Mitt Romney is expected to announce his second run for the presidency of the United States today. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, is a Republican. He is also a Mormon, a fact which has been garnering a great deal of attention. The United States has not yet had a Mormon president. The term Mormon is a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is a Christian religion, but is not Catholic or Protestant. Mormon beliefs teach that the original gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the 1800s after having been corrupted over the many years in which there were no living prophets to guide the various well-meaning churches.
Romney served a two-and-a-half year mission for his church in France when he was nineteen years old. This is common, but not a required part of Mormon life. Missionaries are unpaid and serve wherever they are sent. During this time, he was forced into unexpected leadership when his mission president’s wife died during a serious car accident. Romney was driving at the time and the car was hit by a drunk driver who sped around a curve and into oncoming traffic. Romney and his companion (Mormon missionaries always work in twos) were placed in charge of the mission while there was no leadership, instructed to do just the minimum to keep things functioning, since managing a mission is a complicated task normally done by older married couples. However, Romney and his companion chose instead to set goals to baptize far more people than the current goals and embarked on a campaign to motivate missionaries to support the goal.
After his mission, Mitt Romney attended Brigham Young University, a Mormon-owned school in Provo, Utah. He was named valedictorian of his class. He then obtained an MBA from Harvard University and was named a Baker scholar. In 1969, he married his high school sweetheart, whom he is still married to. They have five children. A co-founder and managing partner of Bain Capital, he first came to national attention when he took over the management of the Salt Lake City, Utah Olympics in 2002. The Olympics had faced a bribery scandal and needed fresh and honorable leadership.
In 2002, he was elected governor, using his business background as evidence that he could help the state’s financial crisis. He served one term and ran for president in 2008. His Mormonism was considered a factor in his inability to win the election. Today, it is still an issue, although some believe it will be less of an issue this campaign. Some prominent evangelicals have suggested that political values are more important than specific religious beliefs and have also suggested we are elected a commander-in-chief, not a pastor-in-chief.