How Mitt Romney’s Faith Could Help Him Win

Mormons are accustomed to being the underdog and finding ways to succeed

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Stained glass by Megan Caponetto for Time. Photograph by Dan Forbes
Stained glass by Megan Caponetto for Time. Photograph by Dan Forbes

For Mormons, America is a very special place indeed. It’s central to the story of their faith; it was home to the Garden of Eden and will be the site of the Second Coming of Jesus.

The notion of American exceptionalism is of course not a new idea. Two centuries before Joseph Smith had the visions that led to the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Puritan leader John Winthrop delivered a sermon entitled “A Model of Christian Charity” in which he projected a vision of America as a New Israel where the fate of the nation would be inextricably linked to the maintenance of the covenant between God and man. “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill,” wrote Winthrop, alluding to the Sermon on the Mount. “The eyes of all people are upon us.” The next lines are less-quoted but revealing: “So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.”

Down the years, religious Americans have also found inspiration in a popular text from II Chronicles: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (The Bible on which Ronald Reagan took the presidential oath in 1981 was opened to this verse.)

As someone who’s always been interested in the intersection of politics and religion—a subject that seems to me as important in many ways as the intersection of politics and economics—I wondered, where did Mitt Romney fall in all this? Is he a caricatured Reaganesque optimist? (Reagan, always the master of the image, added the modifier “shining” to Winthrop’s words, which were themselves drawn from the Sermon on the Mount. Only Reagan could offer an effective edit to the Son of Man.) Or is he, a son of a long-persecuted faith that has found religious liberty and expedience invaluable in its struggle to survive, more of a realist?

(MORE: Is Romney Using Mormonism as a Shield?)

The answer I came to in this week’s cover story (available to subscribers here) is more complicated than the one I expected. Mitt Romney’s faith is of a piece with his business career (in an inhospitable and messy world analytical skills come in handy) and with the political journey that’s taken him from being a moderate governor in a moderate state to being a conservative nominee in a conservative national party.

The key question in these last weeks of the campaign is whether Romney’s pragmatic instincts — instincts I believe are rooted in his faith tradition — will win out, enabling him to mount a comeback to President Obama. The history of the LDS church is clear on on one thing: Mormons are accustomed to being the underdog and finding ways to succeed.

(READ MORE: TIME’s cover story, “The Mormon Identity,” by Jon Meacham)

MORE: Read About Gloria Borger’s Upcoming CNN Documentary“Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power”

64 comments
Bev Hatley
Bev Hatley

MAY GOD BLESS MITT ROMNEY ! THIS WORLD IS IN TERRIBLE TROUBLE ! AND WE NEED A NEW COMMANDER IN CHEIF ! AT LEAST MR. ROMNEY WILL HAVE ISRAEL'S BACK !

shirley197663
shirley197663

 Mr. Bruce,

As a practicing Latter Day Saints, I beg to differ with you analysis that LDS Church and it's faithful members are not Christians. By definition, Christian are people who believed that Christ is the Savior of humankind. Please, before you judge  ask yourself this question. "Who am I to say that a person's faith in Christ can be right or wrong? Am I so perfect that when I passed this life on Earth and faced my Heavenly Father, I can honestly say I am  so MUCH BETTER THAN THOSE MORMON CULT MEMBERS that is why I spent so much of my time denigrating their faith?

Your sister in Christ

Moronee
Moronee

As a former Republican, I can tell you that they are hemorrhaging

traditional voters.   They have begun to resemble the phaerisees in the Bible.  The people who act righteous on the outside, but it is all appearance and not real.  Pure and clean on the outside, full of corruption on the inside

http://www.alecexposed.org/wik...

AngelKaKa
AngelKaKa

like Bradley implied I didnt even know that some people able to get paid $9701 in one month on the network. did you look at this(Click on menu Home)

Phaerisee
Phaerisee

As a former Republican, I can tell you that they are hemorrhaging

traditional voters.   They have begun to resemble the pharisees in the

Bible.  The people who act righteous on the outside, but it is all

appearance and  not real.  Pure and clean on the outside, full of

corruption on the inside

http://www.alecexposed.org/wik...

fletc3her
fletc3her

Maybe God will step in.  Surely that would be helpful.

NavyMom21
NavyMom21

If I were Mormon, I would not appreciate his representing my faith.  His views on assisting the poor and those in need are a direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

Bot
Bot

Jesus wants us to excercise our own will to help the poor and the needy.  That's exactly what Mitt Romney has done.  View the testimonials from those he helped on the third day of the GOP Convention.  And view the September 15th Glenn Beck show:

http://www.video.theblaze.com/...

howard521
howard521

Voters should recall Jeremiah Wright's anti-American, racist, church ... where the Obama's spent TWENTY YEARS !!!

LakersTrent
LakersTrent

The opening line about the garden of eden and jesus coming aren't in line with mormon beliefs as far as I understand. You should ask a mormon about it.

Also, Massachusetts is hardly a moderate state.

Steve Robinson
Steve Robinson

Hmm.  I was expecting an explanation of how his faith could help him win to show how angels could descend from Heaven and change the vote tallies on election night.   Because at this point, that's about his last best shot.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

Page Error posted this in the wrong place. Moved.

whatever1000
whatever1000

If Romney is a real Christian, he will stop willfully lying. That goes for his handlers and supporters too.   I know there's going to be a "what about Obama" backlash for my comment, which is ridiculous and irrelevant to this issue. It is a sin to bear false witness and childish to try to make excuses for it. ("Mommy, he did it too...")

  So if he's your candidate and you support him and you know he bears false witness, well..

Krowster
Krowster

So, we went from a con-artist, to a fool, to a liar, to a "poor" sympathizer, to a religious fanatic. What next, a clown?

If this guy keeps moving around the various schizoid personalities or continued changes of positions, I can't help to think how many episode of "All My Mitts" will he have before he hits the one that will destroy this country and maybe the world. This guy seriously needs to stop the madness on trying to please everyone and get down to ONE SINGLE MESSAGE, the peoples need for jobs.

xexon
xexon

Romney is owned big business and the Israeli lobby. He IS the military/industrial complex.

And his god is money.

x

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

 This.

Sadly, the scary thing is, I am not certain that Obama is not in the same boat. Handing out false choices has been a specialty of the American political system for quite some time now.

Still, better to go with the devil you know I suppose.

SteveK77536
SteveK77536

"The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also."

Mark Twain

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Clements doesn't have to suspect anymore. He knows for sure now. I hope he made the right choice!

SteveK77536
SteveK77536

"Clements doesn't have to suspect anymore. He knows for sure now. "

Maybe, maybe not.  But I am sure that "we" cannot know.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

Id rather hope that in the unlikely case that there is a god, he/she/it

would be ethical enough to judge peoples worth based upon the quality of their character rather than which middle age superstition they ascribed to.

Of course, he could be the the type of god with a fragile ego and an inferiority complex, who's main concern is that his subjects exalt him and grovel appropriately (and of course never entertain questions, or logical doubts about their faith). Of course, if that is the type of god you believe in, heaven will be filled with sycophants and likely not a place I would personally enjoy.

Kind of defeats the allure of heaven when you have a god that excludes brilliant minds and interesting personalities because they decided to pick the wrong mythos or none at all, huh?

That sound like heaven to you? Sounds like an echo chamber to me.

At least you won't be set on fire I guess.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

For some reason it won't let me reply directly to your comment.

Everything you just said was merely sophistry and semantic wordplay. Playing with word games and hypotheticals does not make a good argument, unless you simply want to SOUND intelligent to people who are not bright enough to see through it (I suspect this is the case, feel free to prove me wrong).

Does not change the fact that a god that would exclude minds like Einstien, Twain, Jefferson, or Paine because of something as silly as their choice of mythology is not one that I deem worthy of respect or worship in the slightest.

How can it be heaven if you exclude the best of humanity and instead fill it with fundamentalist sycophants?

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

The God of the Bible is omnipotent in eternity. He gives us free will to disobey him in this life (a special existence in which we are physically apart from God). However, to be one with him in eternity, no disobedience can be allowed to be one with God, or else God would not be God (omnipotent). It has nothing to do with ego (a human thing). Instead, it has to do with the basic nature of God, who has provided a way for us to be one with him in eternity because he loves us. Still, God will not force us to take advantage of the way he has established for us to enter eternity and be one with him. He let's us have free will in this life between birth and death, so that we can choose to love God or not. Even with omnipotent God, coerced love means nothing.

VincyK
VincyK

I suspect  that Romney doesn't talk about his religion in his campaign against a black president,is the fact that the Mormon Church did not accept blacks as equals,thus barring them membership in the Church until 1979.Mitt was 31 years old before his religion accepted blacks....go  figure.

LakersTrent
LakersTrent

 Blacks were actually welcomed in the LDS Church since the beginning, and were never denied membership. Furthermore, mormon congregations weren't ever segregated or worshiping separately, which many churches did at the time.

From sometime in the 1860s until 1978 there weren't black elders in the clergy, with a few exceptions, but blacks were always welcomed as members.

As far as I'm aware, Romney said he wept with joy when there were black clergy in 1978, and his father was an outspoken figure on civil rights. Things aren't as black and white as they sometimes seem.

pinkbin
pinkbin

You are correct that "blacks" were welcomed. However, black men  weren't given equal treatment as white men. They were not allowed to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is basically one of the governing bodies of the church, until 1978. 

From lds.org: "Through the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, Church leaders guide the Church and direct the preaching of the gospel throughout the world. In the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood, "the power of godliness is manifest" (Damp;C 84:20). This greater priesthood was given to Adam and has been on the earth whenever the Lord has revealed His gospel. It was taken from the earth during the Great Apostasy, but it was restored in 1829, when the Apostles Peter, James, and John conferred it uponJoseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery"

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

 Unless I am mistaken, did not the mormon church (until very recently) subscribe to the rascist "children of ham" theology? You know the one where the children of ham would be punished by having their skin turned black?

I could be totally wrong here but I am pretty certain I have heard that from multiple sources.

18235
18235

malcom x certainly didnt accept jews as his equels, till months before his death---by fellow black muslims.  And slavery certainly still goes on in the muslim middle east, and africa...go figure.

and every other rap singer has a street cred of being an ex-pimp (ie slave master)...and of being proud of it....go figure.

VincyK
VincyK

Is the late Malcolm X running for office?...What business does the U.S elections have on the policies your nameless African countries...get an atlas,try to learn about the rest of the world...and then go figure

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

They also PREPARE for ARMAGEDDON, a SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY for Romney.

SAVE HUMANITY

VOTE: DEMOCRATIC TICKET

18235
18235

help save north korean humanity trapped in north korean socialist gulags.

vote against fellow traveler obama's socialism.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

 Thank you for demonstrating the point I made below.

You two make perfect bedfellows, just try to keep your make-out sessions behind closed doors, K?

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

What does it say about me?

I suppose that it says something along the lines of:

"I believe that people who spout nothing but rhetoric with no substance, and that are blind to all points of view except their own, no matter where they fall upon the political spectrum, are idiots."

Hint: ^ That is you, just in case you failed to make the connection.

18235
18235

since you dont have anything bad to say about the nazi-ish concentration camps in north korea, what does that say about...you?!

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

 This kind of rhetoric is idiotic when conservative fundamentalists spout it and just as stupid when liberal fundamentalists spout it.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Mormonism is not traditional Christianity, that is, Christianity based only on the Bible. The Mormon faith is based on the Book of Mormon, a manmade addition to Scripture (such additions are forbidden by the Bible as the ultimate heresy), which makes Mormonism a cult. Thus, a vote for Romney is a vote for a cultist who does not believe in the authority of the Bible as God's only revelation to mankind. For non-believers, this makes no difference, but for Christians who honor the Bible it should make a supreme difference.

Rand Brown
Rand Brown

 So was the Bible literally written by the finger of god or Jesus Christ themselves? ...or was it written by prophets

(men) who were called of God that wrote according to inspiration,

revelation and history? Those prophets did not want their own

revelations and writings added to or taken away from, they were not speaking of the Bible as a whole because it did not exist at that time. They did not write the bible as the bible, the bible is a collection of the writings of prophets that was compiled into a book (by men). A Christian is someone that worships Jesus Christ as the Savior of Mankind and seeks to follow the word of God as it has been given through his prophets, not someone who worships the Bible as a book...

LakersTrent
LakersTrent

 The majority of christians from 50Ad to 1500Ad never had the bible, so it's hard to say that christianity can only be christianity if it's based solely on the bible. What's more, when the bible finally become more widely available, there were massive revolts and revolutions in the church (protestant reformation); apparently many of those christians didn't think that the bible agreed with the christianity they had had.

The bible is great, but it's pretty tough to claim that everything in christianity has to be based 100% on the bible, especially when there are so many different opinions on how to interpret it. Half of the saints in the catholic and eastern orthodox calendars never even had access to the bible in anything like it's present form. Were they christians?

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

 Arguing about who can add what to which fictional religious texts is like two children arguing over the rules of a game that they invented while they are playing it.

18235
18235

and then there's the fictional koran...

and the  muslim brats who  killed the usa ambassador because of 911...

though usa liberals weeks ago invented some nonsense of a months old youtube video for the scapegoat.

18235
18235

haha.

sorry, but  every highschool/college hipster now days say they dont fit into any political/social box---when they very much do.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

I'm not the media, nor do I fit in any political or social boxes.

Also, an intelligent person living in America would realize that the primary reason the Christian faith is criticized while the Muslim faith is not (in America) would probably have something to do with the fact that it has a far greater social impact here. Just because someone does not DIRECTLY critisize Islam EVERY time they critique religion does not implicitly imply support of Islam, only a simpleton would choose to interpret it in that matter.

18235
18235

i'm glad you included the koran.

otherwise, my point would be that the usa liberal media regards the koran as being off limits to criticism.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

Um, yes the Koran would be included in the classification of "fictional religious texts", what exactly was your point or are you just here to add non-sequiturs to the conversation?

Commentonitall
Commentonitall

Look up the Nicaea council and you will see how idiotic your statement sounds.  The Bible is nothing but a collection of writings hand picked as a means to the churches end at the time.  There was vast amounts of literature left out which was written by the apostles.  Man ruined the Christian faith before it even got off the ground. 

mucopurulent
mucopurulent

All scriptures and holy books are man-made.  Orthodox religions are just cults that have enough members so that it is socially unacceptable to laugh at them.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

All scriptures and holy books are man-made.

True for non-believers, but not necessarily truth.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

It is not sufficient, because you cannot present it honestly in debate so that the rest of the people reading this can see it. I'm certainly not arguing the point to try to convince you after all, but someone who may be on the fence about the subject that could be reading this exchange.

Pointing me to a website containing a gish gallop of flawed claims, and then claiming victory might cut it for those already wrapped in a bubble of faith, but it will not fly with me.

I asked you for your BEST argument and gave you mine.

You failed to present anything, and then attempt to claim victory.

By the way, I took a cursory glance at your website and the first example I saw presented there was the creation of the state of Israel. Which is funny, because that is the SPECIFIC prophecy I used to exemplify the concept of a self-fufilling prophecy. Not only that, if I go and read the specific text you reference, it also requires metaphorical torturing to reach the conclusions you have.

The first example I find on your website is an example of not just one but two different types of flawed "foreknowledge".

Which leads me to believe that you do not have any examples of any types of foreknowledge other than the types I presented as examples of flawed claims in my original argument.

Surprise, surprise.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

To saywhaaaa,

Take it any way you desire. It is you who asked. If my offer of a full explanation on my website is not good enough, so be it.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

It should not take more than a few paragraphs to present a "best example" unless you are planning on a "gish gallop" type defense which is what I expected from the start.

If you cannot provide even 1 single example to support your position why on earth should I or anyone else take anything you say seriously? If it takes you a thesis length paper to torture the evidence enough to fit your position then it is likely that your position is lacking, this is not quantum physics we are talking about here.

I am not making the "choice" to not read the evidence.

You are making the "choice" to not present it.

Present it, and I will read it. Simple.

I am not here to read your book or website, sorry. If you cannot present your argument in a succinct logical construct that is your problem, not mine. I have laid my argument out for all to see but you continue to hide yours from the rest of the readers here.

If you want to push your faith as truth in this forum, then you should be prepared to defend it in this forum. Anything else is deflection.

Since you have abandoned your argument, I will simply take that as a concession of inability to support your thesis via evidence, and thus it can simply be dismissed.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

To saywhaaaa,

It takes more than a few paragraphs to sufficiently present the evidence. If you don't care to read it, that's okay.  It's your choice. However, it is there for anyone to peruse.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

Again, won't let me reply directly.

How about instead of pretending like you have addressed it sufficiently elsewhere, you take your single BEST argument and present it here for all to see so that it can be judged in the light of your peers?

One argument only please, make it a good one - I do not have the patience to respond to a "gish gallop" style defense.

I will be glad to deconstruct it for you.

To start you off, I will present you with my argument:

We have no evidence now, nor have we ever had evidence at any point in history, that there are any forces at work on this planet, with the exception of humans, that have the imagination and capability to put together a work of literature. There is no knowledge in any literature that was not available at the time the literature was written (of course including literature written by people who made discoveries and then wrote about them).

There is not a single work of literature containing so called "future knowledge" that has been "fufilled" that was not either

A) Obvious (I.E. "People will doubt the truth of this book (when the book is clearly untrue), Wars are going to happen between people who hate each other, etc...")

B) Vague to the point of uselessness (I.E. "One day this thing will happen somewhere at sometime and some place")

C) Requires tourturous metaphorical interpretation to force it to fit current knowledge, and could not have been interpreted in the same way without current knowledge.

D)Self-fufilling (I.E. "One day, Israel will once again return." Big War happens. Christians win it, create a new Israeli state in the same place as old Israel, because they read it in the bible - to the sorrow and detriment of the world for generations to come)

or

E) Throws out a ton of random guesses and gets one or two lucky out of hundreds, but provides no more predictive ability as a whole than simply flipping a coin or (at best) making informed guesses.

A single provable example that fits none of these categories could easily invalidate this statement, thus it can be regarded as a hypothesis.

For example, if in the bible there was a passage that said:

"Hey guys, a little before halfway through the 20th century, there will be this guy in Germany with a funny little mustache that you should probably just lock up as soon as he starts making problems, or else everyone will be fighting everyone else and a ton of people will die in terrible wars."

I would take that as pretty solid evidence that there was something to this whole bible thing.

Now, please present your best falsifiable argument, or attempt to falsify mine (If you posses the intellectual bravery to do so).

halken22
halken22

 Your words are hypocritical by your own definition. For non-believers, The Book of Mormon is manmade heresy/nonsense. For Mormon believers, it is the holy word of God. Is it not the same with the Bible?

Why don't you spend time preaching God's Word, serving your fellow man, or living a Christlike life instead of tearing down other people's beliefs?

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Verifiable, unless you can provide any evidence for any text at any time that was penned by anything other than a human.

See my website. The evidence is presented there for free.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

Verifiable, unless you can provide any evidence for any text at any time that was penned by anything other than a human.

saywhaaaa
saywhaaaa

 And enough time that has passed so that its founders can no longer be questioned and outed as charlatans.

ChiefBoardOp
ChiefBoardOp

Dan If you happen to be referring to the scriptures in  Revelations  it might interest you to know  that  the same is written in the old testament  and if you believe the whole bible literally as fact then you't have to toss out the New testament and the life of Christ as heresy.

 What each of those scriptures is talking about is the particular book  of scripture;  such as Acts or book of James etc. , not the volume of books  in  "the Bible" .

T he Random order of the King James is not the historical order it was written  so several books of the New testament would have to be tossed as "added to  The scriptural texts"..   If you are a  true student of Bible you'd know their are  over 10 books refereed to in the Bible that are not there so its not the whole of the book of scripture.

The Book of Nathan and Gad,  is one that failed to be included in the King James    

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

The only prohibition against adding to Scripture in the Tanakh (Old Covenant/Testament) is in the Book of Deuteronomy, and that is a reference specifically to that book (i.e., it was a prohibition against adding new commandments to the commandments in the Law of Moses). If not, that would make everything later, such as the prophets and psalms, null and void. Yet, Moses himself prophesied thet there would be a later prophet like unto Moses, and the prophet Jeremiah even said that there would be a new covenant to replace the Mosaic Covenant. The B'rit Hadashah (New Covenant/Testament) is the record of that later prophet and new covenant. The Book of Revelation circa 100 CE is the last written book of the new covenant Scripture, and it prohibits adding anything more. As for the other books you mention, God obviously did not see fit to preserve them for use by this generation.

AmandaHaynes
AmandaHaynes

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Amanda R. Haynes
Amanda R. Haynes

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