Romney’s loss closes out ‘Mormon moment’
Mitt Romney attending church on Sunday earlier this year.
November 8th, 2012
03:20 PM ET

Romney’s loss closes out ‘Mormon moment’

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney’s defeat appears to close out a years-long “Mormon moment,” a period of national fascination with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It has also provoked Mormon disappointment; Romney would have been first Latter-day Saint in the White House, culminating a decades-long process of growing Mormon acceptance and influence.

But prominent Mormons and religion experts say Mormons should be heartened that Romney’s candidacy appeared to help mainstream the relatively young faith, which was founded in 1830 in upstate New York.

“Part of the Mormon moment was curiosity and much of that curiosity has been satisfied,” said John Green, professor of political science at the University of Akron.

“There will always be people who disagree with them,” Green said, “but the sense is that this community is part of the broad middle of American society.”

As stories about the LDS Church graced the covers of magazines and front pages of newspapers, the church’s press office was working overtime to answer questions from around the globe. A church that prefers to keep private became very public.

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“Without question there has been an increase in interest in the Church over the past several years,” church spokesman Michael Purdy told CNN. “Although there have been exceptions, this attention has given people the opportunity to know who we are and what we believe.”

It also meant more publicity for aspects of the church that many Mormons would prefer not dwell on, like the church’s onetime practice of polygamy (the church banned the practice more than 100 years ago) and its denial of the priesthood to black members until the late 1970s.

But even the uncomfortable questions were good for the church, said Richard Bushman, a Mormon scholar who has served as a local Mormon leader.

“So long as those objections and criticisms were kept under wraps, they just sort of festered there,” Bushman said. “Getting them out in the open where people could speak candidly, that in a way clears the atmosphere.”

Coverage of Mormonism also led to some level of misinformation. One example: On the TV show “The View,” on October 18, 2012, Whoopi Goldberg asked Ann Romney, Mitt Romney’s wife, about how she would relate to soldiers.

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“As first lady, if you get the job, it’s going to entail a lot of things, and one of those things is going to be talking to the mothers whose children are coming home in bags, you know, from wars,” Goldberg said. “Now, I know - I believe that your religion doesn’t allow you to go fight.”

Goldberg was wrong. Mormons are actually known to enlist in the military at higher levels than others. “No, that's not correct,” Ann Romney told Goldberg. “We have many, many members of our faith that are serving in armed services.”

Purdy, the church spokesman, says such exchanges were ultimately beneficial.

“A good deal of misinformation has been replaced with a more accurate picture of the Church, its doctrines, and its members across the world,” Purdy said. “That is a good thing for all involved and we look forward to these opportunities continuing.”

But with Romney’s loss, interest in Mormonism is expected to dwindle. Joanna Brooks, a well known Mormon blogger and author says it’s only a matter of time until that interest returns.

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“There have been many Mormon moments, and there will be many more to come,” she said. “Mormonism remains a vibrant and distinctive force on the American religious landscape, and as a young religion with a new global reach, the Mormon story is still unfolding.”

The last Mormon moment, she said, was a good one: “This is a moment in which the nation proved that it was capable of having a discussion about candidates and platforms without openly subjecting either candidate to a religious test.”

Though Romney’s faith garnered plenty of coverage - from Time’s cover story “The Mormon Identity,” to New York Magazine’s “Where is the Mormonism in Mitt Romney?,” - neither the campaigns nor outside groups made much, if any, mention of it.

Romney’s bid seemed to improve relations between Mormons and evangelical Christians, many of whom have long seen the LDS Church as a cult. In May, Romney spoke at Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell.

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Weeks before the election, too, the Rev. Billy Graham met with Romney for the first time and removed “Mormonism” from a section of his website devoted to cults.

“The Billy Graham business, for me that was symbolic that evangelicals instead of just dismissing Mormonism, (they) now need to talk a little more about what they mean,” Bushman said.

According to exit polls on Tuesday, 79% of white evangelical Christians voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. That’s an even higher share of the white evangelical vote than John McCain got in 2008, when he was the Republican presidential nominee.

“From the point of view of religious tolerance and acceptance, there were some really positive trends,” Green said. “It does suggest that the path towards greater religious tolerance has continued.”

Green raised the subject with his students after Tuesday’s election. At the end of the conversation, Green said one non-Mormon student’s comment encapsulated the strides Mormonism made in the last year.

“They aren’t any stranger,” the student joked, “than anyone else.”

- CNN’s Allison Brennan contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (1,823 Responses)
  1. SokrMom

    This article is very fanciful, and I am not even a Republican. The idea that there is a fascination with Mormonism is completely without any basis in my experience, although I live in New Jersey, where there is a wonderful diversity of opinions. Mormons are the fastest-growing religion in the world, last I heard, and I very much doubt that Americans have heard the last of Mormon candidates. Some Republicans are still theorizing that Huntsman, also a Mormon, might have won the election. I can't say I agree, but I wouldn't count Mormons out just because Romney got defeated–there were lots of reasons one could point to as to why Romney lost, including inconsistent statements, callous statements, fear of far-right or religious control of our government, push-back against One-Percenters, etc., etc.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  2. Meatwad

    I hope they all got ice-cold pop after the election. Pop always makes me feel happier.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Decaff, of course. Oh wait – they can have cold caffeinated ever since they bought into Coke.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  3. heysus

    As a non Mormon from Utah I can say that the Mormon religion is not within the comfort level of the general public. They do a lot of weird things: baptizing dead, holy underwear, believe Jesus lived in America and turned Indians skin red because they didn't believe.

    If you can get past the culty things they are great business people, the LDS Church runs like a well oiled machine, they take in more money per member than any other religion that I'm aware of and they spend and invest very wisely. They arent as moral as they like to come off in business though. Utah rakes one of the highest states for Mortgage fraud among other things, they also have home Alarm Companies that scam people very frequently. Heres a list: APX aka APEX aka Vivant, Silverline, Platinum, Pinnacle

    November 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Kurt

      Hey, don't generalize too much. As a Mormon in Utah, I can definitely say that my religion teaches me that I should be a lot better than I am. More honest. More hard-working. More charitable.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Reasonably

      @Kurt – Just out of curiosity, why do you need a religion to tell you what should be axiomatic? I mean, a lot of what mormonism has to say is great – good sense of community, good community support when something bad befalls a member of that community, good values. So why all are all the trappings and fables necessary?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Kurt

      @ Reasonably: We don't think we believe in fables. We believe in God, and we try to do what we think he wants us to do. But we believe we were given agency in order to make choices. Our religion doesn't dictate to us how to behave. It advises us on what God wants for us.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Reasonably

      @Kurt – You missed my question – why do you need a god to tell you to do what should be axiomatic as a good human?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Kurt

      We believe God has a plan for us. But since he gave us agency, we can choose whether to follow his plan or not. So we believe God gives us directions. Do this, and you'll be happier. Do this, and you'll be happier. Do this, and you'll be happier. But we're also taught that it isn't good to be "commanded in all things." We should seek after good things. We should do good things. We don't have to be told everything. Is that the answer you're looking for?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Reasonably

      @Kurt – Mostly. At least you can discuss sensibly without getting defensive. Good luck in your journey.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Kurt

      @ Reasonably - and good luck to you. Thanks for talking to me.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  4. Donnie the Lion

    Do you know why I know for a fact Barack Obama is not a secret Muslim? The GOP researched him hard when he ran for the Senate in Illinois. If they didn't find anything then, there wasn't anything to find.

    Don't think they left a stone unturned......don't think for a second they left a stone unturned in 2008. Don't for a second the Democratic Party itself left a stone unturned in vetting Barack Obama as a Presidential candidate.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  5. Big_D

    See ya later, it's 420 here in CO. God I love representative government.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Don't puff and drive.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  6. Reload

    We weren't looking for a Mormon "moment" and we really are not concerned with its passing. The LDS church has never been influenced by popular opinion or changing norms of society. We believe there are some basic immovable, unchangeable principles and absolutes by which people should live. Not everything is relative. Romney is a good, decent man who has always tried to be honest in his business dealings, to serve his fellow men and has always been faithful to his wife and family. Whether the media or anyone else has a problem with that is irrelevant. Moments are just that, moments.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Romney is in it for the fame and money. If he was such a good mormon why is he not giving more of his money away to help the poor and unwashed? Anything else is window dressing.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • NorwoodX

      What? "The Mormon Church has never been influenced..." ARE YOU KIDDING? Whenever it's expedient your nutty leader has a vision from God. What liars Mormons are!!!

      November 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Reload

      Seriously? Didn't you read anything about his 2010 and 2011 tax returns? He gave away tens of millions of dollars.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Contra Archy

      If they are not open to changing their stance based on societal opinion, perhaps you could explain why they changed their racist restrictions on blacks in their church as a result of the civil rights movement.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Pete

      Or their stance on polygamy so that Utah could become a state?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • jolivier23

      Both polygamy and blacks getting the priesthood were not doctrinal issues but rather policy issues. The doctrines don't change but policies can change. On polygamy one only need to read Jacob 2 in the Book of Mormon which states essentially that having more than one wife is an abomination unless the Lord specifically commands during times in which it suits His purpose. The latter is a temporary thing. The process is explained really well here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-doctrine-of-christ?lang=eng. You are not required, obviously, to believe the reasoning but at least don't mis-characterize the changes.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  7. NorwoodX

    All religions are not cults. Mormonism is a cult. Scientology is a cult. The Moonies are a cult.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      You left out Christianity and Islam.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Reasonably

      cult   [kuhlt]
      1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies

      Your post = Fail. Next?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  8. Big_D

    If you think the LDS Church is a cult put together by a con man you should read about the First Council of Nicaea and realize they are not alone. Mary wasn't a lady of the night, she was Jesus' wife.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      Yea the Nag Hammadi is an interesting alternate read. A real eye opener to the thinking at the time.

      Not all Christian libraries got burned after the Nicea convention when the one true bible was presented to the world, published literally by the emperor of Rome.

      Some of those Copt priests buried their 200 year old religious books, rather than desecrate and burn them; failure to hand them in being death.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  9. NorwoodX


    November 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Reasonably

      And they make them use caps lock too!

      November 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Kurt

      I don't think we lie to outsiders. Ask a question. I'll answer the best I can, if I know.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Reasonably

      @Kurt – These and all future questions will be "according to your faith"...

      1) Where is the garden of eden?

      2) How high in the church do you need to be to get your own planet?

      3) Why were black people suddenly OK to be in the church in the late 70s when before they were considered cursed?

      Let's see how you do with the first three and we'll take it from there.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Kurt

      @ Reasonably:

      1) Missouri. But not a very important question, as far as our beliefs go. Everyone else says it's in the Middle East. I don't really care.

      2) We don't get to own a planet - your question is faulty

      3) Now this one is a good question. I don't actually know why, except that we believe that God revealed it to be the right time. My personal opinion is that our church does actually change with society. That it changes in order to achieve the most growth - while still allowing for strong adherents. The church's growth would have been hindered by allowing blacks into the priesthood in the past. But nowadays, the church's growth would have been hindered by not allowing blacks into the priesthood. What I do know for sure is that my parents - and even my grandparents - were relieved when the change occurred.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Answer


      Question #3.. and the answer to it by you = "very convenient"

      November 8, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      @Kurt go to exmormon.org

      You know they have the real tough questions, that only a mormon would even think about asking.
      You know ex stake presidents and bishops challenging the Living Apostles in SLC on the core of the religion, having lived the lies until they could no more. Better not go there, it is kind of like eating from the tree of knowledge and they are the snakes, or some kind of BS like that. Close your eyes like Lot.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Kurt

      @ Act III - it's impossible to avoid anti-mormon statements and literature. I've been to plenty of sites like that. None have challenged my faith very much. I'm getting a PhD in mechanical engineering right now (wasting time in my lab at the moment), and I've found a way to reconcile my faith with science. It actually isn't that hard. But people tend to misspeak with regards to what we believe. Usually on the anti-mormon sites.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  10. eliaswittenberg

    Mormonism is definitely a cult. But there is no cult in all the world like the Cath olic chuch.

    Transubstantiation. Purgatory. Indulgences. Celibate priests. The Po*pe as Christ's representative.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Technically, and by definition, all religions are cults.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  11. rocketscientist

    "Better than you.." oh yeah that's rich. XD

    You want to go to that kind of arena and throw out insults because I mock you religious tools so much. LOL"

    Not an insult, just a fact, you're a bigot. And I'm not insulted, I'm not Mormon. I just dislike bigots like you.

    Definition of BIGOT
    : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

    Just cut and dried.

    Dr. H

    November 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Answer

      Yah the definition is gonna work against me.. lol

      I use every tool available to mock you cvnts.. so it's ok with me. I'm glad you feel affronted. I've done my bit to slam and destroy you.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Answer

      Would you like a demonstration of being a hypocrite also? lol

      I learn from the very best –> your religious idiots helped me fine tune it to perfection.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • rocketscientist

      "Yah the definition is gonna work against me.. lol'

      I didn't say it would work against you, I just put it there to clarify that you are, indeed, a bigot.

      "I use every tool available to mock you cvnts."

      And a mysogynist too, wow, what a surprise.

      "so it's ok with me. I'm glad you feel affronted."

      Not affronted at all, it's fun putting loser trolls like yourself in their place. I mean, it's pretty (or should be) to everyone that you have issues. If you didn't have them, you wouldn't be posting bigoted and mysogynistic comments on a message board. You're pitiful.

      " I've done my bit to slam and destroy you." Really, I'm feeling fine. Not feeling too "destroyed" at all.

      My advice, get some help, a girlfriend, a hobby, work out, whatever gets you from making pathethic posts to tweek people off. That's no way to live, son.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  12. Reasonably

    Do what I do when they come to your door. Once they've asked, "what do you know of the Mormon religion and would you like to know more?" You answer, "Plenty, thanks. And if I buy into your litany of ridiculous fantasy, do I really get my own planet?"

    November 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Kurt

      Dude, we don't believe we get our own planet when we die.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • 1freethinkr

      You do! And not only that you are a god on your own planet! Pretty cool huh. All you have to do is believe (and click your Ruby slippers three times)

      November 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Reasonably

      @Kurt – OK, I'll bite. So what happens when you die and does it matter how high up in the church you were when you died?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Kurt

      @ Reasonably - It doesn't matter "how high up" you are in the church. Our leaders are supposed to be servants, like Christ demonstrated. But their standing does not matter. We're taught that the lowliest "calling" (like teaching little teenagers each Sunday - what a pain!) is just as important as the prophet's calling.

      We only believe in a few generalities regarding when we die. We believe at death, our bodies and spirits are separated. The spirit goes to the spirit world, which has a sort of division we call paradise and prison. The people in paradise then continue to preach the gospel to the people in prison. After this spirit world, we believe we are resurrected (body and spirit reunite) and we are brought before God for a final judgement. We then receive our final rewards, the highest of which we believe allows for eternal progression. This is where everyone gets all huffy regarding our believe in becoming Gods. But it makes sense to me. If God is our Father (as it says in the Bible), wouldn't he want us to be like him?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  13. AgrippaMT

    It's wonderful that the cultist did not win. He's more than welcome to take his entire family back to Mexico where his daddy was born.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Reasonably

      I thought his Daddy was born on Kolob?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  14. Doug Kennedy

    If someone tried to start the Mormon religon today, based on some crazy prophecies, they would be considred a cult.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Answer

      Television, internet.. all the various media avenues of today.. would effectively put them into the spotlight and brand them 'idiots'.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Reasonably

      If Jesus secretly came back right now and preached what he preached in the bible, the GOP and Fox News would froth at the mouth and call him a socialist and lump him in with Obama.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • CatSh

      Pretty much the same thing could be said of just about all major religions today.....

      November 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  15. Larry

    What upsets me the most is the Christian Right backing a morman after that is all available. The Bible is the Book for Christians, Mormans do not recognize it as the real deal.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Reasonably

      The Christian Reich only wants one thing: control. They'll lie, cheat, beg and steal to get it. But then, that's what most religions want.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Kurt

      We don't believe the Bible is infallible. But we believe it is scripture. We don't even believe the Book of Mormon is perfect! But again, we believe it is scripture.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Reload

      Larry, Mormons believe the bible. You are wrong so you that makes you either a liar or stupid. Which is it?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  16. Hutterite

    For the last year here in utah they've become almost insufferably high on Romney and themselves, more than usual. I'm hoping some of this goes away, and that they have gotten a bit of a reminder that they're only mormons, and hubris doesn't look good on them. We need to find something else to get interested in. Maybe australians again. Dundee, where are you?

    November 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

    ALL YOUR PRAYERS DIDNT DO SHIT, DID THEY?????????????????????
    haha your invisible friend doesnt exist!
    stupid freaks!

    November 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Dude. Take a chill pill. Being as ridiculously fundamentalist anti as you are just puts you in the same boat.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Answer

      One "HAHA" is more than enough..

      But you're free to use more. Carry on.. and pour more salt into their wounds. XD

      November 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • 1freethinkr

      Tell us how your really feel

      November 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  18. Balls McGhee

    Anyone who believes in any religion is not qualified to be president. i want a leader that knows the difference between fact and myth and doesnt force the rest of the nation to follow this myth.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Paul

      I second the motion!

      November 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Ted

      Ball, you are so right! Too bad you have to profess religious beliefs to be elected in this country.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • 1freethinkr

      +1. Magical thinking should be a negative attribute for a candidate. Something they need to overcome to get elected rather than a prerequisite as it is today. It will be so one day, but no time soon unfortunately.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  19. Rich

    I think the comment by Purdy about the lack of a "religious test" this election is misleading. Our nation still has a long way to go before candidates are not subject to religious tests. There are still a lot of people out there who think Barack Obama is not qualified to be president because he could be a Muslim (which he is not). Likewise, no modern candidate in the U.S. can be successful if he or she is a declared atheist. Mormonism is now acceptable to a lot of evangelicals, because Billy Graham said so.

    November 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  20. Issac McDew Opehema

    Anyone talking about Mormonism is a critics who do not know the truth.
    You are like the parrot sitting on the fence and repeat the words saying by the passers.
    It it good for you to investigate and find out about it and then make your points/views heard. Otherwise your lies and criticism show you lack moral virtue.

    November 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Reasonably

      @Issac – I've done the research, thanks. I wish you luck in getting your own planet to populate. Me? I'll go on thinking Mormonism is ridiculous.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • allenwoll

      "Reasonably" has said it perfectly ! ! ! . A very, VERY strong SECOND ! ! !

      Oh, and Issac - If I were YOU, i would NOT bring PARROTS into ANY discussion over Mormonism ! ! !

      November 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
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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.