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.

Explain it to me: Mormonism | Video: Mormonism defined

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. NorthVanCan

    Truly amazing that a modern culture can take seriously someone who believes his underwear is magic. What a sad reflection on humanity that in this day and age the most powerful country in the world could elect a crack pot wacko.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Brian61

      Truly amazing that you can repeat and believe in a canard.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  2. WillieLove

    LDS General Authorities

    Orson Pratt, LDS Apostle:

    Among the Saints [Mormons] is the most likely place for these [pre-existent] spirits to take their tabernacles, through a just and righteous parentage [white parentage]. They are sent to that people that are the most righteous of any other people upon the earth. . . . The Lord has not kept them in store for five or six thousand years past, and kept them waiting for their bodies all this time to send them among the Hottentots, the African N-word-s, the idolatrous Hindoos, or any other of the fallen nations of the earth. They are not kept in reserve in order to come forth to receive such a degraded parentage [African N-word-s] upon the earth; no, the Lord is not such a being (Journal of Discourses, 1:63; emphasis added)

    November 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • MikeB

      You are overlaying your prejudices and stereotypes within the text.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  3. bored already


    November 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  4. MikeB

    Are these principles something to be concerned about. The real concern should be that Harry Reed and President Obama don't follow them.

    The Articles of Faith
    of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

    1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.

    3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

    4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

    6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

    7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

    8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

    9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

    10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Toosliq

      Where's the one about how someday you will be worthy of being worshipped the way God is worshipped now?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • MikeB

      Try the scriptures. Start with Matthew 5:48 and the cross references.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Joe Smith's #4 Wife

      What a creepy cult!

      November 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • The Truth

      "We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent;" I'm sorry, but why are you mad that Obama is not following this rule of yours? Because the way I read it you are promoting treason and if any of your members succeeds in overthrowing our government to put in place your own you will be tried and hung as the treasonous rebels you are.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • MikeB

      The Truth – It does not trump agency or secular governance.
      Freedom of religion is protected and is to be respected. You've ignored number 12. Apparently you do not believe in the Freedom to have a personal religion and do not afford others the same right.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • sammieb51

      MikeB – I don't really care what the Mormons or the Muslims or the Catholics or the Jews believe to be honest with you. We have a clear and distinct separation of church and state in this country and religion should have no bearing on the qualifications of a candidate.

      The candidate's character, however, is at issue. Mitt's character leaves much to be desired - a man that changes his mind faster than a chain smoker lights up. He lies so much he has kept a room full of fact checkers employed full time for that past 18 months, and then his "handlers" say "we won't be dictated by fact checkers .... which means the truth is no deterrent to promulgating the lie. Hitler said it best - "repeat the lie enough times so people believe it to be truth"... But them Mitt Romney knows nothing of facism does he? He appears to have no core values ... for sale to the highest bidder .... weave any tale and then say "Oops, I mis-spoke!" like a little girl. I hope so badly he loses and we never have to endure his whining lies again. There is a really good reason he has a 23% approval rating in Massachusetts, where he "governed". There is a reason the Salt Lake Times endorsed Obama, stating that although they looked forward to Mitt the candidate being the same Mitt who led the Olympics, they discovered there were too many Mitt's to figure out which one to endorse.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  5. david esmay

    Pure unadulterated greed is what shaped the etch-a-sketch draft dodger.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  6. Toosliq

    It's FINALLY time to send "GOD, JR." packing. Send him off into the deepest, darkest reaches of space where he can reign over his own universe in eternal copulation, populating his very own planet with his GODDESS WIFE, Ann.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • joe

      Send God Jr's Father with him. It's all a pathetic. How educated intelligent human beings can abandon their education and intellect and buy into any of one the collection of invisible sky Gods is beyond me.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Religious haters against catholics & mormons (LDS FAITH), etc.

      Grow up and troll off this page. For years people have been teaching there kids about mormons are the devil, a cult, if you take one real look and go to one service you will find that all the mumbo jumbo you have been taught by anti christian, and so called christian beliefs is wrong. it was leagal to kill a mormon until the 70'S passed as law in 1800's
      anyone bashing on any religions, race, or anything they think is wrong should pack up and leave this country. America stands for good, honest, freedom of religion. thats why people moved here. and most people bash on blacks, asians.
      we need to stick together and build this country back. one land one freedom. GROW up and hug your neighbor you chickens.
      cant grow up yet and bully gays, mormons, blacks. anyone calling them selves christian and bashing ones religion. well leave if you dont like freedom of religion, leave if you dont like your neighbor. leave this country to people that care for each other when needed. so what if people want to believe in god, or get married as a gay couple. Obama wants to seperate us not join us. bully all you want we will serve you and take care of you even when your old. dont bite the hand that will feeds you.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  7. SlackMeyer

    CNN never ran a story on how Obama's TWENTY-FIVE year membership in a church that promoted racism and anti-semitism.

    I wonder why? Hmmm... Soledad?

    November 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • The Truth

      I'm sorry, were you not here in 2008? Maybe you are new to the country or new to CNN but you are dead wrong.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      LOL Are you a poe? This is just so ignorant and stupid that I can't believe you're actually serious.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • T-Max73

      Likely because anti semitism, racism, and bigotry are promulgated and mandated in the scriptures of the Bible and in doctrines and practices of many (if not most) Christian denominations–in short, to do so would be redundant.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  8. c

    The Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Article 8-We believe the Bible to be the word of God – "as far as it is translated correctly";-we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

    Did God send and angel named Moroni/Nephi to Palmyra , New York on September 21, 1823 to impart devine revelation to Joseph Smith?

    2 Thessalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

    November 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • david esmay

      Two fictions don't make a fact.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  9. barbarianofgor


    Do you really want this man to be the first Mormon president?
    You have to know he'll do nothing but loot, loot, loot and truly cause a crippling depression.
    Probably starving, rioting in the streets with soldiers shooting crowds with machine guns, then either a much more socialist "New Deal 2.0" or a real insurgency that cripples America forever.

    And Mormons will be blamed for it. That's unfair? Absolutely right. But if this guy so obviously loots and loots and loots, it's what will happen.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Sam's Uncle

      Honestly, no, I don't worry about that.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  10. Socrates

    Another religious clown.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Brian61

      You mean like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and some 90% of the remaining Founding Fathers?

      November 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • STLBroker

      Yeah, another religous clown that is a good husban and father, a massively successful business man and a candidate to be the leader of the free world. What a clown!

      November 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  11. Lesliee

    This "story" about Romney's "faith" is distinctive in that it has no information, no facts, about his faith at all. It's a puff piece designed to put you off looking further.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  12. Truman Angel

    I guess it's OK for Mormons to lie. Not one speaks out against Mitt when he does, so I guess they are OK with it.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Truman Angel

      "some chick
      As a Mormon for 53 years, I have never seen such horrible behavior.
      Romney is the WORST example of a Mormon I have ever seen. The lies,
      bearing false witness, putting people out of work to make billions.

      So wow, that's one. 6 million to go.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • sammieb51

      Very valid point. Also of note in the Romney campaign is that none of his business cronies stood up for him either. It is like he showed up out of no where with no past - couldn't talk about Massachusetts, Bain, his taxes, SEC filings, etc. etc. etc. without him whining foul. And no one was there to either dispute him or stand up for him. Interesting. I hope so much he loses and we never have to hear his whiney voice again. Good riddance I say and I hope the good people of this country have the sense to see thru him. What kind of leader can he be if everything he says is a lie?

      November 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  13. sammieb51

    Ann Romney said her greatest fear if Romney were elected would be his mental health. Is that good news coming from someone who knows his weaknesses? With his hand on the "button" sitting in the most powerful seat in the world .... Yeah, vote for him folks, he will bring the world to our doorsteps alright!

    November 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • The Truth

      She also said that if we had his tax returns we would just attack him for them so I guess she knows whats in there...

      If he get's elected we will likely get a look at those taxes and find out but it will be too little too late...

      November 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  14. some chick

    As a Mormon for 53 years, I have never seen such horrible behavior.
    Romney is the WORST example of a Mormon I have ever seen. The lies,
    bearing false witness, putting people out of work to make billions.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • pastmorm

      THANK YOU "some chick" for being so honest about your faith and the reality of Romney. You're a breath of fresh air from all these propagandists that are trying to shove Romney into office even though Reed said the same things you have.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jon

      Im sorry that your cult has clouded what was once a pure mind.......truly sorry

      November 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • CaptainM

      Do us a favor some chick and tell us the lies he has said... Before you start bashing a worthy temple patron make sure you have facts before you condemn yourself... And remember if you are a true saint, then you will know that a worthy priesthood holder is far more trustworthy than the media, you get your facts from.... Don't be blinded by the world...

      November 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  15. sammieb51

    The only real substance he has to him is that he is an incredible liar, so the religion must not offer much of a moral compass..

    November 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • The Truth

      At first glance I thought you said "The only real substance he has to him is that he has incredible hair..."

      November 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • sammieb51

      LOL - although sadly I will bet that plenty of folks are voting for him just because of his hair!!

      November 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • The Truth

      The democrats should have just started putting up pictures of him with a mohawk all over the south... get rid of that perfect hair image they have of him...

      November 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  16. conrado echeverria

    I am a mormon too, Romney does NOT represent the Churh of Jesus Christ of latter day saints(MORMONS).We follow to Jesus,and Jesus gave us the example of: "Wherefore,cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail–but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever". And Jesus Christ said also: "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you". And this guy DO NOT have any of these principles.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • sammieb51

      I am not a Mormon but can say that Romney clearly slept through A LOT of sermons .... it appears the only thing he learned is how to sell his soul.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      I am aquainted with a few people who are Mormons. And Romney certainly doesn't. They are lovley, kind people. Romney, on the other hand...

      November 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • romeny for president

      I am pretty sure Christ also touch not to judge others, especially when you don't know the facts. Fact number one, did you know when the camera is following Mitt Romney that he is helping people. Did you know that he paid for a strangers son to go to college. Did you know that he gives more in charitable donations than any of the candidates combined. You say he isn't charitable? I am sorry sir you are wrong and are misled.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • CaptainM

      You are an idiot... He's given away more money than you will make in your life and mine put together times 10... Don't be blinded by the world...

      November 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  17. Confused Canadian

    Why was it okay for his dad to run for President when the article clearly states his father was not born in the US but in Mexico? I thought you had to born on US soil if you are to be President. Just asking...

    November 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • sammieb51

      If you are an American citizen and have a child outside of the country, that child is considered an American (if both parents are US citizens). If you are an American citizen and your spouse is not, and you live outside of the US, your child will share dual citizenship until they reach maturity, when they choose which citizenship they want.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  18. 1freethinkr

    Mormonism, being one the few "new" religions to be created, has the unfortunate status as being the only religion actually proven false by science. The entire religion is based on a lie that ancient jews sailed to America and became the American Indians. This has been proven false by DNA testing and archeology. In addition Smith completely fabricated a "translation" of an Egyptian scroll into the Book of Abraham, who Smith claims wrote a first hand account of his life in the Holy land. Again proven 100% false when actually translated into the common funeral text that it was. And the Mormon church canonized this book as "gospel" in 1880. The entire cult is total farce. Clearly and convincingly.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • sammieb51

      And if you are not a Mormon, you cannot even enter one of their churches, unless you're on the cleaning staff!!

      November 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Sam's Uncle

      Wrong, Sammy. Anyone can go to a Mormon Church. Only those that are morally worhty can enter the Temple. The Temple and the Church are two different places. Not even all Mormons can go to the Temple.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • pastmorm

      @ sam...LOVE how you talk about only "worthy" mormons going to the temple. So from the lies Romney has told and the people he has heartlessly fired, taken away their livelihood...he surely is not worthy to go to your temples....right?

      November 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • The Truth

      "Only those that are morally worthy can enter the Temple." Oh, so who get's to judge who is morally worthy? God I would hope, or some perfect humans... What? Just a bunch of other imperfect humans get to judge who is worthy? So it's more like the private golf course near my house where you can't play unless you are a member and you can't be a member if you are black because the other members get to decide who is worthy...

      November 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • grandpa

      sir, you've described mormonism in a nutshell. it's one of my favorite religion to bash. and to believe some people actually believe those silly stories from joseph smith.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  19. oneSTARman

    Do you Remember hearing about Ann Frank who died a Jewish Teenager – Killed by NAZIS and Baptized by Mormons decades later so she would go to Heaven? Did you know that Mormons preform special rituals – not only for dead people – but for themselves so that THEY will become GODS in Highest Heaven – Just Like JESUS and his BROTHER – Lucifer who WE call SATAN. ANN FRANK however – like ALL Non-Mormons can ONLY be raised to the level of a Ministering Angel SERVANTS of the MORMON GODS – so Ann Frank was given the Privilege of being a Mormon Slave.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • templerecommend

      ALL true, and if you don't believe it then LOOK IT UP and educate yourselves before you put a man from this mormon cult in the White House!!!

      November 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      This was reported a year or so ago. The Mormons church was getting into hot water with folks for the "baptism" of lots of folks who never stepped foot in a Mormon church. Those folks' decendants were pretty miffed. For good reason I would think. Like they say..."like calling an ox a bull. He's grateful for the honor, but he'd much rather have restored to him what's rightfully his." 🙂

      November 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • STLBroker

      I don't think that God cares about our special rituals or any rules that we come up with. Ann Frank will have whatever position in the Kingdom of Heaven that God feels is appropriate.

      The Bible clearly states that many that think they will be saved have a rude awakening coming. Conversely, many that we wouldn't think would make it, WILL be saved. Everyone must go through Jesus but I don't think belonging to a particular church gets anyone a reserved seat. I think it will be more about what we actually said and did every day of the week than it will be about where we spent our Sundays.

      God is our judge. May He be merciful!

      November 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Mike

      oneSTARman: You're wrong.

      I am LDS (Mormon).

      We believe that Christ has made it possible to have all that God has. All people will have this opportunity in this life or in the life after death. Anne Frank will have every chance to happiness in the afterlife that anyone has.

      Our interest in our ancestors isn't so we can force them to be Mormon...they will all have their own choices to make.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Jenny Porter

      @ Mike...and you don't think it's a little creepy to baptize dead people? I mean, your religion has SUCH a superiority complex that you think you can give every human on the planet an opportunity to be a mormon? WOW. That really is megalomania.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • The Truth

      "Our interest in our ancestors isn't so we can force them to be Mormon...they will all have their own choices to make." So if they still have choices to make in the afterlife and you and the Mormons are their only way to salvation through your baptism of the dead, should dead souls who havn't been baptised pray to you living mormons so you remember to baptise them so they can move on?

      November 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  20. Jenny Porter

    The truth about Romney (and some great "bad" quotes that show how much he's like George W. Bush):


    November 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • sammieb51

      I believe the comparison Clinton made was "Bush on STEROIDS". Yeah, that's what we need alright! I think if he is elected the world will turn us off. They (the world) was stunned when Bush was re-elected a 2nd term and many world leaders thought he stole both elections since the exit polling did not match the tabulated vote in either eiection. A friend who spends much time abroad told me that Bush was one of the world's most dis-trusted leaders .... that is next to Iran, Korea, China, Pakistan, Venezuala, Cuba ..... makes you proud ha?

      November 6, 2012 at 1:17 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.