Times and Seasons 2012 Mormon of the Year: Mitt Romney

MittRomneyProfilePicAfter due consideration the staff of Times and Seasons has selected Mitt Romney as the 2012 Mormon of the Year, our annual designation of the Mormon who had the greatest impact or influence on Mormons and Mormonism during the year.

This past year Romney was named as the Republican nominee for President of the United States, the first time a Mormon has been the nominee of a major political party. While Romney also drew attention to Mormonism during his 2008 attempt to gain the nomination (for which he was named Mormon of the Year 2008), his success in winning the nomination this past year garnered even more attention, both domestically and abroad.

Although Romney generally refused to discuss his Mormon beliefs during the campaign, his Mormonism was nevertheless a topic of discussion, and, at times, a weapon that opponents tried to use against him.  Attacks on Romney’s faith came both from supporters of fellow Republicans who were also seeking the Republican presidential nomination and from supporters of President Obama.  Remarkably, however, Romney’s Mormonism represented much less of a political issue in 2012 than it did in 2008. While interest in Mormonism soared cover the course of the campaign, the media coverage in the United States was largely positive–ushering in a new so-called “Mormon moment.”  The stellar field of Mormon of the Year nominees this year is, in part, a reflection of this increased attention, which elevated the voices of scholars such as Joanna Brooks to national prominence and paved the way for the Church’s wildly successful “I’m a Mormon” campaign.  Scores of Mormons across the country, particularly in swing states such as Colorado and Nevada, became more politically and publicly engaged as a result.  When religiously-based attacks were leveled against Romney, whether direct or indirect, they were generally muted by both the Romney and Obama campaigns, the mainstream media, and by outside observers who found Mormonism either largely irrelevant to Romney’s candidacy or not something that should be used in a political attack.  Toward the end of his campaign, Romney himself began to more publicly embrace his Mormonism, discussing his missionary service in ads and interviews and orchestrating a convention that explicitly highlighted his Church leadership in the Boston-area.

Having a Mormon capture the Republican nomination for president in the United States also served to draw a tremendous amount of attention to the Church abroad.  How this attention, politically-intertwined as it is, will ultimately affect the image of the Church globally remains to be seen.  Some see it as establishing credibility for Latter-day Saints, concluding that it is harder to write the Church off as a cult or a sect or otherwise persecute it as an institution when its membership includes such prominent U.S. politicians.  Others fear that Romney’s candidacy has inadvertently harmed the Church’s outreach efforts overseas because people have begun to associate Romney’s conservative positions and politics with the Church as an institution, particularly when the Church has gone to great lengths to try to shed its image as an “American” church.

While opinions on his candidacy may differ, it is difficult to seriously claim that anyone had a greater impact or influence on the image of Mormons and Mormonism than Romney over the past year.


Times and Seasons has also written about Mitt Romney before. You can see a list of posts that mention Romney here. Given Romney’s apparent good health and wide business and political involvement, it is possible that he will still appear in the news in the future. It will be interesting to see what impact he may still have. Regardless, neither this recognition nor any of our articles should be seen as an endorsement of his political positions or aspirations.

The Mormon of the Year designation is a recognition of the effect that the person or group of persons recognized has had during the past year. It is not a prize or award, so nothing of value is being given to anyone as a result of this designation, and it is not necessarily meant to honor the person or persons recognized, so no effort will be made to contact or notify Romney.

We were very pleased by the interest in selecting the Mormon of the Year. The Times and Seasons readers and staff nominated a total of 12 candidates. We learned a lot from those nominations, especially the range of our readers’ beliefs and feelings and about Mormons who have done significant things and really deserve to be on a list of possible Mormons of the Year.

The LDS Church’s First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were excluded from nominations.

We also appreciate those who dropped by and participated in our online vote, which taught us a lot about the passion that many people have for their friends and those that they admire. Nearly 500 people voted in our poll. We hope that those who dropped by enjoyed Times and Seasons and will drop by again.

Please plan on participating in next year’s Mormon of the Year nominations and designation. I’m sure that many of the nominees will show up next year, and those of us who were unfamiliar with some of the nominees can use that time to become more familiar with them. Certainly we will re-nominate some of them next year.



34 comments for “Times and Seasons 2012 Mormon of the Year: Mitt Romney

  1. While I agree that Mitt Romney did indeed have the biggest impact, I fear that the impact was largely a negative one. When Romney entered federal politics, I had hoped that he would bring a higher standard of integrity to campaigning. Instead, the 2012 presidential campaign run in his name was the most deceptive, lie-filled, fact-free campaign I have EVER seen. I was appalled that the campaign spent so much time lying, disseminating half-truths, and tossing around “facts” that weren’t factual. I was embarrassed to have to tell my non-member friends “Yes, I DO belong to the same church as that guy.”

    Whenever the next Mormon runs for president, I sure hope he or she can run a more honest campaign with more integrity than Romney did.

  2. Rob, I think you got Romney’s campaign mixed up with Obama’s sleezy Chicago hit squad.

    “When Obama continued federal politics, I knew that he would bring a higher level of dirty tricks to campaigning. Of course, the 2012 presidential campaign run in his name was the most deceptive, lie-filled, fact-free campaign I have EVER seen. I was appalled that the campaign spent so much time lying, disseminating half-truths, and tossing around “facts” that weren’t factual. I was embarrassed to know that “Yes, I DO belong to the same country as that guy.”

    Obama is not just NOT my President. He is a totalitarian dictator just barely held back by what remains of the threadbare Constitution.

  3. Well I found this site because of your Mormon of the Year contest. I am leaving for the same reason – Romney?!? Really?!? Shame on you.

  4. Darlene, it’s not a political endorsement or statement of approval; can you suggest a Mormon who has had greater impact (for good or ill) this year?

  5. Sorry, Robert, but I did not see the Romney campaign put out the kind of blatant missinformation about the opposing candidate that the Obama campaign and its confederates pushed against Romney. They claimed that he was somehow responsible for the cancer death of the wife of a steel plant employee who had been laid off a couple of years after Romney left Bain Capital, even though the man had another job at which he did not choose to have health insurance and his wife had health insurance through her own employment. Another ad showed one of the people who worked on the crew that collected trash in the neighborhood of Romney’s southern California who said he was “invisible” to Romney, while the fact was that Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, had spent a day on a trash collection crew to better understand what they did. Romney was accused of being “out of touch” by people in the news and entertainment media who were just as rich as Romney (like Barbara Walters). Even though the New York Times had run stories about Romney’s unpaid service to the needy as a bishop and stake president, no one in the broadcast media was willing to include those facts in their portrayal of the man. The drumbeat of Obama supporters was that Romney was rich, rich people are selfish, therefore Romney is evil. The irony is that much of the wealth Bain Capital created benefited public employee pension funds, supporting the retirement of teachers and other government employees who were instituionally supporting Obama through their unions.

  6. Robert, Jettboy, cut it out. To the extent you want to discuss Romney and his impact on Mormonism and its perception in the world, this is absolutely the place. If you want, instead, to debate the moral soundness of individuals (including Romney and Obama), teh internets is a big place, and I’m sure you can find a more appropriate location.

  7. Yes, if he would have stood up to the Tea Party, he would have earned my respect to a greater degree. The far right gives me a rash. But Mr. Romney is probably a fine father, husband and friend. And I think Mormons across the spectrum should recognize the historic presidential run. They should also be willing to recognize the great good in Harry Reid as well.

  8. The sole criterion here–the person having the biggest effect on Mormons or Mormonism in 2012–makes the choice of Mitt Romney apodictic, for good or evil. I’m willing to say that even if the voters reversed field and included church leaders in the competition, he would still win, and easily.

  9. I’m taking bets on how quickly this thread closes due to comments attacking Romney or the President. My bet: two hours. Any takers?

  10. #12: While I agree that he probably had more of an impact than anyone in the 12, I doubt (at least from the votes) that he would have one. It’s almost like everyone would have to vote for the prophet. Otherwise you’re not a good Mormon. Maybe the T&S would have chosen Mitt anyway though.

  11. I actually thought this presidential campaign involved the least dishonesty on both sides and was the most driven by issues rather than personalities of any campaign in my adult lifetime. Admittedly that’s not a real high bar, but overall I thought voters got to choose between Position A and Position B, rather than Bad Haircut and Looks Fat in Sweaters. I may not have voted for Romney, but I thought he gave a pretty good accounting of himself. There really isn’t a question about his MotY selection.

  12. seems like some people haven’t got the word, the election is over. move on. I agree that Romney was the most visable Mormon this years. that seems to be the standard for the selection.

  13. Mitt Romney definitely had the most impact on me, personally, of all the nominees; my family is furious with me because I didn’t vote for him. I’ve been told that my failure to support him is going to bring about the second coming more quickly. Yay, I’m so glad he won Mormon of the Year.

  14. I know it was somewhat of an ice breaker for people who knew at my place employment that I was LDS who wanted to acknowledge that with some discussion or what I thought about Candidate Romney. Whether or not I supported him fully or not was less important to them than breaking the ice. My work partner, who has always been a firm Obama supporter acknowledged seeing a television special on Romney and whether or not she agreed with his political ideology, she concluded that he was a good person. The way she told me this suggested that she was reflecting on how our shared theology influenced his life. If I had the time I would go over to Religious Dispatches and do a count of how many of Joanna Brook’s 2012 posts are about Romney and use that to point out that her output of essays would look much different if she was not responding to Romney’s journey through the election. What else would she have written about? It was well said that her scholarly voice was elevated. I do wish we, as the general public, had been able to find more common ground with him, but either he was advised to not let that happen in order to seem more ‘presidential’ or his gaffes show a distance that is ‘etched’ into his persona.

  15. I work as a security officer, and one of the officers I work with, who happens to be African American, told me something a few weeks ago, upon learning I was a Mormon. He said he always has had a negative opinion of the Mormon Church. However, he was impressed with Romney during the election campaign, especially his business success, family life and devotion to his faith. My co-worker said that because of Romney, he’s changed his previous long-held opinion, and now looks favorably upon the Mormon Church.

    From where I sit, Mitt Romney has had a positive impact on how others view Mormons, and is deserving of Mormon of the Year.

  16. Romney’s campaign demonstrated that the anti-Mormon bias from Republicans didn’t negatively impact his campaign. However, it did show a striking anti-Mormon bias from the liberals. Liberals, like members of this site…

  17. I find the political bickering here beyond stupid. The sweeping generalizations and caricaturing from both sides is outrageous. Look, I’m a moderate Democrat who voted for Obama and disagrees with Romney on plenty of policy decisions. But I fully recognize Romney’s impact as the “Mormon of 2012” and do appreciate that he presented himself well throughout the election. Sure, he had his share of gaffes, just like Obama has had his share of gaffes, but on the whole Romney was professional, courteous, civil, sincere and passionate. I admire him for that.

    We’re not here to argue politics, but rather whether Romney did the most for Mormonism in 2012. I think undeniably he did. Whether you agree with his politics is one thing; but no one can reasonable deny his importance in carrying the “Mormon Moment” to the length it went. If it weren’t for Romney, we just wouldn’t have received the attention we did during the election. And you know what they say about free publicity…

  18. I think the single biggest benefit to come from Romney2012 was that the church was forced to put out a statement saying that caffeinated drinks are OK.

    Jettboy is simply unamerican. We all know that. Let’s move on.

  19. In what sense were the “I’m a Mormon” campaign wildly successfull? We had them here too and I have not seen any figures to say they had any effect, have you?

    I agree Romney was the most prominent mormon in the news.

  20. Romney was probably the only possible choice this past year due to all the press he, and as a consequence mormonism received.

    However T&S’s insistence that this “is not a prize or award, so nothing of value is being given to anyone as a result of this designation” I still believe is wrong. After all ‘something of value’ is what makes the Nobel prizes more well known than ,say, the Fields Medal (although even the Fields medal has a $15k prize since 06)

  21. #28 That’s $1.4 million for each prize by the way.

    Makes winning a prize worthwhile even if it’s for some fantasy reason like Obama’s peace prize was.

  22. Charlie and Bryan, you really don’t understand this designation at all. Its not a prize, because it is not a privilege to be named. Just because you get a lot of media attention doesn’t mean you are a good person or should be rewarded. The choice is made based on who had a lot of impact, WHETHER THAT IMPACT IS GOOD OR BAD!!!

    Please, don’t try to call this a prize, or suggest that we should give the person named money for some odd reason.

  23. Is it too late to nominate Manti Te’o for the 2013 award? The media is now even talking about CTR rings?

    (Of course, when I nominate Manti Te’o, I’m nominating him for the Fake Mormon of the Year award.)

  24. I’m with you Kent, though I misunderstood what Charlie was saying. In fact I’m still not sure what Charlie is saying. What I thought his point was is that the Nobel Prize is more prestigious than the Fields Medal despite the fields medal giving a monetary prize. The implication being that the since the Nobel Prize had no monetary award it was still worth something and therefore this post has some non-monetary value.

    I was just pointing out that the Nobel Prize indeed has a monetary award that is surprisingly large.

    In re-reading Charlie’s post I see that his point was that the Nobel Prize is prestigious because of the prize. So now I’m not sure what his point is. That T&S should send the winner some sort of a prize I guess?

  25. When (IF) we at T&S have enough money to offer the Mormon of the Year a monetary prize, we will certainly use it for some other, better, cause.

  26. “WHETHER THAT IMPACT IS GOOD OR BAD!!!”….yeah Ted Bundy should have been named Mo of the Year in ’75 odd.

    Kent: I think you missed the message here. I meant that having this Mormon of the Year as a non-prize and non-award is rather wasteful. If you had a prize, like maybe a framed letter, the prize would be more relevant and not just something done here amongst the T&S readers. Maybe sending Mitt a $10 cheque with the letter will make this more relevant -he’s sure to frame both.

    Bryan @32, interesting. Not sure if it’s sarcasm or honest thinking. I meant off course that the Nobels are more famous today because they always came with a large cheque since they started back in 1901. But the Fields medal was always just a medal -since 1936- until they woke up to marketing and added that $15k cheque in 2006.

    But T&S has no money apparently…but hey, maybe T&S could find a rich sponsor, like a Mitt Romney? to do the cheque part and add some real value to this non-prize/non-award Mo of the Year?
    (by the way a Cheque is a Check in americanized englisch)

  27. Charlie, you are still not hearing what I am saying. Making this “more relevant” isn’t where we want to go. We don’t want this award to be considered some serious honor, something to be aspired to.

    And I do not believe that your solution will accomplish what you think it will. Giving someone a framed letter or a check only means its more important in a world where money and recognition are thought to be important. I don’t want to reinforce that, because I have serious doubts about their validity.

    I think we’ve probably had enough on this discussion, said everything that can really be said, so I am going to close down the comments. Thanks everyone for participating, and please participate again next year.

Comments are closed.