Mitt Romney claimed Thursday during an interview that his opposition to same-sex marriage has nothing to do with his religious beliefs.
"As a society, I think we're better off if we encourage the establishment of homes with a mother and a father," Romney told KETV's Rob McCartney after a speech in Omaha.
Asked if religion played into his opposition, Romney replied, "I indicated that's based entirely upon a civil understanding of the needs of a society like our own."
n the past, Romney has said he wept with relief in 1978 when the Mormon church decided to end a longstanding prohibition against people of African descent in the priesthood. “My faith has also always told me that in the eyes of God, every individual was merited the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter and I had no question that African Americans and blacks generally would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had,” Romney said in 2007 on Meet The Press.
A former president of the Mormon Church’s Boston stake, Romney has not tried to hide his faith but has suggested voters should ignore religious labels when casting ballots.
“I don’t suggest you distance yourself from your faith any more than I would,” Romney said after Jeffress’s comment. “But the concept that we select people based on the church or the synagogue they go to, I think, is a very dangerous and enormous departure from the principles of our Constitution.”
Romney's invocation of a "war on religion" recalls an infamous Rick Perry ad that attacked Obama for the same, though on different culture-war grounds.
The latest ad then cuts to Romney praising Pope John Paul II, who helped end officially atheist communism in Poland. "[I]n 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that would bring down an empire. 'Be not afraid,'" says Romney, speaking from a recent trip to Poland.
Much has been said of Mitt Romney's Mormon faith and his leadership position within the church, but not by the man himself. Romney directs questions on doctrine to the church, and has often said that he is not a Mormon spokesperson, Kranish says.
But the Mormon church has been, and continues to be, central in Romney's life. As Kranish describes it, "it's not just a place you go on Sundays." It's your social life, and it informs your cultural values, he says — and it takes up a big percentage of your week.
Among them: Romney’s father, who said at the outset of his own presidential run that he believed in the special role Mormons had to play in preserving the Constitution.
If Mitt Romney believed that himself, he would be much like most other members of his faith. He’s mentioned the divine influence on the Constitution several times on the campaign trail—as when a woman accused Obama of treason and asked whether Romney would “restore our Constitution,” Romney responded, “I happen to believe that the Constitution was not just brilliant, but probably inspired.”
Leading students through stories about Jesus and the Nephite and Lamanite tribes, who Mormons believe once populated the Americas, and tossing out peanut butter cups as rewards, Mr. Romney always returned to the same question: how could students apply the lessons of Mormon scripture in their daily lives?
Now, as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Mr. Romney speaks so sparingly about his faith — he and his aides frequently stipulate that he does not impose his beliefs on others — that its influence on him can be difficult to detect.
Like their Calvinist forebears, Mormons are inclined to interpret economic success as an indicator of divine approval, a fulfillment of the Book of Mormon's promise that the faithful will "prosper in the land." This prosperity gospel may explain some of Romney's defiant pride in his material success. Yet Romney's attitude toward money seems also to have been shaped by the Mormon church's emphatic hostility to conspicuous consumption and lavish display.
According to his biographers Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, Romney was horrified when one of his Bain partners bought himself a private plane.
Mitt Romney grew up in Michigan and then moved to Palo Alto, Calif., to attend Stanford University. After his freshman year, he left for 2 1/2 years to go on a mission to France, which he says greatly strengthened his own faith.
"He knocked on doors. He describes feeling 'lower than a Fuller Brush salesman,' " says Kranish. "He would say, 'Imagine if you go to Bordeaux and you tell people, "I've got a great new religion for you, and by the way, give up your wine." ' So he says he learned a lot about rejection and a lot about his faith."
Romney has been a devout Mormon his entire adult life. His parents—George and Lenore- were lions of the church when he was growing up in Michigan. Romney traveled on a two-year proselyting mission in France after his freshman year at Stanford, raised his own five sons as Mormons and ascended to the church leadership positions of bishop and Stake President- who oversees a community of local congregations. These roles put him in a position to counsel people of varied socio-economic backgrounds, which strategists say demonstrates he can relate to everyday people.