Mormon speakers at RNC mark sharp departure from Romney's reticence on faith
Mitt Romney at his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
August 30th, 2012
10:45 PM ET

Mormon speakers at RNC mark sharp departure from Romney's reticence on faith

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - After years of keeping quiet about his Mormon faith, Mitt Romney’s campaign thrust his church life into the national eye Thursday night, as a handful of Mormons took to the Republican National Convention’s stage to deliver moving testimonials about the Republican presidential nominee’s role as a member and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One couple that belonged to the same Massachusetts ward, or church, as Romney did recounted in a prime-time address how Romney tended to their 14-year-old son when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

“You cannot measure a man’s character based on words he utters before adoring crowds during happy times,” Ted Oparowski, the boy’s father, said on the RNC's final night, following speeches by such GOP stars as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

“The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble,” Oparowski said, his voice shaking. “The quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters – that is the time to make an assessment.”

CNN Explains: What’s Mormonism?

Oparowski explained how, more than 30 years ago, Romney would go on to eulogize his son.

Moments later, Pam Finlayson walked onto the convention stage to tell how Romney helped her when he served as bishop – the rough equivalent of a church pastor – of their ward in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Finlayson told how she’d given birth to a daughter 3½ months early and that the baby suffered from underdeveloped lungs, an unstable heart and a brain hemorrhage.

How Mormonism shaped Mitt Romney

“As I sat with her in intensive care, consumed with a mother's worry and fear, dear Mitt came to visit and pray with me,” Finlayson said, provoking tears throughout the convention hall.

“I will never forget that when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out gently and stroked her tiny back.”

“When it comes to loving our neighbor, we can talk about it or we can live it,” Finlayson said later. “The Romneys live it every single day.”

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

With Romney almost never even invoking the words “Mormon” or “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the intimate windows into the candidate’s church life came as a surprise to many ears.

“I was a little surprised that it really came out so strong,” says Richard Bushman, a Mormon and a scholar of the religion at Columbia University. “The number of Mormon notes struck in this one evening was remarkable.”

“It must have been some kind of balance of power in the campaign that shifted.”

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Romney has opened up more about his Mormonism in recent weeks, but Thursday night’s speeches from Mormon friends marked a dramatic departure from Romney’s vague pronouncements about his faith.

In formally accepting the Republican nomination on Thursday night, Romney took the unusual step of invoking the "M" word, as he recounted his early years.

"We were Mormons and growing up in Michigan," Romney said. "That might have seemed unusual or out of place but I really don’t remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to."

Later in his speech, as he talked about arriving in Massachusetts, Romney referred to his church experience in a way that made it sound universal.

"Like a lot of families in a new place with no family, we found kinship with a wide circle of friends through our church," Romney said. "When we were new to the community it was welcoming and as the years went by, it was a joy to help others who had just moved to town or just joined our church."

Earlier in the evening, the Oparowskis and Finlayson were introduced by Grant Bennett, a fellow ward member who talked in specific terms about Mormon life.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an unpaid, lay clergy,” said Bennett, who succeeded Romney as bishop of the ward. “While raising his family and pursuing his career, Mitt Romney served in our church, devoting 10, 15, even 20 hours a week doing so.”

“Like all Mormon leaders, he did so on his own time and at his own expense,” Bennett continued.

While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has seized on the national Mormon moment with national ad campaigns to try to explain and normalize Mormonism, the slate of Mormon RNC speakers may have done more to explain the fundamentals of Mormon life to millions of Americans.

“Tonight’s stories had an authenticity that’s greater than 20 public affairs releases from the church office,” says Bushman. “It’s just a huge enlargement of the understanding of the faith.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (553 Responses)
  1. Abinadi

    I'm a very, very naughty mormon.

    September 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  2. 200 ton hammer

    Did Jesus speak Hebrew in the mishkan or was it
    European English/Latin did Jesus read from a
    very large Hebrew mishkan scroll.or the European
    king James book Bible.or the Mormon gentiles
    book.was Jesus customs was it north African.was
    It Oriental or people of the east.or was it
    Jewish Hebrew.and since Jesus is from the
    tribe of Judah.and aspostle Paul was from the
    Tribe of Benjamin.what Hebrew Jewish tribe
    is Joseph Smith was from???? since he understand
    Jesus true Hebrew Jewish customs since the
    Mormons have the book why don't they speak
    Hebrew since Jesus read write taught inhebrew
    Jewish.why are the beautiful people of isreal
    Pray at the western wall at mount moriah and not
    the gentile Mormon temple in salt lake city Utah
    Is it because of what king Solomon said in Hebrew
    in second king's chapter 8 vers 41-43 read it Mormon s

    September 1, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Abinadi

      I have no idea what you are trying to say.

      September 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  3. Jonah

    11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
    12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (New Testament, Ephesians, Chapter 4)

    Only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the apostles and prophets spoken of in the New Testament and is organized the way The original church was organized. It is the only church that teaches the original doctrine that Christ taught.

    September 1, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  4. 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 7:37 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 7:51 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 7:52 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 11:14 am |
  5. Ponchos raincoat

    I'm a non-believer but respect those who do believe. Out of respect for the 2 opposing forces, religion should be discarded as a deciding factor in politics. Imagine the advancements that would be made in so many ways.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Jonah

      Wouldn't it be even better if everyone were converted unto Christ? Here is what would happen:

      15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
      16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor who redoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
      17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
      18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land. (Book of Mormon, 4 Nephi, 4 Nephi 1)

      August 31, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Jesus, Jonah, how stupid are you?

      August 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Jonah

      Do you think everything good and wholesome is stupid, Tomy tom? What do you think is smart? Smoking pot? Well, that does not surprise me.

      September 1, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      Jonah – you only think you are good and wholesome, but your self-righteous ignorance and stupidity are shinier than any gold tablet. Your post could just as easily been made by an actual lemming.

      September 1, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      Correction to my last sentence.

      Your post could have just as easily been made by an actual lemming.

      September 1, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  6. Mich

    Unpaid lay clergy? Not completely true considering that the top church leadership is well paid. The top 15 is paid between 250k to 500k a year plus benefits. Hardly something you can call unpaid lay clergy. Oh wait, they call it "a modest living allowance". My bad.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Abinadi

      I want to see your source of information!

      August 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Meli

      Completely not true!!!!! Do you have any friends that are leaders of the Mormon church? Most of the ones that are sent over the world as leaders, live in apartments.... Statement completely FALSE!

      August 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Abinadi

      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)

      August 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  7. John

    Ask any ex-mormon, and they'll tell you exactly why they call their precincts/church areas "wards."

    August 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Meli

      The best source might be a Mormon!

      August 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • souptwins

      Oh do tell. This could be entertaining.

      September 1, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  8. bryes

    Just reading thru some of these comments, it's no wonder Mitt Romney is reluctant to discuss his faith. It just seems to bring out those with so much hate.

    I'm sure Mr. Romney considers his faith a pearl in his life, but as the Savior said, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."

    It seems there are many swine on this board.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  9. Sloppy J

    Please listen to this before you listen to a current member of the LDS church!


    August 31, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Abinadi

      15 Behold, they shall surely gather together against thee, not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
      16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
      17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi, Chapter 22)

      August 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Meli

      And I invite you to a church meeting so you can actually know what Mormonism is about. I am sure you haven't met many Mormons...

      August 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Jonah

      LOL! Mell you git! The woman in the video is an ex-mormon...meaning she knows the truth about our mormon cult and wants nothing to do with it, like a wise woman would!

      September 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Abinadi

      I'm just mad about Harry, I mean REALLY mad about Harry! I can throw all these made up lines all over these chat boards and Harry will post them. Yay for me! Yay for Joseph Smith – my true Lord and Savior!

      September 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • GoldenChild

      She's a Negro like me. A Mormon told me we turned our backs on God once before.

      September 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    This is GODS HOLY TRUTH!!!!


    August 31, 2012 at 6:01 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 6:03 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Ummmm....kindless....did you even watch the show? It's about how christians stole the egyptian religion from the ancients and how cristianity is wrong....you're coming across as mindless as the christians are....
      Check things before you spew please.

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

      Oh – OK, sorry – you're right – I've seen that name "Atheism is not healthy ..." so much I have to go against that. But that video is interesting. I'm not surprised at the content. Egyptians probably stole the damn story from someone else. Thank you for pointing that out.

      mama kindless

      August 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  11. Reality

    Being fair about it:



    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 Obam 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 u

    August 31, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    August 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes everything but me.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Lisa

      Persuasive argument, lol.

      September 1, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • just sayin

      Truth is not an argument it is an undeniable fact. God bless

      September 1, 2012 at 6:22 am |
  13. Willis

    As I asked a Mormon if their Church shoul Formally apoligize to The african american race for all they SEVERE Racist Scriptures in the tabby Nackle book of mo Man. They said NO!!! I asked why not. They Replied, CAUS DEY BLACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • EL

      you have some serious issues, don't you Willis?

      August 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Meli

      For some reason I think you are lying...I have never met a Mormon that would talk like that...

      August 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  14. Willis

    I King Tabby Nackle Bishop Romney do solemly swear to Empose the 100 % BAN on Men of Color to the Higharcheary in the Wonderful Cult we call LDS. I am by far the Bigot of the Century. Go White Power!!!!!!!!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Meli

      Did u listen to Mia Love speak? Probably not!!

      August 31, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  15. Willis

    Jesus died on the Cross for all of us, not just White, Whiter, Whites & STUPID white!!!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  16. John the Historian

    Mormons prove to me anything about your cult. Prove gold tablets, prove Jesus Christ preached to American-Indians, prove the 13 tribe of Israel existed and were ancestors of American Indians. Prove the book of mormon since no other Christian denomination recognizes it. Prove the planet kolob. Prove Jesus Christ was a polygamist.

    August 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Abinadi

      15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, t.hat are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who co mmit who redoms, and per vert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!
      16 Wo unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 28)

      August 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Meli

      In the Mormon church nobody forces you to believe in anything. Everyone who joins the church is asked to pray and ask God if the things we teach are true. So if you want an opportunity to know for yourself, pray and ask the only one who can tell you in your heart. It is not that difficult. James 1:5

      August 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • razzledazzle5

      It appears you are getting your information from South Park cartoons and Broadway musicals.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  17. dave

    So there is nothing irregular or significant about Mormon underwear and Fruit of the Looms. Educating oneself about Mormonism by listening to you is a sure path to confusion.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Meli

      Mormon dot org is pretty accurate...:)

      August 31, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Lisa

      I'm pretty sure there is sacred underwear in that faith. Just sayin...

      September 1, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  18. Gene

    “The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble,” Oparowski said, his voice shaking. “The quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters – that is the time to make an assessment."

    I don't know if Obama has similar experiences he could recount (or have witnesses recount), but I have to agree with the Oparowskis. The true measure of any person is determined by what that person does without fanfare. I was very impressed.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Truth

      Does this include the actions he took and decisions he made at Bain we are not privy to and the taxes he may or may not have paid that he is keeping secret?

      August 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Ju Ju Bee

      Agreed – you see the true "person" not when everything is wonderful and happy, but when they hit hard times. When someone is struggling – you have the opportunity to see who they really are and what they stand for.

      Looking forward to a Romney/Ryan presidency....

      August 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Meli

      Touched by their stories, as I am sure where only a couple from the hundreds I am sure people can tell ... 🙂 🙂

      August 31, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  19. John

    Mitt does not wear creepy under wear. And its not magic.. I think you need to educate your self. Before you start to express your opinion. Have some substance.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Truth

      "Mitt does not wear creepy under wear. And its not magic.."

      1. How do you know what Mitt does or does not wear under his clothes?

      2. I'll agree, whatever he is or isn't wearing is not magical, for magic as defined as supernatural occurences have never been shown to exist as is also true of Mitt Romney's God, who also does not exist. He prays, much like every other religious person on the planet does, to his own personal Harvey the Rabbit, it's just his Harvey asks him to wear special underclothing during certain ceremoneys that symbolize purity and cleanliness, which as we all know, is next to Harveyness.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Mitts underwear is indeed secret, with its secret symbols (you call them secret, but you still won't wear them in public or around any non-member...ergo, secret) and it's true that they aren't magical, but you, as a mormon, do believe that they will protect you from evil...so that sounds magical to anybody outside your cult.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Meli

      I wonder if people would also make fun of all the other religions who also wear special things....

      August 31, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  20. Douglas

    Mitt Romney was a highly successful business man, and governor. He respected all religions, upheld women in leadership and listened to all sides. He is an exceptional individual. His religion is not part of his discussion because he recognizes he is begin elected to a public office, not a pulpit. The LDS Church is full of fine upstanding and salt-of-the-earth people as with many other religions. Focus on the political issues and cut the bashing, please.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • niknak

      Why don't you post that on the Fox news board, because they have steadily bashed Obama about his religion, his birth cirtificate, his nationality, his patriotism for the past 3 years.
      But it is not ok to talk about Mittens creepy underwear or his offshore accounts or his Bain record?
      Typical of a gop hypocrit.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Can we bash him for spewing forth 500 + blatant lies since January?

      August 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • fred

      Mitts companies have continuously grown and prospered and he is a successful business man. His management skills have resulted in tens of thousands of jobs. Regardless of how you want to twist the facts it is smart business to shut down non compet-itive business and focus on those that compete. If you want to employ people in non productive areas and discourage competi-tion then someone else must subsidize them and coddle them.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Meli

      Niknak ... Obama's religion? Does he have a religion?

      August 31, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Lisa

      I think it's important for us to all understand his success very carefully. Did he not personally help move US jobs overseas?
      How much so? Has what he did as a business been supportive of American workers or did it only make him a wealthier man personally who keeps his money overseas as well?

      I'm not sure we have the answers to these questions. Are you sure?

      September 1, 2012 at 12:32 am |
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