90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mormons Consider What Romney Nomination Means For Faith

Mike Winder (left), LDS church member, and Carolyn Melby, a delegate from Frederick, Maryland and a convert to Mormonism, joined Robin on Radio Row in Tampa, Florida. (Here & Now)

As she introduces her husband to delegates at the Republican National Convention tonight, Ann Romney may talk about how her family’s Mormon faith shapes their lives.

For the first time the Romney campaign invited a handful of reporters to attend a Church of Latter-day Saints service with the Romneys a couple of weeks ago.

And top aides say Mitt Romney welcomes a chance to talk about his faith, and his role as bishop in the church, in his acceptance speech Thursday night. Mormons are nervous, and excited.

Mormon members of Utah’s delegation crated hygiene bags for charity Monday at the RNC. (Meghan Keane/Here & Now)

Utah delegate Deidre Henderson said she sees the spotlight on the faith positively.

“As people become more familiar with the faith, there’s maybe the kind of shroud of mystery or secrecy… that will be largely stripped away, and I think that’s a positive thing,” she said. “We’re pretty much just like everyone else except we just don’t drink alcohol.”

But how much should that shroud be lifted?

Prominent Mormon Sen. Orrin Hatch tells Politico it will distract from the party message on the economy. But columnist Ross Douthat is one of many political pundits urging Romney to open up. He says Romney’s role as a caring bishop will collapse the image of him as a conviction-free mannequin.

Utah Delegates Do Charity At RNC

Meanwhile, Mormon members of the Utah delegation in Tampa were busy Monday putting together kits of soap, toothbrushes and towels for Tampa’s LDS Church’s Bishop’s Storehouse, for members in need.

“We have an extra day here with the convention being canceled on Monday so we stepped up and we’re doing 1,000 sanitary kits that could be used in hurricanes. It’s about doing what Christ would do and that’s serving the people around you,” Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright said.

Utah Rep. Brad Dee said they call it “charity never faileth.”


  • Carolyn Melby, a delegate from Frederick, Maryland and a convert to Mormonism
  • Mike Winder, LDS church member and  mayor of West Valley City, Utah, who is blogging about the convention from Tampa. He is author of a church history titled “President and Prophets, the Story of American Presidents and Latter Day Saints”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • J__o__h__n

    Don’t forget the church’s work to deny equal rights to gays with their backing of Prop 8 in CA.  This is as shameful as their pre 1978 position on blacks. 

    • Curious in Oregon

       Mormons are like any religion in its formation…there is a part that is Word of God and then the scribes keep writing.  They reflect the society from which they spring.  In Mormons, of course Blacks were not liked in their formation time and they were considered non-human to three fifths humans, depending upon your source.  It took a modern dream of a prophet to correct this.  Examine their view on usury.  Mormons were formed in a high inflation time, so there is no restriction on usury, as interest charged was often below real returns.  (Contrast that to Muslims, as Muhammad wrote at the end of a 400 year period where gold was worth more to the son than to the father, so no interest w/should be charged.)  So combing out the word of scribes versus the Word of God is a fun thing in comparing religions and their documents of “faith.”

      • E B

        Actually, Joseph Smith and the early Saints were abolitionists, and the Latter-day Saints haven’t practiced segregation at any time in their history. Priesthood restrictions aren’t without precedent either: in the Bible only the tribe of Levi of Israel’s twelve tribes.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/XJYNHR7RQMAUAPHLCXBN3PPCJY Louis

          True, the early years of Mormonism were antil-slavery, but not beyond reproach; black people were believed descendants of an ancient tribe, their skin color a curse from god.

          Blacks were denied priesthood for 100 years after Joseph Smith’s death in 1877. 

          Saying the LDS didn’t practice “segregation”, while technically correct, is spurious at best. And, pointing out that the Bible restricts priesthood is meaningless. The Bible also lays out clear rules for slavery, but that hardly makes it right.

          • rippinsteo

            You said, “…black people were believed descendants of an ancient tribe, their skin color a curse from god.”

            Sadly this belief was rather wide-spread across religious denominations and various segments of society.

            Joseph Smith died in 1844.

            You said, “..pointing out that the Bible restricts priesthood is meaningless. The Bible also lays out clear rules for slavery, but that hardly makes it right.”

            Your analysis suffers from presentism–judging the past by today’s cultural norms.

        • Sophlady

          You are lying.  Many leading segregationists in the West were both Mormons and John Birchers.   Mormon Prophet Ezra Taft  Benson left a wealth of racist writings, most of which are available on the Internet.  LDS fought to maintain segregation as late as the late 1970s.

          The Book of Mormon itself describes people of color as cursed, and many Mormons still embrace that belief.

      • J__o__h__n

        There is no word of god.  It is all made up. 

        • FarmerMike

           Then look at the core beliefs and separate them from the historical reflection of the time.  One does not have to “believe” to examine and question.  I find it a good logical tack to get past true literalists who would claim every word that of God.  When you can show words were in historical context–just like kosher food rules fitting the foods available around the Red Sea–one can gain a sense of humor while discussing religion…a facet sorely missing in most such discussions.

      • rippinsteo

        You said, “In Mormons, of course Blacks were not liked in their formation time and they were considered non-human to three fifths humans..”  

        That has never been a binding doctrine upon membership of the LDS Church for  belief and practice.

      • Sophlady

        The Mormons did not allow blacks full membership in LDS until 1978.  That is a far cry from “formation time” and 1776.  

  • Info

    I wonder if there are any Mormons who will not be supporting Romney because they don’t agree with his policies, regardless of his membership  in their religion. The image we get is of a monolithic base that does what they are told. Is this accurate?

    • E B

      Of course there are Mormons not supporting Romney: Harry Reid the chief among them. The LDS Church maintains strict political neutrality and does not endorse parties or candidates. They do, as you know, take a position on the social issue of the definition of marriage. The Church reminds its members toresearch the issues and candidates as they prepare to vote. I think some 65% are Republican? Romney does enjoy even more support than by party lines (I think up to 85% of American Mormons), no doubt because independents and some liberals who like his business record and trust him because of their shared faith.

  • guest

    Romney No.  Two reasons: 1) I live in MA, he was a non-person as governor, he “ruled” as he saw fit without reference to the legislators.  2) the mormon thing…he grew up in the days when mormons, I would say, rabidly propounded the “blacks are inferior, blacks are made to be slaves, it says so in the bible….” party line.  Do we really believe that this thinking magically went away in 1978? 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/XJYNHR7RQMAUAPHLCXBN3PPCJY Louis

      The LDS’s foundation is built on things magically appearing and
      disappearing. You just have to turn off your brain, and believe.  

      Mormons think the outside world will buy the BS as easily as they
      do. Sadly, the American populace is forgetting how to ask questions…

      The LDS constantly demonstrates intolerance and ignorance, calls it “Christ-like” then points to its PR “charity work” for misdirection.  Shameful.

      • rippinsteo

        You said, “The LDS’s foundation is built on things magically appearing and 

        Nope, no one believes that anything magical happened in the founding of the LDS Church. Either it actually happened or it did not.

        Asking questions is one thing. How carefully the answers are considered is something else.  The faithful LDS members endeavor to embody unconditional, “Christ-like” love. And of course there is much yet for everyone to learn on how that looks.

    • guest

      The thinking that blacks were inferior did not exist among most members even in 1978, yes there were some who actually left the church because of the change but you will find bigoted people in every religion or atheist group.  As for me and my family we celebrated for days and we are white as they come.  I grew up in Montana and did not even see a black person until I was in 8th grade.  My grandmother grew up in Mississippi during the depression and always told us the story of the one time in her life when her father slapped her, she had called the son of the cook a n****r when she was 5 years old.  Her father struck her and then took her on his knee and taught her that she was never to use that word again and that all people were children of God and were to be treated the same.  Pretty good for a man living in southern Mississippi in the 20′s.

    • rippinsteo

      You said, “..when mormons, I would say, rabidly propounded the “blacks are inferior, blacks are made to be slaves, it says so in the bible….” party line.”

      Such beliefs were never binding upon LDS Church members for belief and practice. And, yes, such thinking is much more rare among LDS members today.

  • Curious in Oregon

    Romney and religion has had many errors in its discussion.  First, this is not the first  “Non-Protestant”  slate.  Any man that was from the Church of England and its offspring is technically not from a Protestant church, as Henry VIII was not the start of the Protestant church formations, Martin Luther was.   (The political key then in these folks is that they were “not Catholics” over that they were Protestants. )  Nor is Romney the first Presidential candidate–he is the first Republican Mormon candidate–in his faith.  That started with the founder, Joseph Smith, whose political acts and mentions of running for the Presidency may have been a part of why he was killed.

    I would be curious, as I’m not a scholar, in “Do the Muslims recognize the Mormon Prophet?”  They recognize Christ, for example, as a prophet, but not the son of God.  I would assume not, as they seem to be nasty to prophets that came after the time of  Muhammad, like the prophet of the Baha’i faith.

    A whole new area to fact check….

    • J__o__h__n

      No, their prophet is the last one and his message is perfect so no more are needed. 

  • Rparker

    I just listened to your show on Romney’s religious faith and I am appalled by the lack of critical questioning or analysis. It was like an infomercial lovefest for Romney and Mormonism, all fluff and platitudes and lacking any substance. I usually appreciate this program and certainly I expect more from Robin Young, Here and Now, and NPR.

    • rippinsteo

      That’s ok–NPR and much of the rest of the liberal-leaning media have indulged in a four year long lovefest for Obama with interviews being mostly “…all fluff and platitudes and lacking any substance.”

  • Adam_Washington

    Please inform your audience that a “bishop” in the Mormon church is akin to a pastor of a Protestant congregation, not a bishop in the Roman Catholic church.

  • E B

    One point to think about: just because Romney “comes across” to the media and Democrats as wooden, uncaring, or anything else deragueatory doesn’t mean he’s really like that. Just as the GOP is not who the liberal media says they are, Romney is not who they make him out to be. All the personal accounts of him that I’ve found have praised his kindness, genuine interest, compassion, humility, and friendliness. Read both sides because both sides leave stuff out. How can you make an informed opinion of anyone or anything with only one viewpoint?

  • komodoman

    So, the Mayor hopes that his daughters will someday be President of the United States, but they are not allowed to lead within the LDS?

    • J__o__h__n

      Women’s rights tend to trail rights of blacks so maybe in another 34 years . . .

    • rippinsteo

      Women do not hold priesthood leadership positions within the LDS church but they do hold leadership positions in the auxiliary organizations such as the Relief Society.

  • Nelg

    As a non-Morman who grew up in a Morman community, I feel angry when I hear Mormans complain about being ostracized because of their religion.  In elementary school I was called a “devil” because I was the only one that wasn’t Morman [the teacher had asked for a show of hands of who was LDS].  My brother wasn’t allowed to say the prayer at Boys Scouts because he didn’t say it right.  My best friend in high school had to meet with her bishop because he’d found out she was friends with a non-Morman.  She was told to stop being my friend!  It was tough living among them.

    • oldwww

      I couldn’t agree more.  I lived in Ogden for a year and could not take it anymore… if you weren’t lds (the first question usually asked was ‘what ward do you belong to’) then you were the ‘other’.  I had a friend who moved because lds parents would not allow their young children to associate with his children, folks at work assumed I was gay because I was single with no children; I actually went back to Catholic mass to interact with non lds people…  it is very cultish and it is reflected in every aspect of their personal/professional lives.  I am not a minority (yet), however, during my time in Utah I believe I had just a very small sense of what minorities must feel like in some parts of this country.  I could go on ad infinitum, however, I believe you get the picture.    I was was so relieved to transfer out.  I will say I did not have this experience with the majority of other lds in Las Vegas… they were powerful there though.  Idaho, same as Utah.  

    • rippinsteo

      It is most unfortunate you were treated that way. Such behavior is not in keeping with Mormon teachings.

  • not a cristian

    I’m just saying that to an outsider, this discussion as to who is a Protestant, and who isn’t is really not important to a lot of us…Every single president and VP has been Christian.  To those of us who are not, the rest is just a detail, and we couldn’t care less.

    • FarmerMike

       Well now, let’s look at Muslims and their civil/secular war between those who believe the line should past father to son (like The Temple once did in Israel before the 66ad war) or merit (basically Christ’s teachings)  an argument that goes back to the time of the death of Muhammad.  Then there are the happy Sufi groups being pulled into the mess.  At least Christians are not warring too much any more over such details, as they got tired of fighting over them.

  • Chris A Curry

    The question about Mormonism may only turn people away from Romney.  But the truth about this election is the same as any presidential election (due to the magnitude of votes used to elect a president):  do you want more Obama or not?  If not, unfortunately, Romney is the only ELECTABLE option.

  • 5thcolumnist

    Why is it that of ALL modern Western nations (meaning Europe, Canada, Mexico, Japan, etc.) the United States is the ONLY one to have to drag the personal religious beliefs of its political candidates and policymakers to showcase for everyone to see/scrutinize/doubt?! The only other countries doing so are the Muslim-dominated ones, which places us in such lovely company in the 21st century, doesn’t it…?
    Religion is a highly personal matter – or really ought to be – and the U.S. electorate as well as those elected to govern should shed those pretensions of piety and comparison to others, and get back to the business of substantive governance. I simply could not care less what Mormons do, or anyone else does, unless their actions reflect religious motivations of an extreme nature.

    • J__o__h__n

      Agreed but they are forcing their beliefs on the rest of us – prop 8. 

      • 5thcolumnist

        Agreed – that is what I meant by “actions (that) reflect religious motivations of an extreme nature”.

        • Vanessa D

          Why do the actions have to “…reflect religious motivations of an extreme nature”? Extreme? Actions by a US President that are based on ANY religious motivation, extreme or not, have no place in American policy.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/XJYNHR7RQMAUAPHLCXBN3PPCJY Louis

      Your last sentence basically sums it up.

      Unfortunately, religious [and irrational] beliefs have dictated policy decisions in the U.S. for some time now, so they’re fair game, and need to be aired out.

    • guest

      You need a little more education – in India you have to apply to the government to change your religion because they are worried about which group will have the most power and it is all based on religion.  Study the politics in most countries and you will see that religion has a lot more to do with what is going on than most people know.    At least  in this country we have the freedom to do so without being killed or put in prison.

  • bellbird

    Wondering if Romney becomes president will he ban all alcohol from the White House (e.g. at State dinners)?   If Mormons are against the consumption of alcohol seems like he’d have to. Jimmy Carter took alot of grief for banning hard liquor but at least they served beer and wine!

    • J__o__h__n

      And Jimmy legalized home brewing. 

    • guest

      When Mitt was young their family had an exchange student living with them, the exchange student smoked and was allowed to smoke in his bedroom.  That is more than I would allow in my home.   I don’t think he will force his beliefs on anyone.

      • J__o__h__n

        How big was their house?

    • Starlam

      Here is something to ponder, I personally know a Bishop of a ward in Richmond VA that owns a Wine and Beer distributorship, I have asked several members about this and the response is the same “as long as he does not partake its fine” I really question this…. Thoughts anyone?

  • My Two Bits

    The Mormon woman who was a guest on today’s show said that Romney is “attuned to the needs” of Americans.  Romney doesn’t realize that — like it or not — sometimes a woman, for her own reasons, needs an abortion.   And like it or not, access to safe, legal abortion is still a legal right in the USA.  When abortion is no longer legal, it will no longer be safe, and any woman who needs an abortion — for her OWN reasons — will be exposed to the risks of undertaking an  unsafe procedure, like my grandmother who died at age 34 from an illegal abortion (the only form of abortion available in the 1930s).  Is illegalizing abortion really “pro life”?  Think again about that. 

  • Mooker

    I am so glad that HereandNow was able to talk about this topic with an unbiased and objective approach. They talked with actual members of the church and did so respectfully, without touching on combative issues. NPR and HereandNow are class-acst. Thank you so much NPR! I listen to you every day! 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7VIOWLLGHORQMNDEO4CFID6VSI Kaliga

    That sharon, teaparty lady was one angry woman.  She was unable to speak intelligently about ANY of the issues and only able to repeat the same ole talking points from the teaparty!   At the end when she was informed the ryan plan would take from medicare, she admitted she knew nothing.  What loser!  Why would Robin speak to someone so ill-imformed?   She is smarter than that.  I guess American’s can thank Robin for showing the teaparty really doesn’t have a clue about what is really happening, they ONLY know how to repeat talking points!

  • Ayaksich

    Anxious to hear the entire peice when it appears in the podcast feed. I caught the tail end about the role of our sisters in the church. They are a powerful group in Christlike works and faith! Charity never faileth” mentioned in this article is the motto of the LDS Relief Society, possibly the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. I wonder what Ann Romney’s focus will be. Can you imagine a first lady who’s focus is charity and service?

    • J__o__h__n

      “Can you imagine a first lady who’s focus is charity and service?” — What do you think Michelle Obama has been doing for the past three years, dressage?

      • Ayaksich

        Mostly growing cabbage, taking vacations, telling her husband not to smoke, and telling my kids to not get fat like their dad.

        • Vanessa D

          Your post is revealing your ignorance or your hatred…or both.

  • Ayaksich

    Anxious to hear the entire piece when it appears in the podcast feed. I caught the tail end about the role of our sisters in the church. They are a powerful group in Christlike works and faith! Charity never faileth” mentioned in this article is the motto of the LDS Relief Society, possibly the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. I wonder what Ann Romney’s focus will be. Can you imagine a first lady who’s focus is charity and service?

  • Greg

    As Americans we, in our culture, don’t often discuss religious beliefs. Robin, what religion are you and what do you believe about an afterlife? Religion may be a major or minor part of your life, but we don’t normally talk about in normal conversation because it is personal. When you want to be President of the US a person’s religion is something we expect to know about. President Obama was expected to explain whether or not he was a Christian and explain comments made by Rev. Wright (I think was his name). Governor Romney should at least be able to articulate his beliefs that are part of his life, that’s what running for president is now. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) I know we may sometimes be judged unfairly, such as my daughter not being allowed to play with another little girl when her mom found out she was Mormon. I thought judging President Obama, not by his actions, but by what Rev Wright said was a little unfair as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leondberg Leon D Berg

    As a former Mormon/LDS member who is still very involved with the study of Mormonism as a member ofCommunity of Christ - I loved Robin’s questions, But I think the LDS folks didnt really answer some of them. The convert LDS woman doesnt really know how (based on her answers) how the Bishop’s Storehouse works. It’s run by Bishops (men) not women. The only time a woman is involved in the process is when the male bishop delegates the female Relief Society president to assess the applicants needs, but ultimately the bishop makes the final call.

  • Boston Greek

    Visited the LDS Temple in Lexington, MA last week where Mitt and Ann Romney attend. Have driven by often and wanted to finally see it up close. Friendly folks greeted me but seemed narrow minded and intolerant of other religions. I wasn’t allowed into the worship area because of being “unclean.” John 1:7 tells us that “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” As a Greek Orthodox I believe this and know I have been cleaned by His blood and am not “unclean”. All I wanted to do was to go in and say a prayer and feel closer to God like I have done in many other churches and temples , Catholic, Congregationalist, Methodist, Presbytarian. Anglican, and Jewish. Never have I been denied the ability to commune with God prior to this. If Romney should be elected I hope he brings a more open mind to the Presidency than I was offered by his congregation.

    • DD

      This is preposterous and I feel certain it did not happen as it is described. I cannot imagine that anyone on duty at the temple called him “unclean.”  I suspect this is made up or completely misunderstanding of what was said to him when he asked to enter.  Admittance to the Temple after it is dedicated and operating is for members of the church in good standing and holding what is called a “temple recommend” from their bishop (pastor).  From my experience of 47 years going to various temples, those who have assignments there are kind, thoughtful and peaceful.  A non-member attempting to enter would have been treated with greatest of courtesy.  And without any suggestion that the person wanting to enter was unclean or unloved or anything other than a child of God.

      • Boston Greek

        Let me clarify part of my initial statement. The LDS greeters at the temple were gracious, hospitable, and very polite.  While not allowed into the Temple, they did not say it was because I was unclean.  It was  after visiting the Temple, that I went to “ask a mormon dot com” to find out why I wasn’t admitted.  There I found the statement:

         “1) Temples are considered Houses of the Lord, places we can go to commune with God, and no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God. So we preserve the sanctity of the house of God by certifying (through local bishops) that people entering in are obeying God’s commandments and living in such a way that they will not offend the Holy Spirit in the temple.” 

        Hence, my assumption I wasn’t allowed in because of being “unclean”. I should add, I think Latter Day Saints blessing diseased members from all religions to ensure they meet what LDS folks think is the path to heaven is a noble undertaking.  I don’t agree with this belief but see no harm in them doing so.

        By way of clarification, I am a Massachusetts Republican who voted for Mitt Romney as our Governor and for Scott Brown as our Senator. 

      • Boston Greek

        Excuse my spelling in my last transmission.  I meant deceased not diseased (big difference).

  • Dottie Rollins

    I am not a Mormon, however I was very uncomfortable with Robin’s interview with Mike Winder and Carolyn Melby.  Instead of asking more open-ended questions, giving them a chance to go deeply into their faith and life in the church, she asked questions that often put them on the defensive.  She came across as skeptical, even critical, of their beliefs.  While I recognize many of the questions reflected those of others, using them as a basis for an interview did not help me to better understand them.

    • J__o__h__n

      The media are supposed to be skeptical. 

  • Bantasu

    Today I listened to part of the discussion regarding Mormonism.  A statement by the mayor of a city in Utah (sorry I came in late to the discussion) that Mitt Romeny would bring family values, community service, to the White House made me as angry as any of the many horrible things that are being said about President Obama.  This statement incinuated that those values were not currently being displayed by President Obama.  I challenge anyone to find a President who better exemplifies these values.  Regardless of what you think of his policies, he is surely as good a role model in this area as you could ever find.  AND his community service is to all people, not just those who share his particular religious beliefs.

    • dave mcfarland

      I dare say
      Romney has spent ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE (10 times, 100 times) more of his own time
      and his own money helping people in a unpaid, real, meaningful and effective
      ways than Obama ever dreamed of in his up at 10, go play golf, pick-someone-else’s-pocket-to-do-my-service

  • http://www.stonybrook.edu/mormons-media J.R.

    For context on this issue, check out the new online resource “Mormons in the Media, 1830–2012,” created by a prize-winning historian.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deshawn.crawford3 DeShawn Phi Nu Crawford

    Might as well put us back in the stone age. I bet he has his “Klan” robe nice and pressed.

    • whatupdude

      Wow – I actually know southern Baptist with those “nicely pressed robes”  obviously you are prejudiced because you are one of those who voted for the Celebrity in Chief because he is black

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

August 21 20 Comments

The Challenges Of Recruiting An All-Volunteer Army

The Army is meeting its targets, but the man who runs recruiting says finding qualified candidates in the 17 to 24 age group can be difficult.

August 21 Comment

Syrian Clarinetist Finds A Home For His Music

"Does the clarinet stop a bullet or does it feed a child or does it rebuild a destroyed home?" Kinan Azmeh asks. "Of course it doesn't. But... it can inspire."

August 20 Comment

James Foley Remembered For His ‘Extraordinary Courage’

U.S. officials have confirmed the authenticity of a video showing the beheading of the American journalist.

August 20 6 Comments

L.A. Moves To Arrest Fewer Misbehaving Students

The change in the school district's policy is the culmination of a long fight by judges, government officials, advocates and attorneys.