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. Chris T

    I used to vote Republican. I even voted for Bush in 2000. But the GOP has changed. It has put religion in its platform and I won't vote for them until they change. That's why I made the switch. The GOP is controlled by the NeoCons who's main goal is to preserve their oil interests in the MIddle East and to protect Israel because of their oil interests.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • ;p;


      October 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I voted GOP ONCE, that was for Reagan the first time, NEVER again! I like Bush one, but couldn't vote for him.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  2. Jerry

    Romney trained in “art of deception”

    I wish to discuss Mitt Romney and the Mormon Faith. In ways I respect Mormons and do not wish nor intend to belittle in anyway their Faith, the have a right to believe as they wish. A the same time I do have a problem with deceit. I do not think it is too much to ask for truthfulness and integrity. Some reading this may not be a believe of any faith and that is also your right, but we all share one thing the right to expect integrity.
    Some sales people are trained to deceptively sell themselves and their product and very successfully I might add. I believe this is wrong.
    During the second debate Mitt Romney said Obama, reduced drilling for oil. This statement was basically correct. A closer look by CNN reveals the only year drilling was in fact reduced was not caused by the President but by an accident miles under the sea. This and many more blatant lies are very clearly a deliberate deception, which would are and have been believed by some of the electorate.
    The Mormons do the same sell job of their religion. They claim (as does Mitt Romney publically on camera)
    1. Lie - We are Christians just like other Christians, 2. Lie –we believe in the Bible same as Christians, 3. Lie - we believe in the same God as Christians, 4. We also believe in Christ.

    1. Christians – Mormons do not believe we are Christians - Orson Pratt one of the early apostles of the Mormon Church asserted that it is bold prudence for the non – Mormon churches to call them selves Christian churches since QUOTE: “They have nothing to do with Christ, neither does Christ have anything to do with them, only to pour out upon them the plagues written…… All who will not repent, as the authority is once more restored to the earth, and come forth out of the apostate churches and be adopted into the Church of Christ (Mormon) and earnestly seek after the blessings and miraculous gifts of the gospel shall be thrust down to hell, saith the Lord God of Hosts.”

    2. Bible - Christians believe in the Bible that is accepted as such around the world, the Kings James or one of the other versions without “omissions or additions”. The Mormons believe in a Bible that has many omissions and insertions to support doctrines that are completely in contradiction to the main line versions and the Hebrew version. Which incidentally is not longer the Bible but the Mormon version of such.

    3. God – Christians believe in one God who created the heavens and the earth. It is not quite clear which God the Mormons believe in the one who created the heaven and the earth or the man god that found and inhabited the planet earth.

    4. Christ – Christians believe Jesus was conceived and given birth by a virgin. Mormons reject this doctrine.

    These and many more examples “using smoke and mirrors” are clearly deceptive, which when used the same way by a large group is clearly a taught behavior. Deceit as describe in the dictionary -
    Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth (as in half-truths or omission). Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand, and well as distraction, camouflage or concealment. There is also self-deception, as in bad faith.
    Deception is a major relational transgression that often leads to feelings of betrayal and distrust between relational partners. Deception violates relational rules and is considered to be a negative violation of expectations. Most people expect friends, relational partners, and even strangers to be truthful most of the time.
    Guile – implies craftiness in the use of deceit using guile and trickery to obtain ones ends. Hypocrisy is the pretended possession of those qualities which would make others believe in ones sincerity, goodness, devotion etc

    October 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  3. edofchattanoogatn

    JOANNA BROOKS, you said a mouthful and I agree with you 100% !!!! I have already VOTED EARLY for OBAMA / BIDEN and I am so proud of my vote. My car is pasted up with many OBAMA / BIDEN stickers; even the one from 2008 is still on my auto's rear window. I am from TENNESSEE (an IGNORANT REPUBLICON STATE) (well mostly ignorant, except for the DEMOCRATS THAT LIVE HERE), so I drive around a lot, showing off my OBAMA stickers !!! I am hoping, somehow, some way, it will put some SMARTNESS into the many ignorant hillbilly TRASH that make up the majority here. If you watch a BEVERLY HILLBILLIES rerun, you will see a GREAT EXAMPLE of the blatant ignorance that still continues here in Tennessee and the rebellious south. These backyard weekend rednecks still act like (and have the mentality of) infant children, do drugs, make meth kitchens, get drunk every weekend and mistreat their wives and families. It would take a miracle, but I am hoping that the state of TENNESSEE will turn around this time, GET SMART, vote in all DEMOCRATS and add TENNESSEE to the list of OBAMA STATES !!! One can always hope......TennesseeEd

    October 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Chris T

      You have a Obama sticker??? and you live in Tennessee? Good luck with that. I commend you for your bravery. You're a smart man for voting democratic, but I have to you question your wisdom there a little bit if you are putting Obama stickers and driving around the south. You have bullet proof glass?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Chris.. you do realize the South isn't that much different from the North these days. They get TV and internet down there, and some of us even have college degrees. I allowed my wife to start wearing shoes and stop being preggers, and we all got our teeth fixed.. idiot..

      October 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  4. Anna

    Republican for 47 years, lives in UT...You have definitely put forward an opinion that is shared by many but many too willing to say out loud for fear of the retribution you have received. I am also voting for Obama for the exact same reasons you listed. Why can't people express intelligent rebuttal's instead of the petty name calling and put downs? Must not have an intelligent response or an assurance in their opinions.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Ridgerunner

      Fear, Madam, Fear. It worked for Hitler's propaganda minister as well. I wish you, Peace and Strength in your resolve. 😉

      October 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Chris T

      from my experience, Mormons don't seem like the type of people who would get nasty with you for supporting something they don't agree with. They seem like nice people. Now the Evangelicals, thats a different story.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  5. Dan Warrick

    Why is it that Obama tells us what Romney will do that is so bad for our country, but never gives details about what his vision is going FORWARD? I've seen were he is taking us, down a path to SOCIALISM.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • ;p;


      October 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Chris T

      blah blah. And your GOP wants to take us down the path of NeoConservativism. Again.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • edofchattanoogatn

      Dear Dan,
      First of all, we have heard absolutely NO DETAILS from Romney budget plan and will not hear any details from him.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  6. LC

    Mormons disparaging Mormons. That is sad. Like Romney and Harry Reid. BYU vs. Utah. What's the world (church) coming to?

    October 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  7. bill

    Works at an underfunded public university and talks about our nations debt as if magically everyone should be brutalized by Obama spending and the rich will simply pick up the tab! No personal responsibility! Continually promising what can't be delivered and watching her children and grandchildren's future, along with mine go the way of Greece. Good God woman wake up!

    October 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  8. Independent

    What people on Government Assistance need to understand is that it is NOT the GOVERNMENT who supports them. This is the GRAND illusion. Ratherr, IT IS THE PEOPLE of this great country and THEIR BUSINESSES who pay the taxes that support them as well as THEIR PRIVATE donations through charities. They need to understand that loss of jobs and gov't debt affects them and all of us HUGELY. The only way forward is more jobs and a balanced Federal Budget. As far as the author of this article, why would she choose to believe a president who wanted to assume the Benghazi attack was because of religious intolerance in America and who lied about when the State Department knew it was in fact a terrorist attack? I for one, believe, we can in time, get those manufacturing jobs back to the US with better policies. My reading of the person and her politics behind this article is that she is still just a "little girl" religion aside.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • John

      You need to read the article again. Simply put, she believes Romney is selling bull, and that Obama is the better option.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  9. John

    As a Mormon voting for Obama I worry for all of us Mormons that openly express our vote for Obama. My ward is very vocal about their support for Romney, and members can be down right nasty if you don't go with the flow. LDS Obama supporters can become outcast within our own Church in a heartbeat.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • LC

      That shouldn't happen. We've had some Romney endorsing in our ward and the bishop just reads again the First Presidency letter about not using the church for politics. It's hard not to. I want us to have a Mormon president, but more than that I want us NOT to have four more years of failures. I'm willing to give Romney a chance, warts and all.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • ;p;

      Stand strong and make your own decisions.

      Everyone whines about how poorly Obama's done, but they have this ridiculous notion that Romney will do better – when really it would be out of the frying pan and into the fire.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Rita

      Good for you, I'm Catholic and voting Obama again because Romney is such a fake and liar will say anything people want to hear. Invests in companies overseas, hides money overseas not to pay American taxes, who wants a lying cheating president like that? Certainly not me and my household. a draft dodger who hide in Paris getting 4 defferments during the war. Vote OBAMA 2012 !!!!!

      October 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  10. Ridgerunner

    It appears that the 'Mormon Attack Dogs" have arrived. Why don't you ask her about all the good things she's done in her life for the church?? Like, educating your children!

    October 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  11. txmormon

    I am a devout Mormon and will be voting for Obama as well.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Chris T

      very interesting. Another mormon voting for Obama. I have been so ignorant to believe that all mormons were conservative. I apologize. This election season has taught me so much about Mormonism.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • LC

      That is your right as a church member and an American.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Rita

      Amen to you, God bless you !!!

      October 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • wilt

      I'm also an observant Mormon and will vote for Obama. When he has disappointed me, it has been he isn't liberal enough – rather than his being too liberal. He's middle-left at best. As a bumper sticker on my car reads, "God – the greatest liberal of all..."

      October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  12. Chris T

    an eye opening article. I admit I was once ignorant about Mormon people. But this election season has taught me many things about Mormons. And its not true what they say, that all Mormons will vote conservative. This is not the first article I've read by a Mormon voting democratic. Not by a long shot. What a great learning experience this election season has been.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  13. Jeff

    I have yet to understand what a "progressive Mormon" is. Does that mean you call yourself a Mormon, but don't follow it's teachings? Sounds like it.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Russ

      It is sad that "progressive" has become synonymous with "nominal."

      October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Chris T

      It's what I am I guess. I am a Catholic but I don't practice many of their teachings. I consider myself an open minded Catholic.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • John

      No one follows a religion or system to the letter. No one.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Russ

      @ John: so what do you think is the difference between "progressive" & "practicing"?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • wilt

      Progressive Mormon can sometimes simply mean not-reactionary. I'm a current temple recommend holding member of the Church and find the Democrat Party to be closer in compassion, caring for the poor and social justice than other parties or groups. Not perfect, but then again, neither are we.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Russ

      @ wilt: I agree the Republican party fails miserably in those areas, but how do you pit that against your Church's teachings that abortion is murder (meaning, to ignore it is to ignore an ongoing Holocaust) and that gay marriage tears at the fabric of society?

      again, I'm not a Mormon. just curious how you overlook that aspect of your faith.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  14. Jeff

    so being a Mormon, you think it is ok for Obama to support gay marriage and abortion?

    October 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Chris T

      as a Catholic, I support abortion and gay marriage against my church's teachings. Its my own personal opinion, no man in cloth or a hat and gold gucci loafers and a pope mobile can influence my opinion.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Chris T: so who CAN challenge your opinions?

      If, as a Catholic (which I am not, but you've said you are), God's representative leaders can't challenge your opinions, who can or, better yet, has challenged your opinions?

      Or to be more blunt, if you claim to be Catholic but not even God can call you out, are you a functional atheist? Is that what 'progressive' means (as so many of our atheist friends on this blog would claim) – keeping the guise of religion but living as if there were no God but yourself?

      October 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Rita

      It's called Pro-choice, it's a women's choice not the government's. We're not in Pakistan where they tell women what they can or can't do !!!! It's AMERICA !!!!

      October 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Rita: so patriotism matters more than one's faith?
      I'm not a Mormon, but consider the problem:

      How does geography become more important than what you believe your transcendent God has taught...
      unless, of course, you have traded one god for another?

      October 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  15. LC

    Romney is called a flip-flopper, and someone who will say anything to get elected. Obama SAID anything to get elected, and it worked. He failed and now it's time for him to be fired and someone else to get the job. And about Romney's son not serving in the military. That's an electability issue? Obama didn't serve in the military. So what? It's not a pre-requisite. This election should be about the president's failed record. Romney is asking for a chance now, so I voted (absentee, ahead of my upcoming deployment) to give him that chance. We elected Obama on the promise to deliver, and he didn't. That's what counts.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Rita

      While my husband was fighting the war in Vietnam ,Mitt was hiding out in Paris, he was trying to sell his silly religion to the French. He asked for 4 deferments during the heaviest fighting. If dog abuser Mitt ever gets elected he and his war machine will have us in a war and your sons and daughters will be sent to fight, however his 5 sons will also find a place to hide.
      Obama was a baby a the start of the Vietnam War, he was not called to serve....

      October 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • ;p;

      Romney no longer even has any idea what he thinks. His own party has come out to correct him on things. It's embarassing.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  16. Mormon

    Utah is polling about 75% for Romney. Most Mormons are voting for Romney. Why no story about that? And I'm pretty sure Condaleeza Rice is voting for Romeny too. Where is her story?

    October 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Jose

      Utah and Idaho don't count, they would vote for a squirrel if it was a Republican. Only care about gays, abortion and staying white. I am an LDS ex-Utah, ex-Idaho resident.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Ridgerunner

      Can you say, Stepford Children?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Ridgerunner

      Condoleeza is busy shopping at Gucci's!

      October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  17. S. Brady

    Such a beautiful article.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Cindy Bates

      I agree, very nice article!

      October 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  18. Ridgerunner

    "Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation." - John F. Kennedy

    God Bless You For Your Efforts And Dedication. Keep Up The Good Fight-We Need You 😉

    October 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  19. martina

    You Mrs Brooks, need help;

    Thank God for His Mercy; hope you see the err of your ways soon enough

    (;you are like a "cafeteria Catholic" ; not educated in the faith (not even true to your own faith) and causing many to stray.)

    in the way the USA will struggle 4 more years;

    can not believe you would TURN on one of your own so disrespectfully.

    I feel for your children; their mom has much to learn; so brain-washed;

    you are so open minded; I fear your brains might just fall out!

    October 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Ridgerunner

      Obviously, the Patient upset with the Doctor?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Ollie

      You are so judgmental that you condemn out of hand all views that are not yours. Drop the dogma and think about how much the polarization of this nation has taken from us all. Turn on "one of your own"? Aren't we all Americans here? Or are there some Americans that are worth more to you than others?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • pbernasc


      October 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • KIm

      and you're calling Joanna "brain-washed"?? that really did make me laugh out loud.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Real christian Perspective

      Martina.. Your tone is disrespectful. The opposite of an open mind is one that is so tightly clamped down it dies from lack of use..

      October 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • GrammarIsImportant

      You, Martina, need to learn proper grammar. Other than that, stay crazy.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Jay

      Help is surely needed, but not for Joanna Brooks. It was not Ms. Brooks who maligned another woman for gently pointing out what she believes. Turning on one of her own? As a Mormon she is required to support a Mormon? Then it's Catholics for Catholics, Protestants for Protestants, Jews for Jews, no matter the policies, the facts? Good thing for you and Romney that the rest of America sees things differently, else he would never have made it past the first primary.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Scottyholden

      Martina, you are an embarrassment to your country.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Nancy Stagner

      Martina: you are like so many modern day Republicans – an absolute idiot – and I can say that because I was a Republican for most of my 40 years of voting but because of people like you and your "brain-washed" beliefs, I voted Democratic for the first time in my life in 2008 and I will be voting Democratic until the Republican party is once again in the hands of sensible people and the religion is out of their voting agenda.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • ML

      You ma'am are much more in need of help than she.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Chris T

      Did you call her BRAINWASHED??? wow. Coming from an obvious religious person, that is quite an indictment. You Martina, are like a sheep. You will follow rules of your church no matter how corrupt they are. Remember, at the helm of every church is a human. Not some holy person sent from heaven.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Proselytize Much Martina? Just curious.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Lorel

      People like you, mostly illiterate and brainwashed yourself, is why, after being raised in the Morman church and reaching adulthood with children, I could not stand the stupidity of the bishops and the people in charge, and mostly because of the disdain the church had for women, I had myself excommunicated more than 20 years ago!

      October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Lorel

      People like you, mostly illiterate and brainwashed yourself, is why, after being raised in the Morman church and reaching adulthood with children, I could not stand the stupidity of the bishops and the people in charge, and mostly because of the disdain the church had for women, I had myself excommunicated more than 20 years ago! I heartily agree with Joanna.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  20. Oppa gangnam style!

    Non-belief is like living in a fantasy world where you are a god.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Huebert

      Trolling or just dumb?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Rita

      Romney is a lying, cheating, 2-faced flip-flopper that will says anything people want to hear. Hides his money abroad so not to pay taxes. a CEO out to make the big buck looking out for himself, don't care about half of Americans, don't pretend you don't know, you'll heard it on tape, live!!!!

      October 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      What's wrong with wanting to be a god.. my wife is sure I'm a god, she keeps calling me a god dam idiot..

      October 18, 2012 at 5:16 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.