Mitt Romney and Religion

This page provides "just the facts" — direct quotes, linked references and video — on Mitt Romney's religious faith, religious beliefs and views on some major moral issues. This guide is not intended to be comprehensive, but to provide a convenient summary and starting point for further reading. Click on the links in the table below to jump to quotes and resources on that topic.

Mitt Romney on His Personal Religion and Beliefs

"For three years, from 1982 to 1985, Mr. Romney served as the bishop, or lay pastor, at his church in Belmont, Mass. After that, he served nine years as "stake" president, overseeing about a dozen Boston-area parishes. But it was his time as bishop that gave him the most contact with everyday churchgoers. He organized weekly church services and ministered to parishioners, offering spiritual guidance on whatever problems they brought to him – financial, marital, physical, anything. He heard confessions of sin and determined who is allowed to enter a Mormon temple, a privilege reserved for those who meet the church's high standards of personal conduct. He distributed church funds to those in need. Being a bishop is 'a very weighty responsibility, which you take with a great deal of care and sobriety,' Romney said." [8/9/07]

"You pretty much always do what you're asked to do – everything from teaching kids, teaching teenagers, working in Boy Scouts, and … for a few years, I was the adult Sunday School teacher. I like teaching. I taught the New Testament, I taught church history, I taught the Book of Mormon, I taught the Old Testament, and learned a lot about those." [8/9/07]

"You know, one of the great things about this country of ours is that we don't choose our leaders based on what church they go to. We care about the values they have. And if you want to learn something about my values, you can meet my wife and my son and you can see that we have American values like anyone else in this country." [8/9/07]

"And I'm really proud of the fact that wherever I go, people say, 'We love the fact that you're a person of faith, you believe in God, you believe in the Bible, you believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world.' Those are my beliefs, they form who I am. And one of the great elements of America is that we accept people of all faiths as long as they share our values and our love for this great country." [8/9/07]

Video: Faith in American speech by Mitt Romney - Part 2

References and Further Reading

  1. Linda Feldmann, "Mitt Romney: Proudly, Quietly Mormon." Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2007.
  2. Collin Hansen, "Latter-Day Politics." Christianity Today, September 26, 2007.
  3. Eli Saslow, "A Mission Accepted." Washington Post, December 10, 2007.

Mitt Romney on Abortion

"Q: You've also described a change of heart on the issue of abortion. You were pro-choice then. You're pro-life now. So do you now believe that abortion is murder? Romney: Abortion is taking human life. There's no question but that human life begins when all the DNA is there necessary for cells to divide and become a human being. Is it alive? Yes. Is it human? Yes. And, therefore, when we abort a fetus, we are taking a life at its infancy, at its very, very beginning roots, and a civilized society, I believe, respects the sanctity of human life. This is something that I spent a lot of time agonizing over, because I'm personally very much pro-life in my own life, my family's life, but didn't know what the role of government should be and it's been something that I've given a lot of thought to. But at a very critical juncture, about 2.5 years ago, we were discussing embryonic cloning, cloning and embryo farming, and I had the provost of Harvard University and the head of stem cell research from Harvard there. And at one point, we were talking about this practice, this technique, and one of the individuals said to me, "This isn't really a moral issue." I said, "Well, why is that?" They said, "Well, because we destroy the embryo at 14 days." And in my mind's eye, I saw rack after rack of little embryos, of nascent humanity and then them being destroyed or killed one after the other. And I said, "We have so cheapened the value of human life in this society, that I want to make it clear I'm pro-life." Q: So if abortion is the taking of a life, should women who have abortions and doctors who perform them be jailed? Romney: My view is that we should let each state have its own responsibility for guiding its laws relating to abortion. My preference would be to see the Supreme Court do something which is up to them, not up to me. Even if elected president, I don't guide this. The Supreme Court does. But I'd like to see the Supreme Court allow states to have greater leeway in defining their own laws. Q: But if it's killing, why should states have leeway? Romney: You know, that's one of the great challenges that we have. There are a lot of things that are morally very difficult and, in some cases, repugnant that we let states decide. For instance, Nevada allows prostitution. I find that to be quite repugnant as a practice. Q: But murder is illegal in every state. Romney: And so we let states make some of these very difficult decisions. That's one of the difficulties here. Also, I feel a great empathy for women who have difficult decisions in this regard. I don't want to impose my view on the lives of women, and yet this is one of those points where mature men and women have to come together and say, "What's the right course?" And in my particular view, I believe in life, I believe in respecting life, and I believe that we should, as a series of states, allow states to make their own choice in this regard. Q: But, personally, what do you believe the punishment should be for an abortion? Romney: Well, I'm not about punishment. That's not what I'm considering. I'm saying that, in my view, we should let the states make that decision and I am in favor of life and in favor of choosing life.... our state is overwhelmingly a pro-choice state and Massachusetts would, under the construct I suggested, remain a pro-choice state. This is not about punishment. This is about allowing states to make a decision on an issue of great moral significance to a lot of people and I think, state by state, we should allow a federalist approach as it relates to the issue of abortion." [2/18/07]

"I felt that in a secular position [as governor], my job was to [make] the considerations not from a religious standpoint but from a standpoint of a successful civilization. From that standpoint, I believe that a civilized society should respect the sanctity of life." [8/9/07]

[His brother-in-law's sister died from an illegal abortion in the 1960s.] "I've given a lot of thought to that issue, and someone like myself who is very much opposed to abortion, as I have always been, struggles with what the role of government ought to be in making that choice," he says. "It's not an easy decision, but when it went from a matter of discussion and a philosophical view to actually making a decision relating to life and death, I as governor concluded I had to come down on the side of life." [8/9/07]

"As president, he says, he would like to see the legality of abortion decided state by state." [8/9/07]

Video: Mitt Romney on Abortion in Gubernatorial Debate 2002 AC_AX_RunContent( 'width','425','height','355','src','','type','application/x-shockwave-flash','wmode','transparent','movie','' ); //end AC code

Video: Mitt Romney Explains His Abortion Position on CNN, June 18, 2007 AC_AX_RunContent( 'width','425','height','355','src','','type','application/x-shockwave-flash','wmode','transparent','movie','' ); //end AC code

References and Further Reading

  1. "Mitt Romney: The Complete Interview." ABC News, February 18, 2007.
  2. Linda Feldmann, "Mitt Romney: Proudly, Quietly Mormon." Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2007.

Mitt Romney on Church and State

[Q: How does your faith inform your politics?] "Well, I think religion is a separate sphere in terms of a particular brand of faith, but I think the principles of all faiths have, as their foundation, the idea that there is a supreme being, that this supreme being is a heavenly father, and that all the people in our country and in all countries are sons and daughters of the same supreme being. I think we are, if you will, one family of humanity. That informs very dramatically my sense of what our relationship should be in the world, our need to care for the very poor and the diseased and the brutalized, our need in this country to provide opportunities for all of our citizens. That fundamental belief that we are all brothers and sisters has an enormous impact, I think, on a lot of what we do. But the particular doctrines of a church I don't think are a major part in a political sense." [2/18/07]

"We have a separation of church and state in this country, and we should and it's served us well. I don't believe, for instance, we should take 'Under God' out of the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think we should take 'In God we trust' off of our coins. There's a point at which we take something which is a good principle to an extreme. But I do recognize and support the idea that when you take the oath of office, you basically support something which Abraham Lincoln called America's political religion. And if I'm lucky enough to be elected president of this country and I take that oath of office, there will be no higher promise than to abide by the Constitution and the rule of law." [2/18/07]

"We don't fund faith-based institutions, other than when they're performing a non-faith role. So right now we have faith-based initiatives in our state.... And some of the faith-based institutions, particularly in the inner city, are doing a lot better job helping the poor, helping kids, helping families get on their feet than some government social service agencies. So helping them in their secular role is, of course, fine. Helping them in a religious role... that would be unacceptable." [2/18/07]

"You know, one of the great things about this country of ours is that we don't choose our leaders based on what church they go to. We care about the values they have." [8/9/07]

"While the doctrines of my church are quite different from evangelical Christian doctrines, the values of our faiths are very much the same. I don't know of a doctrinal difference that would suggest a different policy outcome or that would suggest that a President of my faith would lead in a different direction than President Bush, an evangelical Christian." [9/26/07]

"Do they [evangelical Christians] want agreement on doctrine, and does that really effect how someone leads as President? Or does someone want a President who shares values and will preserve the values and culture of America? That will only happen if people band together where we share common values." [9/26/07]

Video: Faith in America speech by Mitt Romney - Part 1 AC_AX_RunContent( 'width','425','height','355','src','','type','application/x-shockwave-flash','wmode','transparent','movie','' ); //end AC code

References and Further Reading

  1. "Mitt Romney: The Complete Interview." ABC News, February 18, 2007.
  2. Linda Feldmann, "Mitt Romney: Proudly, Quietly Mormon." Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2007.
  3. Collin Hansen, "Latter-Day Politics." Christianity Today, September 26, 2007.

Mitt Romney on the Death Penalty

"Governor Mitt Romney yesterday filed a long-awaited bill to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts for deadly acts of terrorism, killing sprees, murders involving torture, and the killing of law enforcement authorities... The bill lays out a set of hurdles for meting out capital punishment sentences, in an effort to neutralize problems that have led to dozens of death-row exonerations across the nation in recent years. The measure calls for verifiable scientific evidence such as DNA to sentence someone to death and a tougher standard of ''no doubt' of guilt for juries to sentence defendants, rather than a ''beyond a reasonable doubt' standard." [4/29/07]

"In my view, a person who takes life should be subject to having life taken, in certainly the most extreme cases. To show respect for life, it is entirely consistent to say [that] somebody who flagrantly and violently and in a heinous manner takes the life of humans should not be given the privilege of being kept alive." [8/9/07]

References and Further Reading

  1. Raphael Lewis, "Romney files death penalty bill." Boston Globe, April 29, 2005.
  2. Linda Feldmann, "Mitt Romney: Proudly, Quietly Mormon." Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2007.

Mitt Romney on Homosexuality and Gay Marriage

"Romney: I'm not in favor of changing it [the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy]. I'm in favor of leaving it as it is. Certainly, at this stage, there's no reason to change it. The policy that we've had in place for over a decade is working. So my view is keep it in place, don't move for a change. Q: That current policy labels homosexuality as a defect. Is that what you believe? Romney: You know, I'm not going to suggest that I'm in any way a psychologist. That's a decision a psychologist would have to tell you and I'm not going to weigh in on that. What I can tell you is I oppose discrimination on the basis of race, gender, but also sexual preference. And so I'm not in favor of discrimination in that regard, but I do favor and have always favored traditional marriage and oppose same sex marriage. From the very beginning of my political life and well before that, I've felt marriage is between a man and a woman and not between people of the same gender. Q: You have been consistent about that, but what do you think about legally recognizing domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples? Romney: I don't know if there needs to be a legal recognition, meaning two people can enter into a partnership, whether they're people who love each other or whether they're just friends. They can enter into a contract and have contractual relationships with one another. But that doesn't require a sanction by the state and so that's a decision each state would have to make. I wouldn't seek to impose, at the national level, a prohibition on contractual relationships between two people. But my view is, at the national level, we should define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. And this isn't about adult rights. A lot of people get confused that gay marriage is about treating gay people the same as treating heterosexual people, and that's not the issue involved here. This is about the development and nurturing of children. Marriage is primarily an institution to help develop children and children's development, I believe, is greatly enhanced by access to a mom and a dad. I think every child deserves a mom and a dad, and that's why I'm so consistent and vehement in my view that we should have a federal amendment which defines marriage in that way. Q: I was going to ask you about that, because in 2005, in South Carolina, you actually seemed to mock the idea of gays and lesbians adopting and bearing children. Romney: No, that wasn't my intent. I know one quote said I made the point that gay couples are even having children and there's been a lot of attention. I think it wasn't apparent immediately to me that two people of the same gender would be having children. Biologically, that doesn't work, unless, of course, there are donors, and I've made that point to the audience. I don't mean to mock that in any way and I know we have gay adoption in Massachusetts. Other states do. It's a decision made by state-by-state. Q: Are you for it? Romney: There are gay couples that are having children of their own and, obviously, that's their right. But my belief is that the ideal setting for a child is where there's a mom and a dad. Q: So you don't share the concern of some Evangelicals, like James Dobson, with Mary Cheney's announcement that she was going to have a child. Romney: My view is that the right model for the nation and the right standard for the nation is marriage is between a man and a woman and a child deserves a mom and a dad." [2/18/07]

"The belief that marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred relationship leads one to protect the sanctity of marriage. These fundamental values are not associated with a doctrine of a faith, but instead are part of the value base of every faith of which I'm aware." [9/26/07]

References and Further Reading

  1. "Mitt Romney: The Complete Interview." ABC News, February 18, 2007.
  2. Collin Hansen, "Latter-Day Politics." Christianity Today, September 26, 2007.

Mitt Romney on Issues in Medical Ethics

"The creation of new life specifically for the purpose of experimentation and destruction crosses a bright moral line. It is literally creating life to destroy it. And for me, whether that is done through embryo farming or done through cloning, both of them are wrong and are unacceptable." [9/26/07]

"My position on cloning and embryo farming is not a religion-based decision, because I think that approach does not fit with a secular leader's viewpoint. In my case, I believe that a civilized society must respect the sanctity of human life. Unquestionably, a scientist will tell you that life occurs when all the dna and genetic material is present and the life is human and conception has occurred. Therefore, from a scientific standpoint, life occurs at conception. As to when the soul enters the physical, that's a matter for theologians, not for people who are running for President." [9/26/07]

References and Further Reading

  1. Collin Hansen, "Latter-Day Politics." Christianity Today, September 26, 2007.