Dr. Gregory Prince: Mitt Romney Is Not the Face of Mormonism

September 20, 2012


Post by Rob T.

Wednesday, in the Huffington Post, LDS historian and author Dr. Gregory Prince wrote a piece that, in some ways, I’ve been waiting to appear since Governor Romney said we should “double Guantanamo” back in May of 2007. The newly revealed remarks dismissing 47% of the country (including many Mormons), prompted Dr. Prince to write in part:

“The very basis of Mormon community, stretching back to the earliest years of Mormonism nearly two centuries ago, is that the more able have a sacred obligation to assist the less able. That sense of physical community was institutionalized in the Church’s Welfare Program, which sprang out of the Great Depression as an exemplary and effective means of combining church and government assistance not only to give to those in need, but also to help them to help themselves . . . Judge Mitt Romney as you will, and vote for or against him as you will; but do not judge Mormonism on the basis of the Mitt Romney that was unveiled to the public this week. He is not the face of Mormonism.”

Dr. Prince was on the Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC Thursday evening to discuss his column, Mitt Romney, and Mormonism. I encourage you all to watch it here.

(Picture: pass-along cards used to invite people to see Mormons discuss their faith at Mormon.org.)

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33 Comments on “Dr. Gregory Prince: Mitt Romney Is Not the Face of Mormonism”

  1. Sondra Soderborg (@ssoderb) Says:

    After the 47% comments, I wondered if this candidacy, which represents real aspects of Mormon culture, would prompt some community soul-searching. Maybe this is the start.

  2. Steve Warren Says:

    Dr. Prince was terrific on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show. I’d never seen him before, but my impression was “classy guy.” And while I’m at it, I’d like to say his biography of David O. McKay was superb.

    Although I’m not pleased with Romney’s comments about the less fortunate, what really bugs me is how a person of his religious convictions can run such a dishonest campaign. I’m not talking about the usual political spin and half-truths; I’m talking about the outright lies.

    • Laura Ashley Says:

      Steve. I don’t know what lies you refer to, but I am guessing the ones about being sure the violence in Libya was about a you tube video doesn’t bother you OR the fact that our President refused to meet with Israeli President this week but instead go on THE VIEW. So if you call pandering to hollywood as usual and using the ignorance of the people coupled with the fawning of a media that won’t ask tough questions and who only props up your comments a good thing… Well then I prefer what you call “lies”.

      • Dianna Says:


        The administration said that based on what they knew at the time….re: Libya. They were very clear about that but you may watch Fox who is known to edit remarks so they are not in full context.

        And the Israeli Prez tried to insert himself into our election and Obama decided that was not a good idea for many reasons.

        Finally, if you do not know about the lies, check out factcheck.org and READ up on it.

      • Cheryl Says:

        Laura, I agree with you. I may not agree with everything either candidate says, but I have a real tough time backing President Obama when he is in favor of gay marriage and abortion. God is more important to me than all else. Our beliefs (Mormonism) says these things are WRONG

      • honestyalwayswin Says:

        Here is a big mr romney’s lie that it may take your direct job loss to realize

        He says he cares about 8% of unemployed in millions when he did not do anything to help about 1000 unemployed due to bain management decision.

      • honestyalwayswin Says:

        I just learned that Rep house cut the budget of embassy security for this year
        So do not blame obama adm alone
        This should teach us about consequences of wrong budget cut

  3. Anne Caroline Drake Says:

    Tears in my eyes. My sister is LDS, and I was “missionary grandma” for a couple of years. Ironically, it seems that many Mormons ~ especially Sen. Harry Reid ~ are finding powerful voices and becoming leaders. I was stunned to discover that Gov. George Romney was the father of the housing vouchers that his son wants to scuttle.

    In many respects, you are demonstrating the courage of your ancestors and the power of faith. The dialogue is helping people to understand your values. Bravo!

  4. Sharon Says:

    Excellent Article. I copy and pasted part of it to FB and have had positive feed back.

  5. Scott Says:

    Well, Mr. Prince is certainly not the face of the Church either. The very premise of this article is dishonest.
    I get that politics has become all about gotcha-spin. But if there’s any group of Democrats that should be honest about what Romney was really saying in the “47% comment”, it should be this group of Democrats.
    But alas, you’ve chosed politics over truth and jumped at the chance to play gotcha.
    I mourn the passing of your integrity and credibility.

    • Joseph Says:

      Scott… there was no gotcha spin. Romney’s remarks were unsolicited, off-the-cuff, speaking to the man kinda-thing. I personally am saddened by what transpired this past week, because I can’t help but think that Romney does (in the nation’s eyes) represent us Mormons. Of course, that is one of the reasons we set up this website – to show that we are a diverse group of people within the Mormon Church.

      Mr Prince doesn’t claim to represent Mormonism. Neither does Romney. Prince’s point is only valid because a large number of Americans think that Romney does represent Mormon belief and practice.

      Unlike you, I don’t know why Romney said what he did or what he “was really saying,” but if you look at his words, they are firstly, inaccurate. But also, they appear unfeeling and dismissive of those in poverty or those who struggle among our ranks. No spin there, it’s just how it is.

      I think we’ve held a steady line on this website. Have a look around once you’ve set aside your sackcloth and wiped clean the ashes.

    • Dianna Says:

      What are you taling about, Scott. Do you receive any gov’t assistance? If so, you are part of the 47%. He was talking about you.

  6. Frank Stark Says:

    Romney made the remark that 47% of the voters would not vote for him in the context of a campaign strategy meeting. It sounds like a correct statement of fact. Such meetings are full of such statistics.
    How many votes do we have locked up?, how many are solidly for the other side?, how many are up for grabs? These questions are the very facts that are needed to plan a campaign.
    So a leak of such a conversation is a big dust-up? Only for those who put it out of context. (Mmm…hasn’t Obama been complaining about that?) I’d kind of like to hear one of the President’s strategy meetings…particularly on what he has told Russian leader Putin that he cannot reveal before the election.

  7. Sylvia Kronstadt Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with this article. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, in his unforgettable debate with Dan Quayle:

    “Mitt: I’ve studied Mormons. I’m surrounded by Mormons. Mormons are friends of mine. Mr. Romney, you’re no Mormon.”

    I’ve lived among the Mormons for most of my life. It seems to me that Mitt has none of their endearing qualities, and he is the most striking amalgam of their flaws I’ve ever encountered.

    • Cheryl Says:

      why do people in glass houses continue to throw stones. How dare anyone claim to be holier than someone else. No one has a right to judge anothers’ relationship with God, but God.

  8. Sharon Says:

    Well said Joesph, thank you for your comment.

  9. Randy Says:

    I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was in University. One of the main reasons is when I learned that God allows each of us “free agency”, the freedom to choose our own actions. We are to decide for ourselves and learn to become like Jesus Christ and God.

    I am very surprised by the comments which contend that Democrats are more caring for the less fortunate, statistics prove otherwise. Conservatives give substantially more to charity than liberals. For example in 2011 Vice President Biden gave $5,540.00 on $380,000.00 of income = 1.4%; Mitt Romney gave $4,020,772.00 = 30% of his income to charity. Vice President Biden says he supports the less fortunate but his actions say otherwise. Mitt Romney doesn’t discuss his charitable work and gives 30% of his income to charities. I think it is clear that actions speak much louder than words.

    Conservatives believe they should voluntarily give their own money to the less fortunate, liberals believe that through the force and compulsion of the Government (taxes) people (usually others) must be forced into giving. True disciplles of Jesus Christ believe that helping others is a personal responsibility but it is also a voluntary choice not something to be forced upon people.

    President Obama believes in bigger government and higher taxes. Both are a road to reduced freedom and more compulsion, the exact opposite of free agency or personal freedom.

    • robtaber Says:

      Randy: It doesn’t break down into neat categories of conservatives-give-more and progressives-give-less. In 2010, President Obama gave a higher percentage of his income to charity than Mitt Romney did, and a much higher percentage than Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. See: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700220405/Proportionally-President-Barack-Obama-and-Mormons-give-the-most.html

      We’re all makers and takers–we’re in a society together. You don’t think any of Mitt Romney’s donors or supporters will profit from his tax cuts for the richest Americans? Or from the defense contracts from his increases in Pentagon funding?

      • Randy Says:

        In 2011 Romney gave 30% of his income to charity. I noticed you didn’t mention Vice President Biden, he is a cheapskate and a hypocrite.

        The bigger point is that it is personal choice that should decide how charitable you are not government force. President Obama cut a sweetheart deal giving over $500 Million to his campaigns financial backers at Solyndra and they went bankrupt. Worse yet President Obama cut another deal to put the shareholders of Solyndra (his backers) ahead of the Government (really taxpayers) on any realized assets and cash. That is cronyism of the worst kind.

        In the private sector you can do what you want it’s your money but when taxpayers money is at stake ethics is critical.

        It comes back to force not personal freedom. Why should middle income taxpayers be losing their hard earned money to support President Obama’s millionaire friends and supporters in Solyndra.

        At the Democratic National Convention they had Sandra Fluke speak about her right to have taxpayers pay for her birth control. She graduated as a lawyer from Georgetown whose graduates have an average starting wage of $160,000.00 per year. Why should taxpayers making 1/3 of that be paying for her birth control?

        There is an excellent book out by LDS authors Richard and Linda Eyre called “The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership”. A sense of entitlement is crippling the United States. If you take a look at Greece that is the future of every country that continues to build an “entitlement society”. It has to fail, there is now more people not paying federal income tax than there are paying it. It is unsustainable.

        In the book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell the animals take over the farm via a revolution of sorts. On the side of the barn they paint “All Animals are Equal”. As time passes the animals who run the farm, the government bureaucrats, become more entitled and do less and less and make an every shrinking number of the other animals do more and more of the work. These animals get upset and go to the barn to read the farm creed except it has changed. It now says “All animals are Equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. That in a nutshell is the Obama presidency and the Democratic parties mantra. They know better, you can’t be trusted with your own money, you must be forced give to the politicians and bureaucrats who are smarter and more compassionate then you are.

        As President Obama said to all of the entrepreneurs in the United States about their businesses – “You didn’t build that. Someone else built that”.

        Democrats believe in envy, force and compulsion. That isn’t freedom, in fact it is the antithesis. God’s plan is personal freedom, the adversaries plan is force and compulsion. You don’t become a better person by people forcing you to help others, rather you have to make the personal decision to do good which makes you a better person.

        I am deeply passionate about helping others but I want to give to those that I truly know are in need not rely upon government bureaucrats to squander hard earned taxpayers money on failed programs and political cronyism.

    • Dianna Says:


      You are silly. Comparing two people does not prove a point. The GOP has announced their intention and it is to cut out programs that help the less fortunate among us. They want to uninsured to go to emergency rooms when a few years ago Romney said that going to emergency rooms was a waste of taxpayer dollars. WTF? They think anyone that accepts help in a time of need is someone they don’t care to represent. 47% of the American people…they just write up.

      Wake up. http://www.wtfu2012.com

    • honestyalwayswin Says:

      My understanding of teaching of Bible is a penny from a widow is greater than 50% giving of my plenty income

  10. Laura Ashley Says:

    And I will go farther and say that the 47% comment is the best and most honest thing I have heard. Growing up my single mother made $9,000/ year and this was the 70’s and 80;s. Not much money. We qualified for every free lunch, breakfast, etc… BUT, my Mother proudly told me I would be eating at home for breakfast and paying for my lunch. We did not accept this from the government. People now will complain about (snap) or food stamps and I watch them sell their SNAP and trade with each other for cash. EBT cards for cash. 33 million on food stamps now 47 million. Outrageous. We need a change of heart and it needs to be that we as a nation do not settle for this as our destiny. Be bigger than this!! Romney! If you by chance are listening! The 47% remark only bothers those Americans that already didn’t like you. The rest of us want more flat out “truths” like that.

  11. Gregory Taggart Says:

    I say balderdash. Balderdash on Prince’s uncharitable take on Romney’s comments. Balderdash on Harry Reid for making this so personal. Balderdash on those who seem to suffer from there’s-only-one-way-to-read-a-text syndrome, who–I’ll bet–were out in droves defending President Obama’s pronoun-reference-deficient “you didn’t build that” comment.

    There’s another way to read what Romney said, you ask? Well of course, as anybody who’s ever read a text knows. He himself said what he said was not elegantly stated. He explained he was trying to discuss how his campaign–not his presidency–needed to “focus on the middle.” But no. His opponents will have none of that. This is a Republican. A wealthy one at that. He’s out of touch. He has no idea how the other half lives. And I again say balderdash. Ten to fifteen years as a bishop and stake president, and he doesn’t know how the other half lives? Please.

    I expect more out of my brothers and sisters in the Gospel. More kindness. More charity. I see none of that in what Prince said. None in what Reid said. I do see a lot of it in stories like these: http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2012/09/25/7_incredible_personal_stories_about_mitt_romney_that_you_may_not_know

    Care to share similar stories about President Obama?

    • Diann Says:

      Hey Bro Taggart, AMEN ! The 47% are those who are currently receiving welfare or unemployment. The group Romney was addressing understood his comment. Romney wants to change the dynamics so there will be jobs available for those who want to work. So people will feel good about themselves and strengthen families not make them dependent on the government. When Romneys tax returns WERE released it made him look GOOD because he DOES care and gives SO MUCH to charity. I saw a program on ROmney from his boyhood and it looks as though this man has been tutored for greatness. He took over as mission president in Sept for months in Europe and doubled the years baptisms in one month. There is much more goodness to this man than meets the eye.

    • honestyalwayswin Says:


      How about 10000 unemployed and his family due to his bain involvement?
      have you looked into that one?

      I personally know of someone who gives more than 10% of his income and volunteers his time regularily to his church. But he falsefies his income. So he could send his children to colleges free.

      This is exactly what why we say Mr Romney is very good for a few
      Obama is good for most of us

      Which odd is better for you?

      • mysteruz Says:

        I work with a woman who makes 80,000+ annually who sends her daughter on trips to Japan and Paris during the holidays. She attended private schooling and when it came time for her to apply for college her mother had her rewrite her letters to lie and beg for full scholarships and grants. There are people who truly need those funds because they would never be able to afford college. People who only think of themselves and not the rest of ‘us’ are very scary and should never be in positions of power because they will take their ‘above the law’ attitudes with them.

  12. Diann Says:

    Marriage is an institution introduced and pronounced by God. Human life is a miracle and blessing granted by God. No one has the right to change these things. Gay people are not less than others but they should have civil unions. I’m totally for women having the right to decide to have a baby or not. We can choose pills, spermicide, condoms, rhythm, even abstinence. But once a baby is conceived the other choice is adoption not death. Everyone should have health care but the current plan was planned and accepted too quickly and has troubling issues. I love Heavenly Father and want to help others. I have needed help before so I know what it’s like. But I cannot vote for a man who says women have the right to abort a defenseless baby, a man who sees no reason why people of the same sex have the right to marriage. These things are contrary to Gods commands and will lead to his wrath and judgement.

    • mb Says:

      marriage is a legally binding relationship. The marriage of the bible has many wifes to one man, which we have outlawed as a nation.
      Women were functionally sold into marriages for the benefit of their fathers/husbands.

      You don’t need to get an abortion, but it is the right of the women who is caring it to decide what is going on in her body. Abortions take place before a fetus is feasible outside of the womb, before the fetus has any organs.

  13. honestyalwayswin Says:

    President should be good for all citizens not just good, self righteous, and rich

  14. honestyalwayswin Says:

    We all are sinners
    to our creator we are equal sinners whether we are gay or not
    somethings are needed to be left to god’s decision
    I rather focus on gay people as my brothers and sisters first and most

    • em Says:

      I just wonder why a candidates personal relationship with a diety (in this case the LDS God) matters. The issues that y’all are debating are seperate from Romney’s, Obama’s or any other politicians personal relationship with a God.

      If you vote based soley on your religious affiliation than that is your choice. However, from my understanding of the LDS church and other Christian denominations (I am a religious Jewish woman who has been educated with a strong backing in the Talmud) is that we, as a community, have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than others. In the Jewish faith, it is required to participate in the betterment of the world, and that the corners of your crop be left for those less fortunate.

      Very little of any religious text speaks to abortions and homosexual relationships. More is spoken on the punishment requirements of extra marital relationships, even in the event of rape.

      The bible has much more important lessons than homosexual relationships, the bible teaches us our responsibility to others. Out of the kindness of our heart and our obligation to god and our fellow man. Regardless of anything that the recipient could do for us.


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