Can a Mormon now be president?

By Julia Duin Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith was widely viewed by analysts as a chief obstacle to his 2008 run … Continued

By Julia Duin


Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith was widely viewed by analysts as a chief obstacle to his 2008 run for president. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

What a difference three years makes.

In the run-up to the 2008 election, one of the big questions was whether a Mormon could be elected as president. The percentages of voters who would not vote for a Mormon had already dropped 13 percentage points from 35 percent to 22 percent from Dec. 2006 to Dec. 2007.

Still, 22 percent was a lot, especially among evangelical Protestants, who have significant theological differences with Mormons and who don’t believe Mormons are Christians. Despite sites such as Evangelicalsformitt.org, Romney never caught on with this group.

But the Mormon brand got a boost yesterday with the resignation of U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who seems eager to test the waters of a presidential run. This religious group is very fertile ground for a challenge to President Obama. In September, a Gallup survey showed that Mormons were the religious group the least likely to support Obama’s policies. Only 24 percent approve of the chief executive, the Salt Lake Tribune says.


This August 22, 2009 file photo shows Ambassador Jon Huntsman as he speaks to the media during a news briefing at his residence in Beijing. Huntman learned Mandarin for his Latter-day Saints mission in Taiwan. Photo: Liu Jin/ Getty Images

The general public seems to be getting more tolerant of Mormons. Eighteen months ago, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said said Romney’s ratings rose after the 2008 election where Romney was viewed unfavorably by 44 percent of the general populace and favorably by 30 percent. By June 2009, those figures had dropped to 28 percent unfavorably vs 40 percent favorably.

If Romney thinks he’s got more traction now, he has Fox News host Glenn Beck to thank. In one swoop, Beck managed to sweep away every last vestige of evangelical resistance to Romney when he included a long list of evangelicals, conservative Catholics and conservative Jews in his “Restoring Honor” rally last summer. People like Jerry Falwell Jr. said at the time that Beck’s Mormonism is “irrelevant” to evangelicals like him.

Many evangelical insiders wondered why it took a Mormon convert to assemble 240 Christian leaders as a “Black Robe Regiment” for national revival. Beck’s prominence pointed to a dearth of evangelical leadership willing to embark on similar bold and audacious moves. Beck was at least willing to step out and lead, for which evangelicals were grateful.

Maybe all this goodwill applies to Romney as well?

And so the potential 2012 – and maybe 2016 candidate if Obama looks like he can hang on for a second term – is showing up at next weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference. In fact, he’s not just appearing, he’s being given a prime spot at 10 a.m. Friday to speak.

Like Richard Nixon, what voters don’t like today, they might like four years from now. No doubt Romney’s hoping that’s true for him.

Will Huntman and Romney’s Mormonism be politically problematic if they decide to run for president?

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  • volkmare

    WMARKWstupid ideas???I think not.Mark

  • areyousaying

    Elder Beck is a fine example of Mormonism. He reminds me of all their school yard bullies I grew up with in Utah.

  • edbyronadams

    I’m searching the On Faith archives for the article questioning whether a Mormon should be majority leader but failing to find one.Strange, isn’t it?

  • WmarkW

    and TODAY is exactly FOUR-4-YEARS WHEN WE[i] Started Blogging on Newsweek.WAPO.”ONFAITH”!And I haven’t understood a damn word you’ve said.

  • WmarkW

    I’m searching the On Faith archives for the article questioning whether a Mormon should be majority leader but failing to find one.

  • areyousaying

    I’m searching the On Faith archives for the article questioning whether a Mormon should be majority leader but failing to find one.Strange, isn’t it?Posted by: edbyronadamsHow about Sharon Angle and her “pastor”?

  • willemkraal

    OH JEZUS PLEEZE WE WILL VOTE FOR A MORMON BUT HE WILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN SOME DETAIL OF THIS VERY WEIRD HOMOPHOBIC RELIGION.

  • wiki-truth

    and TODAY is exactly FOUR-4-YEARS WHEN WE[i] Started Blogging on Newsweek.WAPO.”ONFAITH”! Eeeeee Haaaaaa!

  • WmarkW

    I am a staunch secularist who is a regular on Jacoby’s board.Mitt Romney is my prefered Presidential candidate, despite belonging to a cult that Sam Harris described as “Christianity, plus some very stupid ideas.”I hope that all the secular advocates who kept telling us in 2008 that a Presidential candidate’s religious affiliation doesn’t matter, won’t forget it when Romney is nominated.

  • Jumpy66

    What, then, is your criteria for getting into the Christianity club. Obviously a belief in the bible and the divinity of Jesus don’t cut it.Again, I’m not attempting to discredit Romney’s competency for the office of President. (He seems intellectually capapble to me.) Nor, am I saying that a Mormon (or an atheist for that matter) couldn’t be President. I’m only saying that Mormanism isn’t Christianity; they don’t even use the same Bible.

  • Freestinker

    “I’m only saying that Mormanism isn’t Christianity; they don’t even use the same Bible.”=========Jumpy66,Hate to break it to ya but in America, if you say you’re Christian then you are. That’s all it takes when you have the religious freedom we have here.No particular dogma or doctrine is ever required, just your word and your word alone is all it takes!

  • usapdx

    WHY NOT? VOTERS SHOULD KEEP THEIR RELIGION TO THEIR SELF. The person running for office is what counts, not the religion that person has or does not have. I WILL VOTE FOR THE PERSON AND KEEP RELIGION OUT OF MY VOTE.

  • Jumpy66

    “… as long as it is translated correctly.”

  • dolph924

    The first question is whether a Mormon can be nominated by a party controlled by evangelicals. The second question is whether if he is those evangelicals stay home and don’t work for the party. It’s the religious right in the republican party that has a problem with Flip Flop Mitt’s religion; the rest of us just have problems with finding any issue where he hasn’t reversed himself for political reasons.

  • dasha21

    Mormon, Catholic, Protestant…it doesn’t matter. What matters is if a candidate is a good person…a good Mormon, a good Catholic, a good Protestant, etc. When we ask the question, is America ready for a Mormon President, I think we’re thinking about stereotype perceptions of certain religions. There is nothing wrong with not smoking, not drinking alcohol or even not drinking coffee because one’s religion prohibits it. It is not against the law to refrain from such activities. I think it would be wrong, however, to impose one’s beliefs on other people. And obviously it would be wrong to engage in criminal, illegal and immoral activities in the name of religion. I can see where flip-flops would be a political issue, but do you know of any Presidential candidate who has not flip-flopped on any issue? I was baptized a Catholic, attend an Assemblies of God church and believe in certain tenets of Buddhism, but Mitt Romney, who I believe is a good Mormon, will have my vote in 2012.

  • favored1

    If Mormon politicians are as corrupt as “Scary” Harry Reid there is no way I would vote for them.

  • sportsfan2

    I could care less what religion Romney is. When the Salt Lake olympics was $200 million in debt,they called in Romney and he righted the ship. Clinton caused the depression (see NYTimes 9/30/99), Bush ignored the financial condition of the country while fignting in Iraq, and Obama pushed healthcare rather than correcting the countries jobs problems. Romney is the answer.

  • AdventurerVA

    I’m sorry, but Mormon beliefs are beyond screwy. The higher you go in the temple, the closer you get to the space aliens who are coming to meet you? That weird way in which the Angel Moroni “revealed” the texts to the founder? Only men in the innermost circle? If you believe that, I truly wonder about your judgment. And I’m not going to vote for you.

  • karlj4

    Yes, the country is ready for a Mormon president. There will always be people who immediately dismiss others because of prejudices and ignorance but there are enough people in this country that will be able to pick the strongest candidate even if he happens to be Mormon. If Mitt Romney convinces a majority Evangelican Christians that he has the best ideas then the majority of Evangelican Christians will vote for him even though they don’t eye to eye on certain points of doctrine.

  • bobthebuilder2

    It is funny how none of these poster above knows anything true about the LDS Church – since it is the 4th largest in the U.S.2. Mormons ARE Christians – They believe in and worship and believe in GOD the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.3. Mormon beliefs are in the Bible: Temples, Revelation, Prophets & Apostles, the sacrament, Baptism, Priesthood; and Yep even Proxy Baptisms for the Dead and Polygamy are ALL in the Bible.Sorry, to the Anti-Mormons, but your facts about Mormons are WAY OFF. You don’t have to believe in Mormonism, but to say it isn’t Christian or dosen’t match up with the Bible is a lie. any pastor or person that clams that either doesn’t really know, or is telling you a load of crap.

  • jckdoors

    How about an athiest? Yeah, that’ll be the day.

  • stevie7

    I’m sorry, but Mormon beliefs are beyond screwy. The higher you go in the temple, the closer you get to the space aliens who are coming to meet you? That weird way in which the Angel Moroni “revealed” the texts to the founder? Only men in the innermost circle? If you believe that, I truly wonder about your judgment. And I’m not going to vote for you.POSTED BY: ADVENTURERVAAlmost as screwy as consuming the flesh of your god every week … but we’ve already had a president who’s into that.

  • greenneck

    Or, just as apropos, can a believer in poseidan be president?

  • Jumpy66

    While I don’t support Romney, I don’t believe his faith would preclude him from being president. But let’s be clear: Mormanism is not Christianity. Mormons believe in the God of the Planet Kolob. They believe the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. And they believe that when they did, they each become Gods with their own planets.

  • Jumpy66

    .. I meant “die” not “did” above.

  • stevie7

    While I don’t support Romney, I don’t believe his faith would preclude him from being president. But let’s be clear: Mormanism is not Christianity. Mormons believe in the God of the Planet Kolob. They believe the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. And they believe that when they did, they each become Gods with their own planets.POSTED BY: JUMPY66What, then, is your criteria for getting into the Christianity club. Obviously a belief in the bible and the divinity of Jesus don’t cut it.The lengths that Christians go to to discredit one another never ceases to amaze.

  • dpburton

    “Christians” really should look in the mirror before making fun of Mormon beliefs. Do you believe that snakes talked to people and tricked them into eating forbidden fruit? Do you believe that God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, and then said oh, never mind? Do you believe that the waters of the red sea parted and Israel walked over on dry ground and the Egyptians were drowned? Do you believe that God and the Devil conspired to torture Job because he was a good man? Do you believe that God came to earth and died and then came back to life? But then again God is a spirit so what was the point of coming back to life? All religions can have their beliefs misrepresented to look bad.

  • dpburton

    The truth is Mormons are not Tinitarians. We do not believe in the Trinity as defined some 300 years after Christ. However we definitely are Christians. We believe that Jesus the Christ is God, That Jesus created the heavens and earth, that He talked to Moses, that He was born to the Virgin Mary, that Jesus the Christ lived a perfect life on earth, that Christ payed for our sins and died on the cross, and that only through Him can we be saved. We believe that Jesus the Christ was resurrected to a physical body as is told in the Gospels of the New Testament, that he proved this by having people touch him and eating with him. We believe that Jesus the Christ is our God. We believe the Bible is scripture. We do believe that not everything has been perfectly translated in the Bible, but then so does the rest of the “Christian” world or why would there be so many different English translations? Say what you want but we have every bit as much right to claim to be Christians as any other faith that believes that Jesus the Christ is God.

  • usbanalyst

    What part of their church’s name is people having trouble with? “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints”.

  • thedefendantX

    Mormons as late as 1960, when Mitt Romney and Huntsman were either in high school or college, did not recognize the humanity of people of African ancestry or black Americans, and that heresy in Christianity continues with most of them despite claims to the contrary that they no longer believe what what was and is religious doctrine in the Book of Mormon still read in Mormon Temples. Mormons Huntsman, Romney, Beck and Angle have a lot of explaining to do outside of Mormon strongholds.They have no following in the minority communities, nor on college campuses. The Mormons have no association with the American crusades against slavery, racism, women’s rights —-the franchise, divorce, birth control and access to higher education and executive positions. They still have a strong association with polygamy. None of the would-be Mormon candidates for President appeal to Hispanics or Roman Catholics, for whom Mormons represent the worst history of anglo displacement of Natives and Hispanics in the American Southwest.

  • knowthefacts

    Why would the mormon church need to get involved with political issues? The church is there to teach people about Jesus Christ and God, not to get involved with politics. Also polygamy was denounced over a hundred years ago. There is no correlation between the two today. No association whatsoever. If there is a polygamist family, they get excommunicated, and they no longer belong to or are associated with the church. People are just afraid of the truth, so they come up with lies to cover up their fear. Romney is a great candidate, and the values he holds will lead our country’s political system to become more truthful and right. No one should criticize or not vote for him because of his religion. Just because you don’t understand Mormons does not mean that they’re wrong.