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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. AvdBerg

    Mitt Romney’s faith does not stand in the teachings of Christ and the Word of God but rather an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    For a better understanding of the history of the Mormon Church and what spirit Mitt Romney serves (Luke 9:55) we invite you to read the article ‘Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 1, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Jonah

      If Paul were here today, what church would he belong to? Paul actually answered that question in 1 Corinthians, " 10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
      11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
      12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
      13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
      14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, abut Crispus and Gaius;
      15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name."
      It is pretty obvious that Paul would not approve of the Lutheran church, or the Methodist, or the Baptist or any of the evangelical churches of the day. He said himself that he would only belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, and if he were alive today, he would belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Days. You can learn more at mormon.org.

      September 1, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Jonah

      Paul would be absolutely disgusted by the Mega Churches who sell the word of God and rake in millions. Ron Hubbard was heard to say that if he wanted to make a million dollars, he would start a church, and that is exactly what he did. Christianity has apostatized from the truth! Jeremiah said, " 11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. " 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
      People no longer worship idols but they have replaced the idols with false churches – churches who preach watered down Christianity, churches which have no power to save them from their sins; churches that have no priesthood authority to perform the sacred ordinances, churches led by uninspired usurpers who pardon sinners in exchange for their money! Well did Christ say of them, "1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." (John 10) Of these he will say, " 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." A man or woman who is too proud to admit they are wrong and accept the truth will never see the Kingdom of God!
      “22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
      23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

      September 1, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      Who should care about the pompous self-proclaimed "apostle" Paul? Thanks to the gibberish from that politician, often conflicting with even the most basic of Jesus' ideals, contradiction is built right into Christianity, allowing Christians to this day to be experts at speaking with a forked tongue.

      September 1, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    August 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • TROLL ALERT

      Please don't feed him.

      August 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • kindless

      Actually that's not true at all! What is true is this:

      Agnostic Atheism is Perfectly Healthy for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

      It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and let's them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, are just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago; and that other things, like god, we really don't know a damn thing about.

      Atheists have strong minds, and don't run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, disserving society).

      So instead of praying to make-believe people, get a good cup of tea and go on and sit down and collect your damn thoughts. My goodness.

      mama kindless

      August 31, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • nope

      @kindless
      nope

      August 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions about prayer and atheism are unfounded. I notice that you continue to repeat unfounded ideas and falsehoods. Would you like me to recommend a book on Alzheimer's? It may help with this problem.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  3. TheTroll

    George Washington stated that this is not a government based on religion; this was seconded by John Adams. That being said, it would be nice to have a president who has compassion for those less fortunate. Ministering to the sick and counseling members of his church are among the duties of a Mormon bishop (pastor). His failure to do these things would have been unacceptable to his superiors and his resume would have been damaged. Ask those who lost their jobs due to his "compassion" feel about this greedy bastatd!

    August 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  4. Agnostic Atheism is Healthy for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and let's them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, are just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago; and that other things, like god, we really don't know a damn thing about; and that there are a lot of weak-minded know-it-all's running around the world who have been deceived.

    Atheists have strong minds, and don't run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, disserving society).

    So instead of praying to make-believe people, get a good cup of tea and go on and sit down and collect your damn thoughts. My goodness.

    mama kindless

    August 31, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  5. 1amazed2u

    Who cares what religion he is in. Dirty is dirty

    August 31, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Mystical Pizza

      Very true....he is dishonest and deceptive

      August 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  6. Lillyland

    So why don't you ask people that have been there already?

    http://youtu.be/D3lvKgN_htA

    August 31, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Jonah

      26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil. (Book of Mormon, Helaman, Chapter 13)

      September 1, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    Steve Benen has been meticulously docu/menting all of Mitt Romney's lies on his website.
    We're up to more than 500 over the last 30 weeks of chronicling "Mitt's Mendacity".
    Google it, check the facts yourself.
    Mitt lies more than Nixon ever did.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • captain america

      Since you are not an American lets file your comment under Oh its none of your F'n business. There's your sign.

      August 31, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  8. Alex

    I trully believe that if Christ would be among our people today, he would had suffer the same as in the old Jerusalem, for he that calleth Good evil and evil Good those not have the Spirit of God, for that that is GOOD cometh from GOD and what is Evil cometh from the Devil. The Lord has said love thy neihbor as thy self and judge not, by thy fruits yee shall know them, and have charity, Compasion, and go about Good deeds, this is what trully discribes MITT ROMNEY, a true follow of Christ, his RELIGION is SERVICE, RESPECT, and TOLERANCE. Which is your religion?

    August 31, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • yoji30

      Why are you talking like you are from the year 0? It's 2012.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  9. AvdBerg

    Mitt Romney’s faith does not stand in the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ but rather in an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13).

    For a better understanding of the history of the Mormon Church and the spirit it serves we invite you to read the article ‘Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles explain how and by whom the people of this world have been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • Alex

      Contempt not for he that has the spirite of contention has not the Spirit of GOD, but the spirit of the devil. THE LORDS SAIDS BY THY FRUITS YEE SHALL KNOW THAT THEY ARE MINE. A GOOD TREE CAN NOT GIVE BAD FRUITS AND A BAD TREE CAN NOT GIVE GOOD FRUITS, these are words spoken by the Savior of the world, which the LDS are encourage to live by every day.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • AvdBerg

      Alex

      Unless you repent and turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan (whose spirit you are of) unto God you will remain spiritually blind and separated from the true and living God (Acts 26:18).

      How have you been deceived? Please read 2 Cor. 11:13,14 for the answer.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 31, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • Atheism is not . . . OH NO! THE LITTLE GREEN MEN ARE FOLLOWING ME AGAIN, SINGING SHOWTUNES!

      Electric shok therapy changed me. Proven.

      Amen ..

      August 31, 2012 at 4:30 am |
  11. asteroidinteractive

    Mormons also believe (head this from an ex-communicated friend that questioned the church) that one day when the U.S. becomes completely divided, all power will be given to individual states. The states will start warring with each other, and everybody will look to the Mormons, set up with their completely self-sustaining structure (food storages, etc.), in Salt Lake City for hope, prosperity, and structure to bring us all back together and save the U.S. from total meltdown. Is Romney a beginning to this end? I live in Idaho, front and center to crazy town, and I don't think most of the country has any idea how weird this religion or its people really are. Nice, nice, nice people but super fake for the most part.

    August 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Yessiree Bob

      I have been around quite a few Mormons as well, and they do have that church-ordered superfician politeness and that plastic ever-present Utah smile, by when they start talking abut what they believe . . . WOW!

      August 31, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • peter

      The mormons should be the last ones to want that–if anything we will do what we did to them in the 1800s–but this time put fences around utah–the lds is on it's way as is the church of scientology–mondern day prophets–joeseph smith and ron hubard never last–However, it will be better for run hunbbard–The book of mormon is blasphemy–it would of been better if joeseph smith was never born

      August 31, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Jonah

      Mormons are only weird to the wicked and those who go peep in the night.

      September 1, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  12. AmericanWaxwing

    Mitt Romney isn't known for getting you a good speech, he gets you RESULTS. His life proves it. America needs him.

    August 30, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Of course, those results would be: unemployment if you happen to be the victim of one of his take overs; fantastically wealthy if you were super wealthy to begin with; or health care reform eerily similar to Obamacare if you're a resident of Massachusetts.

      Also, if you happen to own a swiss bank, the result you get a fantastic amount of capital.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • billdeacons

      facepalm, do you believe people should be enabled to keep their jobs if the products and services they produce are not acceptable to the market?

      August 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Results. Yeah right.

      You forgot taking credit for the work of others at the Utah Olympics. Good results there.

      He supported the bank bailout boondoggle. Darn glad those bankers and insuurance execs got their mondo-bonuses for running the economy into the ground.

      He is in favor of indefinite detention and torture. How faithy.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • *facepalm*

      @bill, no. But I find it highly immoral to make immense profits off the job losses of others. I'm also not too keen on having a president who seems to believe that outsourcing to line his own pockets is a great idea.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  13. Reality

    Being fair about it:

    ONLY FOR THE NEW MEMBERS OF THIS BLOG:

    AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does Obama and his family) (And Biden) (And Ryan)

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    August 30, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  14. LWJR

    Mormonism, talking points CNN picked up from Axelrod. CNN, just declare yourself the LEFT WING news network that you are. Rename it LNN, Leftist News Network.

    August 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • SirToYe

      The Republican nominee is a Mormon Bishop...

      Matt 7:15
      Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Al

      I'm with you LWJR. It's CNN's fault that a Mormon got the Republican nomination.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Reality

      Matt 7: 15 does not meet rigorous historical testing i.e. it is a single attestation found no where else in the scriptures. e.g. See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb401.html

      August 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  15. Mormon in Utah

    I think if Mitt is elected President, it will bring millions of people to our faith in here in America and around the world. We are the only made in the USA faith and our President should reflect that to the world.

    August 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • kieran murphy

      That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. What does your religion location have to do with anything? Besides Scientology fits the bill.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • asteroidinteractive

      Well, there's also Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses, Satanists, etc...all faiths that started in the U.S.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Al

      Don't forget the branch davidians.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Reality

      "Mormon in Utah"? Probably a paid Democrat "Obamaian" out to make stupid comments and embarrass Mormonism.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  16. Paul

    Wow you americans are nutty you head the words or a reporter named jessica rabbit and support a nut job who believes God lives on another planet ? Perhaps he should run for office on Kolob lol. wake the heck up america.

    August 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  17. obd

    Man, this comment section is like draining a swamp.

    August 30, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  18. Greg

    Mormons are very moral and wonderful people. The main difference between Mormons and orthodox Christianity is that Mormons believe and teach that Jesus is the literal son of God, The Father and the Heavenly Mother and the brother of Lucifer. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is eternal God, not born and certainly not the brother of Lucifer

    August 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • GoldenChild

      Please don't lie or run away. Was the Garden of Eden in Jackson County Missouri?

      August 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • skarphace

      Mormons do not believe that Jesus was the biological (my paraphrase of your term 'literal') son of God. They believe that he was A son of God, that is that he was born through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. Just like all of us are. We are all sons and daughters of God. They do not believe that Jesus was the one and only biological son of God.

      Second, Christians definitely do believe that Jesus was born. I have no idea where you got the idea that Christians do not believe Jesus was born. When he was born, he was separate from God, that is they were two distinct individuals. Once Jesus rose from the grave and ascended to heaven, he became God and the Trinity came into being. From that point on, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were one and the same being. This is what Christians believe, and is not what Mormons believe. Hence, Mormons are not Christians as they do not believe the same things about Christ.

      August 30, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Father Benedit says it's the victim's fault

      The fact that some Mormons are good people is not the point.
      The fact is the cult was begun by ONE man, who was a deluded fool.
      If you and they are really good people, you do not need the support of delusion to be so.
      I'm sure, you REALLY ARE a wonderful person. You don't need the cults for support.
      Just be wonderful !

      August 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • cwfusto

      Meh, Mormons are pretty much like the majority of us, well, from what I know about them.

      Hey, why do you always take two mormons fishing with you?
      If you don't they'll drink all your beer.

      Mazel tov

      August 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Cubbi

      @Goldenchild
      from http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-101#C18
      "We do not know exactly where the original site of the Garden of Eden is. While not an important or foundational doctrine, Joseph Smith established a settlement in Daviess County, Missouri, and taught that the Garden of Eden was somewhere in that area. Like knowing the precise number of animals on Noah’s ark, knowing the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less important to one’s salvation than believing in the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

      August 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • michael

      For the record, Mormons believe that that Jesus is the biological son of God. He is unique in that way.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • bdh98a

      The God has revealed in Scriptures there is one eternal God. He was neither begotten; therefore, we who are begotten will NOT become gods in the ages to come with our own planets or universes. The Great I Am is God forever.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • SirToYe

      You forgot to mention Kolob.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Ah, myths!

      According to the Bible, the Garden of Eden was in Iraq . . . which I find rather comical.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  19. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Just think six months ago the same right wing tools that are worshipping the draft dodging tax cheat today were calling this religion a cult. Makes one wonder.

    August 30, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  20. Abel

    I suppose Mormons are, in some self-deprecating fashion, admitting that they are quirky and that what they believe may sound a little strange to a lot of people. "But GOSH we love Jesus! We love him so much! Please love us for that."

    August 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • engineerfla

      I really don't understand why his religion, when there are so many accepted in America, is a huge topic right now. It isn't like he is going to impose his beliefs on us and if he does there will be a large backlash, and you know it. Why don't you focus on what job he is applying for.

      August 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • derf

      Mitt Romney hasn't been upfront about his religion. He's not upfront about what he thinks or what he'll do. He hopes that just about any clean living Republican son of a bit ch can make it this time.

      August 30, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • skarphace

      engineerfla: it is an issue because of two things. First, the evangelicals have been trying to shove their version of Christianity down our throats, and yet they accept that a Mormon is 'close-enough' to a Christian for them. This, to me, is hypocracy and I will continue to call them out on it.

      Second, we need to know just how much Romney's faith will guide his policy-making. The more you know about Mormonism, the more you find out just how determined they are to have their policy guided by their faith. This is what concerns me about a Romney presidency.

      August 30, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • SirToYe

      engineerfla: Keep rationalizing voting for a Mormon Bishop against the only Protestant in the race, just because he is black. God knows what your doing!

      August 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
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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.