Mitt and Mormonism

I’m posting a piece below that was emailed to me by someone at It’s about Ross H. Palfreyman. He’s the author of a book titled, “Two years in God’s Mormon Army.”

Palfreyman argues that people would have a better image of Mitt Romney if they understood his Mormonism better. I present it without comment, except to say that I don’t know how any candidate could explain this as part of a campaign. Enjoy.

“Critics say the presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney seems “stiff” and out of touch. Some say it’s because of his immense wealth. Ross H. Palfreyman, a Mormon author of Two Years in God’s Mormon Army ( <> ), thinks it’s something else.

“People get distracted by religion, especially the Mormon religion, because, hey, we do some quirky stuff,” Palfreyman says. “I think Romney has stayed away from the personal stuff because much of it has to do with being Mormon. But if people knew about his experiences as a Mormon, they’d see his softer side.”

Like Palfreyman, Romney served two years as a Mormon missionary, a rite of passage that teaches young men compassion and self-discipline, among other values, Palfeyman says. That time away from home – no visits allowed and only two phone calls a year on Mother’s Day and Christmas – can be the most memorable in a Mormon’s lifetime, he says.

Palfreyman offers facts for voters about Mormonism and Romney’s relationship to it:


Romney served his two-year mission  in France. No matter where a young man serves his mission “it prepares you for  a life of service,” Palfreyman says. The missionaries witness abject poverty,  learn selflessness and hard work, and learn how to accept rejection.

Romney also served five years as  bishop of his congregation in Belmont, Mass. It was an unpaid position where  he managed nuts-and-bolts-type issues like administrative tasks and more  delicate duties, including financial counseling and assistance, and marriage  relationship help.

Mormons revere and exalt the  Bible, and see it as the bedrock of Christianity. They also believe in a  revelation given from God to Joseph Smith, which is found in the Book of  Mormon.

Children are baptized into the  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 8. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio  of Florida, a potential running mate for Romney, was baptized into the LDS  Church while living in Utah with his family. Rubio converted to Catholicism as  a teenager.

Mormons believe God wants human  beings to follow a health outline called “The Word of Wisdom,” which  discourages use of alcohol, tobacco or coffee. Adherence to this health code  is especially important for baptism, full-time missionary work, church school  attendance and entry into the church’s temples. Violation of the code is not  grounds for excommunication or other disciplinary measures. Other guidelines  include limited meat consumption, the restriction of narcotics and an emphasis  on eating herbs, fruits and grains.

Romney is far more than the stiff businessman in a suit often seen in public, Palfreyman says.

“Clearly, there’s a softer and more developed side to Mitt Romney, because he was a great bishop from all I’ve heard,” he says. “His religion is the elephant in the room, but he’s got to keep it from distracting from his message about what he would do as the nation’s leader.”

(Ross H. Palfreyman is a Laguna Beach, Calif., lawyer who began his mission work in 1973 in Thailand, during the Vietnam War and the Thai Revolution of ’73.)”

Categories: Campaign 2012
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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.


  1. shannon campbell

    I have been saying all this since the begining. I will have to check out this book, thank you for sharing it.

  2. Ross H. Palfreyman

    I agree completely with Mr. Jay Evensen’s comment that: I don’t know how any candidate can explain this as part of a campaign”. I don’t think that it would be appropriate either. Mitt Romney is running for President of the Untied States, not Pope, Prophet, or Pastor. That is why this book is so timely. The information contained in “Two Years…” helps to dispel bias by those who don’t know the Mormons, which bias is based in ignorance or false information. It explains several doctrinal issues as they arise in the missionary experience, describes in detail, one of the most singular cultural events of a Mormon’s life, and pointedly lays out the Mormon belief in service. As I have done radio talk shows across the country, these insights into Mormonism have clearly enlightened many about the upside of the Mormon experience. (An unexpected side benefit has been all of the positive feedback from returned missionaries who have been able to rekindle the memories of their own missionary experiences as they read “Two Years In God’s Mormon Army”.

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