Who Is Mitt Romney?:
Willard Mitt Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts, and an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), or Mormon Church, as has his family for several generations. Raised in Michigan, Romney served as a missionary in France during his college days. Although Romney’s Mormon faith has become a hot-button issue for some of his opponents in the race for the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination, he has been reluctant to comment publicly on church doctrine or the specifics of his beliefs.
Not "Christian" Enough:
Some of the other candidates, particularly those of an evangelical bent, have indicated that they see Romney’s Mormon faith as a liability. In October 2011, a pastor who is a vocal supporter of Texas governor Rick Perry, a top Republican contender, told followers that the Mormon religion is a cult, and that true Christians should vote against Romney for the nomination.
Several of the 2011 GOP candidates participated in an event sponsored by the American Family Association. The AFA’s spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has publicly stated that the First Amendment does not apply to Mormons and the Church of Latter Day Saints.
The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan says that the “Christianists” have taken over the Republican party, and that’s going to make Romney’s campaign battle a tough one.
Mixed Messages on Religious Freedom:
The Secular Coalition for America reports that Romney has “made it very clear that he believes religion in general should play a role in state affairs, saying that, “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom... Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.”
Romney appears to say on the one hand that religion should play no part in electing a leader, and yet says on the other hand that the founders of the United States wanted religion to play a role in the running of government. He said, “I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.”
Faith and Politics:
Although Romney is very much a pro-life candidate, during a 1994 debate with Senator Ted Kennedy, Romney said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law, and the right of a woman to make that choice, and my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign ... I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people.”
Unlike some of the other 2012 presidential hopefuls, Romney himself has not made any comments regarding minority religions such as Wicca or other forms of Paganism. However, the religious right continues to view Romney himself as part of a “fringe” group because of his affiliation with the Mormon church.
Be sure to read our religious profiles of other key political players:
For more information on the beliefs and principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, be sure to visit our About.com Guide to LDS, Rachel Bruner.