The making of Mitt Romney: A look at his faith journey
After an invocation by a Latter-day Saint at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney accepted the nomination.
October 27th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

The making of Mitt Romney: A look at his faith journey

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story ran last year, as part of a series about the faith lives of the leading Republican presidential candidates. With the exception of an August interview done by CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger for her documentary “Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power,”  which airs  Sunday, October 28, and Saturday, November 3, at 8 p.m. ET on CNN, all other interviews were conducted in the fall of 2011. CNN has also profiled President Obama’s faith life during his time in the White House.

 (CNN) – A cop arrived at the roadside wreckage of a June 1968 head-on collision in southern France, took one quick look at the Citroën’s unresponsive driver and scrawled into the young man’s American passport, “Il est mort” - “He is dead.”

The man at the Citroën’s wheel was Mitt Romney, who may have appeared dead but was very much alive – as is his hope to become the next president of the United States.

Romney was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church, when tragedy struck. It was a time of turmoil both in France and in the United States. Protests against the Vietnam War raged on, as did French disdain for Americans. Robert Kennedy had recently been assassinated, as had Martin Luther King Jr. a couple months earlier. France was still reeling from a May marked by riots, student demonstrations and crippling worker strikes.

There were six people in the car Romney was driving when friends say an oncoming speeding Mercedes, driven by a Catholic priest, veered into his lane. Among the passengers was mission president Duane Anderson – Romney was serving as his assistant – and Anderson’s wife. Anderson was injured, and Leola Anderson, 57, was killed. Like her husband, she’d been a parent figure to the approximate 180 Mormon missionaries in the field - their surrogate mother away from home. Now, she was gone.

“I don’t think [Romney] went around blaming himself, but in talking about it he’d shed some tears,” remembered Dane McBride, a fellow missionary and Romney friend ever since. “It was a very heavy experience for a 21-year-old.”

The mission president left France for six weeks to bury his wife and heal. A gloom spread over the mission field. Conversions in the country dropped, along with Latter-day Saint spirits.

These young men and women, who were already deep in a trying spiritual rite of passage, had to grow up and prove themselves in new ways.

In spite of his grief and a broken arm, Romney and a missionary companion – they always work in pairs – took charge. They traveled around the country visiting the others. Romney lifted up deflated missionaries with silly made-up songs. He taught them to visualize all they could accomplish and challenged them to raise their expectations, McBride said.

Romney increased the conversion goal for the year by 40%, believing France’s  Mormon missionaries could and would recharge. In the end they surpassed Romney’s goal of baptizing 200 new members into the church.

It wasn’t such a stretch, though, for Romney to distinguish himself. Throughout his life, he’s been rooted in a faith that – whether he talks about it or not – helped shape the man who would president.

‘An American running for president’

Romney hopes the nation is ready to embrace a president who happens to be Mormon.

But he has faced questions about his faith since first getting into politics in 1994, when he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy’s nephew, Joe, attacked Romney’s Mormonism, the insult drew a strong public response from Romney’s father – a former governor of Michigan who’d himself run for president - and failed to gain traction.

Since then Romney, who was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2003, has played down his faith on the campaign trail. But he did  address it in a December 2007 speech, hoping to stem voter concerns about his religion and how it might influence him as a president. It was a speech he likened to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 address, when Kennedy was running to be America’s first Catholic president.

“Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president,” Romney said. “Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”

“No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith,” Romney said, declaring that if he was  elected president, he would “serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest.”

“A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States,” he said. “I believe in my Mormon faith, and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.”

Whether Romney’s confession of faith helped sink him is a subject of debate. He hoped to deflect the focus on his religion while not speaking to Mormon doctrine or specific beliefs. In the whole speech, he mentioned the word Mormon only once.

This time around, Romney decided to forego a speech on his faith, but that doesn’t mean he was immune to pesky background noise about it. After introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a Values Voter Summit last fall, Pastor Robert Jeffress said Republicans shouldn’t vote for Romney because Mormonism is a “cult.” 

And only after a sit-down meeting earlier this month with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham, did the cult reference to Mormonism get scrubbed from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s website.

It’s hard to know how much Romney’s faith matters to the public, but recent polls suggest that at least to the majority of voters, it makes little or no difference.

A survey released in late July by the Pew Research Center showed that 60% of voters knew that he was Mormon, and of those who knew 8-out-of-10 were either comfortable with his faith or didn’t really care.

Another survey by Pew showed that only 16% of voters wished they knew more about Romney’s religious beliefs. Far more hungered for further details about his tax returns and his records as governor and at Bain Capital.

But in a tight election, if even a small minority of Americans withhold their votes from Romney because of his religion, it could cost him the White House.

For months, Romney’s campaign made it clear that it didn’t want to discuss his beliefs. Repeated attempts last fall to speak with the candidate, his wife, his children, his siblings - and, really, just anyone – about Romney’s faith journey were denied by campaign headquarters.

Even the reins it had on those outside the inner circle appeared tight. A local LDS Church leader in Michigan, contacted in hopes of finding childhood friends, forwarded CNN’s inquiry to campaign headquarters - prompting yet another slap down.

“What makes no sense to me is how you continue to push forward in writing about Gov. Romney’s faith journey when we’ve made it clear in every way possible that this is not a story we want to participate in,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an email.

But Romney has been somewhat more open about his religion since then. He and his wife, Ann, sat down separately with CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger for her documentary, “Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power,” which first aired just before the Republican National Convention.

In the documentary, Romney shared how his mission in France fortified his faith and how church leadership roles in Boston would later strengthen his beliefs further.

He invited reporters to attend church with him in August, allowing the unremarkable typical Sunday service to speak for itself. People who’ve known him through the LDS Church took center stage at the convention, speaking to his character.

In August, Romney invited members of the press to join him for Sunday LDS Church services.

But Romney generally moved through the campaign guarding details about his Mormonism. He spoke about religion in broad strokes. He continued to avoid details and doctrine.

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During a May commencement address at Liberty University, the Christian school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, he didn’t utter the M-word. Under the watchful eyes of millions as he accepted the Republican nomination for president in August, he said it once.

Growing up while abroad

The 19-year-old Mitt Romney who showed up for missionary training was different than the rest.

“Mitt stood out from everyone else,” said Byron Hansen, who flew with Romney to France in July 1966. “He already spoke French pretty darn good, while the rest of us knew ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir.’ He immediately jumped out as a leader.”

Romney, like many of the other young men called by church leaders to serve, had finished a year of college before he got his missionary calling. But he’d gone to prestigious Stanford University and came from a privileged and powerful background.

He was worldly, not intimidated, and he was eager to interact with people of different backgrounds, said Hansen, who owns a car dealership in Brigham City, Utah. “All the rest of us from no-name Utah had never been more than 500 miles away from home.”

Despite the comforts he’d known growing up, Romney wasn’t spoiled. Some apartments that housed missionaries around France lacked heat and water, but had plenty of fleas. Those sorts of conditions likely made Romney appreciate all the more the luxuries of the mission home, located in the ritziest part of Paris, where he worked and lived during the latter part of his two-and-a-half year mission. He and the others there were fed by a Spanish cook and enjoyed the benefits of maids.

What’s more, said fellow missionary and friend Dane McBride, the young men learned what time of day to peer through windows to watch Brigitte Bardot walk her poodles.

The scenery aside, “it was the nicest office I ever worked in,” said McBride, now an allergist and immunologist in Roanoke, Virginia.

Throughout his mission, Romney was the first to get out of bed each morning, forever focused on his goals and the lessons he’d teach, and he stayed gung-ho even when others faltered, Hansen said.

Romney didn’t shy away from approaching anyone. On Saturdays, a free day for missionaries, he’d be done with his laundry by 9 a.m. and coaxing everyone else out the door for bike rides in the mountains, tours in new places or football games.

“He was never one to sit around,” Hansen said. “You had to run to keep up with Mitt.”

He was both pragmatic and creative when it came to sharing Mormon teachings, McBride said.

“Neither of us cared for knocking on doors much,” said McBride, referring to the typical tact for Mormon proselytizing. “But we did it. We did it a lot.”

However, Romney was a big proponent of what McBride called “creative contacting.” In lieu of going door-to-door, he preferred to encourage conversations by building sidewalk kiosks or inviting French locals to play baseball or attend evening parties with American themes – complete with Western wear and guitar strumming.

Being a missionary in largely secular France deepened Romney’s faith because it forced him to wrestle with challenges, steep himself in study and prayer and face plenty of rejection, McBride said. Like others, Romney was no stranger to doors being slammed in his face or getting his behind kicked while heading down apartment stairwells.

“When you’re off in a foreign place and you only talk to your parents once or twice a year by phone – that’s all that’s allowed – and you’re out speaking to people day in and day out about your faith and your religion and differences between your faith and other faiths…you say, ‘OK, what’s important here? What do I believe? What’s truth? Is there a God? Is Jesus Christ the son of God?’” Romney said to Borger in August.

“These questions are no longer academic. They’re critical because you’re talking about that day in and day out. And so I read the Scripture with much more interest and concern and sought to draw closer to God through my own prayer,” he said. “And these things drew me closer to the eternal and convinced me that in fact there is a God. Jesus Christ is the son of God and my savior, and these are things that continue to be important in my life, of course.”

Religious roots that run deep and strong

The groundwork for Romney’s faith journey was laid long before he put on a suit and, armed with his Book of Mormon, boarded a flight for France.

He comes from a long line of Latter-day Saints. Those who like to highlight what makes him different might point to how one of his great-grandfathers fled to Mexico, about 125 years ago, amid U.S. government crackdowns on what Mormons refer to as “plural marriage.” But many multigenerational Mormon families have polygamists in their family tree.

Plural marriage was introduced by church founder Joseph Smith but was officially banned by the church in 1890. Some 38,000 people aligned with fundamentalist offshoots of the LDS Church still practice polygamy, but they are a far cry and completely separate from the 14 million worldwide members in Romney’s church.

Romney’s late father, George Romney, was from modest means. He was born in Mexico to monogamous U.S.-born parents and left during the Mexican Revolution when he was 5. He went on to be CEO and chairman of the now-defunct American Motors Corporation, governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate in 1968.

Mitt Romney with his father, George Romney, who made his own mark as a leader in business, the LDS Church and politics.

Growing up Mormon in Michigan made Mitt Romney a member of a distinct minority. There were fewer than 8,000 Mormons in the state in 1945, two years before he was born, according to the LDS Church. It’s been reported that he was the only Mormon in his high school. While Mormon students in Utah could simply stroll across the street from school to attend early morning seminary before the first bell, longtime friend McBride said Romney didn’t have that easy, built-in outlet to strengthen his faith amid peers.

“Neither of us had benefited from that,” said McBride, who also grew up as a Mormon minority, in Iowa and North Carolina. “We had been called on in school to defend our faith many times. … I remember from fifth grade on needing to defend my religion.”

But Romney, in his Republican nomination acceptance speech, shared a different take on growing up in the Mormon minority: “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.”

Romney’s family, though, was active in the church. In 1952, his father was named Michigan’s first stake president. A stake is comparable to a diocese and has under its umbrella multiple “wards” or congregations, much as a diocese consists of parishes.

The LDS Church does not rely on professional clergy. Instead, church members are called to serve as volunteer leaders while holding down paid jobs. Church leaders rely on other volunteers as advisers. For instance, a ward bishop has two counselors, while a stake president confers with a high council of 12.

Being Michigan’s sole stake president meant Romney’s father – in addition to his full-time corporate work – oversaw ward operations, was the spiritual guide for the Latter-day Saint community and relayed messages from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

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Like many practicing Mormons, the Romneys enjoyed “family home evening” every Monday, a time reserved to pray, study and sing together, McBride said.

Romney has spoken publicly about how his parents took him and his three siblings on mobile American history lessons, McBride said, loading up the family Rambler for cross-country tours to national parks, with stops at places like Mount Rushmore, Valley Forge and Williamsburg.

But McBride said the family also likely visited LDS historical sites, including points along the path westward traveled by Mormon pioneers who followed the call of Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, and trekked through treacherous conditions to arrive in 1847 in what is now Utah.

While Romney’s parents made sure their children were deeply connected to their country and their faith, Romney didn’t reside in a Mormon bubble. He was part of a bigger and more diverse world.

Ann Davies, the woman he fell for and now calls his wife, was Episcopalian when he met her during high school, and he knew she was the one for him.

After he left for college and then his mission, she began studying Mormonism, attended church with Romney’s parents and converted. Romney returned from France and proposed to her immediately. After a civil ceremony in Michigan, the two were married and “sealed” for eternity in 1969 during a sacred ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple.

The couple returned to college and began a family at church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, before moving to Boston, where Romney earned law and business degrees at Harvard.

Serving his LDS community

Romney rose in local church leadership while making his corporate mark. Along the way he applied many of the skills he’d displayed earlier, including his knack as a young missionary for turning challenges into possibilities.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, he served as a ward bishop – or part-time pastor – and stake president for the Boston area.

Romney delivered sermons, counseled couples, and made middle-of-the-night hospital runs. He monitored budgets, weighed welfare needs of immigrants and others, and drove outreach to different faith communities. He showed up at the homes of Latter-day Saints in need of help, taking on tasks such as removing bees’ nests.

“There’s… no one who is full-time with the church to care for the sick and visit the poor,” Romney told Borger. “And so the church comes and says, ‘We’d like you to do that, Mitt.’ … Talk about a growing-up experience and a learning experience.”

Philip Barlow, a professor of Mormon history and culture and the director of the religious studies program at Utah State University, served as a one of two counselors to Bishop Romney in the early 1980s.

Each Saturday, the counselors would meet with Romney in his home in Belmont, a suburb northwest of Boston. And while the work was serious, it didn’t mean Romney always was. Barlow recalled the time Romney busted out with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and did a formidable moonwalk across the floor.

“The media is always reporting that he can come across as too polished,” Barlow said. “But there’s a real person there.”

Romney also was the kind of leader who built bridges with those suspicious of Mormons. When a chapel under construction in Belmont burned to the ground amid ongoing anti-Mormon sentiment, he turned the perceived arson attack into opportunity.

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

“It was an inspired move,” said Grant Bennett, who at one time served as a counselor to Romney when he was a bishop and later served on the Boston stake’s high council under Romney when he was president.

Non-Mormon houses of worship offered their buildings to accommodate the needs of the displaced Latter-day Saints during the chapel’s reconstruction. While it would have been easier to pick one place to call a temporary home for services, classes and meetings, Romney accepted every viable offer he received – thereby forcing a rotation of interaction with different faith communities.

Experiencing the kindness of strangers offered relief to Mormons who had been feeling “a little under siege,” said Bennett, who first got to know Romney through church in 1978 and worked with him for five years at Bain & Company, the global consulting firm that Romney eventually led as CEO.

“In a religious context, Mormons are very good at serving each other and are often hesitant to accept help,” he said. “I think Mitt had the fundamental insight … that we’d be better off and [the other churches would] be blessed by helping us.”

It was the sort of decision perhaps born of being in the minority in Michigan and learning early to honor religious pluralism, said Bennett, now president and CEO of CPS Technologies, a high-tech manufacturing firm in the Boston area.

On the campaign trail and with media, Romney has tried to focus on matters other than faith.

In his religious roles, Romney had to delegate and call others to serve. Sometimes he believed in people more than they believed in themselves.

Andy Anderson, a retired researcher and writer in Kaysville, Utah, first got to know Romney amid tragedy. It was Anderson’s mother who was killed in the 1968 car wreck in France, and when his father returned to Paris, Anderson, his wife and children went along.

When Romney later moved to Anderson’s neighborhood in Massachusetts, Anderson said he helped Romney and his family settle in.

In 1989, Anderson said he was minding his own research business when Romney, then the Boston stake president, called him for a meeting. A group of new converts Anderson described as “Cambodian boat people” – united formally as a “branch,” which is smaller and less developed than a ward - had suddenly lost its president without warning.

In shock, he listened as Romney said, “Guess who’s the next branch president?”

Anderson said he’d been raised to accept church callings. But between the language barrier with the Cambodians, the cultural differences, the poverty and the responsibility, this one seemed too much. He begged and pleaded with Romney. He told him he was unqualified, that he’d “never been president of anything.” He said, “It sounds like a really bad fit, Mitt.” But Romney wasn’t swayed.

“Andy, you know where this comes from,” Romney answered, referring to the Mormon belief that God can reveal truths to individuals. “It’s not me. You go talk to Him and tell me when you’re ready.”

For the next three years Anderson said he oversaw the poorest people in the Boston stake. The overwhelming task “nearly killed me,” he said. But along the way he not only fell in love with the community, he learned to believe in himself and see that he could be a leader.

“I count Mitt as a friend, and it has been a real pleasure to work under him,” he said. “If he was a real pain to work for, I’d know it. I’ve worked for people in the church I couldn’t stand.”

Women’s view of Romney

The Romney reviews from Latter-day Saint women in the Boston area were more mixed.

In the early 1970s, as the feminist movement gained steam, a group of Mormon women began gathering in Cambridge to explore the history of women in their church. They were looking for role models, stories that would inspire them.

With the help of LDS Church historians, they learned about their female ancestors and wrote a book, “Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah.” They discovered that a women’s newspaper, Women’s Exponent, was published in the late-19th and early-20th centuries and featured women’s writings that Judy Dushku described as “very feminist in their views.”

“We were reading about women we’d never heard of before,” said Dushku, a Suffolk University professor of government with an interest in gender and comparative politics. She and other “founding mothers” were moved to start a new publication, now a quarterly magazine: Exponent II.

That decision, however, was not received well by the LDS Church, Dushku said. She said the fact that it was independent and had no stamp of approval from church higher-ups, all of them men, rubbed some - including Romney - the wrong way.

Dushku said Romney encouraged friends to tell their wives not to participate. He made it clear he didn’t want the women behind the publication holding meetings on church property. Dushku and the others suspected it was under his direction that copies of the magazine displayed in congregations got dumped in wastebaskets.

The LDS Church is patriarchal in nature. Only men can serve as bishops, stake presidents and in higher leadership roles, including the combined post of church president and prophet. Only men are welcome in the priesthood, which in Mormon circles means having the authority, for example, to perform baptisms and offer sacramental blessings.

Dushku decided she could live with this and remains a faithful Mormon. She said she and the others simply wanted an outlet for women to discuss issues unique to them. And while what they created may have seemed “radical” back then, she says there are Mormon women bloggers today who push boundaries much more than Exponent II ever did.

What got to Dushku about Romney was less his reaction to the magazine and more how she saw him treat women he was in a position to comfort and support as a local church leader.

Dushku has told the story of a woman, a mother of four, who was pressured by then-Bishop Romney to go forward with a pregnancy despite advice from doctors that a medical complication made it too dangerous.

She also recalled the story of a meeting between Romney and a woman whose ex-husband had been excommunicated from the church because of numerous affairs he’d had while serving as a bishop.

The woman asked Dushku to accompany her to the meeting, where Romney encouraged the woman to forgive her philandering ex so he could be re-baptized into the church and marry another woman.

The problem, Dushku said, is that the husband had never bothered to apologize to the wife he’d hurt, a fact she said Romney didn’t seem to care much about.

When she began speaking out to media, Dushku said she was flooded with responses from Facebook friends. Most of the reactions were positive, thanking her for her courage.

But some friends suggested she back off.

“How can you blame someone who has so many responsibilities?” one friend wrote. “He was young,” said another. “People change.”

Dushku said she affords Romney the possibility he may have changed, that he might handle such situations differently today.

“But compassion is a character quality,” she said. “I doubt he’s much different now.”

Her take on Romney, though, doesn’t jibe with that of Helen Claire Sievers, executive director of Harvard’s WorldTeach program, which brings volunteer teachers to developing countries.

Sievers, who’s been involved with Exponent II on and off since its inception, was the Boston stake activity director when Romney was stake president. She recalled being at a meeting in Dushku’s house in Watertown, outside of Boston, when women began wondering aloud about how their local church might better empower women.

“Often leadership in the Mormon church tends to pull far to the right, to out-orthodox the orthodox,” said Sievers, who later proposed to Romney that he should meet with the Boston LDS women to hear their frustrations and suggestions. Romney was willing to have such a meeting, even though it bucked the comfort level of church headquarters.

“I was really impressed that Mitt felt strongly that even if he could get in trouble with the hierarchy, he really wanted to hear what the women that were under his stewardship had to say so that they would feel as comfortable as possible in church,” Sievers said.

As a result of the meeting, which drew more than 150 participants, Sievers said adjustments were made, including allowing women to say opening prayers at church meetings. Romney didn’t have the power to change church doctrine, but Sievers said he could and did bend the norm to make women feel heard and more respected.

“Many Mormon men wouldn’t make that choice,” she said.

Serving outside the stake and ward

In his fulltime work life, Romney showed that his commitment to serving others extended beyond those in his ward or stake. His religious values came through in business decisions – sometimes trumping opportunities for financial gain.

Robert Gay, who was once a managing partner at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm Romney founded, recalled how Romney refused to put investment dollars into a deal with Artisan Entertainment because he didn’t want to profit from R-rated films.

But of greater note to Gay - who once served on the Boston stake’s high council with Romney - was something Romney did for him in 1996.

After Gay’s 14-year-old daughter went missing for three days in New York, Romney shut down Bain Capital in Boston and flew about 50 employees to New York to help find her.

The girl, who lived with her family in Connecticut, disappeared after going to a concert in Manhattan. Romney and the other Bain Capital executives put their “$1 billion investment firm” on hold, created a “war room” at a hotel, paid to print 200,000 fliers, set up a toll free hotline number and enlisted the help of a private investigator, the Boston Globe reported at the time.

They canvassed streets and talked to runaways. The girl was found in a New Jersey home, “dazed from a disorienting dose of a drug,” the Globe reported.

It’s not a story Gay likes to retell, though he did record a video testimonial for a campaign ad about it during Romney’s 2008 presidential bid and the story resurfaced in ads this election season, too. But Gay would rather offer other insights, including the time another Bain Capital partner suddenly fell very ill and was hospitalized. Romney was the first person to show up for a visit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Gay managed an equity fund with Jon Huntsman Sr., father of another former GOP Mormon presidential, but is now serving the LDS Church. Gay called Romney “a devout Christian,” someone who has always been committed to “leading a good and purposeful life.”

Whether Romney’s next purpose will have him sitting in America’s highest political office is now up to voters.

And when they cast their ballots on November 6, friends like McBride said where Romney prays on Sundays should make no difference.

“The issues of his church are not the issues of this country,” he said. “Those are personal issues.”

soundoff (1,152 Responses)
  1. Claire

    Until you've made your own journey to Planet Kolob where Our Masters live, you are aren't qualified to comment on our Mormon faith. I myself would believe Mitt Romney when he says that he has been to Kolob for the great squishing and that it will profoundly impact the decisions that he will make in office.

    November 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  2. donner

    Go to Google and search "20 Truths About Mormonism" I guarantee you will not vote for Romney. Tell all your friends. It matters.

    November 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  3. Michael B.A.

    How can a mormon or the right church name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints is a cult religious group?, wherein the name of the church used is Jesus Christ unlike others had different church names? and how can it be a cult when we belief that God Almighty is the Father and the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the so called Trinity where you can found it written in the Bible as the words of God?. We never said that Joseph Smith is our god, neither our prayers are directly address to God the Father thru His Son Jesus Christ, as it mentioned also in the Bible as the Only One way the Truth and Life, no one can enter into the Kingdom of His Father without Jesus Christ. Do we mentioned any gods, saints, graven images.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Jesus Christ

      Yes Michael, you do mention other Gods in your Temple ceremonies. You yourselves believe that you will become Gods and Goddesses of your own planets. You also believe that God (the God of THIS world) has a wife, but she is too SACRED to mention so you are not allowed to mention her. BUT, that means you believe in more than one god. That is polytheism, not Christianity.

      If anyone doubts this, look it up!

      November 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      I presume the B.A. is not a reflection of any education. Does it stand for bible adherent?

      November 5, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Jenny Porter

      B.A. might stand for BIG A&&.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  4. Baptist Minister

    As we near perhaps the most important election in modern times I am very concerned that many Christians have lost their way and are imperiling themselves, and this country as a whole, by supporting the presidential candidacy of a Mormon 'high priest'.
    My position on the Romney candidacy is unequivocal and unmoving. To put it bluntly – and to focus solely upon the most important issue that I, as a Christian minister, must consider – I will state it as follows: Because Mormonism is a church of Satan, and Mitt Romney, in his leadership role(s) in this insidious and abominable cult, is a disciple of Satan, no Christian can support his campign. It's as simple as that folks!

    Now we can all debate why Reverend Graham has taken the actions he has until the cows come home, but, all that is really, at this point in time, is a distraction (no surprise there). We may never truly know why he took such an immoral and bewildering course of action. But, ultimately, it is God who will judge him for it, not us.
    The important thing Christians should focus upon in these dawning days is the Truth. And the truth is that this country cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of Satanical anti-Christian and anti-American cult. Now I know that Romney has promised much to many Christians, and has managed to assauge their concerns over his "religion" with many vocal assurances. He has said what he has needed to say to every particular group he has spoken to, promising "change", an end to abortion and all sorts of other answers that seem to fall in line with Christian morals and values, but..! What else would one expect to see and hear from such a man? Yes, he has checked off on all the right boxes, but, if one looks a bit closer they will clearly see that he has checked off a great, great many other boxes as well. Boxes that each, on their own and alone, are enough to disqualify the man.

    I will close by asking all Christians that have pledged their support to this man to reconsider. In my opinion if you are supporting this man, you clearly have not thought it through enough. I ask you to meditate upon it and pray. And I will pray and ask God to guide us through this dire situation and lead us to the correct decision.

    God Bless America, and Please, please vote for anyone but Mitt Romney!!

    November 5, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Brones

      The main problem with your comments sir is that they are comments of a man. You are a man without any special powers that would set you apart from the rest of us. A man who has developed certain biases against the beliefs of other people of which you don't understand. I am sure that if many of us learned about your beliefs and teachings, we woud probably decide that you are teaching a gospel of the devil. Why should we listen to you.

      Romney is a good man who personally lives by his beliefs, but as a leder he rules as a neutral leader. When he was governor of Massachusetts, he wasn't pushing his beliefs onto the electorate. There were no mass conversions to Mormonism. Even tthough Mitt doesn't drink, alcohol was still served at state functions. Nobody was forced to follow Mormon gospel prcepts.

      People like you are only trying to create fear in voters and convince them that by voting for Romney, they must be voting for the devil. Its,a silly argument. What do you think of Obama's religion?

      November 5, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • flightguyusu

      Wow, you know what your post reminds me of? A Taliban leader's speech on killing infidels. I didn't think there were still people like you in America. Did you take your white hood off when you wrote that post?

      November 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  5. Moroni

    Why do Mormons want to become Gods? That's not what Christians teach or believe. How can Mormons be Christians if they believe they, themselves, will become Gods?

    November 4, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Jaimie

      I love reading this stuff

      "According to Latter Day Saint belief, the golden plates (also called the gold plates or in some 19th-century literature, the golden Bible)[1] are the source from which Joseph Smith, Jr. said he translated the Book of Mormon, a sacred text of the faith. Some witnesses described the plates as weighing from 30 to 60 pounds (14 to 27 kg),[2] being golden in color, and being composed of thin metallic pages engraved on both sides and bound with three D-shaped rings.

      Smith said he found the plates on September 22, 1823 at a hill near his home in Manchester, New York after an angel directed him to a buried stone box. Smith said the angel at first prevented him from taking the plates, but instructed him to return to the same location in a year. In September, 1827, on his fourth annual attempt to retrieve the plates, Smith returned home with a heavy object wrapped in a frock, which he then put in a box. Though he allowed others to heft the box, he said that the angel had forbidden him to show the plates to anyone until they had been translated from their original "reformed Egyptian" language. Smith dictated the text of the [Book of Mormon] over the next several years, claiming that it was a translation of the plates. He did this by using a seer stone which he placed in the bottom of a hat and then placed the hat over his face to view the words written within the stone.[3] Smith published the translation in 1830 as the Book of Mormon.

      Smith eventually obtained testimonies from eleven men, known as the Book of Mormon witnesses, who said they had seen the plates.[4] After the translation was complete, Smith said he returned the plates to their angelic guardian. Therefore, if the plates existed, they cannot now be examined. Latter Day Saints believe the account of the golden plates as a matter of faith, while critics often assert that either Smith manufactured the plates himself[5] or that the Book of Mormon witnesses based their testimony on visions rather than physical experience."

      November 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Spider pig

      Wow Jaimie. I had never read that before. There is someone who belives this story that may be president of the United States? Now that is very, very scary.

      November 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • jengelmayer

      Spider Pig: And billions of people believing that a mere mortal who was executed by the Romans was actually fathered by God and a mortal woman is not scary? That this man, who is called the son of god, was resurrected and began to perform miracles, healing the sick and righting the wrongs of the world offering salvation to anyone who believed in him is not crazy? That billions of people in the future who never met him or knew him can simply say that they are believers and they will be cleansed, this is not ridiculous sounding? That such a man would condone the slaughter of millions of innocent people in his name in and of itself is an oxymoron to a degree. Religion is a matter of faith, simple as that. It ALL sounds ridiculous – but if you believe and the morals and values of your religion are productive ones, who cares? The guy is a man with conviction and morals in line with everything all the major religions teach. Because he believes angels appeared in the US makes him scary? Think about that for a minute while recanting Jesus' life, or the Exodus or Mohammed's assent to heaven or the countless angels that appear in and out of bible verses and stories. They say the three wise men were actually angels – the same ones who visited Abraham in his tent thousands of years earlier – but this is not a crazy thought right?

      November 5, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • walter

      just need to understand Christ role.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  6. Moroni

    Please read this blog for some of the most heart warming Romney and Ryan quotes!


    November 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  7. FactoidLover

    Romney is an ambitious man with many good credentials. I do not believe, however, that running a company is the same as running a country. It will be interesting to see how he handles election day, win or lose. Will he be gracious and principled despite the outcome? We shall all soon see.

    November 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • futura

      Berlusconi was also a business man and people voted him thinking he will manage the country , but to manage a country is not a matter of business and not a matter of faith .
      I really wish you american will vote Obama !

      November 5, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  8. chet

    Do a wiki search on Joseph Smith. The man was a flat out con artist. Jailed for swindling people out of their money by claiming to have magic stones that could find buried treasure. Do your own research before you vote for a cult member. God is watching.

    November 4, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • flightguyusu

      Riiight, Wiki search... Must be true if you wiki searched it. I'd like to apologize to the other people commenting for Chet, we all are slightly less intelligent after reading your posts.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • donner

      Here's another Google search. "Lying for the Lord" It's just what the Mormon trash on this board is doing.

      November 5, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  9. truth

    Mountain Medows Massacre, mormons are murderers and thiefs, kinda like christians. But what does that matter? No one can talk sense into a fat redneck that thinks Obama is a communist muslim. Ignorance is not only bliss, it is at least half of this country

    November 4, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • sherie s

      Do we not judge a man by the friends that he keeps. If that is the case then most of Obamas cabinet should be in jail, based on their own past.
      I would encourage you to study history. There has never been a time in history that when a nation as a whole has become Godless that they were not destroyed, either by someone else overtaking them, self destruction among themselves or God simply wiping them off of the earth such as the flood during Noah's time and after Christs Crucifixtion.
      When will we as a nation wake up to the fact that God is in charge. When we fail to obey His laws it is to our own detriment. .

      November 4, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • citizen bob

      Sherie, which history books are you reading? Western Rome fell when it was officially Catholic, The Ottoman fell when they were officially Muslim, Byzantium fell when they were Greek Orthodox, Aztec fell when they were pagan, British Empire fell when they were Anglican. Which god was abandoned when those empires fell? China is officially atheist and they seem to be doing well.
      Empires fall, not claiming to be a historian, but most likely when popular support fell, the economy crumbled, and outside pressures (enemies or environmental) in some combination were too great.

      November 4, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • flightguyusu

      Someone has anger issues, stereotyping is not only incorrect, but shows your ignorance, insecurities, and stupidity. According to your logic all Germans must be killers capable of genocide because Hitler was, or all Muslims are terrorists because of 9/11, or all American soldiers are torturers because of Guantanamo. Its skewed logic. Please take your hate and ignorance somewhere else.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  10. Mormons are NOT Christians

    Mormons are NOT Christians. Here is what they believe:

    Garden of Eden was in Missouri when Adam and Eve were kicked out
    Jesus atoned for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, not on the cross
    Native Americans are the descendants of the Lamanites spoken of in the Book of Mormon
    A woman's purpose in heaven is solely to birth endless babies to populate the worlds created by their husbands. Billions and billions of babies!
    You can't get into heaven without Joseph Smith's permission

    November 4, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  11. Joseph

    Mormon's won't sell him a temple to live in so he figures to turn the White House into one.

    November 4, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  12. Fank

    Everybody here is speaking a different language, babble on .

    November 4, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  13. Ricardo Williams

    Blah blah blah. This article is too long for a blog. It lost me at the half point, or is it that Mitt Romney is not that interesting a person?

    November 4, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  14. citizen bob

    dear demsthebreaks
    The point I'm trying to make is that I believe that some people are not voting for Obama because of their bigotry against his "foreign" sounding name and complexion. The reason why believe this is that I hear people make such comments. Just look at some of these posts, still accusing Obama as being Muslim! I was "spoofing" on such bigotry by making Obama "Irish". I personally have much respect for Obama.

    If you mean the first comment of my statement about major Christian religions not accepting Mormon Baptism as Christian, that's neither bigoted nor ignorant. Look it up. I personally don't care what people worship. So I'm not bigoted. These are decisions made by those church leaders, not me. But don't take my word for it, talk to a clergy or look on line. So I'm not ignorant. Don't freak on me, I didn't make the rules.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  15. david

    A vote for Romney is to vote for a believer in God. Currently, our muslim raised and muslim named president dosn't involve God as he speaks. Romney uses God constantly when he speaks.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Fank

      So did Goerge Bush.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • pattysboi

      David, you are completely incorrect. PRESIDENT Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim. He lived in Indonesia when he was a CHILD, for four years.

      Please get a grip, and grow UP. Act your age, not your shoe size.

      November 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Brones

      You are correct. Romney is a man of great faith and will begin each day by asking his Father in Heaven to guide him as he makes important decisions and leads this great country.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:38 am |
  16. Fearless Felix

    wake up Americans! How long will you let the lies of the world, the flesh and the politicians fool you. This election is all about the rich vs the middle class. Don't let your impatience get the better of you. Mitt's fears are your own worse enemy.

    November 4, 2012 at 6:17 am |
  17. chet

    Obama will be the next president. You will by his insurance. and you will like it.

    November 4, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  18. redpo2583

    This is the reason I left the democratic machine. They purposely bring in negative Views regarding Romneys religion but don't see anything wrong with obamas religion and his Kenyan beliefs. I can't remember anytime when the left leaning CNN ever gave a kudos to a republican candidate. I could care less what Romneys religion is , as long as he can do the job. It's is an attempt to scare people.

    November 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • citizen bob

      What is a Kenyan belief? Do I have Kenyan beliefs? What about my neighbor? I'm getting afraid and feel the need for control.

      November 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • rmoney1617181920

      redpo2583, I'll see you at the money dance on Kolob after the Sunday wife trade finishes.

      November 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • redpo2583

      Sure thing. Thanks, Mitt.

      November 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  19. GOD

    I smite all the people gullible enough to think the bible is true !

    November 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • truth

      Smite Utah while you are at it. Mormons are a religion made possible by the Mountain Medows Massacre.

      November 4, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  20. citizen bob

    Last election the evangelicals were upset that Obama was maybe not Christian, nor American born. Well when that gossip fell through they decided he may be Christian, but not a "real Christian. The evangelicals want a Christian president. period.
    Now, they have Romney, a Mormon. Not to offend Mormon people, believe what you wish, I'm fine with that. But, the major Protestant Churches, Catholic churches and orthodox churches, even the Coptic church do not accept Mormon baptism as Christian baptism, neither do most evangelical churches. (It's true look it up on line, I did not make the rules, and I don't even care).
    So, why do the evangelicals now support Romney? Obviously, it's not because of what the candidate believes in.
    Maybe President Obama has too foreign sounding a name, or isn't convincingly of American lineage, or he doesn't look "suburban" enough?
    Well, His mother nick named him Barry. We can always add a little ' to his name, that won't change the pronunciation.
    Now we have Barry O'Bama, a good Irish name. As for his religion, well we don't know if his ancestors are from Northern (Protestant) or The Republic's (Catholic) lineage. So he's Cathlo-testant. As for his appearance, well, not all Irishmen has red hair and freckles, in Europe Irishmen with black hair and dark eyes are referred to as "black Irish". there you go.
    So, get over your xenophobia, and vote for Barry O'Bama, a man of strong Cathlo-testant faith, from a long line of the black Irish.
    Please vote for Obama.

    November 3, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Demsthebreaks

      Bob, the first half of your comment is likely the most ignorant and bigoted remark posted thus far. And the latter-half – the most irrelevant.

      November 4, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • citizen bob

      dear demsthebreaks
      The point I'm trying to make is that I believe that some people are not voting for Obama because of their bigotry against his "foreign" sounding name and complexion. The reason why believe this is that I hear people make such comments. Just look at some of these posts, still accusing Obama as being Muslim! I was "spoofing" on such bigotry by making Obama "Irish". I personally have much respect for Obama.

      If you mean the first comment of my statement about major Christian religions not accepting Mormon Baptism as Christian, that's neither bigoted nor ignorant. Look it up. I personally don't care what people worship. So I'm not bigoted. These are decisions made by those church leaders, not me. But don't take my word for it, talk to a clergy or look on line. So I'm not ignorant. Don't freak on me, I didn't make the rules.

      November 4, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • agkcrbs

      Just because you have no idea why people dislike Obama doesn't mean people are voting on his foreign-sounding name - the same name he had in his big 2008 win. Why don't you search for one of those long lists of reasons not to vote for Obama? Some of them are inevitably bogus; some of them are true, and reflect extremely poorly on the man. People who blame every objection on xenophobia or racism are just showing that they have no argument in favour of Obama.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:47 am |
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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.