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. God's Oldest Dreamer

    A scattering is upon us in these trying days and Age. Leave your wantings behind and never take wind of one's longings for the weightiness of one's longings will smite even the most influential. Carry away nothing and leave. Head to the places inside one's being and do not keep ajar your door for many will want to enter in and should not. Your loving this Life is for the world to have and you should not heed the rumors from others as to just what is truly right. It is therefore best for mankind to simmer in their juvenile pottages never rationalizingly 'assaying' one's diffuse detriments, the very smallest of life's grains. As smitten breeds, our splendors reveal one's characters to be traitorous to one's analogous fold. Where then does Life end and living begin?

    November 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • zometimer


      November 8, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer


      Go to bed then if your'e yawning, Dumb Futz

      November 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  2. Answer

    To Kurt

    I have only one other question to pose to you...

    What is the purpose of your secret handshake? You really should think about it.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • zometimer

      its a secret dumb a s s

      November 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Answer

      It's on recorded video now "dumb a s s".

      November 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • zometimer

      L O L

      November 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Answer

      If you really wanted to educate someone try to provoke people to think..

      What is the point of a secret handshake in any cult? One purpose – promotes an exclusive right. Set up a parameter of inclusion. Of special status..

      Do you people in cults really not think – that just maybe YOU aren't special? You like to be.. but frankly you're an idiot because you got s-u-c-k-e-r-e-d.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      it's like Larry Craig's secrete leg shake.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  3. TheVocalAtheist

    So, because Billy Graham says they are no longer a cult we should all go "Geez, you're right Billy, of course they're not." Let us not forget the foundations of all these religions and not just the Mormon one. They are all based on pure nonsense with an agenda to lure you in, indoctrinate you, take your money, tell you what is right and what is wrong, how to live and who is worthy to be one of them. It is the most devious plan humanity has ever come-up with and people are still buying into it in droves.
    Stop the insanity, think for yourself and stay as far away as you can from any of these creeps.

    As a side note: To keep abreast of this contemporary form of deluded insanity I listen to the American Family Radio. Talk about nuts! Today they had a Christian Psychiatrist on. If you want proof of someone raping the mind of vulnerable people, take a listen to one of these evil people in the guise of medical authority. I should do my research because this sounds really, really wrong in the world of medicine. To fill the head of a person in need with make believe, unproven supernatural craziness as a cure for their mental illness doesn't sound right to me. Isn't this a crime and against the Hippocratic Oath of "Do No Harm"?

    November 8, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  4. Pamela sanderson

    If he is not a devout Mormon then he is a liar and he should be scorned. If he is a devout mormon, then he is stone cold fvck nuts and should be locked away.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  5. dezep

    Mormons and indeed the Mormon Church itself, are utterly aghast and shell shocked that the great Mormon God of Kolob, has clearly not been listening to their great Temple Prayers. A Mitt Romney US Presidency has been a well known prophecy of the Mormon Church going back 170 years.
    The church and its super rich members have put hundreds of $millions into Romney's campaign. This was the time and the moment and they lost big. But worse, they lost to a black man. Mormon doctrine and canon of scripture states that the black skin is a curse from God himself. Now you know why Tagg, Mitt's son, wanted to deck Obama for daring to stand up to his arrogant father.
    America, breathe a collective sigh of relief, your freedoms are safe under Obama. Let Romney, along with his racist and hate filled Mormon faith, crawl back to Utah and their great money god.

    This is a genuine undercover video of a Mormon Temple Veil Ceremony filmed covertly in the Salt Lake Temple in Utah, this year


    November 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  6. God's Oldest Dreamer

    The Mormon (cult as you declare) religion may well have originated from this verse.John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world".Ya think? But to proclaim that somewhere out in the celestial heaven there is a planet where God resides is shear blasphemy and does not adhere to the KJVB. I cite this reasoning based upon this, Luke 17:21 "The kingdom of God is inside you." Keeping with the scripture how then can the kingdoms of God be anywhere else but inside us and not somewhere out there in outerspcae? They are clearly a delusional sect or yes 'cult'.Dumb Futz's are the many who read and cannot ascertain what they see written!

    November 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  7. ron

    Let's see now. What percentage of evangelicals would vote for a Mormon who is a liberal Democrat? In that scenario, we would never hear the end of the evangelical attacks on the "cult of Mormonism." In fact, white evangelicals constantly attacked our President who is a confessed Christian and questioned the legitimacy of his faith.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • athiestbob

      thats because Democrats are all social drinkers and churchgoers..... if they dont agree with their church they just start another one that agrees with them.....I dont believe in God, but there is nothing in the democrat platform that is conducive to religion being a priority...

      November 8, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  8. Chris

    Mormons have been absolutely horrid towards gay people and black people. Watch the movie "Latter Days" sometime.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • athiestbob

      You know if you watch Texas Chainsaw massacre, Texans aren't very nice either......and if you watch any michael Moore movie you feel sorry for victims of premature release from drug rehab too.....

      November 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      Right. Movies always tell the whole truth. Get out and meet some real live people and work alongside them. That's how you really know someone.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  9. stan the man

    All religions are based on one premise, either its my way or the highway.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • athiestbob

      welcome to the democrat party

      November 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Jessica

      LOL, and only their highway goes to heaven.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  10. Anne

    Romney did the best he could fighting with a dishonest news media who see Obama as their golden child. Obama should kiss Clinton's hands. I wonder if he thanks God for the hurricane too - this would work well with his kind of 'for revenge' Christianity.

    Governor Romney, we wish you and your family the best!

    November 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • James

      I thought that in religious circles God was in control of everything. So...He sent hurricane sandy and the liberal media to help Obama the golden one. I guess gold trumps magic undies and apparently God is a democrat too.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  11. HeavenSent

    Horrors, earth quakes, floods, disasters are God's wrath against all of us. That red patch is growing but I can still sit down carefully. Do as the atheists do in this country to ensure the USA goes belly up.


    November 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • zometimer

      Where is that red patch grown that you have trouble sitting down? The GLBT community has great clinics that treat syphlis on a sliding scale.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  12. Bob Smith

    I'm Mormon and I think Mitt was a phony along with his entire family. I have 6 wifes. Poor old Billy was lied to and and was too dumb to know it.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Surebob

      Wives Bob... WIVES.. You cant even spell... Obama supporter I bet?? The good thing is, if you spell your name backwards it wont matter..

      November 8, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  13. Bob

    As a Masschusetts resident, I sincerely hope the Romneys self deport to California.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • holysmokes

      CA???? He needs to go to Utah!

      November 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      Cancel their visa to the United States, send them back to their homeland in Republistan.

      Then he can be president, bishop, businessman, apostle, and a persevering flip-flop artist baptizing dead republicans.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  14. Kurt

    It'll be nice when people stop hating others that don't believe the same things they do.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Answer

      So why do you believe in your fairy tales in the first place?

      November 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Kurt

      I don't believe they are fairy tales, or I wouldn't believe them. But I know that when I live what I'm taught, I'm usually better off. Call it "blessed." When I don't - or when I sin - I am unhappy. So if everything that the LDS church teaches makes me happier - the way I am told God wants me to be - then why wouldn't I believe? I've read and prayed and acted - it all feels right and makes sense. It's pretty easy to believe.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Meatwad

      Dolls make me happy, but I don't have any cuz I don't have no damn money. I have to use my infinate imagination.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Answer

      So in other words you like to believe it just because it makes you feel safe?

      You've never liked the negatives or even explored the negatives..like validity and facts. Kinda figures.. I see it every time from that same question. "I just believe and then the association with feelings."

      November 8, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Kurt

      I fail to see what facts have to do with my faith.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Answer

      Well yes ...you've stated that.

      You decide the everyday issues on certain facts, but your delusions are safe in faith.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      Trade up Kurt, Scientology is where its at.

      Better angels, diamond tablets not gold.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • zometimer

      It will be nice when wacko religious zealots mind their own business and stay out politics and policy.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • mulehead

      Kurt – with all due respect, there is not a single thing that you (or anyone for that matter) can do because you believe in the fairy tale that you couldn't do if you didn't believe. "in short, do not swallow your moral code in golden tablet form" – Hitchens

      November 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  15. Martin

    Mormons are known to enlist in the military at higher levels than other faiths?

    But Mitt manages to have five sons, none of which served their country. And yes, working on Mitt's campaign doesn't count as "serving your country".

    November 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  16. GFFAT

    Surprised there was no mention of another Mormon, John Huntsman. I voted for Obama, but try to be independent-minded, and looked at Huntsman. He was a real worry to the Obama campaign because he's a thoughtful, pragmatic, moderate, pro-science, pro-fact Republican...which, of course, made him immediately disappear.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Kurt

      Yeah, I was kind of sad to see Huntsman go so early. I don't know enough about him, but I wish he'd been able to stick in it longer. I'm a Republican, and think the Republican party could use more financial discipline and less social conservativeness.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • holysmokes

      What exactly is "social conservativeness"?

      November 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      Kurt, it is time to move to Republistan, they need you.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Meh

      Sheesh. Kurt seems like a pretty level headed guy, why all the animosity? Im a liberal and voted for Obama and there are plenty of wacko religious people out there. Kurt doesnt really seem to be one of them. I have a hard time with the Mormon faith as well, but cant you people be respectful to someone who is clearly being respectful to you?

      November 8, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  17. dezep

    Mitt Romney lied to Billy Graham, when he visited him just before the election. When Billy Graham endorsed Mitt Romney and his Mormon Church, he obviously did not know about Romney's dark side of his secret Temple Worship.
    Romney couldn't tell him, because the great deceiver Mitt, has already sworn with strict Temple Oaths to never divulge or speak about these Temple Oaths and Rituals to anyone outside of the Temple.
    So you see Billy Graham was blatantly lied to by Romney. He should immediately apologise to Mr. Graham for his deceit, but don't hold your breath. Romney and his wife are Mormons, and lying comes naturally to them.
    Have a look at this genuine footage of Mormon Temple Ceremonies filmed secretly in a real Mormon Temple in Utah, this year. Could this indeed be Mitt and his wife in the Celestial Room of the Salt Lake Temple?:


    November 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  18. Martin

    Part of the "broad middle of American society"?

    Mormonism is a cult, plain and simple.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world"

      The Mormon (cult as you declare) religion may well have originated from this verse. Ya think? But to proclaim that somewhere out in the celestial heaven there is a planet where God resides is shear blasphemy and does not adhere to the KVB. I cite this reasoning based upon this, Luke 17:21 "The kingdom of God is inside you." Keeping with the scripture how then can the kingdoms of God be anywhere else but inside us and not somewhere out there in outerspcae? They are clearly a delusional sect or yes 'cult'.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • zometimer

      chistiananity is as much as a cult as mormonism.

      "Luke 17:21 "The kingdom of God is inside you." like inside your feeble mind. Grow up....

      November 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  19. The Pope

    Hey, Mitt's wearing a BLUE suit and a BLUE tie. I KNEW IT. He's a closet Democrat. That's why he agreed with President Obama on every issue in the third debate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  20. Kurt

    Mormons aren't bad people.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Gary Glitter

      Moonies aren't bad people either.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      What say you regarding the immeasurbale Sons and Daughters of God? Are they all good or all bad or just a mixed batch?

      November 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • stan the man

      Right, they are just totally delusionable.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Meh

      Having spent quite a bit of time in Wyoming (which certain areas have a large mormon population and they are about to build one of their massive "Temples" – the ones that are few and far between). I would say that the Mormons I have met have been really nice and giving people. My only negative is that as soon as they realize that they are not going to succeed in converting you, they dont seem to come around anymore. I think this is true with most faiths though. This is what a lot of people like me have a problem with. You never know what their true motivations are. Are you being nice because you want me to join your "flock" or are you genuinely a nice person? I guess it could be both – but that ulterior motive doesnt make me trust them as much as I would someone else.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • ACT III: 2013-TeaBag Suicide March to the Fiscal Cliff

      Yes Kurt, Mormons are not bad people.

      It's the religious beliefs, and the origin of the "religion" that is problematic.
      But Hey! Tom Cruise and crew believe in Scientology and space aliens.
      You got Joseph Smith, they have L Ron Hubbard.
      Their stuff is more current. Might want to check them out, they broker in dead souls too, channeling them in ceremonies.

      No interest? ok. If you high tail it to Republistan, you can still stake out some land in the territory of New Utah, near Honey Lake City where a beautiful new temple is being built.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:14 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.