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. Chidi O

    Joanna, Thanks for a well articulated viewpoint. I, too, believe in hard truths. The idea that we can take care of all our go vernment has to, and that it will not cost anyone anything, is a mere fallacy. This idea has been floated, from Reagan to George W. Bush, and of course now, Mitt Romney. We keep cutting taxes and keep getting in debt, and somehow, the American people keep buying this nonsense. There is no free lunch, and never has been. Romney talks about creating twelve million jobs, as if he has a bag of jobs that would be dunped on us, but he never tells anyone how these jobs would be created. How does getting further into debt make our economy better? We already have a huge debt, and somehow the Republican party insists on not raising any revenues. All we have to look at is the Clinton years, when we raised revenues and ended up with a surplus. I, too, I am sticking with Obama. Romney is the proverbial snake oil salesman, who will say anything to get what he wants.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Terry

      An economics professor has indicated that the recovery portion of the economic cycle is forming and that 250k jobs will likely be created every month regardless of who is president. Romney knows this and is promising something that will not be of his creation. If he was really a strong business leader, as he says he is, he should be able to talk in terms of 350-400k per month, but he can't because he really has no plans beyond "drill baby drill" and go after China for currency manipulation.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  2. snurfles

    lame-o, when I was growing up Mormon I was told by my bishop (why does Romney keep saying Pastor?) that the Church does not get involved in politics. How sad that they have strayed from that doctrine. It's one of the reasons I'm no longer active. The Church should not be telling people who to vote for but unfortunately, it is doing just that in this election. Neither Obama nor Romney are perfect but I will take the candidate with the better plan for our COUNTRY, not the guy who thinks women should be controlled by the government and the Church.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Randy

      Snurfles, the Church doesn't tell us how to vote. It has never told us how to vote, nor do I believe it ever will tell us how to vote. Such lies from your mouth. Shame on you.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • agathokles

      @Randy: Many churches advise their flocks how to vote. Maybe your local one doesn't, but many do.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • ;p;

      Gsoh no Randy; they just donate millions to crap like Prop 8. Sneaky, underhanded bigotry.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • John Scheid


      Surely you don't intend to stand in front of your Maker and confess you left the Church because they are telling you who to vote for. They do no such thing and allow no such use of it's influence for political purposes. From time to time the political purpose crosses over the line into theological realms and then they get involved. Would you expect anything less? The only ones making an issue of the Mormons are those who think it will help Obama win an election because those people vote with their bigotry and not with their intelligence.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  3. Lunia

    Great article from a REAL AMERICAN. Often times one has to look at the really big picture. This article shows that the writer did just that. Great article!!!!!!!!!! You have made a wise choice.

    Somewhere in California

    October 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  4. inbearlake

    Evidently noone has informed Ms. Brooks that being a "progressive mormon" is like being a "muslim christian"

    October 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  5. 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 1:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.
    Every hindu, denier of truth absolute seeks, hinduism, removal of truth absolute from access of humanity to hide his business of hinduism, illegality, truth absolute GOD is engraved on rock, resolve of truthful Muslim,never to be removed, but implemented with full force to eliminate hinduism, denial of truth absolute including hindu's, criminals along with their hindu Judaism, secularism and atheism, not of truth absolute GOD but of Lucifer, secular hindu, filthy god of hindu atheist.self centered. hindu's, deniers of truth absolute have no power to remove truth absolute, because truth absolute GOD is essence of existence , of every thing in existence, including hindu's, deniers of truth absolute GOD. GO TO hIND, HELL hINDU'S CRIMINALS WITH YOUR hINDU GOD LUCIFER, SECULAR. hIND, DIE WITH YOUR hINDU SOUL, FILTHY DESIRE. For truth about hinduism, denial of truth absolute visit, limitisthetruth.com

    October 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  6. felix el gato

    Tax all churches and non-profits.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  7. frederic Marc

    Hey, just to get my minute of fame, I am ready to be interviewed too! The topic would be: I am a Republican and I will vote for Obama. That would fit well in this Democratic disinformation campaign. Some Democrat might even start believing that some Republican will vote for a president that just announced that he will not work with Republican unless they capitulate. What a guy!

    October 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • agathokles

      I love how whatever facts are inconvenient to Republicans are called "disinformation." Examples: the most recent unemployment numbers; and global warming. As Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

      October 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  8. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    I like to sale my used camel with low miles, runs good, anyone interested? Asking $1750 or BO.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      if you are serious, I like to sweeten the deal by throwing in my wife #4 free, she does everything, cleaning, cooking, making beds, and legs and head massage in night.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      hindism, ignorance of a hindu, idiot.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      I must sell this camel; now I am offering old camel, with my old wife#4, and Hindu boy FREE! once in a life time deal guys!!

      October 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  9. U.R. a liberal loon who happens to be Mormon

    I'm amazed how the blind lemmings on the left take a talking point on liberal blogs and media sights and run with it. Everyone knows Romney meant to say he received blinders full of women's resumes, because he was actually going out of his way to hire more qualified women. As he stated, he was amazed how man dominated his cabinet was when he became governor, and he openly questioned the logic of it. By reaching out to women's groups, he actually showed how important women's rights are to him. And for the media to completely twist things around, because he make a speaking error, and for the lemming loons on the left to fall for it, just shows how uniformed and desperate they have become. Guess what folks, the rest of the country ain't falling for it. Obama is toast.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Snow

      he was looking so hard to hire women that the percentage of women in his staff fell from 30% to 27% during his reign... and rose back to 34% after his departure.. Ya, he really worked hardddddd to support women.. didn't he.

      only problem he continues to have is with the real facts.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • agathokles

      He didn't ask for the binders. A group wanting to get more women in upper levels of gov't approached him. Romney misstated his pro-activeness.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • agathokles

      Leaving aside all the tackiness of saying "binders of women," what I want to know is how putting a couple in his Cabinet addresses the question of what he'd to to remedy unemployment of women.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Brian

      In typical GOP fashion, you got the facts wrong. The "binders of women" references actual binders presented to each candidate in Mass, seeking the Governor's Office. The binders were compiled by numerous, bi-partisan women's groups in Mass, looking to make sure that whomever was elected, they had qualified female candidates. Romney suggested in the debate that he and his staff put this together themselves. Again, Romney bending the truth to match the lie.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  10. RealGlaird

    I guess, to CNN, it's okay to discriminate against a candidate because of their Religion.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  11. Reasonable Man

    Sister Brooks, can you tell me what President Obama plans to do about any of the problems you cited? Social Security? Medicare, which he raided of $718 million? You say he seemed on the "verge" of saying something responsible, but I didn't hear it.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • agathokles

      The same $718 Million you claim Obama "raided" from Medicare was similarly handled in Ryan's proposed budget. All it is, is money that's not needed under Obamacare.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  12. reasonablebe

    thank you. well reasoned and explained so any one can understand the truth. truth is hard and unfortunately most people don't want to hear it. many want to hear what they want to believe and it seems this is what mr. romney is aiming for- reality needs to be addressed.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  13. buzz

    I could see the hate in Romney's eyes (creepy),he had a horrible evil glare and stare at President Obama when he the President told that hyper idiot to proceed. Romney is so full of crap, like satin he really think he's God.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Reasonable Man

      I urge you to seek help from a good therapist. The only hate I saw was directed at Romney from Obama.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • reasonablebe

      i didn't see hate from either. i did hear a fake and condescending tone from romney. if you read between his lines, he comes off like someone who either knew or suspected much of what he said was misleading intentionally and he didn't even believe he meant it.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • John Scheid

      Hey Buzz, You are really a keen spiritual master who can see the devil in a man's eye. WOW! Can I follow you to the hell you came from? How about the rest of the country going with you?

      October 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  14. Ed

    First, Jerry, with as much hate as you have for anyone who is not white,right(your "right"), and tight you will distroy yourself with pure angst. The sooner the better!

    Second, it WAS GWB who put this country in the horrible condition it was in,PERIOD! His deregulation of Wall Street and banks was just putting the fox into the hen house. Jerry, you have a severe short term memory problem if you can't reflect back,without bias, to a big business (Bush friend & supporter/donor) called ENRON. That was one of the first dominos tipped and the rest followed. Jerry, take off your blinders and see a bigger picture.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  15. NoGOP

    I'm not sure Romney even is Mormon... he keeps calling himself a pastor.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • reasonablebe

      intersting you should mention that.

      a fanily member who has colleagues who are mormon told me there is actually no recognized position of 'pastor' in the morman church, that what romney actually was was a 'bishop.' this i did not know before.

      query, was romney afraid to say bishop because it would make him look more distant, or was he using the main stream/ protestant term because he wanted listeners to think he was just like them, some of them either having been or being pastors or having confided in a pastor?

      really odd... so if the position is 'similar,' just from a different sect or religion and can be interchanged, could an iman say he had served as a rabbi? really very curious about this interchange and whether it matters/why romney did it.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Randy

      Really? Because he said "pastor"? So many millions of people do not know what the office of a Mormon Bishop or a Mormon Stake President is. Saying Pastor gets him past that hurdle. Geez Laweez, some people just need to take a chill pill.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • NoGOP

      He should have said he was "Like a Pastor" then. The president of the LDS church doesn't go around calling himself the Pope.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • reasonablebe

      you should look at this article someone else posted the cite to :
      http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/30/an-ex-mormon-woman-looks-back-at-the-church/ . chilling.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • John Scheid

      NoGOP – So if the President of the Mormon Church is not the Pope, what is he? If Obama is not the President of the United States, what is he? No – these are not trick questions.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  16. Terry

    This was one article I read earlier today which was a little disturbing about Romney, his character and his actions within his faith.. Then I saw this article above and I thought that more questions should be asked of him and about him.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • reasonablebe

      thanks for the citation. i read it. should probably be required reading. i printed it– i'm taking it to a discussion group this weekend. very disturbing, but when i put it together with what i have been told by mormons i know, it is positively chilling.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • John Scheid

      Wow – another bigot bites the dust following after someone who doesn't know what they are supposed to believe and thus get all confused with what the world teaches them they should believe. Would you go to a doctor to be treated for an illness who was fed up with the AMA and began doing his own thing?

      October 18, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  17. AlphaUmi

    Here's a hard truth: 40+ million abortions in the U.S. and counting. Obama will likely support an increased abortion rate. Don't see how any reasonably moral person can sidestep this issue.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • sigh

      obvious red herring, but I'll bite – because, 40+ million people would definitely be boost to our current economy...

      October 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • AlphaUmi

      Sigh – exactly the point. Placing $$ above life and liberty.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Rob

      This argument has to be removed from politics- this is a personal issue, not a presidential issue. Drugs are illegal – do people still use them. Answer = YES. As a matter of fact, look at what is happening in Mexico as a result. Abortion is not an issue that the president of the US can fix. It is not a problem the Congress can fix, not the US Supreme Court. You are dreaming if you believe this. Instead of bringing up the argument, why don't YOU go volunteer with the kids of tomorrow. Why don't you show through actions (not words) what is wrong with abortion, and why as Americans we should stop using arguments like this to separate us, instead of finding a place to work together.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • scubamartin

      And how do you fix an issue like this one? Obviously with better education and better access to contraceptives. Not by making it illegal. If abortions were made illegal, they would still be performed but as back alley abortions instead. And the idea of making abortions legal in criminal cases, would just results in a increase to false accusations with innocents ending up in prison. Everyone should stick with logic, and keep religion seperate from politics.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • KAP

      Can you put a clear distinction between moral and ethics? Better yet would you want someone to infringe on your right to choose? I'm pro-life, however, I also understand that individuals have the right to choose as well thus I cannot impose my belief on someone.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Amy

      Yes, we all care about the baby before it's born, but it's after when the mom is on government assistance that life means squat. Good one.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • AlphaUmi

      Rob, extend your argument. Legalize drugs and you think our situation would be better?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  18. lame-o

    Sorry, Joanna, but as a fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) there's no such thing as a "progressive" Mormon. Just like any other religion, there are members who choose to live by the precepts of their faith, and those who choose not to. As far as Mormons go, you cannot pick and choose which points of doctrine to follow and expect full fellowship in the church. Similarly, if you call yourself a devout Mormon, Joanna, you cannot stand behind Obama as his stance on certain moral issues are in direct opposition with what Mormons believe. I'm not saying you have to vote for Romney, as he is obviously not perfect. But, you cannot choose to ignore those fundamental differences, because his tax plan is better. You need to reassess your priorities, or join another church, because you're not in the same one as me.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Amy

      I'm a member of the church and I find your comment offensive and judgemental. Remember when Romney was pro-choice? Uh, yeah probably not. I'm guessing by your comment "If you don't like it then go join another church" you must be from Utah because if someone doesn't think they way you do or think they way you THINK they should, then they need to go. So shallow.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Kmos


      Hey lame-o

      When I became a member of the church, I took an oath and a covenant to walk in the name of Jesus Christ, not Grover Norquist or the Republican Party. The Church does not dictate religious affiliation for good reason. It seems the one picking and choosing which tenants of the Gospel to live would be you.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  19. Michael - Son of Adam

    We are still recovering from King George and his 8 year "Reign of Error".

    October 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  20. Jack

    Joanna, I too am an active Mormon and I feel exactly as you do...Thank you for articulating your views so well...I believe that if President Obama is not reelected our country, which I love, is doomed to enter the dark ages again. I think the President's balanced approach to our recovery and debt reduction makes sense. Regarding Jobs...Governor Romeny says he knows how to create jobs because he is a businessman; this sounds alot like Senator McCain when he said he can get Osama Bin Laden. I see President Obama has a doer and also more honest than the alternative.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • AlphaUmi

      Debt Reduction? You trust his campaign statements about what he will do during a lame duck term above his proven track record during a first term. Yikes!

      October 18, 2012 at 3:33 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.