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15 March 2012

Anti-Mormonism bites Romney in South

March 15, 2012


The polls and the campaign dialogue aren’t much help in assessing the Mormon factor in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries. The distinct feeling on the ground was that it had an impact, leading many evangelical Christians to reject pragmatic arguments to ignore Mitt Romney’s Mormonism because of his presumed electability.
In a pattern dating back to the single-issue campaigns of the segregation era, discussion of this underground religious division was conducted almost entirely through code words and signals and was mainly missing from public forums and press accounts.


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Are Mormons Keeping Mitt Romney Afloat?

March 14, 2012

The Atlantic

There are six kids in white shirts and black ties standing in a line. One steps forward and dances around the others, hissing and sneering like a bobcat. He moves to the front on the chorus and the boys start slapping their thighs in a steady one-two-three, one-two-three rhythm. The leader cries, “Grab the book from your pants!” They pull out a black book — one-two-three. “Slap the book on your chest!” They slap away — one-two-three. “Read the book, read the book, pray, pray!” One-two-three. “We’ve got the gospel, you get it, you get it?” Then they step towards the camera and wave their hands. “You come walk in the waters with meeee!” The boys fall to the floor in a fit of giggles. It’s one of the odder sights on YouTube.

The book is The Book of Mormon and the boys are young missionaries. They are dancing a Mormon-themed version of the Maori war dance, or Haka — just one of the many Mormon Haka videos posted on YouTube (if you want to see the dance done with real force, check out this version by by Mormons Elders Hopoate and Ofahulu in Australia.) This extraordinary cross-fertilization of Mormonism and Polynesian culture is quite common. It’s a testament to the broad and growing reach of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and hints at the political power of the Mormon diaspora.


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A different take on Romney and his Mormon heritage

March 14, 2012

Atlanta Journal Constitution (Georgia)

The history of the Mormon faith may not be as long as some, but it includes repeated instances in which Mormons have been hounded and violently persecuted for the crime of being different. In a series of exiles beginning around 1830, Mormons were driven out of upper New York state, where the faith has its roots, to Ohio; from Ohio to Missouri; and from Missouri to Illinois, where their prophet Joseph Smith and his brother were murdered by a lynch mob in 1844.

Under the leadership of Brigham Young, the survivors then fled even further west, finally finding refuge in the wilds of Utah. Even there, in the Mormon Land of Zion, bitter and sometimes violent conflicts with the federal government continued for decades, fueled in part by the Mormon practice of polygamy, which the church officially abandoned in the early 20th century.


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From Harvard Business School, Mormon “Mini-Mitts” Cheer On Their Idol

March 14, 2012


These weren’t just any Romney supporters; they were part of Harvard Business School’s small but ever-present Mormon community — ambitious, young BYU alumni tracing the same academic path that the candidate did four decades ago. Now, with Romney poised to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, this club of young mini-Mitts is watching the race with a mix of glowing pride, fierce admiration — and a special understanding of the forces that helped mold their idol.

Indeed, if Romney ever had a core constituency, it was sitting in this room.

“He is like a role model to me,” said David Theurer, a Colorado native who studied mechanical engineering at BYU. “Fantastically successful career, served well in the church, Stake President — when I think of what would be a great life for me, his example of success in family life and professional life is inspirational.”


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Mitt Romney’s Mormon Millstone

March 14, 2012

National Journal

Will Mitt Romney overcome what is clearly a lingering bigotry against Mormonism, especially in the the Christian evangelical South? For all of the big-picture analyses we all continue to write about Romney’s lack of appeal to a radicalized GOP “base,” his third place finish in Alabama and Mississippi could have had more to do with straightforward prejudice, as my colleague Alex Roarty points out today.

Well before the primaries yesterday, I had heard prominent Mormon Republicans express concerns about this sleeping serpent. “The story that’s not being written enough is that there is a lot of discomfort with Latter Day Saints, and all the other issues are masking that underlying prejudice,” said one Republican who supports Romney. “The truth is, there is not a dime’s worth of difference when it comes to public policy between Romney, Santorum and Gingrich.”


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Romney’s Evangelical Problem Not Going Away

March 13, 2012

National Journal

Romney’s struggles with evangelical, socially conservative voters can be attributed largely to the perception that he’s been inconsistent on key social issues like abortion and gay rights. But at least part of the problem may be his Mormon faith.

That hasn’t percolated to the surface much during the campaign, but it could help explain some of the continued resistance to a candidate who still remains the party’s likely nominee. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, speaking on Fox News this week, called it “a very subtle issue” that “may be a problem” in some states.

Former Louisiana senator John Breaux was more blunt Tuesday on MSNBC. “People in the South may think that President Obama is a Muslim, but they know that Gov. Romney is a Mormon and it makes them uncomfortable,” he said. “They feel like it’s sort of a cult, it’s not really a Christian religion … That’s the basic problem.”


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Mormon Church going before BSA

March 15, 2012

Times Ledger (New York)

Flushing civics and lawmakers want the city Board of Standards and Appeals to deny plans for a Mormon church that exceeds zoning regulations, but the agency recently gave a green light to a similar application in southern Queens.

Civic leaders and a state senator turned out to show their disapproval of plans for a house of worship that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants to build at 145-13 33rd Ave.

“Why in God’s name are we even considering this?” asked state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), standing outside of the empty lot where the LDS church submitted plans to build a two-story church with a 95-foot steeple that seeks to double the maximum allowable floor space.

“The community board has already voted against it. The borough president voted against it. We’re here to send a message to the BSA,” he said.


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Mormon bishop takes deal in failure to report child abuse case

March 14, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

A Mormon bishop accused of failing to report the alleged abuse of a child in his congregation has taken a plea deal that could end with the misdemeanor’s dismissal.

Amado Gress Rojas, 62, entered into a “diversion agreement” Monday in Provo Justice Court. The deal with prosecutors means Rojas can ask the court to dismiss the single class B misdemeanor count if he has no criminal violations over the next six months.


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Glenn Beck: Chris Matthews Is ‘A Bigot On The South’ And Mormons (VIDEO)

March 14, 2012

Huffington Post

Glenn Beck tore Chris Matthews apart on Wednesday, railing against the MSNBC host’s remarks that the GOP “is willing to outsource” the general election “to a Mormon” out of desperation to beat President Obama.

Matthews made the comments during his network’s coverage of the Mississippi and Alabama primaries on Tuesday night. He was discussing the role of religion in the election. He went on to compare the GOP election to outsourcing jobs to India, and jokingly described Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as “cultists.”

Beck reacted with outrage on his Wednesday show. He accused Matthews of insulting the intelligence of Southern voters, and evoking “Mormon bigotry” in his comments. “The guy is a bigot, through and through,” Beck alleged.


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Glenn Beck Calls Chris Matthews ‘A Total And Complete Bigot’ Over Mormon Remarks

March 14, 2012


During last night’s primary results, Chris Matthews explained why Mitt Romney is doing as well as he is among conservatives despite being a Mormon, by comparing him to a computer technician in India, because “you don’t care who’s fixing it, just fix the damn computer.” On his show today, Glenn Beck (who is also a Mormon, mind you) responded to Matthews’ remarks, calling the MSNBC host a “total and complete bigot,” suggesting it’s part of a larger pattern of anti-Mormon bigotry on the part of not just Matthews but the media in general.


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Matthews likens Romney to ‘Indian’ or ‘Third World’ computer techs, says GOP is ‘outsourcing’ election to a Mormon

March 14, 2012

WTAM Radio (Ohio)

He also made a reference to the “three cultists” — who, for Matthews, are those running — two Catholics and a Mormon.


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Chris Matthews: Southern Haters Have to Choose Between ‘Cultists’ Romney and Santorum

March 14, 2012


Chris Matthews doesn’t think much of southerners. The Hardball anchor appeared on MSNBC’s primary night coverage, Tuesday, and mocked the supposed thought process of the Republican voters: “They’ve got three RCs, or two RCs- two Roman Catholics- running and a Mormon, so three cultists running, and they gotta pick one of the three cultists, as they see them.”


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Chris Matthews: The GOP Is ‘Willing To Outsource’ Election ‘To A Mormon’ (VIDEO)

March 14, 2012

Huffington Post

“They have three, or two RCs — Roman Catholics running and a Mormon so the three cultists running,” the MSNBC host put forth. “I have to pick one of the three cultists as they see them. This isn’t as funny as I’m making it, but it is ridiculous to pick a guy they really think is the other, the heretic, the Muslim, what a strangest of religious prejudice is at work here, they pick the guy they don’t like to pick a guy they hate worse.”


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Romney wins heavily Mormon American Samoa, Hawaii; Santorum takes Alabama, Mississippi

March 14, 2012

Gant Daily (Pennsylvania)

Romney won the caucus in Hawaii on Tuesday and is the projected winner in American Samoa, both places where the Mormon Church has a long-standing presence, many members and temples.

One in every 19 people in Hawaii is Mormon, while American Samoa is more than 25 percent Mormon. The Mormons first sent missionaries to American Samoa in 1843, only 13 years after the church was created.

However, Romney lost the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi where only 2 percent of the population is Mormon. Newt Gingrich came in ahead of Romney in both of those states while Paul trailed in the single digits everywhere but in Hawaii, where he came in third.


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Mormon Political Activism: a History

March 14, 2012


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon church, is officially politically neutral. It does not allow its meetinghouses or membership lists to be used for “partisan political purposes,” and does not officially endorse political parties or candidates.

It does reserve “the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences.” And according to the late Mormon apostle (later prophet) Ezra Benson — who was quoted twice by Mormon church leaders addressing the membership in worldwide General Conference in 2010 — “The [Mormon] prophet can receive revelation on any matter-temporal or spiritual,” and “the prophet may well advise on civic matters.” (This line was changed by the leaders who quoted him, to this: “The prophet may be involved in civic matters.)


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Barbour: Romney’s Faith Would Not Deter GOP November Voters

March 15, 2012


Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday presidential front-runner Mitt Romney’s faith might have cost him votes in this week’s southern primaries, but should he win the Republican nomination, “there will be 25,000 Southern Baptist preachers who will vote for a Mormon before they vote for Obama.”

“If you had asked me three months or six months ago: OK, you got a moderately conservative former Massachusetts governor who is a Mormon, what are his chances in Mississippi and Alabama, I would say those three M`s make a pretty tall mountain.” Barbour told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.

“And I think there is a likelihood that [Rick] Santorum`s faith and campaign counterpoised against the fact that Romney is a Mormon was worth some votes to Santorum, and cost Romney some votes here in Mississippi and Alabama — probably also in some other Southern states heretofore,” he said. “The main thing, though, I think, is, in the fall, there will be 25,000 Southern Baptist preachers who will vote for a Mormon before they vote for Obama.”


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Marriott reflects on 40 years leading hotel giant

March 14, 2012

Detroit Free Press (Michigan)

Q: How important should a candidate’s religion be?

A: It’s important that the candidate be a person of strong moral character. They should be true to their beliefs, whether it’s Protestant, born-again, Mormon, Jewish. There should be separation from church and state. When Kennedy was running, they didn’t want the pope to tell Jack Kennedy what to do. We don’t want the president of the Mormon church telling Mitt Romney what to do. If he’s president, he won’t. The Church is totally hands-off, politically. We want the country to understand that a Mormon in the White House is going to be just as effective as anybody else.

Q: You are a very active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How do you balance your religious beliefs with some of the desires of your guests?

A: I’ve always been concerned about (pornographic) movies in rooms. In the next three or four years, we won’t have any more of those. That’s something we’ve had a real problem with because the Church is very, very opposed to pornography, as it should be, and we are for families. But the owners of our hotels were making a lot of money. In fact, the only movies that make any money are pornography.


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“Holy Grail” of Mormon Paper Currency-Signed by Brigham Young to be offered in Baltimore

March 15, 2012

Coin Week

The highest Mormon Church officials gathered in January 1849 to finalize and circulate the most historic paper currency in their history.

Using Kirtland Safety Society Bank notes that were emitted in Ohio twelve years earlier, the notes were countersigned by the group for use in Salt Lake City and redeemable in gold. Placing their signatures on these notes were N.K. Whitney, Brigham Young, and Heber C, Kimball. Also penned on the notes are the “TB” mark of Thomas Bullock.


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Mormon Church hosts regional job fair March 27

March 14, 2012

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (California)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will host a regional job fair on March 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 6829 Etiwanda Ave.
About 40 employers serving the Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley will participate.

There is no fee or charge for employers or the public to attend.


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Railey: Who gets to define ‘Christian’?

March 15, 2012

Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia)

I’ve got something in common with Mitt Romney: I’m not a Christian.

Neither one of us are, in the eyes of many Christians. They don’t think Romney’s one because he’s a Mormon. And I’m a Quaker, which many Christians don’t consider a Christian denomination.

Mormons and Quakers think of themselves as Christians. Many Christians say otherwise, because Mormons have a number of beliefs that differ from mainstream Christianity, including the Book of Mormon, the scripture they follow in addition to the Bible. And Quakers lack a dogma that includes some of the basics of mainstream Christianity, such as a belief in the Trinity, even though many individual Quakers believe in it.

I can’t help wondering: Who really gets to decide?


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New Rules, Same Old Retail At Utah’s ‘Mormon Mall’

March 14, 2012

International Business Times

Finally, a mall the founder of the Mormon faith, Joseph Smith, could warm up to … though it may not be the best hang-out spot for your run-of-the-mill teenager.

The nation’s first “Mormon mall,” City Creek Center, will open March 22 in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The 700,000-square foot will be one of the only mega retail hubs to open in the U.S. within the last year, featuring many of the expected brand names — but a wholly new set of rules.

Sure, you can hit Macy’s, Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers and Tiffany & Co. all in one location, but leave the cigarettes at home, keep your wardrobe classy and forget about shopping on Sundays. The place will feature a code of conduct as extensive as its retail selection.

The “Rules of Conduct” were devised by the mall’s developer, Taubman Centers Inc. They include a moratorium on snarky T-shirts, photography and pamphleteering.


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A Megamall Backed By The Mormon Church Is Opening Next Week In Salt Lake City

March 14, 2012

Business Insider

It’s a risky venture building a megamall these days. But a new one set to open next week in Salt Lake City is expected to do quite well.

The City Creek Center is jointly backed by Taubman Centers, Inc. and the Mormon church, with a big investment from the latter (no pun intended), reports Kris Hudson in The Wall Street Journal.

The mall has already leased out 92 percent of its retail space, with tenants like Macy’s, Tiffany & Co., and the Gap.

What’s more, Hudson writes, City Creek is located right across the street from Mormon headquarters and features a creek similar to the one Mormon settlers lived off of.


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Mormon baptism an act of kindness

March 14, 2012

Worcester Telegram and Gazette (Massachusetts)

Recently the press described the Mormon’s baptism of generations past, specifically when it involved people of other religions.

I am a practicing, synagogue-attending Jewess, and I see no problem with their genealogical effort. If Mormons believe their baptisms assure my progenitors’ entrance into heaven, then I say “thank you.” Likewise, when my father was dying, our Catholic friends lit candles and prayed for him. My family felt sincere gratitude.

In no way do I feel my beliefs or Jewishness has been blunted by their acts of kindness.


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Mormon FAIR-Cast 79: Does Mitt Romney belong to a “racist religion”?

March 14, 2012


In this episode of Religion Today that originally aired on March 11, 2012, Martin Tanner and the president of FAIR, Scott Gordon, discuss the recent allegation of a Florida minister that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a “racist religion.” The minister has called on Mitt Romney to, as the minister puts it: “openly renounce his racist Mormon Religion.” Tanner and Gordon discuss the past history of racism that was pervasive in many Churches, even before the founding of the LDS Church, and the way in which some racist attitudes and myths may have crept into the thinking of some early members of the Church. They emphasize the more recent statements from the Church that “unequivocally condemn[] racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.”


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