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.

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“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. Lord Golob from Kolob

    Rumor now has it that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose the election. However, we aren't quaking or soiling our Magic Underwear yet, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.

    October 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Jenna Jameson

      You do know what a "fluffer" is, right? Well maybe I shouldn't tell you, but I find them pretty helpful in my line of work.

      But no way would I vote for a flipflopper like Mitt. Floppiness is not a good thing when performance really matters and you are really needed to stand up and deliver.

      November 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  2. gius

    There's something a little strange about this Romney guy.There's more in his closet than those tax returns. And Joseph Smith the founder of the Mormons was arrested for treason twice.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • The Mockingjay

      Joseph Smith was tried several times on trumped up charges but was never convicted of anything because he was never guilty of anything. He was finally MURDERED because his enemies could not stop him in any other way! He was a pure, innocent lamb taken to the slaughter just like Jesus Christ!

      October 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • donner

      Before Joseph Smith dreamt up the con that is the Mormon church, he travelled around New York telling people he had magic stones that could locate buried treasure. He charged huge sums, but never found any treasure. Thus, he was jailed. Old Joey was a con man. Google Lying for the Lord. You won't believe it.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • The Mockingjay

      You made all of it up. You are a dispi cable liar!

      October 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  3. burgersandfries

    As a Mormon Mitt Romney has pledged to God that he will NOT keep his religion separate from everyday life. This is something that all Mormons have promised and indeed most pride themselves on. They promise to stand for Christ in all places and in all times and in all places. They pledge in the temple to give everything they have to the church – even their lives if necessary. The whole point of being a Mormon is that you integrate spiritual principles into your everyday living and every decision you make. It is ingrained in you from an early age as a Mormon child as I know after spending 34 years in the Mormon Church. When Romney says that he can keep his religion separate from his decision making for Americans he is either lying to you or breaking his promise to God.

    October 31, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • The Mockingjay

      I believe it is important for people to know that an exmormon is usually someone who has joined the church, but then could not live the high standards of the church or the co mmandmentsw. Instead of taking responsibility for their sins and weaknesses, they blame the church as though the church did something wrong. Members of the church who live the co mmandments are blessed with great happiness, being free from guilt and regrets. They have happy families because they refrain from se xual sin and don't drink alcohol. They are healthy because they don't smoke. They are prosperous because they are taught to work and be self-reliant and because they are taught to be honest and also rest one day per week. The churches welfare program acts as a safety net for unforeseen emergencies. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wishes all could experience this happiness and partake of the "living water" that is Jesus Christ.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • donner

      Actually, ex Mormons generally happen this way. Fo the first several years of Mormonism, everything seems fine. Then once they get their hooks in you, the truth appears. The secret rituals. The retreat from society. The loss of non Mormon friends. When asked why people aren't immediately indoctrinated, Mormon recruiters say this. "Milk, not meat for kittens." Google "Lying for the Lord" You won't believe it. Or a wiki search on Joseph Smith

      October 31, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  4. felix el gato

    The mormon cult was created by two extraordinary liars – Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. It is not a coincidence that Mitt Romney is such an accomplished liar.

    October 31, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Abinadi

      It appears that the liar here is felix.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Mittology

      I suspect that most religions were created by accomplished liars or creative storytellers.
      Romney's campaign certainly know how to lie: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/10/31/1114071/wisconsin-election-officials/?mobile=nc

      October 31, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  5. donner

    As shown below, the Mormon church is preparing to flood websites with Mormon propaganda in support of their Mormon messiah. Do not be deceived. If the United States elects a non Christian president, Jesus Christ will turn his back on America forever. Google the White Horse Prophecy. You won't believe it.

    October 31, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Abinadi

      Sorry, it's only me and I am nobody – just an ordinary member. All my opinions are my own.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Mittology

      You're right, I don't believe it. More fairytales.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  6. Abinadi

    Christ Organized His Church on Earth
    "I am the way, the truth and the life" ( John 14:6 ) Christ told his followers during his brief but powerful ministry on earth. It was a timely and needed message since a few hundred years before His birth many people had stopped living according to God’s commandments. Christ brought light back into the world when He proclaimed His gospel just as he had to the prophets of old like Abraham, Isaac, and Moses. He chose twelve men to be His apostles—including Peter, James and John—and laid His hands on their heads to give them authority called the priesthood to perform baptisms, govern His church, and spread His word throughout the world.

    In spite of His great influence and many miracles, He was ultimately rejected and crucified. After his death, His brave and faithful apostles carried on without Him, baptizing new members, and starting various congregations.

    The Great Falling Away
    Regardless of the valiant efforts of Christ’s apostles and their faithful followers, the original church that Christ restored began to fade away. Members faced severe persecution and all but one of the apostles were martyred. This is a period called the Great Apostasy, when there was a "falling away" ( 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 ) from the gospel Christ organized. The apostolic authority to bestow priesthood keys and to receive revelation for the Church was lost along with many precious teachings. Errors about His teachings crept into the church resulting in conflicting opinions and lost truths. This period is what we call the Great Apostasy.


    32 AD33 AD70 AD325 AD15171820
    Without authority or divine direction, Christianity struggled to survive with conflicting opinions on even the most basic teachings of the gospel. Without priesthood authority or the full gospel, people had to rely on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures, principles and ordinances. Many false ideas were taught as truth, and much of what we know about the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. Essential doctrines like faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted and important doctrines were lost entirely.

    Centuries later, inspired people, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, recognized that practices and doctrines had been changed or lost and tried to reform the churches to which they belonged. But without the authority of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, His gospel and Church could not be returned to their original form.

    October 31, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Abinadi

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      Authority to Lead His Church Restored
      What does having divine authority really mean? The authority to act in the name of God is called the priesthood. Some mistakenly think it gives one the power to tell other people what to do. What it actually means is that a person can act in God’s name in behalf of His church—like when we give someone power of attorney so they can act in their behalf.

      Prior to the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith received priesthood authority at the hands of John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John who received that same "power and authority" from Jesus Christ Himself ( Luke 9:1 ). These men appeared as angels and bestowed the priesthood upon Joseph Smith. The prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, is the authorized successor to Joseph Smith. He and the Church’s other Apostles trace their priesthood authority back to Jesus Christ in an unbroken chain of ordinations.


      October 31, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • claudeheater

      Hey Abinadi, who will be in charge of Kolob when the Mormon God leaves all his wives to come to earth to be his Son? Mosiah 15:1-4 “Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.
      2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—
      3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—
      4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth

      October 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  7. Brehon

    I missed the part about the extensive practice of lying and deception to get what you want regardless of the consequences to other. Perhaps that will be in Part 2 of this report, unless Romney decides to conceal it as he has his taxes and so many other "inconvenient" facts. Hypocrisy is a sin.

    October 31, 2012 at 4:35 am |
  8. steve GLIDE

    YOU ARE HARDLY QULIFIED TO TELL ME ANYTHING JESSICA ABOUT RELIGIOUN I BEELEAVE NOTHING YOU HAVE TO SAY . ALL I KNOW IS MORMONISIM HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BIBLE . BUT MAJORITY ALWAYS GO FOR THE LIE THE FALSE PROPHET THAT IS AS IT IS IN THE SCRIPTURES . ITS IRONIC YOUR REPUBLICANS MONEY BARONS AFTER ATTACKING THE PRESIDENT COULD NOT EVEN GET A CHRISTIAN CANDIDATE . oh and Jessica pray tell us why the mainstream media have mentioned this money glugger 50% more than what the mainstream media have mentioned Obama . anything for money . even NBC has been the same .they have recurred it Jessica the mainstream media talk about and mention Romney twice as much as Obama . you lot just not just CNN your just desperate desperate to talk the money biber Romney over the line .

    October 31, 2012 at 4:17 am |


    October 31, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • Dippy

      How old are you, Paul? You write like a third-grader.

      November 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  10. claudeheater

    BOM Ether 2:19 is the dichotomy! We are dealing with the 6 year long leader of this group who got his land as well as his barge direction directly from God and spent at least a month in the barges that he has now duplicated on the seashore ready for launching and now tells God who hadn’t figured it out 4 years earlier, that God made no provision for light or air in the first set of barges that were prone to rolling over when pushed sideways by the wind. How could man or beast survive many days in pitch darkness, without air and no way of eliminating refuse of any kind? How all of the barge workers didn’t remember something that was impossible to survive without divine help is unexplainable other than it being an unbelievable fairy tale. And now in America’s precarious state we want to turn the government to Romney who believes fairy tales more than global warming. Vs. 19 “Behold, O Lord in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish for in them we cannot breathe…therefore we shall perish.” Are truth seekers to believe that neither God nor the occupants of those first barges knew there was no light or air in them after a 700 mile voyage? (Caspian Sea) Ready to do 344 days? Maybe the humans with ‘faith’ would go into the barges again, but not the Elephants!

    October 31, 2012 at 3:27 am |
  11. claudeheater

    High Priest Mitt Romney in his Mormon Cult believes and taught as a Missionary and as Bishop his Mormon scripture where it is the Mormon God who tells Abraham to have his wife Sarai, to lie to Pharaoh saying she is Abram’s sister and then punishes Pharaoh for believing the lie, all the while Abraham benefits greatly in gifts from Pharaoh while his wife submits herself to Pharaoh. (See Genesis 12:16) (The Bible version is bad enough, but the Mormon version (Abraham 3:22-25) where the idea of lying came from God who then punishes Pharaoh for believing the lie ‘God’ suggested, should be rejected by all Muslim, Jews and Christians.)

    October 31, 2012 at 2:59 am |
  12. claudeheater

    Romney’s cult teaches that the population that Columbus found in North and South America were all descended from Jews (Hebrews) who left Jerusalem around 600 BC and came to South America by boat from the Arabian Peninsula. They split into two groups: The wicked; and the ones striving to follow the Jewish God. The Mormon God then cursed the wicked Jews with a dark skin and a Mongoloid DNA who eventually exterminated the ‘Semitic Jews’ by the time Columbus arrived. This is the core of the story of about 95% of the Book of Mormon. Can we trust Romney to talk to the Jewish Prime Minister with policy to save a large spot on the West Bank for the American Indian/Jews to return back to Zion before Christ’s second coming?

    October 31, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  13. Abinadi

    “I have never in my life had a more powerful experience than that spiritual moment when the spirit of Christ testified to me that the Book of Mormon is true,” Larry Echo Hawk told the audience, which stretched back through the spacious sanctuary and into a gymnasium in the rear.

    Echo Hawk’s tear-stained testimonial stands out for a couple of reasons: The White House normally doesn’t dispatch senior staff to bare their souls, and Mormons hew heavily Republican. It’s not every day a top Democrat speaks from a pulpit owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    And yet the presentation by Echo Hawk, then head of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, is also a perfect symbol of a phenomenon that could culminate in Mitt Romney’s arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next year: The nation’s capital has become a Mormon stronghold, with Latter-day Saints playing a big and growing role in the Washington establishment.

    October 30, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  14. Colorado Christian


    October 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Abinadi

      A very distorted view of Mormonism. I've been a member for 63 years and I've never heard 1/2 of that stuff. Jesus had 3 wives, really? Like all lies, it has a grain of truth, but even that is presented in a very distorted fashion. I wonder what the Baptists would think if I made a cartoon and ridiculed their beliefs and showed it to all the Mormon congregations, but we don't ridicule other religions in our chapels. We focus on Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer and his teachings – and it is the Jesus Christ of the New Testament. We focus on the teachings of the Bible the way other Christians claim to, but don't.

      October 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • donner

      God bless you for posting this video. Here is the truth about what Mormons believe. Watch it and tell all your friends. Spread the word before America makes the biggest mistake in 250 years.

      October 31, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • The Mockingjay

      I believe it is important for people to know that an exmormon is usually someone who has joined the church, but then could not live the high standards of the church or the co mmandments. They are miserable and don't want others to be happy so, like Satan, they attack the church and try to prevent others from joining. Instead of taking responsibility for their sins and weaknesses, they blame the church as though the church did something wrong. Members of the church who live the co mmandments are blessed with great happiness, being free from guilt and regrets. They have happy families because they refrain from se xual sin and don't drink alcohol. They are healthy because they don't smoke. They are prosperous because they are taught to work and be self-reliant and because they are taught to be honest and also rest one day per week. The church's welfare program acts as a safety net for unforeseen emergencies. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wishes all could experience this happiness and partake of the "living water" that is Jesus Christ.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  15. donner

    Do you really think that a 65 year old man who wears a magical Mormon diaper that he thinks is keeping him safe is fit to lead the free world? A man that is the product of generations of inbreeding? After Romney loses, we should invade Utah and restore democracy.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  16. jason

    i guarantee you if obama was a mormon , the republicans would be attacking that religion every chance they got, funny how perspectives change based on what party you belong too

    October 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • mighty

      quess what,since he is a presiding bishop of the mornon church, I wonder if anyone thought about him being sworn in, taking the oath of office on the Book of Mormons!!!

      October 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Abinadi

      He will use the Bible just like any Christian would.

      October 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  17. Abinadi

    26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 25)

    29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 25)

    October 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • truth be told

      The book of mormon is as much a blasphemy as is the koran. Mormons are not Christians. Mormons more closely resemble muslims than Christians.

      October 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Turd, if you EVER said a single intelligent thing, the world would end.

      October 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Therefore, I implore you, TURD: Keep right on spewing one idiocy after another! Never cease vomiting forth your fountain of dreck! Continue forever your spew of manure!!!

      October 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • The Mockingjay

      Ah, tommy, you hate everyone and everything, not just me. Lighten up and get a life!

      October 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • burgersandfries

      Keep playing the martyr just like your namesake Abinadi. Mormons need to stop acting like such victims – it's unbecoming.

      October 31, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • claudeheater

      Hey Abinadi, you have pointed out one of the many ‘Holy Trinity’ verses where it is OK to worship Christ if he is in fact God the Father as well. The Book of Mormon is the strongest supporter of the Catholic Trinity concept of any book of so called scripture I know. Mosiah 15:1-4 4 “Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. 2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son— There are only a few Mormons today that believe the Bible Jesus must be worshiped with all your might, mind and soul, only his Father.

      October 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • ThinkingMan

      Prayer changes nothing. Except your own image os yourself. Scientifically speaking it has no effect outside the brain waves inside yor head.

      October 30, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  19. Ms. M

    As a Christian who happen to be an American, I do not believe that a persons religion should matter because after all, America was founded so that we can have freedoms. However, I must say that four years ago, President Obama was hit very hard because people kept bringing up (and still do) that he is Muslim. Even after he has said time and time again that he is a Christian. Right wing Christians are letting Mitt get a pass with his religion because they do not want President Obama in office. They are all hypocrites!! They did not want to bring up religion because Mormons believe that Christ was a prophet NOT our Savior. Smith did not believe in the bible, so he wrote the Book of Mormon. The bible is sufficient enough in my opinion, God does not need help.

    October 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Sloppy J

      Ummmm . . you can say Mormons are delusional, misled, wacko, whatever you want, but you are absolutely wrong in saying that they believe Jesus was a prophet, not the Savior. Regardless of your opinion of Joseph Smith, Mitt Romney, or the Book of Mormon, please get your facts straight. I've been in the LDS church for 40 years; some things bother me, some things just seem to defy common sense, but Mormon doctrine is crystal clear that Jesus is deity and the Savior of man.

      October 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • donner

      Can a Mormon on this board please explain planet Kolob to us??? You know, Mormon heaven. Or the fact that they think Jesus and Satan were brothers?? All Mormons are trying to do is run out the clock. And praying nobody looks into what they really believe. The Mormon church is blasphemous. God sent this storm to warn us about electing a Mormon. If we do, he will turn his back on us forever.

      October 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Lord Golob from Kolob

      Kolob is a fine planet but it's really cold being far far far from the sun. We take sunny holidays in Venus and we want to use your earth as an interplanetary comfort station. That is why we are propping up Mittens Rmoney to take over your United Flakes.

      We just did a trial flush. Hope it didn't inconvenience you too much.

      October 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Sure, Ms. M, here is the reference:

      1 And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees;
      2 And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;
      3 And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
      4 And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob. (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham, Chapter 3)

      You can learn more by looking up the reference in the Pearl of Great Price. You can get a Pearl of Great Price at lds.org.

      October 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Sorry, the above was for donner. Evidence that Satan is a brother to all of us is in Revelations 12. Why do we call God, father? Because he is our father. Before we were born we all lived together in heaven as spirit brothers and sisters. The time came when we could progress no farther without a body and a earth experience. There was war in heaven because Satan wanted the glory and wanted to be our savior, but we all rejected the plan. Satan took 1/3 of our brothers and sisters and were cast out. Satan hates all of us because we rejected him.

      7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
      8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
      9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (New Testament, Revelation, Chapter 12)

      October 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • ThinkingMan

      Mormonism is wackier than Christianity primarily because most are not familiar with it (less that 2% in the US are Mormon), but religion in general is wacky since it's all based on imaginary things.

      October 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • sam

      What you have said is not accurate. Mormons do believe that Christ is the Savior of the world. Joseph Smith did believe in the bible, and mormons read the bible as well as the book of mormon.

      I hope that you will take the opportunity to learn accurate information about the LDS church. Whether or not you believe their doctrine, it is worthwhile to know what their beliefs are.

      October 31, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Dippy

      Why is it worth while to know what any dingbat religion's beliefs are?

      November 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  20. Mormonism is Dangerous

    I might not say anything about this if I didn't think that both Mitt and Paul were not going to bring their religion into their public service for the U.S.'s highest office. But Paul Ryan has already said he doesn't think he can separate his religion from his public service. That's a pretty frightening prospect, considering how unfounded and bizarre Mormonism is.

    In 1996, the Smithsonian Institute issued a statement addressing claims made in the Book of Mormon, stating that the text is primarily a religious text and that archeologists affiliated with the institute found "no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book". The statement further describes that there is genetic evidence that the Native American Indians are closely related to peoples of Asia, and that archeological evidence indicates that the Native Americans migrated from Asia over a land bridge over the Bering Strait in prehistoric times. The statement said that there was no credible evidence of contact between Ancient Egyptian or Hebrew peoples and the New World, as indicated by the text of the Book of Mormon. The statement was issued in response to reports that the name of the Smithsonian Institute was being improperly used to lend credibility to the claims of those looking to support the events of the Book of Mormon.

    The National Geographic Society, in a 1988 letter to the Institute for Religious Research, stated "Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere's past and the society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon."

    Of course there are other basic beliefs of Mormonism that have only faith as their foundation.

    October 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Mormonism is Dangerous

      (re-ordered first paragraph to make it clearer)

      I might not say anything about this if I didn't think that both Mitt and Paul were not going to bring their religion into their public service for the U.S.'s highest office. That's a pretty frightening prospect, considering how unfounded and bizarre Mormonism is. Paul Ryan has even stated he doesn't think he can separate his religion from his public service.

      October 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • A Lover of Cheese

      Well, you can pretty much replace "Mormonism" with "Christianity" or "Islam" and draw the same conclusions even if the fairy tale details differ. In fact, those last 2 have caused the most violent death.

      October 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Paul Ryan is not a mprmon. He is catholic.

      October 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • sam

      It seems that you criticize the mormon church for having beliefs which are only founded on faith. I think that a close examination of all religions will indicate that faith is the only reasonable basis for any religion. The existence of God cannot be proven through scientific means. If that were possible, then everyone would believe in God the same way that everyone believes in addition or subtraction. Mormon faith, like all faith, requires that one receive revelation from God to believe. Personal revelation is the only reasonable basis for belief in any faith.

      October 31, 2012 at 12:55 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.