November 4, 2008

Religion and Politics ’08: W. Mitt Romney

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Background

Hometown
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Age
62

Religion
Latter-day Saint (Mormon)

Education
Harvard Business School, MBA, 1975
Harvard Law School, J.D., 1975
Brigham Young University, B.A., 1971

Candidate Website
www.mittromney.com/

Candidacy Status
Formally declared candidacy Feb. 13, 2007.Formally withdrew candidacy Feb. 7, 2008.Endorsed John McCain Feb. 14, 2008.

Political Experience
Governor of Massachusetts, 2003-2007
Chairman, Republican Governors Association, 2005-2006

Professional Experience
CEO, Salt Lake Organizing Committee (2002 Winter Olympics)
Founder and head of Bain Capital (venture capital firm)
Vice President and Interim CEO, Bain & Co. (management consulting firm)

Family Information
Spouse: Ann Romney
Children: Tagg Romney, Matt Romney, Josh Romney, Ben Romney, Craig Romney

Religious Biography

In His Own Words

“There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths. ” ((“Faith in America” speech, Dec. 06, 2007),

The profile you are viewing is from the 2008 presidential race. To see profiles from the 2012 presidential race, please go to Religion & Politics 2012.

Raised in Michigan, Romney is a fifth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), a fast-growing church now numbering 6 million in the U.S. and more than 12 million globally. At age 19, Romney served a two-and-a-half-year Mormon mission to France, where he proselytized and helped manage mission affairs. His girlfriend, Ann Davies, converted to Mormonism while he was abroad, and they were married shortly after his return.

Romney attended Brigham Young University, a church-sponsored private university in Provo, Utah, graduating as valedictorian in 1971. He has been active in his church’s lay ministry, serving as a bishop (the Mormon equivalent of a pastor) in the early 1980s and later as the president of a “stake” (a group of congregations, or “wards”), both in the Boston area. Romney says he does not smoke or drink alcohol, tea or coffee, in accordance with church teaching. He also says he gives a tithe (10 percent) of his income to his church. Each of his five sons attended BYU and served two-year missions for the church.

Romney is the fifth member of his faith to seek the presidency. If elected, he would be the first Mormon president.

On The Issues

Abortion Romney describes himself as “firmly pro-life.” He says he believes that abortion should be banned except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Romney acknowledges that earlier in his career, he was “effectively pro-choice,” and as governor of Massachusetts, he kept a campaign pledge to protect “a woman’s right to choose” despite his personal opposition to abortion. Compare McCain and Obama

Church and State Romney says the First Amendment does not mean that no religion should be established, or that secularism should be established in place of religion. He also says Judeo-Christian values helped found the United States and continue to influence it today. Romney supports keeping references to God on U.S. money, in the Pledge of Allegiance and in public places to remind Americans of their heritage. Compare McCain and Obama
Death Penalty Romney supports the death penalty for deadly acts of terrorism, killing sprees, murders involving torture and the killing of law enforcement authorities. As governor, he filed a bill to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts that required verifiable scientific evidence, such as DNA, in order to impose the death penalty. The bill also proposed measures to ensure proper representation for the indigent and allowed jurors who oppose the death penalty to participate in the guilt phase of a trial. Compare McCain and Obama
Education Romney has expressed support for means-tested vouchers – through which households below a particular threshold receive vouchers of equal value – that would fund student attendance at public or private schools, including religious schools. He has advocated giving local school districts increased control over curriculum as long as they do not endorse specific religious beliefs or prayer in schools. As Massachusetts governor, Romney supported abstinence education programs in public schools. He opposes taking the words “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance. Compare McCain and Obama
Environment Romney opposes “Kyoto-style sweeping mandates,” which he says would kill jobs, depress growth and “shift manufacturing to the dirtiest developing nations.” As governor, he pulledMassachusetts out of a multi-state agreement to cut power plant emissions, citing costs to businesses and consumers. He supports developing alternative sources of energy and new technologies that use energy more efficiently, and has called for a nationwide effort to decrease American dependence on foreign energy sources. Compare McCain and Obama
Faith-Based Initiatives Romney favors government funding of faith-based organizations to support the secular social services they offer, but says supporting them in any religious activities is unacceptable. As Massachusetts governor, Romney created a special state office to help faith-based groups and appointed his wife, Ann, to lead it as a volunteer. Compare McCain and Obama
Gay Marriage As Massachusetts governor, Romney actively opposed a decision by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court to permit same-sex marriages. He is an outspoken advocate of a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He says that marriage should be “between a man and a woman” and “all children deserve a mother and a father.” Earlier in his political career, Romney supported domestic partner benefits for gays and lesbians and promised to work on behalf of the gay community. He also said states should be allowed to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage. Compare McCain and Obama
Health Care Romney proposes a state-by-state approach to health care reform, in which the federal government would provide incentives for states to make health insurance more affordable. He supports making health insurance more affordable by making the market more competitive. As Massachusetts governor, he implemented a major health care reform plan that required all citizens to enroll in Medicaid or purchase health insurance. The plan provides subsidies to help low-income residents buy private health insurance. Compare McCain and Obama
Immigration Romney opposes amnesty for undocumented workers, favors securing the U.S.-Mexico border with a fence and wants to institute an employment verification system through high-tech identification cards. While Massachusetts governor, Romney vetoed a bill that called for lower tuition rates for the children of undocumented immigrants. He “reached an agreement with federal authorities” to give state troopers the power to arrest immigrants who are in the state illegally. Compare McCain and Obama
Iraq War Romney supports President Bush’s policy in Iraq, including his January 2007 decision to increase the number of troops in Iraq. He has criticized the planning and management of the Iraq conflict, but says keeping the U.S. in Iraq is the best option for minimizing casualties, securing the country and maintaining a democratic government there. Compare McCain and Obama
Poverty As Massachusetts governor, Romney proposed a plan requiring more people to work in order to receive state welfare benefits, bringing Massachusetts policy in line with federal welfare reforms. He supports increasing the minimum wage in line with inflation, but vetoed a bill to raise it in Massachusetts, saying it called for increases that were too extreme and too abrupt. Compare McCain and Obama
Stem Cell Research Romney opposes stem cell research that uses cloned human embryos, but supports research using human embryos left over from fertility treatments. He also believes that embryonic stem cell research should not be funded by the government. Prior to 2005, Romney broadly supported research on embryonic stem cells. He traces the change in his stance to an epiphany during meetings with stem cell researchers. Compare McCain and Obama