Marriott head praises Romney for bringing Mormonism 'out of obscurity'
September 2nd, 2012
02:07 PM ET
10 years ago

Marriott head praises Romney for bringing Mormonism 'out of obscurity'

Boston (CNN) - The head of the Marriott hotel chain, in deeply personal and reflective remarks at a New Hampshire church Sunday, credited Mitt Romney with changing Americans' perceptions about Mormonism.

J.W. Marriott Jr., a hotel magnate from one of America's most prominent Mormon families, spoke during services at the Wolfeboro branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - where Mitt and Ann Romney were also in attendance.

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In his testimony, Marriott said he saw the church "coming out of obscurity" thanks to Romney's prominence as the GOP presidential nominee, and marveled that 90% of the media reports on Romney's Mormon faith had "been favorable."

"That's a great tribute to Mitt and Ann and their family for living such an exemplary life," Marriott told the congregation gathered in the picturesque New Hampshire hamlet. "Now that we're out of obscurity, everybody is looking at us and saying, 'Are you as good as the Romneys?'"

Pool reporters who attended the service said the Romneys showed little visible reaction to the remarks.

Political analysts have debated whether Romney's little-understood Mormon religion may alienate some evangelical voters. Romney gave a speech on his religion during his first presidential run but has not confronted the issue as openly this race, explaining he believes voters are more worried about the economy than other issues.

In a change of emphasis during the Republican convention, however, the campaign publicly embraced his Mormonism. Church officials and congregants took to the convention stage to praise Romney's involvement in the church.

Romney himself used the word "Mormon" during his remarks when he described growing up in Michigan.

At services Sunday, Marriott spoke about one of the one of the most whispered-about Mormon traditions: the sacred undergarments believers wear.

He recounted a discussion of the garments - which he described as "T-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts" - that he gave in an interview with CBS's Mike Wallace in the mid-1990s.

"I related to him how I'd been involved in a very serious boat accident, here in New Hampshire. I caught fire; my polyester pants had burned off all the way to my waist. But my undergarments from my waist down to my knees had not even been singed. There wasn't a mark on them," Marriott said. "And I said, these holy undergarments saved my life."

He said Wallace had been struck by his convictions and told him off camera, "I wish I had the faith of the Mormons."

The Romney and Marriott families have a long-standing friendship. Mitt Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, named his son Willard Mitt Romney after J. Willard Marriott, the family's patriarch.

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Religion
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. ValarMorghulis

    We Mormons stick together.

    September 2, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. Steve

    What is Marriott talking about? Romney has been silent about his religion almost as much as refusing to release his taxes. Jon Huntsman would have been a far better candidate than Romney and a better representative of his religion.

    September 2, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. Marie MD

    Yes, because all religions have their quirks but magic underwear, a man who speaks to God and changes the church's rules only because in 1978 they still thought the Black man was a second class citizen. A church geared towards men NOT women (still wonder what the flip flopper meant regarding women's rights). A church that excommunicates you when you fall in love and marry someone outside the cult. A church that has various warehouses all over the US but only helps their flock.
    I am VERY afraid of what Huntsman's daughter said regarding their church . . . they think "it's their time". Time for what? Between all the religion secrecy and akin/altar boy anti women rules I don't think I want neither of them anywhere near the WH!!

    September 2, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. Cam Spurgeon

    Is this the same Marriot involved with a tax caper while Mitt was advising them. Show us the taxes Romney...

    September 2, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. "We Built This"... Campaign On Lies

    Does Romney have any Average Joes, Joe Sixpacks, or Plain Janes that are close family friends who are not members of the Mormon Church?

    September 2, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Larry

    Hey J. W. – America needs to grow up and start believing in science and evolution. We don't need you or your crackpot fable to tell us how to live. Mitt Romney is a terrible person consumed with Greed, a Liar, a destroyer of jobs, and a bully. If you or anyone else is Like him you should hang your head in shame and vow to change to something human.

    September 2, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. Thomas

    I will never stay at another Marriott hotel again .

    What hotels and casinos dose Sheldon Adelson own ?

    September 2, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    Isn't Marriott smack dab in the mddle of a lawsuit about Mormon Mitt teaching corporations how to avoid paying any U.S. Taxes? read Son of Boss.

    The Mormons know more about income tax evasion than any other religion. Also look into The White Horse Prophesy.

    September 2, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. Mormons? Really?

    I can't believe we're talking about "magic underwear" in relation to religion. My view of Mormonism remains unchanged – it's a cult with a long history of racist behavior. I amused to see Evangelicals reshape their reality to grant themselves a license to vote for a man representing a religion so contrary to their beliefs. Would they pick a Satan worshiper if he was a rich, white Republican? How about an atheist? Hate is a powerful narcotic.

    September 2, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mormons are allowed to lie to non Mormons without going to Hell.

    September 2, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Here comes Mitt playing the Mormon victim-hood card. Ought to have seen this coming, because if Mitt is good at nothing else, he's a sure fit in the "what part of I'm ONE OF YOU don't you get" victim-hood over and over again.

    September 2, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. Bernice

    He need not be too quick to praise the Romneys because in a truer sense we are just about to go into a full reseach mode into just who these people really are AND what they REALLY believe! Our focus has thus far been on other things, but... now that it's here before us, we'll be on it because we need to know. There's too much secrecy surrounding Romney!!!!

    For starts, who knew that their religion's leader Young founded this religion on beliefs that Mary was no virgin when she conceived Jesus?? This the teachings of founder and many others in Mormonism! VERY unlike Christian teachings! To be fair, Some today reject this thought, some accept it, while others don't fully know what the beliefs of their church on this matter , and many others dislike others knowing their church's teachings are that Jesus was conceived when God had physical relations w/ Mary. What I would like to know is, what does Bishop Romney believes and teaches on the matter?? Feel free to rag me if you must, but PLEASE NO DISRESPECTFUL COMMENTS OR JOKES AGAINST GOD!!!! It was very hard for me to even share this, but think ppl need to know because I also read that it is a long sought after mission of mormons to to get one of their own as president in order to fulfill missions for their church!

    September 2, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. will never vote Republician again

    Who cares about his cult! He would make a HORRIBLE president! Never will win. He needs to go out in the REAL world and learn what life is about.

    September 2, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. drake mallard

    Our country needs a Statesman! Not a Corporate Executive opportunist
    turned liberal politician turned moderate turned conservative turned pro
    life.Mitt Romney’s not running a cautious campaign; he’s running from tough questions. Running from his record of flip-flops and avoiding controversial stands doesn't amount to presidential leadership.Mitt Romney loves to throw people off his path. Now he believes in this, now he doesn't. The world may never know.He will have to check with his corporate sponsors for the appropriate response, then cross check with polling of his base, and then confirm the best way to word the answer with his team of corporate marketing experts.In many circles he is a good business man, in others he is a man who broke other men down by closing their companies, these men lost their insurance, lost their pensions and lost their income, to top it off the govt. had to step in with millions to save their retirement income they worked for so many years to save. He's a flat out liar, never have I heard or seen so many flip-flops

    September 2, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Steve

    Mr. Marriott's support of Mr. Romney just lost him a platinum elite member. No longer will I use the Marriott chain. Hilton here I come.

    September 2, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. John the Historian

    Any faith based on american folklore and freemasonry needs to be a con faith. Jesus Christ did not preach to the American-Indians and the book of mormon is pure fiction. Mark Twain called the book of mormon chloroform in print. Show us the gold tablets. Justify to me why Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were holy men when they were polygamists. How can a man like Brigham Young be considered great when he massacred non-mormons in Utah. Get rid of your angel moroni. What was done to Joseph Smith and his community of rapist men might not have been fair but jail time for all of them would have been fair. Why don't mormons have statues to the wives of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith ? Considering what they went through, they sure deserve it. No Christian church recognizes the book of mormon. What does that tell you ????

    September 2, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. bot1

    Contrast Mitt Romney’s faith to that of Barack Obama: Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was the Obamas’ pastor for twenty years, says “it is hard to tell if Barack Obama converted from Islam to Christianity”. Wright says “church is not Barack’s thing”

    September 2, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. fullclarity

    No, J.W., that is not a testimony. That's pandering. It has no place in a church testimony meeting. Your bishop and your stake president should have known better. Please do not come and visit my congregation.

    September 2, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. jaimie

    Romneyhood ......... Give to the Rich take from the poor

    September 2, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. jaimie

    Read ROLLINGSTONE's article dated 8/30/2012 under Politics. Reveals what Romney is not telling the american public

    September 2, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Liz the First

    It has to make you wonder what someone who buys into mormonism would also fall for? i don't want that gullible a president! i want someone firmly grounded in reality, and that's certainly NOT RMoney! the whole rethug party seems to have turned its back on realitiy, science, and facts. in the 21st century, they have no place leading anything, much less the Free World. get real, folks.

    September 2, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |