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Mitt Romney's Mormon religion: Is it a political problem?

Mitt Romney says as president he would not be swayed by his church. But a significant number of voters – especially evangelical Protestants – say they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon.

By Staff writer / June 4, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington Friday June 3. Republican White House hopefuls courted Christian conservative voters at the conference where US economic concerns shared the stage with social issues that dominate the evangelical agenda.

Joshua Roberts/Reuters


Mitt Romney – the presumed front-runner in the Republican contest to select a presidential challenger – is a well-known figure in American politics.

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He’s been a governor, a businessman, and the guy who rescued the 2002 Winter Olympic Games from mismanagement. That’s the good news for Romney.

But the fact that he’s a well-known figure in American politics is also his major challenge.

Election 101: Nine facts about Mitt Romney and his White House bid

He has a record that he must either defend or try to move away from without appearing to flip-flop on such issues as abortion, gay rights, gun control, climate change, and government health care policy – issues on which he’s held relatively moderate positions in the past.

He’s “establishment” at a time when that’s a pejorative for a tea party movement more interested in the likes of Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, and the Pauls (Ron and Rand).

And then there’s his religion, which remains a cause for pause among millions of potential voters, especially the white evangelical Christians prominent among primary and caucus voters.

Romney is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church.

In his first race for the presidency four years ago, he likened himself to John F. Kennedy in 1960 – the first Roman Catholic to be elected president – in his personal separation of church and state.

Romney's 'Kennedy speech' on religion

In what probably was his most important political speech at the time, Romney said, “Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.”

“Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: does he share these American values: the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty?” he said in a 2007 speech at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. "They are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They are the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united.”


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