Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackiling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackiling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users take on 'Ice Bucket Challenge' to fight ALS

Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Reporter’s IS captors taunted family, asked for €100m ransom

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Turkey’s Erdogan names foreign minister Davutoglu as next PM

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

  • Former Femen activist detained after fighting veiled woman

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

Americas

Fellow Mormons hail Romney's acts of compassion

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-31

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's fellow Mormons took to the stage at the Republican convention on Wednesday to offer testimonials to his character and compassion in a bid to dispel the lingering mistrust many Americans have of the faith.

AFP - For most of the Republican convention, the one word none of the main speakers had dared utter was, Mormon.

That changed in dramatic fashion on Thursday, when first a series of speakers and then, the candidate himself, albeit briefly, alluded to the Mormon faith that forms the bedrock of his beliefs.

As Romney was crowned the faith's first ever presidential nominee, character testimonials were the order of the day, in part to soften his image as a candidate, but also to help put a human face on a religion Americans know little about, and many even mistrust.

One still-grieving couple -- members of Romney's church -- described his caring compassion and many acts of kindness toward their teenaged son who was dying of cancer, including helping him write up a will.

"Mitt brought joy to a young boy who hadn't experienced any for too long. He also gave the rest of us a welcome release," said the couple, Ted and Pat Oparowski, as they recounted a heart-rending tale of parental loss.

Romney spent nearly 14 years as a lay Mormon pastor around Boston, and the act of compassion, those in his church attested, was typical of the selfless service he showed.

The invocation at the beginning of the evening was given by Ken Hutchins, who like Romney was also a Mormon leader in Massachusetts, among other remarks of praise and admiration by supporters from Romney's church.

And taking the stage in the culmination of three days of speeches and celebratory events, Romney himself finally offered details about his religion and how it has shaped the man he has become, beginning with his childhood.

"We were Mormons and growing up in Michigan; that might have seemed unusual or out of place but I really don't remember it that way," he said.

"My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to," he said in the one fleeting reference in the speech to his religion -- more than he had publicly said about his faith in many months.

Many Americans distrust Mormonism

The Republican National Convention -- a three-day fete giving voters a chance to size up the candidate who might be their next president -- has focused largely on boosting Romney's image and showing his more human side.

The campaign has gone to great lengths to impress voters with his accomplishments as a father and grandfather, skilled business manager, a transformational Massachusetts governor, and the bold savior of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Until Thursday night however, a near-hush reigned around one of the guiding forces of his life: the practice of his religion with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as Mormonism is formally known.

There is a good reason for this.

Many Americans, especially Christian evangelicals who are a key part of the Republican voter base, are deeply suspicious of the religion. A Bloomberg News poll from March found that more than one in three Americans hold an unfavorable view of the Mormon church.

"There's the obvious risk of many Christian conservatives within his party who have deep doubts about Mormonism," said expert Charles Franklin.

"That's the fundamental tactical or strategic reason not to make a big deal out of it."

There are six million Mormons in the United States, and three out of four describe themselves as conservative.

Named after the Book of Mormon dictated by founder Joseph Smith in the 1820s in western New York state, the faith is known for its missionaries, its original practice of polygamy and strict rules against alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

In 2007, during his first presidential run, Romney gave an address about the role of faith in America, but he mentioned Mormonism just once.

But earlier this month, the candidate suddenly opened up to the media, inviting journalists to accompany him to church services.

According to reports, Romney advisers believed it was time for him to embrace his religious background, calculating that his charitable giving and active church role might help improve public impressions about Mormonism.

Franklin said the campaign's attempts to humanize Romney would benefit from an embrace of his faith, a major part of who he is, but he didn't expect the candidate to press this in his crucial convention speech.

"It's hard to believe you can go this long without making that part of your story," the University of Wisconsin-Madison politics professor and co-founder of Pollster.com told AFP.

"But given how little it has been discussed by the campaign, not just this year but four years ago as well, I'd be a little surprised to see it introduced front and center."
 

Date created : 2012-08-31

  • US ELECTIONS 2012

    Romney vows 'lots of jobs' in acceptance speech

    Read more

  • US ELECTIONS 2012

    Ann Romney: loyal wife, caring mum, political asset?

    Read more

  • US ELECTIONS 2012

    Does Mitt Romney have a 'women problem'?

    Read more

COMMENT(S)