Opinion: Does Mitt Romney Have a Mormon Problem?

Thursday, December 01, 2011 - 12:51 PM

The burning question of whether Mitt Romney’s faith will be a liability in his quest for the 2012 Presidential nomination is plaguing Iowa pundits as we try to predict the GOP caucus in January.

Never in American political history have two Mormons run as candidates for president of the United States. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are both vying for that title this year, and how it plays into the race has yet to really be seen.

In Iowa only one percent of folks are Mormons, which means most people have never met or talked to a Mormon, and that stereotypes could dominate. To be sure, Mormons are solidly for the GOP - 60 percent call themselves conservative, 61 percent say abortion should be illegal, and 68 percent say homosexuality should be discouraged.

A significant percentage of Republicans still think Mormonism is a cult, and that could be a problem for Romney in a tight race for the nomination. Remember, though that he did well in Iowa the last time around, winning the Ames Straw Poll and getting 25 percentage of the vote in the caucuses behind Mike Huckabee.

Most Republicans will vote for the party nominee whoever he is, except that important, probably crucial, slice of Americans of any party persuasion who really do find the Mormon religion unacceptable. What's puzzling to me is that as Romney continues his painful slog, the GOP base seems to be doing everything except swing in his direction.

When the Pew Center asked Americans about Islam and Mormonism, the results were interesting. Asked if the Mormon religion is different from their own, 62 percent of Americans said it was, and 70 percent said the same about Islam. When asked if they have a favorable opinion of Mormonism, 53 percent said favorable and 27 percent said unfavorable.

Asked to name one word that expressed an unfavorable opinion of Mormonism, "cult," "bigamy" and "polygamy" were the three most common ones. The positive terms mentioned were "family" or "family values," "devout," "good" and "faith."

Among white evangelicals who attend services at least weekly, 52 percent believe that the Mormon religion is not Christian. This could be an important factor in the Iowa caucuses and among faith-based Republicans throughout the United States.

Michael Gerson, citing a recent Gallup Poll, wrote in the Washington Post that "20 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Protestants tell Gallup they would not support a Mormon for president. A portion of conservative Christianity is unhinged in its condemnation, regarding Mormonism as a dangerous, secretive cult. Even without recourse to calumny, it is clear that evangelicals will not be reconciled to Mormon doctrines without ceasing to be evangelicals."

These numbers should be troubling since presidential races are usually won by a squeaker, so any large numbers saying the won’t vote for Romney is dangerous as are the significant “Mormon negatives.”

Balancing this are the stats that show voters overwhelmingly believe that Romney is qualified to be president. In the most recent Bloomberg poll over 80 percent of New Hampshire and Iowa respondents say that Romney is qualified to “ … sit in the Oval Office, has the business experience necessary to create jobs, or is very smart.”

Romney was the preferred choice of 40 percent of likely New Hampshire primary voters. Ron Paul was second at 17 percent, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at 11 percent and the other candidates are below 10 percent.

So the puzzle we face is whether Romney’s positives outweigh the concern about his Mormon faith (and his flip-flopping on issues) as voters in Iowa and the Granite State prepare to cast their votes. 

Steffen Schmidt is professor of political science at Iowa State University, blogs for the Des Moines Register and WNYC “It’s a Free Country,” and is chief political correspondent for


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Comments [16]


Joseph Smith was a conman. Nothing else need be pointed out. If the founder of mormonism is an outlaw who fled to Utah and eventually got shot in the face no other points need be made.

Jan. 13 2012 01:37 PM

Did a quick search on Mitt Romney, and noticed that professional anti-Mormons are posting misinformation all over the Internet. And, yes, I would say Mitt does have a Mormon problem. America seems to have a Mormon problem. If you read through these comments you will see and feel the bigotry I am subjected to every day as a religious minority, as a follower of Jesus Christ. (Imagine if some of these comments were about Jews in NY, or Catholics in Ireland, or Protestants, or gays, or etc) I feel it is important to ask why some people would do this (intentionally mislead people about a religious minority, stirring up hatred etc). Clearly there is either some political motivation, or simple hatred.

There is much misinformation here (LDS males are actually minorities in SLC UT (it is controlled by Liberals such as Rocky Anderson and others) and I don't control anything, most LDS are not white males, etc, etc) but
I’ll focus first on Tonya/Tanya’s comment, since she seems to be everywhere repeating misinformation, using many of the well used misinforming anti-Mormonisms, then I’ll glance at a few others (some perhaps paid to post anti-Mormon propaganda full time, as I've noticed elsewhere).
I noticed that Rebekah from Las Vegas responded well to Tonya, and Tonya also offered to give citations for her misinformation, but we are still waiting on that....: ) So please check out the other LDS comments also, and if you really want to know what LDS believe, the best sources are The Book of Mormon, LDS org, etc.

Some seem to care about Mitt’s religion only enough to look at anti-Mormon propaganda and then go no further. This is sad. After studying many faiths, including Atheism (takes more faith than most), I’ve concluded, based on logic alone, that, for me, the Church re-established by Jesus Christ (“Mitt’s religion”) is the only religion that has answered the important questions, it is rational, backed by abundant evidences, and above all that, most importantly, the members ask people not to believe them, but to study it out, and ask God. Flesh and blood did not reveal these things to me, as men did not reveal that Jesus was the Christ to Peter. That said, LDS leaders are not called to lead they are called to lead Christ's Church, and are politically neutral. We vote on a President, and, while I don't know if I'll vote for Mitt, I do know that his Church does not dictate anything political to him, and, as a representative of the people in Mass. he has gone with what the people he represented wanted over what his Church teaches.
His Church teaches that the constitution is inspired, and that freedom is sacred.

So Tanya:
“ And that tells me he believes:” You begin by assuming he believes what you believe about Mormonism, not a fair or open minded start, but that's ok, I still love you : ).

Dec. 05 2011 09:14 AM

Continued to Tonya
“- A 19th century con artist was visited by an angel and given golden plates that later mysteriously disappeared.” The religions of other candidates aren't subjected to this name calling. The gold plates didn't disappear mysteriously, and many people saw them, felt them, and watched Joseph translate etc.
It has been domonstrated that Joseph Smith could not have fabricated the Book of Mormon. Mormon haters have been trying to prove it false for almost 200 years, and all have failed.

“- Black people were spiritually inferior” This is untrue, it is not what Mitt's Church teaches, it is presumptuous to attempt to establish LDS doctrine for the world, no offense. Check FAIR lds for questions about this and other anti-Mormonisms. There’s a link to Black LDS there. The LDS congregation I attend (in Lehi Utah) has many racially mixed families, they serve as Bishops, female Relief Society Presidents etc. I also have Black family members. They are LDS and have expressed that they feel very much loved and at home in Christ’s Church, but people who have to keep repeating this misinformation are intentionally hurtful. Many leaders and LDS scriptures, beginning with Joseph Smith, have plainly stated that black people were not inferior, and slaves would outshine our highest dignitaries if allowed opportunity. LDS were strongly opposed to slavery and they were attacked, raped etc, for their pro-black stances. These attacks on LDS and responses led to an official government extermination order. The headline on the first LDS paper was an anti-slavery statement. Joseph Smith had given priesthood to Blacks, and Blacks were among leading early LDS. True, Brigham Young (who restricted priesthood) and others held some ideas of the times (curse of Cain) but his ideas were mild compared to the Founding Americans, and other non-LDS Christians (leading slave ship was called the Jesus, even though Africa was predominantly Christian) etc. Arguing that Mitt believes that Blacks are inferior is dishonest. It is like arguing that he believes in slavery because he is an American, and Founding American Fathers were racist. Brigham could not help but dress like a person from the 19th Century, and have some ideas from those around him. He was raised by non-LDS parents who also taught him that a fiddle was evil. He was a prophet of God, but also a product of his environment, just as Peter was. Peter wouldn’t even “associate” with blacks, whites, etc, until Jesus gave him that revelation. Even then he said "not so" but his mind was changed.

"Forget everything...Brigham Young...or whomsoever has said...that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come..." McConkie

That is what LDS doctrine is as I understand it (perhaps you know more as you claim : ).

Dec. 05 2011 09:12 AM

This is a continued RE to Tonya and others who seem to really hate Mormons.

“- A man named Brigham Young spoke for God when he said unless people practiced polygamy they were damned.” This is untrue. I haven't read everything Brigham wrote, since much of it doesn't apply to me, but this seems to be one of those special quotes from the misinformation, limited edition, anti-Mormon Book of Mormon : ).

“- The Mormons’ Book of Abraham was written by and about Abraham, despite numerous Egyptologists saying it is nonsense” Do you mean the fake Egyptologists in the anti-Mormon movie "The God Makers”? Numerous Egyptologists also say the Bible is nonsense, this doesn’t make all Bible believing Presidents fools does it? : ) The Book of Abraham has been shown to be miraculously translated, it is not nonsense.

“- One needs secret handshakes to enter Heaven, the same handshakes Joseph Smith ripped off from Free Masonry” It’s unfair to make misleading statements about sacred mysteries that you know we won’t discuss in a forum, it’s also un-Christian, un-liberal, etc. All I will say about this right now is that, if you are claiming that Temple Passion plays were “ripped off” from Masons I suggest you do some research… might find these rites originated from God, and were passed on to the original Christians, predating the Masons (who allegedly got the rites from Templars, who went to Jerusalem seeking from Christians there), and these rites are still practiced in varying degrees by the some of oldest Christian Churches today (Armenian Apostolic etc) (Check FAIR). As we look further back, we find that these are the original Christian ordinances, practiced by the Church established by the apostles. Just as the doctrine of deification was the original Christian doctrine (we find this with almost everything taught by the offense, but it’s unwise and unfair to dismiss millions as fools because you misunderstand

Dec. 05 2011 08:54 AM

-“ It’s okay for a Utah church to spend big bucks fighting gay marriage in California”
More LDS live in California than Utah, and more are outside of America than in. It is not honest to call it a Utah Church. I have gay family members (so I have some insider info) they are wonderful people, but I happen to know that activists are still seeking to “destroy the Utah brand” and are allegedly using media to push in a liberal President for political gain (see “Crafting Gay Children”). Much of the hatred against LDS (and therefore Mitt) is spread by extreme activists who are anything but “gay” (nothing like my open minded gay family members). These activists have expressed hate, post anti-Mormon propaganda full time, and have called for violence against Mormons….
“- A multi-billion church can keep its finances secret from even its own membership” I’m not sure but it seems you are implying that even the taxman can’t look into LDS finances or??? Are you trying to make it look like LDS leaders are taking tithing money and buying cars etc? Again, seems misleading to me…but we both know that the only LDS living on members donations are the very poor, many of them in other Countries.

“No thanks. Romney is in a cult and if he can’t see through this nonsense in the era of the Internet he won’t get my vote.” Hopefully we do all see through “this” nonsense : ), not saying what you believe is nonsense, I don’t know what that is and would never attack you. But, when someone is everywhere claiming to know what MItt believes, and then posts almost nothing that any LDS believes well....: ) that’s nonsense…: )

I hope this helps clear some things up, please write back soon....I speak in love, JM.

Dec. 05 2011 08:49 AM
Mr Widemouth from north

What's underneath the magic Mormon underwear? - Exposed

Dec. 04 2011 02:03 AM
Rebekah from Las Vegas


The Mormons’ Book of Abraham was written by and about Abraham, despite numerous Egyptologists saying it's nonsense

Which Egyptologists? Frankly all the ones that have condemned the Book of Abraham that I've read about don't have any right to be considered scholars in that field. The ones that I've seen write criticism are not trained Egyptologists.

- One needs secret handshakes to enter Heaven, the same handshakes Joseph Smith ripped off from Free Masonry

Many of the earliest members of the church were Masons as well and never considered Temple ritual as a "rip off" They considered themselves practicing a truer and purer form of Masonry. Plus it's interesting to note that Joseph Smith never completed his full initiation into Masonry to begin with.

It’s okay for a Utah church to spend big bucks fighting gay marriage in California

Are you going to condemn the Catholic church as well? They also spent time and money. Plus the church donated little unless you're going to condemn the adherents that personally gave their time and money outside of the church.

- A multi-billion church can keep its finances secret from even its own membership

I worked for a Non-profit and it's significant to note that although I had access to the server, I couldn't access the HR files or the budget for the year. Maybe because I wasn't suppose to have access to that information to begin with.

<< Romney IS in a cult>>

Perhaps but then one can say the same about the rest of religion as well. Your term of Cult is used in a derogatory way. When the concept of cult can be applied to any religion and any faith of any type.

You want to vote for Newt or Obama feel free, no one is stopping you.

Dec. 03 2011 10:32 PM
Rebekah from Las Vegas


I am willing to bite on some of your criticisms:

- A 19th century con artist was visited by an angel and given golden plates that later mysteriously disappeared

Frankly that's "YOUR" opinion. I don't think I need to remind you that the Jews of Christ day considered Jesus as a fraud.

- That God lives near a star named Kolob

True, and at least you're not one of the critics that claims that God lives on Kolob.

The Book of Abraham mentions Kolob as being near to God. But, I find very few Mormons that go around claiming this as an essential belief.

- Black people were spiritually inferior.

Hmm....and yet the Book of Mormon states in 2nd Nephi 26:30 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, BLACK and white bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

Unless you're going on someone else's personal opinion which isn't doctrine. And the verse I just gave from the Book of Mormon that doesn't sound like being considered inferior. And I don't know if you've read the news lately but a Baptist church has attempted to ban interracial congregants. This just goes to show that racism can be found anywhere and isn't limited to just one particular group of religious adherents.

- A man named Brigham Young spoke for God when he said unless people practiced polygamy they were damned

Journal of Discourse I presume, that's generally where critics draw their criticism assuming that Mormons don't have the time to read volumes of text. There are two considerations to this, Journal of Discourses isn't doctrine for one, and two Brigham Young was talking to a group of people who were under the command to practice polygamy. Mormons in this day in age don't practice polygamy and unless any leader says that particular command is reversed, then no Mormon can be damned for something they've been commanded not to practice.

Dec. 03 2011 10:31 PM
Tonya from Atlanta


If you will be kind enough to identify any of the points I raised you believe to be inaccurate, I will be happy to provide citations for them.

Every one of the facts I raised is well supported, though they are often disputed by Mormons who either don't know their faith's true history or who don't like it being shown the light of day.

Dec. 02 2011 06:19 PM
Dwight Rogers from Las Vegas, NV

Tonya's post above is very inaccurate and exaggerated to say the least. If time and space were available I could address each of her claims with real facts.

Dec. 02 2011 03:49 PM

I frankly do not care what Mitt Romney’s religion is, but I care very much about the critical thinking skills of any presidential candidate.

Romney is well entrenched in the Mormon church. He has been a bishop and a stake president. That tells me he is a 100% believer.

And that tells me he believes:

- A 19th century con artist was visited by an angel and given golden plates that later mysteriously disappeared

- That God lives near a star named Kolob

- Black people were spiritually inferior

- A man named Brigham Young spoke for God when he said unless people practiced polygamy they were damned

- The Mormons’ Book of Abraham was written by and about Abraham, despite numerous Egyptologists saying it's nonsense

- One needs secret handshakes to enter Heaven, the same handshakes Joseph Smith ripped off from Free Masonry

- It’s okay for a Utah church to spend big bucks fighting gay marriage in California

- A multi-billion church can keep its finances secret from even its own membership

No thanks. Romney IS in a cult and if he can’t see through this nonsense in the era of the Internet he won’t get my vote.

Dec. 02 2011 12:09 PM
Sydney Parker from Pocatello Idaho

If the general population listens to what mormons believe...anyone that is other than a white male should have a problem with Romney's religeous beliefs...I live in southern Idaho/ northern Utah and the influence of mormon males is beyond illegal. It dominates more than a personal belief system, it dominates employment methods, hiring, business, and small town politics. Mormonism dominates who your kids can play with and unfortunately the mormon males have set an example of huge gender and racial and even "ward" discrimination that is enough to alter a person open to all religeons. These guys believe they are gods and in practical matters have illustrated they're views toward women, anyone of other races (not many in this area) and have proven themselves to be backstabbing, unethical, and self- serving men. I am not anti-men or mormon. I was raised mormon and have a clear understanding of the religeon. It doesn't allow for thought, question, intellect of anyone that is not willing to put money into the "church". Romney's campaign exemplifies the self serving, slimy, used car salesman attitude of many of the local business men. Ask me and I would more than love to give names of individuals that exemplify this. However, not the point. Religeous views support gender and racial discrimination and the all-mighty dollar over integrity. Experienced real life and observed in Romney's campaign.l He's a snake. A rich snake. A snake.

Dec. 02 2011 02:04 AM
rickd785 from Omaha

Having lived in Idaho for 30 years;20 of witch were in southern Idaho.The worst kept secret in the state is what non mormons think of the LDS church.They are indeed hated.No pollster will ever get that kind of response from respondents.

Dec. 01 2011 08:16 PM

What people think about the Mormon religion doesn't matter. If there were factual evidence about the maliciousness and secrecy that these evangelicals are so worried about, it would be all over the place. But there isn't, there isn't a single shred of evidence to suggest the religion is anything but a well rounded, value centered religion.

As far as them being Christians, isn't that up to them to decide? If I say I am a republican, but I feel that much of the republican views on immigration reform are overzealous and inhumane, does that mean I am not a republican? Is that for you to decide?

If I tell you that I am a football fan, but I have never managed a fantasy team, can you turn around and say, "then you are not a football fan, and calling yourself one is a disgrace to the rest of us!" Of course not, I love football. It doesn't matter if I love it the way you do. I am a football fan, and your way of enjoying football doesn't change that.

Mormons vehemently claim to be Christian, who is anyone to say they aren't? They have stated that they are, and that's the end of the discussion.

Dec. 01 2011 06:34 PM

if romney were asked to give up his religious
beliefs in order to become the u.s. president,
which one would he choose?
romney would never give up his religious

Dec. 01 2011 04:06 PM
Mormons Are Christian from Mendham, New Jersey

Mitt Romney’s theology is based on New Testament Christianity, not Fourth Century Creeds. For example, the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views on Baptism, Lay Ministry, the Trinity, Theosis, Grace vs. Works, the Divinity of Jesus Christ comport more closely with Early Christianity than any other denomination. And Mormons’ teenagers have been judged to “top the charts” in Christian Characteristics by a UNC-Chapel Hill study. Read about it here:

Those who question if the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is a Christian denomination usually are mis-informed because New Testament Christianity is closer to Jesus Christ’s teachings than Fourth Century Creeds. Mormons have a better understanding of Christianity than any other denomination, according to a 2010 Pew Forum poll:

11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (including several presidents) were non-Trinitarian Christians. Those who now insist on their narrow Trinitarian and salvation only by grace definition of Christianity for candidates for public office are doing our Republic an injustice.

Dec. 01 2011 03:10 PM

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