Mormons Hit The Mainstream
by Thomas MacMillan | Aug 31, 2012 8:45 am
Posted to: Religion, Campaign 2012
TAMPA, Fla.—As the Romney campaign put its candidate’s faith on display Thursday night at the Republican National Convention, Mormons in the Utah delegation recognized an opportunity to convince America they’re not so weird after all.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney formally accepted the Republican Party nomination for president on the final evening of the convention here. Before he did, testimonials from members of his church highlighted Romney’s Mormon faith.
As a candidate, Romney has chosen not to discuss his religion. The fact that he is a Mormon has been seen as a liability to his bid for the presidency, much as John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism was considered a liability in the 1960 presidential campaign. After months of internal debate about how to tackle the question, Romney’s advisers decided to publicly present and embrace his faith rather than run from it. Mormons, appearing as Mormons, not politicians, took the stage before Romney’s climactic appearance.
Which, among the faithful on the floor, was something of a god send..
“I’m deeply touched,” Utah delegate Brent Bishop (pictured) said after those guests had finished speaking.
There have been well-known Mormon politicians and celebrities in the past, but “not on this scale,” Bishop said. Romney is poised to become perhaps the world’s best-known Mormon.
“It does put a spotlight on the church,” Bishop said. “A lot of questions arise.”
Bishop spoke after the campaign put Pastor Grant Bennett onstage, to speak about Romney and religion.
Bennett served as an assistant to Romney during the time that he was a lay pastor for a Mormon church in Boston. He spoke about Romney’s dedication and compassion in the position. “He had a listening ear and a helping hand.”
Bennett’s remarks were followed by emotional testimony from three former members of the Boston congregation. Ted and Pat Oparowski talked about how Romney helped their family after their son was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Pam Finlayson (pictured onstage) spoke about Romney helping her when her daughter was born prematurely.
While the speakers highlighted Romney’s kindness and service, they largely avoided using the word Mormon or the full name of the religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Utah delegate Bishop said Mormons are misunderstood. He said that’s partly because the church is not often described by its full name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When people hear the full name, said Utah delegate Gayle Ruzicka, they’re more likely to recognize that Mormonism is a Christian faith.
“Mormons are like all other Christians, we believe in Jesus Christ,” she said. “We are truly a Christian church.”
People tend to focus on the ways Mormons are different, and say that they keep things secret about the religion, Ruzicka said. That’s not true, she said. The church sends missionaries around the world to preach about Mormonism. she said. “We don’t share? That’s a secret?”
Romney’s candidacy could begin to change people’s perception of the church, Ruzicka said. “I think they’re learning.”
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Not since Senator Kennedy ran for the Presidency in 1960 has the media paid so much attention to a candidate’s religion. Attempts to create or infuriate bias such as this have no place in the political discourse. Shame on you.
You seem not to remember the inane amount of attention paid to the Reverend Wright four years ago. Or the interest in the relentless bible-thumping of one George W. Bush.
And as Romney is a high priest of this religious cult, and we don’t know who he takes orders from within that cult, it is of the utmost importance that this be discussed.
I do not see Skyrocket’s point.
Rather than promoting bias, this story appears to explain a bit about Mormonism to counteract the biased comments being made by some Obama supporters in an attempt to harm Romney.
As one who knows very little about the Mormons other than that several prominent-in- recent- years politicians are followers of that faith, I welcome the explanations.
Actually, the media has paid almost no attention to Mitt’s religion. At the most he talks about his “faith,” and hopes the details are vague in the electorate’s collective mind.
In contrast, there has been an obsession with Obama’s religion—particularly among Republican/Right-Wing media, to the extent that 47 percent of Republicans believe he’s a Muslim.
Given that Mitt says he’s animated by his faith (I thought androids were animated by elecricity) I think it’s fair game to look at that faith. The LDS was the major player/funder against the California proposition that would have legalized same sex marriage. In general, it believes homosexuality is a “serious sin.” It is also a major supporter of the Boy Scouts. There are more LDS boy scouts than any other group, and it was the muscle behind the Scouts’ recent failure to change its discriminatory policy against gay citizens. It is anti-choice and funds such efforts.
Historically, it was a leader against the ERA.
Mitt became a church official in 1977—a counselor at the age of 31—a year before the LDS leader had a sudden revelation allowing African Americans full church rights. Did he grow into adulthood believing that black people were accursed and inferior?
I’m tired of politicians proclaiming how their faith is determinative of their beliefs and behavior, yet not being held account to it—particularly those who have been saying that JFK was wrong when he said he wouldn’t govern as a Catholic.
I’ll give the Catholic Church a little credit for criticizing Paul Ryan for accepting their teachings on abortion, yet rejecting those on caring for the poor.
I’ll be happy when a candidate can boldly proclaim his or her atheism.
The Constitution says “we the people” with no mention of God—although I heard several speakers proclaim their belief that our rights are Divinely granted. Ask African Americans if their rights came from the “inspired” original Constitution or from political struggles, and laws and constitutional amendments enacted by flesh and blood human beings.
posted by: Jason_Allred on September 1, 2012 3:04am
Being a Mormon has brought me closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ. It has also helped me develop a love for others. I am grateful to have had a spiritual witness from God that what I believe is true.
With all the media attention on Mormonism, I’d suggest to anyone that they find a fellow Mormon and ask them questions about what we believe. I’m a Mormon and am always happy to answer questions about my faith. (on Twitter: @jason_allred).
A given candidates theology can be a righteous source of concern. President Clinton’s “we are all sinners” let him do most anything as long as he repented on Sundays. President Bush the Younger’s view of the rapture made environmentalism and conservation unsound policies.