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Entries in Mormon Church (3)

Sunday
Sep022012

JW Marriott Thanks Romney for Bringing Attention to Mormonism

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(BOSTON) -- The head of the prominent Marriott hotel chain and fellow Mormon J.W. Marriott thanked Mitt Romney Sunday during a Mormon church service for bringing “positive attention” to the religion, which is often considered to be shrouded in mystery.

“There has never been as much positive attention to the church, thanks to the wonderful campaign of Mitt Romney and his family,” Marriott said during a service at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wolfeboro, N.H., the lakeside town where the Romney family has a home.

Marriott’s remarks come after a noticeable shift in the campaign to highlight Romney’s faith, a subject that has been rarely spoken about publicly by the candidate and his wife until last week, when both mentioned Mormonism in their speeches at the Republican National Convention. Additionally, several speakers arranged by the campaign to appear at the RNC highlighted the candidate’s strong ties to his faith.

Romney and Ann Romney, who sat six rows back in the church this morning, showed little reaction to Marriott’s testimony, according to a small group of reporters who accompanied the couple inside.

Marriott spoke about an interview he did in the 1990s with CBS News’ Mike Wallace for “60 Minutes,” retelling a story about the undergarments many practicing Mormons wear, another subject the Romneys have never discussed.

“Of course the one question that they put on the air was, I understand Mormons wear different underwear, and I said yes, and he says, “Do you?’” Marriott recalled.

Marriott explained that he told Wallace at the time that the underwear looks like a “T-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts” and that it prompted him to tell a story about an instance he believes the garments saved his life.

“I’d been involved in a very serious boat accident here in New Hampshire. I caught fire; my polyester pants had burned off all the way to my waist. But my undergarments from my waist down to my knees had not even been singed. There was not a mark on them. And I said, these holy undergarments saved my life,” Marriott said.

“And after the interview we walked out together, and he looked at me, and said, ‘I wish I had the faith of the Mormons. I lost my 19-year-old son while he was rock climbing a few years ago, and I don’t know where he is and I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again,’” Marriott said.

The Romney family and the Marriott family have a long standing friendship. Romney’s father, George Romney, was so close to John Willard Marriott, the founder of the Marriott enterprise, that he named Romney after him. Romney’s first name is actually Willard, and Mitt is his middle name.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb052012

Romney Scores Big Across Faith Groups

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Mitt Romney romped in the Nevada caucuses with a leg up from his Mormon co-religionists, but also with winning margins across faith groups -- evangelicals included -- and a knockout even among the very conservative voters with whom he’s struggled elsewhere.

His calling card: defeating Barack Obama. In this entrance poll, analyzed for ABC by Langer Research Associates, more than four in 10 caucus-goers named it as the most important candidate attribute in their vote, and those who did backed Romney by a smashing 74-18 percent over Newt Gingrich. That’s Romney’s best to date among beat-Obama voters.

Romney’s rough spots on this cruise were few, but notable. He was crushed among the truest of the true conservatives, the 17 percent of caucus-goers who said they cared most about the candidate with the best conservative credentials. Forty-five percent in this group supported Ron Paul, 31 percent Gingrich, 19 percent Rick Santorum — leaving a mere 5 percent for Romney.

He also lost self-identified independents to Paul, ran only about evenly with Paul among voters under age 30, split those with incomes under $30,000 a year and won strong supporters of the Tea Party political movement much more narrowly than other groups, by 9 points over Gingrich.

Still, Romney overachieved essentially everywhere else, and in much larger groups -- albeit in what by any standard was a lightly attended event (only about 50,000 voters were expected), and in a state in which he won easily, with 51 percent of the vote, in 2008.

Mormons made up 26 percent of caucus participants Saturday, about the same as their share in Nevada in 2008 and far more than in previous contests this year. Ninety-one percent of them voted for Romney; Mormons accounted for more than four in 10 of his total votes.

But Romney also easily outpaced Gingrich among evangelicals, 45-29 percent, his best showing by far in this group to date. As such it was essentially inconsequential that, at 27 percent of the electorate, evangelicals were much less numerous than in most previous 2012 Republican events. They accounted for 65 percent, 57 percent, and 47 percent in South Carolina, Iowa and Florida, respectively. One in six Mormons identified themselves as evangelicals. Among non-Mormon evangelicals, Romney and Gingrich split the vote, 35-33 percent.

While light on evangelicals, Nevada was rich in “very” conservatives, 48 percent of caucus-goers, rivaled only in Iowa. As with evangelicals, Romney has struggled among very conservatives elsewhere, losing them in all previous contests save New Hampshire. He won them in Nevada by 2-1 over Gingrich.

And while Romney got hammered among the one in six looking mainly for a “true conservative,” he stormed back among other groups. In addition to the big beat-Obama vote, he beat Gingrich by 23 points among voters looking for the candidate with the best experience, and Paul by 23 points among those focused on “strong moral character.” The latter group, one in five voters, has been a weak one for the thrice-married Gingrich.

Gingrich and Paul battled for second place. Paul won self-identified independents, consistently a better group for him, by 48 percent to 31 percent over Romney; Paul’s misfortune was that independents accounted for just 18 percent of voters in the caucuses, which were open only to registered Republicans.

Paul and Romney were even among voters under age 30, but they accounted for just 8 percent of the turnout. Seniors, customarily a strong Romney group, accounted for 35 percent of caucus-goers, and backed him over Gingrich by 59 percent to 25 percent, with just 11 percent for Paul.

Among income groups, voters with household incomes less than $30,000 a year split three ways among Romney, Gingrich and Paul — but made up just 10 percent of Nevada voters. Romney won 48 percent of those in the $30,000 to $50,000 range, and 60 percent of those better off.

While Romney won strong Tea Party supporters by just 9 points, that itself was a major improvement from the previous two GOP contests. He lost this group to Gingrich by 12 points in Florida, and by 27 points in South Carolina.

A challenge for Gingrich was the narrow base of his support: Six in 10 of his voters were very conservatives, and two-thirds were strong Tea Party supporters. Paul, in turn, got 44 percent of his support from independents — a tough profile for a Republican candidate.

Finally, entrance poll results indicated that Romney did particularly well in Clark County, home to Las Vegas and more than half of all caucus-goers. He did similarly well in Clark County in 2008, but this year that score might be a particular message to Gingrich, whose most prominent financial backer, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, calls Las Vegas home.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan182012

Mitt Romney Sent Millions to Mormon Church

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Underscoring the prominent, if little discussed role that Mitt Romney played as a Mormon leader, the private equity giant once run by the GOP presidential frontrunner carved his church a slice of several of its most lucrative business deals, securities records show, providing it with millions of dollars worth of stock in some of Bain Capital's most well-known holdings.

Romney has always been a major donor to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which requires that members "tithe," or give 10 percent of their income to the church. His family charity, called the Tyler Foundation, has given more than $4 million to the church in the past five years, including $1.8 million in 2008 and $600,000 in 2009. But because Romney, whose fortune has been estimated at $250 million, has never released his personal tax returns, the full extent of his giving has never been public.

Newly uncovered stock contributions made during Romney's Bain days suggest there is another dimension to Romney's support for the church -- one that could involve millions more than has been previously disclosed.

As part of just one Bain transaction in 2008, involving its investment in Burger King Holdings, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that an unnamed Bain partner donated 65,326 shares of Burger King stock to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, holdings then worth nearly $1.9 million. And there were numerous others, giving the church a stake in other Bain properties, such as Domino's Pizza, the electronics manufacturer DDi, the phosphates company Innophos Holdings, and Marquee Holdings, the parent to AMC Theaters.

The Republican presidential candidate's campaign staff confirmed that some of the stock transactions were at Romney's direction, but they would not say which ones.

"Mitt Romney has publicly stated that he regularly tithes to his church," said Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, when asked about the Bain contributions. "Some of those church contributions have come through the Tyler Foundation. Others have been donations of stock through Bain. Any shares donated by Mitt Romney are personal shares owned by him."

Saul also noted that not all the shares that appear on Bain securities filings can be attributed to Romney, "as there are other Mormon members of the firm who may also have been making donations to the church of personal shares owned by them."

Questions about Romney's faith have remained largely subdued during the 2012 campaign. Many believe he helped tame the issue during his previous campaign with a December 2007 speech at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, during which he declared that his church would not dictate his actions in the White House, if he was to become president.

"I do not define my candidacy by my religion," Romney said. "A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith."

Romney said that Mormon church authority is limited to the province of church affairs, "and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin."

The Mormon church is distinct from many other American denominations in what it asks from adherents in money, time and commitment -- and not just because it asks young Mormon males to spend two years proselytizing for the faith as missionaries, said Jan Shipps, a religion professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, and one of the preeminent non-Mormon authorities on the church.

Romney has spoken about the 30 months he spent in France as a missionary, but his role within the church as an adult is largely unexplored. Shipps said Romney has held several significant posts within church leadership, including bishop and "stake" president, a leadership post that covers a sizeable geographic area and requires a significant commitment of time.

Beyond that, Romney appears to have lived up to rigid financial requirements within the church that asks parishioners to contribute 10 percent of their annual earnings.

"People choose their own way of deciding how to tithe," Shipps said. "I know friends who are lawyers who take 10 percent out of their fee. In the 19th century, they would take corn, or wheat. It's up to the person."

Stock contributions, negotiated during his high-wheeling deals while at the helm of Bain Capital, would not be unexpected, she said.

Bain officials said it is common in public offerings, whether in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, or in private equity, for participants to carve out shares to be donated to a favored charitable cause.

Securities records show that Romney found ways to help include the church in some of the companies most lucrative deals, just as other executives at the firm found ways to generate support for their favored charities. Among the companies named on securities filings as "Bain charitable institution donees" were the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, The Boston Foundation Inc., Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, and family foundations run by several top Bain executives.

In some cases the filings are vague about the way stocks are apportioned to the different recipients. In others, such as the 2000 stock sale involving DDi Corporation, the records show the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held 27,016 shares, worth $754,827 at the time of the sale. In a 2008 stock sale involving Innophos Holdings, the church's 50,301 shares were worth nearly $1.4 million. SEC filings for Marquee Holdings note that "certain members and other employees of Bain and its affiliates may make a contribution of shares to one or more charities prior to this offering, including … The Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Romney's own family nonprofit, The Tyler Charitable Foundation, was also cut into numerous Bain deals. The nonprofit, run by Bradford Malt -- the Romney personal attorney who oversees all of the candidate's financial holdings -- passed those stock earnings along to a variety of other charities, including the church.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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