Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama – What Do They Believe?

Beliefnet looks at the religious beliefs of President Barack Obama and Presumptive Republican Nominee Mitt Romney. Both men have had to deal with misinformation about their beliefs, and we seek to clear the air by looking at the differences between traditional Christianity and Mormonism.

BY: Stephen Russ

 

Mitt Romney, courtesy of marcn

Mitt Romney’s religious life began at birth. His parents were both devout Mormons, his mother was born in Utah and his father in a Mormon colony. The families’ Mormon roots extend even further back, and it had a large effect on Mitt at an early age. Following a college age Mormon mission to France he attended Brigham Young, transferring from Stanford to the University. As an adult he became a lay leader, congregation head, and teacher. While presiding over congregations in Massachusetts he was known for balancing the conservative and liberal Mormon theologies throughout his ward. As a presidential candidate he has continued to give money to the church and serve in whatever capacity his schedule will allow.

President Barack Obama’s upbringing in religion could not have been more different. Both his father and stepfather weren’t involved in any kind of religion, while his mother was spiritual but not dedicated to any particular faith group. In his role as a community organizer President Obama became interested in religion after seeing how the churches he was working with impacted their community. He was baptized in 1988 at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. The President told Christianity Today that "I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life." Following a lengthy church search after assuming the office, he now worships at the non-denominational Evergreen Chapel at Camp David, like President Bush before him.

Making a comparison between the religious beliefs of these two men presents interesting problems. Mitt Romney has been very public about his religious life, but his moderate stance on could place him out of the more conservative theological beliefs that I will be exploring in this article. That makes him a bit difficult to pin down within Mormonism. On the other hand, President Obama has been private about his beliefs. While clearly stating that he believes in the saving power of Jesus Christ and that he prays daily, he hasn’t spoken of much beyond that. In both cases it is important to consider that they may differ from the traditional beliefs of each faith.

Both men hold religious beliefs that affect their political standing on issues like abortion, marriage, and war, but what are the actual theological differences between the two men? There is no way to say accurately, but we can look at some basic beliefs and glean some of the differences between Mormonism and mainline Christianity to get an idea.

Continued on page 2: On sacred texts »

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