on Thursday.

Campaign aides have hinted that Bennett would talk about Romney’s leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bennett was a bishop in Romney’s ward, serving after Romney had been bishop - the rough equivalent of a minister or priest - in the early 1980s. The Romney campaign has said that a church leader would speak Thursday about the experience of trying to “"fill Gov. Romney's shoes."

That leader appears to be Bennett, who talked to CNN’s Gloria Borger this year about following Romney as a bishop.

As soon as he stepped into the bishop’s role, Bennett told Borger, he was moved by his predecessor’s humility. Romney had just stepped down as a Mormon stake president - the rough equivalent of a bishop in the Catholic Church. But Romney immediately approached Bennett about his next assignment, saying he’d “look forward to any assignment that you’ll give me.”

That first post-leadership assignment turned out to be Sunday school teacher.

“It was a wonderful example of the idea that in the church we rotate and serve each other and learn from each other,” Bennett said.

He also spoke of Romney’s frugality. After a busy day of church meetings, a volunteer would always be tasked with making sure every light was turned off and that all the doors were locked. Romney has a “sort of a visceral dislike for waste,” Bennett said, and “would never leave the building without walking through every room and turning off every light.”

A key episode in Romney’s stint as bishop was a destructive fire at his ward’s almost-completed Mormon meeting house in Belmont, Massachusetts. It was a suspected arson, though the cause of the fire was ultimately unknown.

Following the blaze, various nearby houses of worship - Catholic, Protestant and Jewish - invited the Mormon ward to meet in their buildings while it rebuilt. Bennett said that Romney’s response was telling: He decided that the ward would meet in a handful of different houses of worship as a way to build ties in a community that seemed suspicious of Mormonism.

“He did it that way both to express appreciation to accept the offer of help but also to simply get to know our neighbors. … He saw this as a bridge-building opportunity,” Bennett said. “And it really did set the stage for the church being in Belmont, perhaps more actively involved really in interfaith kinds of relationships certainly than we had been.”

Bennett worked under Romney at Bain Capital but said he was always impressed with Romney’s emphasis on family and service rather than just making money.

Could some of those themes emerge in Bennett’s Thursday speech? He didn’t reply to requests for comments this week.

Ken Hutchins, who with his wife will give the invocation Thursday, is not expected to speak specifically about Romney’s faith. But he told the Deseret News this month that Romney, while serving as stake president for the church, tapped him to be a bishop. The Deseret News paints a nice picture of the relationship:

… (T)he two men could not have been more different. Romney, the son of an auto industry CEO and former governor, was the CEO of Bain Capital. Hutchins, the son of a union organizer for mill workers in Massachusetts, was chief of police in a small town. … Together, he and Romney carted Mormon teenagers all over Boston for youth activities, figured out to build congregations for a burgeoning community of foreign-speaking Mormon immigrants in inner city Boston, and helped bring a Mormon temple to Boston.

"We had some just outrageous, wonderful, memory-stoking youth events," Hutchins told the Deseret News. "Mitt was an integral part of those memories. I spent time with him there and talked with him and got to live with him so to speak. He was a terrific leader."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (552 Responses)
  1. *facepalm*

    What the RNC is really trying to accomplish: See, Mitt's mythology isn't really any more bizarre than your own mythology when you really think about it.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  2. Mark

    I just wish these mormons that are taking over everything would go back to where they came from....oh wait!

    August 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  3. HeavenSent

    Pay no attention to the small minded fools that got their brain fried. Logic?? I don't require a single shred to define my beliefs. Two members of my family died immediately after saying, "Hey watch this!" I know you atheists to be fools.


    August 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  4. therealpeace2all

    Reblogged this on peace2alldotme.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  5. Sam Yaza


    what you missed by following this garbage

    more and more people wake up to what Christ really is,.. and destroy his tyranny

    August 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  6. Nope

    I got dee golden plates!

    August 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  7. Hour of Power


    I know your heart aches. I know you want to tell atheists that God is real and you have a desire to do good. However, please realize that one must come to terms with Jesus on their own. Name calling and finger pointing will only send a seeker down the wrong poop shoot.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • onehippypoet

      To be a loser atheist is to have been there for a long time. So long they be unable to ever find Salvation.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • ScottCA

      You seem to have an unhealthy poop fetish.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • ScottCA


      Harvard Psychology Professor, and multiple new york times best seller author, Steven Pinker

      August 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • truth be told

      @scott ca
      you are what you eat.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Huebert

      You have more than one poop shoot?

      August 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Hour of Power

      LOL 😀 ! I'm calling you out on *POE's Law* on this.

      Funny !


      August 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  8. "Mormon" sounds like "Mordor"

    I think not!!

    August 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • ScottCA

      I think it sounds more like Moron, and coincidence or not, it is very suiting to someone believing in a god without any evidence to support it. One truly would have to be a moron to believe it.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • ME II

      Crap. Now we have to worry about Orcs in white shirts riding around on bikes?

      ... that is what you meant, right?

      August 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • sam

      Orcs on bikes...that is a bad mental image..

      August 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I'm thinking more Nazgul on bikes – or on winged beasts at the doorstep.

      Hissing Baggins? Prayer?

      August 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  9. Did My Homework

    Not wanting to take anyones word about Mormon Doctrine I found out for myself that it's a cult based on racist beliefs.. Don't be fooled America, Mitt won't talk about his Mormon beliefs because of it's shameful history.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • blueboycott

      Ya did know that Harry Reid is a Mormon too?

      August 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Reality Check

      Cult based on racist beliefs? That describes just about every religion.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • mormoncandidate dot com

      From a black candidate to a Mormon candidate... that's all we need to think about.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Ed

      Most religions were racist in their infancy. Most countries were racist in their infancy. Most of our national sporting associations were racist in their infancy. What's your point?

      Oh, by the way: Racism is just a form of bigotry. From your comment, you appear to be bigoted toward a religious group. Which is worse: that certain organizations were bigoted in their infancy but have worked to overcome it, or that a knucklehead like yourself is bigoted now?

      August 30, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      to the OP: this differs from, say, Judaism ... how, exactly?

      August 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  10. Catherine

    It is so sad the ignorance still runs wild in this country. Mormons are decent people. I am not mormon but voting fot Romney because he is a mormon.

    Just like howard hughes who was not mormon but had all his financial business in the hands of mormons because of their honesty.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • ScottCA

      No one who professes that a god is real without any evidence to support the claim, can be said to be honest.
      They are all lairs. Just some of them actually believe their own lies.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • c

      Vote for whomever you choose, but here are some reasons you might want to reconsider- Google The God Maker's, Lieing for the Lord, Doctrines and Covenants, Pearls of Great Price -you might change your mind. Read the Book of Morman.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • truth be told

      God has revealed Himself to us in these last days through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ

      August 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • just sayin

      Which one of you bitches took my pants this time? God bless

      August 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • ID-Spud

      Go ahead and read about stuff like The God Makers, but if you are honest with yourself you will also want to read the works of those who have published rebuttals. Be balanced and honest. Consider also that at the time the LDS church was organized, the country's views of race and religion in general were not what they are today. Context can enhance perspective.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  11. Ben Harper

    Save America. Expose the cult.

    "With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world."

    – Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 8, p. 199


    August 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  12. ScottCA


    August 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Dude

      Actually, prayer has been shown to indirectly harm those being prayed for. They stop trying to fix their own problem, relying instead on their chosen non-existant super being to do the work for them.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Dude point taken. I have only examined the studies regarding people who already were receiving medical attention from science. And had other people praying for them, whom they were not aware of. There was no difference between them and the control group without prayer.

      August 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  13. Ex-Mormon

    As an Ex-Mormon – I guarantee that any and all speeches about the Mormon Faith will be focused on two things:

    1) Covering up the insane truths and insane historical facts of Mormonism.

    2) Via smoke and mirrors changing the subject to puppies, family, love and rainbows.

    After all puppies are cute and family is important right?

    August 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Larry Henson

      Really doubt they will bring up the Rainbows thing!! LOL

      August 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  14. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom


    August 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Stupid Squirrels.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Wuss. Run em over.

      August 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Dude

      Awesome video.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Good afternoon Prayer-bot.

      You curse us with your bilious issue over and over again.


      August 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi prayerbot.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • just sayin

      Good afternoon you wonderful patron of Truths. God bless

      August 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • just sayin

      Still praying for pants, pray without ceasing in 2012 God Bless

      August 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Dude

      Action changes things.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  16. onehippypoet

    A is for the awful things they say here
    T is for the tantrums that they throw
    H is for the heresy they swear to
    E is for the easy lies they know
    I is for the innocence they've murdered
    S is for the stupid lives they've led
    T is for the thousands that they've hurt here
    ... with tortured murders no one should deserve
    put them all together they spell atheist
    the ones who've made this world run red.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      I see you have borrowed @Evangelical Christian's TrollCo.® TRACT-O-MATIC™ pastoral post paster.

      You just SET IT and FORGET IT ...

      And it pastes the same garbage over and over again

      August 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • truth be told

      It is not the same, it appears original and improved, but then one can't expect accuracy from an atheist.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      A is for adult
      T tired of religion
      H human progression
      E elevated awareness
      I is for the innocence religion has brainwashed
      S sane
      T typical christian nonsense

      August 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      see God of lies because all that was lies,.. Christians have made this world run red with blood after all there book talks about blood more then love {fact}
      586 blood
      311 love
      but commonly is referenced to their hate

      August 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • onehippypoet

      Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Not too gifted at thinking for yourself though

      August 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • nope

      @sam yaza

      August 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @truth be mold,

      you mean how this time @PoopyPetHine doesn't spell A-T-H-I-E-S-T, like on at least two other occasions?

      Well, ya got me. You did change the words this time.

      How long did you work on this version. LinCA's, 'poetry' was better. His example is evident in this new version.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      truth be told, you give my pants back right now. God bless

      August 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Dude

      Christians have killed millions, more if you include the murders allegedly done by god himself as written in the bible. Atheists, not so much.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  17. Annie

    Thank god for "2016: Obama's America" or We would never know about Obama's history and his anti-colonialist views from his father.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      yeah, imagine someone having an issue with another country invading and taking over your country. What was he thinking.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  18. Watch Out!!

    Mainline Christain leaders have not said this publicly, but they consider mormons a cult. When will we have this discussion!

    August 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  19. Watch Out!!

    Mormons have taken over several American insitutions and now threaten to control the highest office in the land. Everyone seems to be worried about muslims and sharia law, while the mormons and their magic undies are silently takingover the country.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • baha

      Sorry, are you serious?

      August 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • LinSea

      Wasn't exactly the same sentiment was popular in Germany in the 1930s? Only then the same things were said about J ew ish people...

      August 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    God watches me po.op. I pray that he will stop, but he doesn't. He keeps watching me, po.op after po.op. Why, Heavenly Father, do you watch me po.op?

    August 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • truth be told

      A name stolen by an atheist quickly degenerates to their filth.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Hour of Power

      @Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      It is not for us to understand the mysteries of the Almighty. He cares about our feces as one nurtures a baby bunny. Feel secure in knowing that if you experiece diarrhea, He will be there to inspect your tired and hungry soul inside and out. He enjoys watersports too. Such is the way of the Lord.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:19 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.