April 2nd, 2012
02:39 PM ET
8 years ago

Romney fields hostile question on Mormonism

Green Bay, Wisconsin (CNN) – A Green Bay voter confronted Mitt Romney over his religion at a town hall Monday, the day before Wisconsin's primary. Romney is a life long member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are commonly called Mormons.

"I guess my question is, do you believe it's a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black?" asked Bret Hatch, a 28-year old Ron Paul supporter from Green Bay.

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Romney answered with a tersely emphatic: "No. Next question."

Hatch, who brought a camera with him to the event, had begun his query by attempting to read a passage that disparages dark-skinned people from Moses 7:8.

Romney cut him off.

"Why don't you give me a question," Romney said, then continued: "We're just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view, but if you have a question, I'll be happy to answer your question."

Later in his town hall forum, Romney circled back to the incident.

"This gentleman wanted to talk about the doctrines of my religion. I'll talk about the practices of my faith," he said. "I had the occasion in my church to be asked to be the pastor, if you will, of a congregation."

Romney described his work as a bishop in his suburban Boston ward, or church. Mormon clergy, called bishops, are unpaid leadership positions and perform similar duties as pastors do in other churches.

Romney described counseling church members dealing "with unemployment, with marital difficulties, with health difficulties of their own and with their kids."

After addressing his religion in a speech during the 2008 Republican primary campaign, this campaign cycle Romney has attempted to keep his focus on the economy. The occasional references he makes to his church often deal with his time spent working with struggling parishioners.

"When you get a chance to know people on a very personal basis, whether you're serving as a pastor or as a counselor or in other kinds of roles, you understand that every kind of person you see is facing some challenges," Romney said Monday. "And one of the reasons I'm running for president of the United States is I want to help people, I want to lighten those burdens."

Speaking with reporters after the event, Hatch, the questioner, said he believed his question was relevant considering the general election race against President Barack Obama.

"Either he believes the Book of Mormon or he doesn't," Hatch said. "I think that's an important issue. He's going up against a black guy! He's going against Obama. This is a racial issue."

The LDS Church has a troubled history on racial issues, and in 1978 lifted a ban on blacks serving in the priesthood.

Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, publicly disagreed with his church over its record on civil rights.

Also see:

Romney gets punk'd, April Fools style

Biden stands by Obama on 'hot mic' controversy

Clinton criticizes Romney's remarks on Russia

McConnell: Romney will be an 'outstanding' nominee

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Religion
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Paul

    @ Dave: Nobody "worships" Joseph Smith. We revere him as a great man and was a prophet of God. He was the prophet that, through Jesus Christ, restored his true gospel to the earth. We only worship our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ his son and our Redeemer.

    April 2, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. Tom

    Hey Jon, how about Jeffers? Blacks were only allowed into your churches after a national uproar on why you all were so prejudiced. Then they were not allowed in the white folks churches. I have had Mormon friends that drink, swear and smoke, but then I guess they are not true Mormons. Mormons are led by the wealthy. The have a status code that the more money you make the higher up in the church hierarchy you can go. Yes, there are many good people that are Mormons, but I do not believe Mitt is one of them.

    April 2, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  3. Voice of Reason

    It was a ridiculous question to begin with, and Romney rightly dismissed it. Someone trying their hand at a 'gotcha' question that has no real answer just to make him look bad.

    Look, I am no fan of Mitt Romney. I think he's a ship without a rudder that will go wherever the wind will take him. I caucused for Obama in 2008, and i'll likely vote for him again this year. But to try to make Romney look bad this way is dishonest.

    BTW – for information's sake, that passage of scripture the kid was trying to quote is referring to historyfrom thousands of years ago. When put to it, he boiled the actual question down to, 'do you think interracial marriage is a sin?' Romney rightly answered in line with LDS doctrine on this one; "No." It may come as a surprise to some, but the LDS church is not living in the dark ages, and not everything you read on the internet is true.

    April 2, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. John

    This has nothing to do about his religion and everything to do with reverse racism. Everyone was up in arms when people questioned Obama's religious beliefs or his choice of church (re: Reverernd Wright). Jerubbaal, does your religion force you to act out against a certain race? Do you really think Romney's will? Look at his economic record, look at his GOVERNING record. Then make a judgement based on that, not what version of church he attends. I could care less what his religion says, I listen to the man. I'm Jewish and look at how his religion views me, but I don't fault Romney for that.

    April 2, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  5. Jesse

    Romney is the worst fake in the race, hard to believe so many are falling for his act. At least Santorum isn't the frontrunner, he is almost as fake (needs to exit the closet) but the positions he really stands for are even more scary. We'd be knee deep in WWIII a week after his inauguration. BTW, Obama lost my vote on Jan 1st of this year.

    April 2, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Jules

    So who wrote the book of Morman? Joseph Smith? I don't know that much about the Morman religion, but have known some people that were Mormans and they were decent people.

    April 2, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Jules

    But I will still be voting for President Obama.

    April 2, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Dave

    Yo Paul, he had about 20 wives, What up with that?

    April 2, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. Dave

    @ paul & dave in Fl, how bout goin over some of these wonderful transcripts about the men & women of color, you guys ready??? I am sure you are SO proud of these, READY?

    April 2, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. Romney is not My Hero

    Okay – I DO NOT like this man AT ALL, but I must say that attacking his religion is 100% WRONG. We are a nation representing numerous people with just as many varying religious beliefs. This is what being an American is all about. Please people, stay focused on his lying, two-faced, plastic persona and leave his religion alone.

    Oh & OBAMA 2012!

    April 2, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. souptwins

    Joseph Smith did NOT have slaves but he did buy some only to immediately free them in the mid 1800's. EVERY religious text has claims that are seen as silly based on modern times. Read the Old Testament and see. Prior to '78, blacks and any other race could and were members of the LDS Church, they just didn't hold the priesthood. Exactly how many members of other religions "hold the priesthood"? Very, very few!! There ARE and have been black, Asian, hispanic, latino, Italian, and every race members of the higher leadership of the LDS church. Romney can no more tell the Mormon hierarchy what their policies should be than Kennedy could tell the Pope what to do. There are only 2 things that matter in this election concerning religion
    1) Does the candidate respect a person's right to worship as they see fit
    2) Are they committed to the separation of church and state
    These are two fundamental principles of LDS doctrine as found in their "Articles of Faith". Romney, in fact, seems to be one of the few NOT bring his personal beliefs into the campaign.

    April 2, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. Woman In California


    The fact that Romney's father was a supporter of civil rights would show that Mit had to be influenced by that. For those of you like "Woman In California", I have a question, President Obama chose to attend a church for 20 years whose Rev espouses racial hatred towards white people and the US in general. The liberal media chose to ignore it but how much of that rubbed off on the president? Its the typical liberal tactic, accuse your opponent of doing what you already do and let the media run with it. Its not going to work this time.

    IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW – HIS MOTHER WAS WHITE so unless he hated his mother–that would make him awful stupid to hate half of himself. Further, he was held accountable for what SOMEONE else said. Those words DID NOT come out of HIS mouth. Please prove otherwise.

    April 2, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  13. Voice of Reason

    @ Stranger in a strange land:
    You say, "...no Black men are allowed to be leaders in the Mormon Church...". Nope. Wrong wrong wrong. In fact many of the general authorities of the church (akin to the Catholics' ArchBishops and Cardinals) are black.
    You say women are oppressed – You shoudl go talk to some Mormon women. Find your nearest LDS chapel, and go show up at 9am this Sunday. Ther'll be a meeting there. Listen closely for the so-called 'oppression'. You wont hear it. After the meeting, talk to someone, and you wont find yourself talking to some oppressed, subservient woman who feels like she's a second-class citizen, I promise.

    Before you go shoot your mouth off in public (even if it IS the internet) – educate yourself. Education is the cure for ignorance.

    April 2, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. Jerubbaal

    I am concerned if these views will affect things like the voter suppresion laws that so many states are enacting, pell grants, immigration laws, and women's reproductive rights.

    April 2, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. Dave

    No, again for the 80th time, a real elder, come on guys

    April 2, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    "President Obama chose to attend a church for 20 years whose Rev espouses racial hatred towards white people and the US in general."

    Completely false statements about Rev. Wright, who in fact loves the US so much he's a decorated war here, unlike most GOBP chickenhawks. Turn off Fakes News; it's lies.

    April 2, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. Dave

    Yo souptwins, JS had many many many slaves, WANNA GO THERE??? LETS ROCK

    April 2, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. Voice of Reason

    You say, "...Mormons are led by the wealthy. The have a status code that the more money you make the higher up in the church hierarchy you can go..." Nope. Wrong. No such thing exists. You need to stop believing rumors and things you read on the internet, and go talk to some real, live active Mormons. You might even discover that they are really decent people.

    I'm sick of a good decent people (the Mormons) getting the short end of the stick in internet forums like this – mainly because people who dont like Romney now feel that his candidacy means 'open season' on the LDS church. Its the sort of religious intolerance that tears down the foundations of our country a little bit more every time we let it slide by unchallenged.

    April 2, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  19. Peter John

    President Obama had to field questions about his church's aparently racist teachings, but those were racist against whites. Gov. Romney's service as a "volunteer pastor" does not do his role justice. He served as a Stake President, which equates to a Catholic bishop. He remains a high priest in his church, not just a member.

    Since he has said he will not answer questions on the doctrines of his church, but will on the practices of his faith, the question should be framed:

    "In the practice of your faith have you ever taught others that God darkened the skin of Native Americans as a curse, and discouraged interracial marriage? Have you taught that this claim is inviolable Word of God? Have you assigned others to teach these things?"

    April 2, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. GI Joe

    I don't trust HIM - I don't care if he's an aetheist. I don't trust RMONEY. NOT ONE FOOT -- NOT ONE IOTA. He's a liar and hoards money as his only GOD. He needs to do some good for ALL with that money, not just the mormon church. Maybe get some of those mormon women off the welfare roles.

    April 2, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  21. Lisa

    Some of you people are so ridiculously ignorant that it is not even funny, you can look at these boards and understand why our country is in the state that it is in, the ignorance is blatant and sad. Every religion has something that everyone is not comfortable with, people are sensible enough to have their own minds when it comes to religion, he wasted a time on an ignorant question and some of you idiots subscribe to the same ignorance. Obama sat in a church for years and listened to radical hatred and racism but yet we were supposed to turn our eyes to that, but you want to persecute Romney for being a Morman? I am sure that his father had more influence on him than the church does. SMDH!! No wonder some of you are so hopeless and miserable.

    April 2, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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