Romney ‘reminds me of every well-meaning yet overbearing male church leader’

NIKKI KAHN, MELINA MARA Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney arrive at an airport rally in … Continued

NIKKI KAHN, MELINA MARA

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney arrive at an airport rally in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Nov. 3, 2012. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post) President Obama wraps up his speech during a campaign stop in Mentor, Ohio, on Nov. 3, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Mormon women honor the religion we share with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But on Election Day, thousands and thousands of us will cast our votes in support of President Obama.

As a writer who has followed closely the role of faith in this campaign, I have witnessed how progressive Mormon women are finding their voices in this historic moment. A week ago, I took to the Internet to ask Mormon women who support Obama to share how their faith informs their vote. I heard from stay-at-home mothers, nurses, lawyers, hairstylists, and college professors, women with children small and grown, white women and women of color, from California to New Hampshire—and in key states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida.

Here are the voices of nine of these everyday Mormon women, in their own words:

Andrea Pratt Rediske, 41, freelance writer in Orlando: “My faith teaches me that motherhood is a sacred responsibility, and I am the mother of a severely disabled 10-year-old who has the cognitive ability of a 6-month-old. My son is ‘invisible’ to society–he is too medically fragile to attend school, church, or even go to the grocery store. He has no voice except mine, and I continually battle profit-driven insurance companies to meet his medical needs. No mother should have to choose between health care for her children and the other necessities of life. No one should have to go bankrupt because they get sick, or have a disabled child. I am a Mormon woman who supports Barack Obama because of the Affordable Health Care Act. ”

Kari Earl Short, 36, writer and stay-at-home mother in Las Vegas: “My family’s roots in the Mormon church run as deep as the Romneys’. But Mitt Romney and his plans for America are foreign to my faith values. He has shown behind closed doors how he truly feels about our nation’s poor and vulnerable, while Obama has sought to protect social programs, foreign aid, and real healthcare protections for those who desperately need it. I am an LDS woman proudly voting for Barack Obama.”

Anne Kate Ard, 54, retired engineer in Birmingham, Ala.: “Governor Romney does not consider birth control for women a part of normal family medical expenses, and he has not consistently supported pay equity. But everyone wins when women can plan and provide for their families and when children born are wanted, cared for, and loved. These are bedrock needs for healthy, happy families, and families are central to my Mormon faith. That’s why I’m voting for Obama.”

Kaarsten Turner Dalby, 42, vice-president of ecological services, Conifer, Colo.: “I am a Mormon woman, a working professional, and a mother to two young sons. Thirty years ago our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers fought for the future of their young daughters. They fought for our education and our right to receive equal pay for our work. Mitt Romney threatens those rights that already belong to us. Through my political choices, I want to leave a legacy to my sons – a legacy of empowerment, intelligence, equality, and choice. I urge all women to respect themselves, their minds, and their bodies. They are sacred – we are sacred. I will vote for Obama.”

Jerilyn Hassell Pool, 41, freelance art director in Medford, Ore.: “President Obama is committed to looking out for those whose voices go unheard—women, gays, the poor, and the elderly. I appreciate that his efforts are always pragmatic and educated, rather than impulsive and quick. And Mitt Romney reminds me of every well-meaning yet overbearing male church leader who’s ever underestimated me.”

Merhsa Baradaran, 34, law professor in Athens, Ga.: “I am a Mormon, a working mother, and an immigrant. I agree with many of Governor Romney’s ideas, but I will be voting for President Obama because he will wage the battles that are important to me: thoughtful foreign policy, compassionate immigration reform, serious education standards, responsible market regulation, and equal protection and civil rights for every citizen.”

Emily Elliott, 28, a law student in Ann Arbor, Mich.: “My Mormon faith taught me a strong sense of duty to take care of my family, which has always struggled financially. I was raised on food stamps and the publicly- funded library. I got through Dartmouth College with the help of Pell grants and federal work-study. Now, I’m a third-year law student at the University of Michigan. I have worked hard and studied hard, but I didn’t get here by myself. Public investment laid the groundwork for my achievements. I am voting for Obama to preserve opportunity for others.”

Julina Murillo Salazar, 35, hairstylist in Damascus, Md.: “I am a Mormon mother of three, and I am happily married to an immigrant from Honduras. I believe that we are all children of God, and my Mormon faith teaches me that ‘families are forever’—no matter where their place of origin may be. Governor Romney has spoken disparagingly of ‘illegals.’ No human being is illegal. I am voting for President Obama.”

Karin Olson, 43, a physician in Huntsville, Texas: “My faith in Jesus Christ teaches me a deep responsibility to care for others. But I know there are situations when even generous individual service is not enough. As a physician, I have visited a young single mother who was out of money and baby formula, and I have treated a 65-year-old woman dying of metastatic colon cancer because she had no health insurance and had to wait until she was Medicare-eligible to seek medical attention. For these problems, all of our efforts to serve others as our Savior Jesus Christ has admonished us to do would never be enough. We need a government that values the lives of the vulnerable—‘the least of these’ Christ spoke of–enough to create a safety net for them to survive the challenges of life. I voted early, and I cast my ballot for Obama. I only wish I lived in a swing state where my vote would make a difference. Maybe yours can.”

Joanna Brooks is the author of “The Book of Mormon Girl” and chair of San Diego State University’s English department.

  • 00003

    I am a Mormon woman proudly voting for Pres. Obama for many good reasons but most importantly, because I believe that, though, we disagree, Americans all want what is best for our country and should work together to accomplish goals we can all agree on, such as: reducing the deficit while getting the economy on its feet, providing for those who absolutely cannot provide for themselves, and seeking peace in the world. The GOP has acted not in our country’s best interests during the Obama administration but has consistently, without fail, worked against him for what they hope is political gain and position. Having worked up party faithful to an unnecessary and deceitful fear of Democrats and Obama, they hope in this election to reap the rewards of their dishonesty. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches me to be honest and to seek the best in others; therefore I can only in good conscience vote for Pres. Obama. Our country needs to work together in an environment of honest debate, conciliation, and respect.

  • Kellie Hill Dayton

    And what about the economy!!! Hello!!!!

  • FinnLisa

    Easy. Want to keep the economy on track with reason rather than looney promises? Vote for President Barack Obama.

  • AlphaUmi

    Right. Very reasonable to double the deficit every 4 years.

  • boblesch

    this says it all –

    “We need a government that values the lives of the vulnerable—‘the least of these’ Christ spoke of–enough to create a safety net for them to survive the challenges of life. I voted early, and I cast my ballot for Obama. I only wish I lived in a swing state where my vote would make a difference. Maybe yours can.”

  • the311hive

    On my way to work today I read Elder Oaks most recent General Conference talk titled, “Protect the Children.” It was a perfect talk that relates to this post.

    In his talk Elder Oaks starts out by saying, “Although I do not speak in terms of politics or public policy, like other Church leaders, I cannot speak for the welfare of children without implications for the choices being made by citizens, public officials, and workers in private organizations. We are all under the Savior’s command to love and care for each other and especially for the weak and defenseless.”

    He goes on to then say, “Children are highly vulnerable. They have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves and little influence on so much that is vital to their well-being…

    “From the perspective of the plan of salvation, one of the most serious abuses of children is to deny them birth.”

    I find it so interesting that some mothers and fathers of the LDS faith find it so important to provide for their already living children, yet they forget about those yet-to-be born children. They vote on important issues that affect children today (the big ones: health care and education), yet they completely disregard the obvious idea that those other issues are meaningless unless there are children to exist in the first place.

    Elder Oaks makes it clear: “Many laws permit or even promote abortion, but to us this is a great evil.” Why is it evil? Because it prevents God’s most important goal, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

    Does poor health care or bad education prevent children from gaining “immortality and eternal life?” Does advocating, supporting, and promoting abortion prevent children from gaining “immortality and eternal life?”

  • rach8563

    I have so much respect for you and the women whose voices were highlighted in this article. Clearly, your faith has informed your decision, but it is very brave to take those teachings and interpret them in a way that appears contrary to the general leanings of the LDS church.

  • SylviaL.

    Did you read the rest of Elder Oaks talk? As you read further he also says, “Even in rich nations little children and youth are impaired by neglect. Children growing up in poverty have inferior health care and inadequate educational opportunities.”

    He also says, “Worldwide, almost eight million children die before their fifth birthday, mostly from diseases both treatable and preventable.”

    He spoke of all aspects of childhood neglect.

    Of course all of these women care about abortion (it probably repulses them), but they also care about the child who is going hungry or suffering from illness with no healthcare available to them. The fact of the matter is that voting Republican has NEVER changed the laws regarding abortion. My guess is that if any of these women thought that their vote would really effect change, they would vote Republican. Further, no spirit child of our Heavenly Father will ever be denied “immortality and eternal life” due to the actions of another.

  • SylviaL.

    Did you read the rest of Elder Oaks talk? As you read further he also says, “Even in rich nations little children and youth are impaired by neglect. Children growing up in poverty have inferior health care and inadequate educational opportunities.”

    He also says, “Worldwide, almost eight million children die before their fifth birthday, mostly from diseases both treatable and preventable.”

    He spoke of all aspects of childhood neglect.

    Of course all of these women care about abortion (it probably repulses them), but they also care about the child who is going hungry or suffering from illness with no healthcare available to them. The fact of the matter is that voting Republican has NEVER changed the laws regarding abortion. My guess is that if any of these women thought that their vote would really effect change, they would vote Republican. Further, no spirit child of our Heavenly Father will ever be denied “immortality and eternal life” due to the actions of another.

  • Tina-bina

    I am a European Mormon woman (though I now live in the US) and I would definitely vote for Obama, if I could! And I believe a lot of fellow LDS in other parts of the world feel the same. I am sure Mitt Romney is a good man, and probably was an excellent Bishop/Stake President. But his political values are very far from where I stand politically. In my opinon Obama and the Democratic party has a more humane, even Christian approach, wanting to provide at least the basic needs of the citizens of this country!

  • jeriannw

    It is easy to be against abortion, but the people who are consistently against abortion are also consistently against the use of birth control. I honestly believe abortion would not be as much as an issue as it is if women were able to use birth control without having a church condemn them. It is easy to say “have the baby”. It is not easy to have to raise that child without the support of others (be it your family, church, or community).

  • jeriannw

    I believe the deficit will go down. With the wars ending, there will be less unbudgeted spending. I live in Ohio. Unemployment has dropped to 7% here. The best thing to fight a deficit is people working and cutting spending. Fewer people are unemployed. Now we have to work on cutting spending.

  • kurlybird

    The officials of the Church must stay out of politics. It is so clear to me that the behavior of Romney and the far right is actually against our values. I don’t know why the Church does not do more to keep people on course – the silence is baffling. For all the talk about “agency” why are we trying to legislate Church views and force them on other people (Prop 8)? The Church can maintain its own “rules” for eternal marriage and Proclamation of the Family with no interference from the Government. BTW, the Church is for family planning (aka birth control) and OK with abortion in case of rape, incest.

  • kurlybird

    The Church is actually very tolerant on the subject of family planning and abortion. They leave it up to the husband and wife to decide when, and how many children according to their ability to provide for them and the health of the mother, of course. They are open to to the subject of abortion in the case of rape or incest. Why so many in the church seem to be confused on this topic and rabid about the pill or abortion in any circumstance is quite a mystery. Obviously, more discussion and counsel are needed by our leaders.

  • kurlybird

    I will not vote for Romney just because he is Mormon. I will not vote for him because he has sold his soul to the Tea Party and extremists that are vile, hateful, racist, misogynists. I am disgusted by his shameful, blatant lies, and how he has not stood up against the crazies like McCain had the guts to do. If anything, we should speak up and say this is not the right Mormon for the job. We are better than this. Romney is an embarrassment and there will be a backlash against the Church.

  • PrettyPony

    The biggest disconnect in the Republican Party platform, and one I rarely hear discussed, is the cause and effect of defunding Planned Parenthood – the source of health care and family planning assistance – and the economy.

  • blct

    I am another Mormon woman who voted early for President Obama. I have an adult child with a chronic illness, so Romney’s stance against the critically needed reforms of the Affordable Care Act is the absolute deal breaker for me. I cannot support Mitt Romney. How tragic that Romney is against the healthcare program that the Republican party advocated 50 years ago, and that was developed by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative organization, and that he himself supported in Massachusetts. Allowing 44 million people to risk death because they can’t get available healthcare is NOT a “prolife” stance. But there are other issues that make Romney unacceptable, many of them spoken of eloquently in this column. .Another example is the obstructionist stance of the Republican party in Congress, Mitch McConnell said that their single goal was to refuse to work with President Obama on anything, no matter how reasonable, because they wanted his presidency to fail. McConnell’s only goal as a senator was to make Obama a one term president. These Republicans took a pledge to the Tea Party movement, but their oath of office is to the American people, not to the Tea Party. In refusing to address the major issues facing Congress, they are violating their oath of office and should not be rewarded for it. The many issues of providing for the common good, of loving our brothers and sisters throughout the world, of creating a social safety net and opportunities for those less fortunate, of protecting our environment, are all things compatible with LDS practices, and make me a proud Democrat. Thank you for this article, Joanna.

  • Mayor_Simpleton

    The Tea Party has three basic tenants. 1) Balance the budget. 2) Live within the framework of the constitution. 3) Minimal taxation.

    Please inform me which of those is “extreme, vile, hateful, racist and mysogynist”. The Tea Party stays out of social issues on purpose.

  • progproudressive

    The bravery, conviction and sincerity of these 9 women stand in stark contrast to the fear, cowardice and arrogance of their detractors. Nine women who give their true names and places of residence, and stand up candidly for principles in which they believe, and they are attacked by people standing behind pseudonyms, criticizing and judging them, and arrogantly denying their right to call themselves true Mormons. Which group do you find more reflective of the values taught by the Mormon Church?

    Scott Hansen
    Appleton, Wisconsin

  • cricket44

    Mayor Simpleton, ( I would love if your name came from a delightful XTC song) what the Tea Party, in all their considerable hubris, claims to be about and what they’ve *shown* themselves to be about are on different ends of the spectrum.

    And your last sentence is simply laughable.

  • Spark44

    I wish you were all in my ward! We would have the best time at Relief Society! I also voted for Obama and, in fact, a straight Democratic ticket.

  • Spark44

    My stock is up like gangbusters today. How about yours? Obama is great for the economy and will be even better if we vote out the tea partiers and start to work together.

  • undercover_hon

    If only the churches would also volunteer to PAY for all these babies – and their mothers’ healthcare, and the upkeep required to provide security and good health for growing infants – then I could appreciate their stance. It’s easy enough to say “no abortion” when it’s not YOU doing the work of bearing and rearing the children.

    Most women who seek this option are not wild promiscuous nymphettes but serious, sad women who cannot afford the loss of time, loss of pay, and feeding of another mouth.

  • faith101

    Did you honestly have to pick the most stupid uninformed mormon women. Seriously….

  • faith101

    The deficit will not go down becauce Barack does not know how to solve problems. He has not ever even held a real job. He has no resume….How does a man without any experience have the knowledge to help our economy. He knows how to throw money after the problem to fix it. That is how he thinks he fixs it….

  • edismae

    Mayor S, you sure make yourself an easy target..
    The TEA Party is exactly what the Koch brothers tell their bought and paid for Congressmen that it is; not what you think it is. These sons of a co-founder of the John Birch Society tell them how to vote in the ways that are “vile, hateful, racist, misogynist(ic)s” that you seem to have missed when we look at the actual bills passed by the TEA Party in the House. When their money goes away, so will you and yours.
    So, you keep funneling blindly ambitious simpletons into Congress to make a salary they could never hope to make in free market capitalism…and, watch what they do to that market. Since you missed that they did to it over the debt ceiling.

  • Shootmyownfood

    Until you can survive outside the womb, you should not be considered a “person.” You are simply a parasite.

  • brs

    This sort of response is disrespectful and offensive and has no place in a meaningful civil dialogue.

  • brs

    Well put Scott. I applaud the courage and candor of the 9 women above and I endorse their messages. Also, I’m appalled by the small-minded intolerance exemplified by some of their critics. Clearly these kinds of remarks are unbecoming of people of faith or good will, lack credibility, and are very disappointing to me.

    Blake Swain
    American Fork, Utah

  • brs

    Thanks so much to Joanna Brooks and the nine courageous women quoted above. I admire each of you and I’m inspired by your words.

    Blake Swain
    American Fork, Utah

  • kaarsten

    We did it! Loves to strong women’s voices and to Joanna for setting an example of leadership and courage.

  • hmaulden

    Kaarsten.
    I hate to be the one to break this to you, but, in the US, it is legal to pay women less than men for the same work/job. Its the standard. And your Mormon Church is largely responsible, having led the effort to defeat the ERA in California. Commanding its CA members to donate and work to defeat ERA. Don’t you know you belong to one of th most paternalistic organizations in Western society? Do some homework on this ERA-Mormon topic.
    Got a Mormon husband? God forbid you ever need a divorce. However, do you know your Church’s rules for a church divorce? I’ll bet you a year’s tithing you won’t find out until you actually go through it. Your Bishop will simply won’t be honest with you. Ask him if you can read it yourself in the Bishop’s Handbook. Oops, sorry, that’s secret, too. Read Grant Palmer’s book. Do your homework.
    Then, join an honest church with true progressives. Best of luck to you all.

  • janjanjan47

    These women were thoughtful and reverent. You are nasty and irreverent. They surely agree that you have a right to disagree with them, but not the right to dismiss them. If this election showed us anything, it’s that condescension and disdain for others will not be rewarded. Apparently, you missed the point.

  • Dnoll

    Honorable stories but it is sad to see these women along with the rest of the country supporting a replica of a health care system that has failed in every country that uses it. Yes, unfortunatley some people who actually need health care can not afford it but that isn’t the responibility of the American public to pay for it. That is why all the countries that use this type of health care system go further into debt. @Jeriannw… history shows that economies boom when we are at war and jobs increase… you all got swayed by a smooth spokeman.

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