My Take: Hard truths matter; I’m Mormon, and I’m voting for Obama
October 18th, 2012
07:37 AM ET

My Take: Hard truths matter; I’m Mormon, and I’m voting for Obama

Editor's Note: Joanna Brooks is a senior correspondent for ReligionDispatches.org and author of "The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith."

By Joanna Brooks, Special to CNN

(CNN)–There are two moments and two moments only that made my soul sit upright during Tuesday night’s presidential debate:

President Obama, speaking about the loss of manufacturing jobs to low-wage economies like China: “There are some jobs that are not coming back.”

Obama, speaking about four lives lost in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya: “I am the one who has to meet those coffins when they come home.”

Morbid? Not at all. I’m just a believer in the gospel of hard truths.

And as I am the mother of two school-age children, a teacher at an underfunded public university and a progressive Mormon, hard truths about the challenges our nation faces are all that makes sense to me.

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As a mother, I am acutely aware that right now, our nation invests a smaller and smaller share of its resources in our children, the generation that will assume the debts my generation and our parents’ generation have incurred.

As an educator, I have witnessed firsthand how failure to generate responsible levels of public revenue has significantly compromised generations’ worth of investment in our public schools and universities.

And as a Mormon, I grew up with a healthy sense of respect for worst-case scenarios. I was raised, after all, with a religious aversion to debt and a year’s supply of canned wheat, beans and powdered milk in the garage, as instructed by LDS Church leaders. The Mormon food storage tradition isn’t about end-times-paranoia: It’s a lesson passed down from our pioneer ancestors, who knew the importance of being prepared for difficult seasons so you can do right by your family and community.

Profile of Brooks: Crossing the plains and kicking up dirt, a new Mormon pioneer

This nation is in a difficult season, and I listened carefully Tuesday night for a proper sense of respect for worst-case scenarios. What I heard instead were the usual rhetorical swerves.

Mitt Romney offered personal anecdotes about “binders full of women” that have nothing to do with economic security for American families. He promised allegedly revenue-neutral $5 trillion tax cuts but refused to provide solid details on how he’d balance the books. And he made throwaway references to all people being the “children of the same God” without substantial reflection on how that should translate in terms of budget and policy.

What I really wanted from the debate was more of the hard truths that Obama seemed to be on the verge of saying:

“This recession is fundamentally different than other recessions, and there are no short-term fixes.”

“Our old strategies for managing Middle Eastern conflict through military intervention or propped-up dictators don’t work. And there is no easy way forward.”

“The only thing the $3 trillion Iraq war produced for the United States was a mountain of debt and a legion of disabled Americans.”

“We need to have a serious discussion about Social Security.”

“Debts don’t get paid down without adjustments in revenues.”

These are the kind of hard truths that speak to the same part of me that took notice when Obama at his inauguration quoted the Scripture: “It is time to put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13: 11).

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And given the challenges we face in bringing down deficits while investing sensibly in the nation’s future, here are some other Scriptures I’d like to hear:

“Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come to smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4: 6).

“Set your house in order, for you shall die” (2 Kings 20: 1)

Morbid? Not at all. But I do feel a sense of responsibility for keeping an eye on the worst-case scenarios. And a few months’ worth of rice and beans in the garage, like Mormon leaders teach me. And an ear out for the gospel of hard truths.

I have seen Obama work steadily, patiently through a difficult season. I have seen him face some hard truths and accept that there are no easy fixes. And I will vote to give him a second term.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joanna Brooks.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (2,087 Responses)
  1. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    there is big time misunderstand of word Secular, Atheist Jew or hindu, self center ism by fundamentals of language, they are not noun's but an adjective, an act of a person in a given state, Human can never be in state of hinduism, denial of truth absolute in a permanent state. So to claim to be a hindu, Jew, Atheist or a secular in permanent state is hinduism, denial of truth absolute, Truth absolute is GOD, foundation of American consti tution and essence of existence for every one thing, and matter. As it is quoted by
    Rainer Braendlein
    America needs the divine wisdom of the genuine American Benjamin Franklin again.

    Benjamin Franklin, the First American, about the faith (this is from his Autobiography which is even available online):

    I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix'd with other articles,

    which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another. Fouding father's were perfectly right to reject hinduism, denial of truth absolute GOD, because religion's were created by hindu's, criminals by hinduism, corruption of truth absolute GOD.
    To see what founding father's of America were in realization and reason they rejected religion's as part of American consti tution please visit, limitisthetruth.com. .

    October 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  2. bigfoot

    Mormon or not, this country is going to be brought down by the Republican Party embracing failed economic policies, immoral foreign policies, and the culture of "money is the only thing that matters".

    October 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • The Truth

      Yup. Even if we manage to keep Obama in the white house all the States with Republican majorities will still forcably r a p e their constltuants with religious doctrine and choke the process of governing with their bibles. It's a sad sad condition this country is in and the only remedy is ripping organized religion out of our government like the tumor it is.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  3. Chris

    I think a President's job is to prevent American lives from returning in coffins, not welcoming them when they arrive. I hate that Obama keeps making that comment. It's seems like he thinks that's one of his main responsibilities.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • pam

      I agree. He also was at some thing for a new monument for a chavez someone or other instead of being present when they named a new ship after one of fallen Navy heroes.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • The Truth

      So it doesn't matter that it wasn't he who started the war and sent the boy's over there to die in the first place? He voted against the war and against greeting any coffins coming home. The republicans and there supporters, voted to send those boys to their death to get revenge for 9/11 and to defend our oil interests in that region.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  4. factcheck2

    Dear Factcheck, what romney said is a statistical fact. 90% of most violent shootings are done by someone who was raised in a one person home. Children do favor better having a two person parental unit. IT IS A FACT! Proven. His point was that we have all the gun control in the world, but if someone wants one they will get them. It does start in the home with the parents.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And just think of how many unloved, abused, emotionally abandoned children could find stability and support in a 2 parent home if gay folk could get married.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  5. Western

    “This recession is fundamentally different than other recessions, and there are no short-term fixes.”

    It's not a recession. It's a Depression. Loosening the rules, rather than tightening them, made that happen. Glass Steagall was repealed and Dodd Frank put in place. We rewarded those who were stealing from us and continue to do so.

    There is no fixing this unless an Administration recognizes it and a Congress acts on it.

    “Our old strategies for managing Middle Eastern conflict through military intervention or propped-up dictators don’t work. And there is no easy way forward.”

    Right. So continuing the old strategies needs to cease. So why haven't they ceased them if they don't work? It's 2012. It's been apparent to me since 2004 that we no longer fight wars and DON'T HAVE THE STOMACH TO.

    “The only thing the $3 trillion Iraq war produced for the United States was a mountain of debt and a legion of disabled Americans.”

    The Iraqi's would argue differently. Was this our responsibility to do so? Hell no.

    “We need to have a serious discussion about Social Security.”

    I've been waiting since 2009 to hear that serious discussion. Instead, I see he goes golfing rather than have a serious discussion about anything. And the media doesn't call him on it.

    “Debts don’t get paid down without adjustments in revenues.”

    WRONG! Debts don't get paid down without adjustments IN EXPENDITURES.

    These are the kind of hard truths that speak to the same part of me that took notice when Obama at his inauguration quoted the Scripture: “It is time to put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13: 11).

    Right. and pick up man-toys, like golf clubs and tickets to The View.

    This guy hasn't done a damned thing and has wasted years on Health Reform (meaning government control of you) when what we needed was something else.

    Get someone in the office who knows how to do a job, gets the right people in to do it, and get done what needs to get done.

    Obama is not that man.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • jo2

      Your argument would probably have some validity if someone other than Romney was running against Obama. Romney's policies are sure to be the same old trickle down economics, military rule by force. It has been proven that doesn't work. Romney is definitely not the man.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  6. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.


    Boy abuse and being gay is holy tradition of hinduism, pagan ism, besides, hindrance of incest to follow hinduism, racism as some thing of a holy nature, hindu pagan Christianity draw's it's root from.
    Teddy- Tallahassee

    A recent report by United Press trust of India (UPI) stated that during the past three years more than 2,500 young boys and girls were sacrificed to goddess Kali in India. Another of AFP's recent reports say: hundreds of young boys and virgin girls are sacrificed every month for the deity Kali. In one case Rama Sewak hacked his eight year old son to death in broad daylight in Delhi because goddess Kali had told him he would come back to life and bring him good fortune. Bloodthirsty Kali is worshipped openly the length and breadth of India. Kali's statue stands naked astride the inanimate body of the Hindu deity Shiva, tongue stuck out with blood dripping from fang-like teeth. She holds a noose, a skull-topped staff, a blood-encrusted sword and a severed head. She is also known as Durga, Devi, Shaktima, Uma and Parvathi in other manifestations. The priest of Delhi, Kali Bari, says that a child sacrificed to Kali ensures a man the birth of a son. Human sacrifices are also made to these gods or goddesses, either to appease them or to ask favours of them.

    Disgusting. Where are the human right people??????

    Charimonov Caminsky
    With such "Dark Age" culture still in existence in India how can the world be healthy and the neighbors prosperous. India poses a grave danger to the world and its deities and leaders set a bad example. Mahatma Gandhi, a pedophile, needs to be exposed and tried posthumously for his child molestation crimes just like the Penn State crowd Sandusky et al. Gandhi's statutes need to be knocked down everywhere they have been put in USA. The hindu deities need to be shattered and trashed. Disgusting figurines of ugly and scary looking characters with demonic personalities. How can hindu children grow up mentally stable looking at such atrocious representations of evil in its most heinous form.
    to learn truth about hinduism, denial of truth absolute and a crime against humanity, please visit limitisthetruth.com

    October 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • George Patton

      My understanding of Hinduism is that these Goddesses are meant to kill evil doers around the world, who can be the better candidates than muslim terrorists? We should encourage KALI to eat all muslims. How about that?

      October 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  7. Truth

    She's no where near a good indication of an LDS member and should not be the voice of Mormonism.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • The Truth

      And you are? And what part of her article did you find Mormons would not agree with? Just the "voting for Obama" part? Or the fact that some like hard truths about where this nation is instead of the empty rhetoric of Romney & Company?

      October 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • James Thompson

      So as a Mormon I am also not a good indicator? Well I will second her opinion. So there you go.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Leslie

      Interesting – I thought we had finally found one Mormon with a brain.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • jonathan

      people like this person helped me speed my exit from the LDS church. I only wish I hadn't thrown away my youth before I realized what it was all about

      October 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  8. Nija

    Brooks I wish I could correspond to you directly. Truth is very bitter and you just said it. Have a good day.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  9. Jon Durham

    Couldn't have said it better myself. Obama has done a good job bringing us through an extremely difficult stretch in a new world with new challenges and new dynamics of global economics and politics. I'll take slow, steady and sure handed in these times. What I don't want is more of brash, greedy and shot sighted. Don't trust the Republicans. When they can't accept an honest man like Ron Paul and instead offer up this limp wristed. flip flopping weasel, I'm afraid I'll have to stick with Obama. I may not agree with his entire philosophy, but I trust him and know what to expect.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  10. Mark

    And here I thought all Mormons were Republicans. I guess some don't listen to the dogma from salt lake.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • James Thompson

      The dogma isn't from Salt Lake, it's from the Republican party.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  11. aProudTexan

    Truth: Google "white horse prophecy" Mitt thinks he is the "choosen one". Very scary.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Citizen

      I was going to mention that. Thank you!

      October 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  12. CuriosityKilledTheCat

    Gods be good- all you christians will go the way of the Dinosaurs- the ones that lived millions of years ago- not that needed saving from a flood 10,000 years ago- get it!!

    October 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  13. Captain Tom

    I am better off then I was four years ago. There is a lot of hiring going on there I live. The president isn’t perfect. But compared to the clown he replaced, it’s apples to radishes.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  14. NoMoreOwebama

    I routinely check out CNN to see what liberal spin they are hocking each day. Another laughable attempt by CNN to re-elect "the Anointed one". I know many Mormons, and they all voted for McCain in the last election & are all voting for Romney in this one because Mormons don't believe in debt & handouts & abortions & apologizing for freedom of speech to Islamic extremists.

    And you call Candy Crowley & Soledad O'Brien journalists? This is why you're dead last in cable news ratings.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • The Truth

      Ah, this guy knows all Mormons and wants to speak for them. But he is nothing but a cat turd in a clown costume.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      CNN prefers journalistic integrity to ratings.

      Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashians have good ratings too, kinda like Fox news. Hmmm

      October 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Not A Shill

      That's funny, 'cos all the Mormons I know voted for Obama!!!

      October 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  15. ElliotNC

    I respect the opinion of Ms. Brooks. She is a realist and a pragmatist.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  16. Senor Dia

    Progressive Mormon is an oxy-moron. You at least have the moron part down.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Not A Shill

      Typical repuglican hate! But, I guess the haters are just gonna keep on hating!

      October 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  17. Alexandria

    Here's the bottom line folks:
    "...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped." – Hubert H. Humphrey

    I will be voting for the person who can clearly demonstrate that these are the important things we need to be looking at.

    We have become such an it's-all-about-me nation that our legacy will not be "greatest" generation, like our parents and grandparents, it will be "greediest" generation.

    The book of James is very specific about treating all people with dignity and respect and not kow-towing to the rich and powerful. None of these God-fearing individuals seem to want to talk about that. Jesus admonished that of those who are blessed with much, much will be expected. None of these God-fearing individuals seem to want to talk about that either.

    The whole situation is disgusting.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Not A Shill

      I'm not particularly religious, but, even I can see that President Obama has held true (as best he can given the obstructionist repuglican party) to his Christian beliefs and has tried, from Day One, to help the poor, the children, and those far less fortunate than most with his policies. Pretty "Christ-like" behaviour in my opinion! Unlike the Romney/Tea party campaign which only knows how to take for themselves and screw everyone else!!

      October 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  18. ryanwin

    Joanna, how can you attack Romney on balancing the budget when he actually has a successful record of doing that, and Obama does not? Obama has spent recklessly and made it even more expensive for our nation to borrow money by facilitating a downgrade in our credit rating as a nation. Seriously, the only excuse you can make is a bias on other issues. If you simply isolate this issue and look at the facts, they are not in Obama's favor, and highly in Romney's favor. When Romney says he will balance the budget and has, you can believe him, but there is no reason we should in our right minds believe Obama, who has only shown failure.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • FactCheck

      He did no such thing. Under his Governance, he raised taxes on everything by re-branding them as "fees", Mass. was 47th in the nation in job creation (during the time when the economy was good everywhere else), and left Gov. Duvall with a $400 million deficit. And that was only in ONE STATE. Fell free to extrapolate if you'd like.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Anthony

      @ ryanwin. please provide examples of Romeny balancing a budget. People want to comment about how Romney this and Romney that. I have yet to hear any specifics on how he will fix a thing nor have I heard any referrences to him balancing a budget in Mass

      I voted for W and his terms were an utter failure. We were in this mess because of his administration. I agree, it hasn't recovered like we have wanted. If you can honestly say this country is worse off than 4 years ago, you are in serious denial. There isn't a person on this earth that could have righted all the wrongs in the past 4 years. I don't care if you are a Repub or Dem, it wouldn't have happened. Our political system is broke. When people's sole mission is to see a person fail, then nothing good will come of it.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • fakeemail

      Okay you say that, but can you explain how he will do that with his 20% across the board tax cuts and his $2 trillion increase to defense. Can you explain how this loss of revenue will decrease the deficit or begin to erase debt? CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN IT TO MEEEEEE?

      October 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Not A Shill

      President Obama has NOT spent "recklessly", ..er ..that was Dubya... with his two unpaid-for wars (based on lies) and his unpaid-for tax breaks for the wealthy!! Have you people just woken up from a 10 year coma?? Memory issues?? What??

      October 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
      • ryanwin

        have you woken up from a 4 year coma? Get real.

        October 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  19. FactCheck

    I also listened to the debate as a single (widow), minority, working mother who is taking care of a two year old toddler.
    Ah I see... so you are the ones responsible for the increase in gun violence in this country (as per Romney).

    October 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  20. Captain Moroni

    "Progressive" means you are trying to modify the church teachings to fit your lifestyle. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon In other words, you cannot agree with some of the principals of God and not the others portions but like all God's children, we continue to learn, grow, and understand the best we can. We all grow at different paces in life.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • John

      Agree with you. The Lords commandments will never change. However, we need to respect other peoples decisions even if they are not the right ones. However, respect doesn't mean support.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • NoMoreOwebama

      Actually I seriously doubt this chic who wrote this is indeed a Mormon. Every Latter-day Saint I know will quote Book of Mormon scriptures in affirming their faith, not just passages from the Bible.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • jonathan

      She can modify whatever she wants because the teachings of the church are the teachings of men, not the principles of God. Joseph Smith was a lecherous con man.

      And every Mormon will not quote the Book of Mormon in affirming their faith. They will try to find common ground with people and use that, in many cases it's the Bible. I was a missionary for the LDS church, and I'm sure not a day went by when I didn't hear quotes from the Bible.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • James Thompson

      Captain Moroni, You have taken the moniker of someone I admire but do not think you represent him. Tell me when and where the church has told it's member to not be progressives. Also please explain to me how the Republican party represents all of your values. Does any party represent 100% of your values? I chose to support a man who represents more of my values and that is why I will be voting for Obama.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • James Thompson

      @NoMoreOwebama, what are you talking about? I love to reference the Bible. We study it extensively. Not sure what you're getting at.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:04 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.