The Mitt Romney whom many Americans see today is often depicted as wealthy, wooden and out of touch with the working class. To some, he seems gaffe prone, detached, even distant.
But that's not the man Boston Mormons knew in the late 1980s and early '90s, when many saw him as an eloquent speaker, a compassionate counselor and a creative problem-solver, generous with his money and quick to help any in need.
Are the two guys related?
A simmering interreligious controversy resurfaced recently with the news that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had posthumously ``baptized'' a number of deceased Jews, including Daniel Pearl, Anne Frank, the parents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, and evidently an unknown number of others.
The case of Mr. Pearl is particularly revealing, and holds important questions for Americans' ongoing experiment in religious pluralism.
Pearl, while on assignment for The Wall Street Journal, was beheaded in 2002 by a radical Pakistani group connected to al-Qaida. Moments before his death, he declared: ``My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish. My family follows Judaism.''
Mitt Romney has trounced Rick Santorum, an ardent Catholic, among Catholic voters, but Romney's support among evangelicals has wavered thus far in the GOP presidential primary, according to a new analysis of exit poll data.
Though he won evangelicals in two states, in general Romney has performed 15 percentage points better among non-evangelicals, according to an analysis released March 2 by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Exit poll data is available in seven of the 11 states that have held primary contests to date, according to the Pew Forum. More detailed religious affiliations are available in six of those states.
White evangelicals formed more than a third of all GOP primary voters in each state except for Nevada (24 percent) and New Hampshire (21 percent). Romney, a Mormon, won the evangelical vote in those two states, and nearly tied for first in Arizona and Florida. But he lost the evangelical vote badly in three states: Michigan, Iowa and South Carolina.
Somewhat surprisingly, Santorum has not won the Catholic vote in a single state in which data is available, according to the Pew Forum.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mitt Romney’s position on the Detroit auto bailout and health care plan have been blasted, but a pollster suggests one issue not often discussed on the campaign trail this year could end up costing him Tuesday's Michigan primary victory: his Mormon faith.
EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn said the former Massachusetts governor’s faith hasn’t been as big of a topic as it was when he sought the nomination in 2008.
But Porn said on WGVU’s “West Michigan Week” that his polls show that 7 percent of the Republicans tallied said they wouldn’t vote for Romney because he is a Mormon – and the actual number might be higher.
With a race that could be decided by less than 5 percent, that could be a problem for Romney, he said.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has apologized for a Mormon who baptized the late parents of famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal. But despite calls this week from Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel (and others) to rethink the controversial rite, the church is unlikely to drop it entirely.
Latter-day Saints trace posthumous baptism to the Apostle Paul, who wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:29, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" Mormons believe that Joseph Smith, their faith's founding prophet, restored the apostolic practice after centuries of neglect by mainstream Christians.
Proxy baptism was also Smith's answer to a classic Christian conundrum: What happens to people who, through no fault of their own, did not join the church during their earthly lifetime? Should they be barred from heaven?
Mormons believe that vicarious baptisms give the deceased, who exist in the afterlife as conscious spirits, a final chance to join the Mormon fold, and thus gain access to the Celestial Kingdom. To Mormons, only members of the LDS priesthood possess the power to baptize.
When Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney released his federal tax returns for the past two years, he disclosed that he and his wife, Ann, gave about 10 percent of their income to their church, a well-known religious practice called tithing.
In that way, the Romneys are typical Mormons, members of a church that is exceptionally serious about the Old Testament mandate to give away one-tenth of one's income.
But compared to other religious Americans, the Romneys and other Mormons are fairly atypical when it comes to passing the plate. Across the rest of the religious landscape, tithing is often preached but rarely realized.
Research into church donations shows a wide range of giving, with Mormons among the most generous relative to income, followed by conservative Christians, mainline Protestants and Catholics last.
Over the past 34 years, Americans' generosity to all churches has been in steady decline, in good times and in bad, said Sylvia Ronsvalle, whose Illinois-based Empty Tomb Inc. tracks donations to Protestant churches.
Ronsvalle's research shows that since 1968, contributions have slowly slumped from 3.11 percent of income to 2.38 percent, despite gains in prosperity.
In her view, churches have failed "to call people to invest in a much larger vision." She believes that explains why giving to missions, distant anti-poverty programs or faraway ministries has sunk faster than giving for the needs of local congregations.
A Mormon student surfs the Internet for a school assignment and discovers that Mormon founder Joseph Smith had multiple wives, even marrying a 14 year old.
A returned Mormon missionary, preparing a Sunday school lesson, comes across a website alleging that the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from a novel.
Surprised by what they find so easily online, more and more Mormons are encountering crises of faith. Some even leave the fold and, feeling betrayed, join the ranks of Mormon opponents.
It's a growing problem, acknowledges Marlin Jensen, the outgoing historian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it's one Mormon leaders are working to confront.
"Never before have we had this information age, with social networking and bloggers publishing unvetted points of view," Jensen said. "The church is concerned about misinformation and distorted information, but we are doing better and trying harder to get our story told in an accurate way."
The church "has made no effort to hide or obscure its history," Jensen said, but some aspects — such as polygamy — "haven't been emphasized often because they were not necessarily germane to what is taught at present."
Can the LDS church do better to explain its history, even to its own members? Sure, Jensen said.
In 1884, Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Parker Romney, fled to Mexico from Utah. Miles Parker Romney was a practicing polygamist and he wanted to protect his family from persecution. Mitt Romney’s father was born in Mexico, his family returned to the United States and took up residence in Michigan.
While Romney wouldn’t agree with his ancestor’s practice of polygamy, I am sure he understands his great-grandfather’s desire to do what he thought best for his family. Luckily for Miles Parker Romney, there was a country that allowed his family to settle and try and find a better life.
What is unfortunate is that candidate Romney doesn't seem to have that same kind of empathy for families today who are also in difficult positions.
Tomorrow, New Hampshire votes. If there is one thing that I can tell you about my home state that might give insight into tomorrow’s voting, it is this:
It’s the only state in the country with the “right to revolution” written into it’s constitution. (Check it out, it’s article 10 in the N.H. bill of rights.)
The old Yankees of New Hampshire don’t like being told who to vote for. And, they especially don’t want to be told who should get their vote by anyone who works for a cable news company.
Remember how Obama was supposed to go on from Iowa to take New Hampshire sealing up the Democratic nomination? If they could throw a wrench into the GOP nomination process, I’m sure New Hampshirites would be proud to do so.
Newt Gingrich’s Iowa political director resigned yesterday after less than a week on the job for disparaging comments he made about the Mormon faith, referring to the religion as a “cult.”
The Gingrich campaign released a written statement last night about Bergman’s resignation.
“Craig Bergman agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012 today,” the statement said. “He made a comment to a focus group prior to becoming an employee that is inconsistent with Newt 2012’s pledge to run a positive and solutions orientated campaign.”
Did Jesus ever withhold love or healing for fear that he would give up too much of himself?
Did Jesus ever worry that the nature of God would change if he ate at certain tables, or touched certain kinds of people?
Of course not.
The Bible tells us that Jesus continually stepped out of the normative comfort zones of his day to extend his message of radical reconciliation.
I realized that my hesitation to embrace all people interested in an interfaith vision was mostly about my own fear, my own lack of faith. There was nothing Christ-like about it.
FoxNews shuns pro-immigrant voices. How do we repair souls returning from the war? Does Christianity translate into public policy? Lobbyists role in 2012 fundraising. Oakland mayor promises "minimal police presence" at OWS protests. Cain says he doesn't need to know foreign policy details. And only 40 percent of Americans correctly identify Romney as Mormon.
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West on poverty. The Value Voters Summit. U.S. Catholic Bishops remind Catholic voters about church teaching. Perry supporter calls Mormonism a "cult." Ron Paul wins Value Voter straw poll, with Cain in second place. Mitt Romney and religious bigotry. Ghana church says poverty "causes" homosexuality. Fox News attacks Lily the new Sesame Street poverty Muppet as "liberal bull." And Newt Gingrich says candidates are "not running for theologian-in-chief."