Obama: Frequent, But Not Without Controversy
Obama, whose favorite hymn is “Amazing Grace,” told the AP that he attends services at the Trinity United Church of Christ, on the South Side of Chicago, “frequently.” (Obama also “regularly attends church while on the campaign trail.”) The church, the denomination’s largest, calls itself “unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian.” Pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. has invited some controversy for his allegedly anti-white ideology, for placing some blame for the 9/11 attacks on America’s foreign policy, and for his friendship with Louis Farrakhan. Obama has tried to minimize any damage Reverend Wright could have on his campaign; he canceled plans to have Wright speak at the official announcement of Obama’s candidacy in February 2007.
Romney: Bishop of the Boston LDS Church
Growing up in not-so-Mormon Michigan, Romney remembers attending services in a “little house in Pontiac where we had to set up folding chairs and tables.” After moving to Boston, the Romneys for a while hosted services in their own home until a “meetinghouse” was constructed at the bottom of a hill in the leafy suburb of Belmont, where they lived. From 1984 to 1986, Romney was the unpaid “Bishop” of the Belmont ward. He then became president of the Boston stake, covering ten wards and 3,000 Latter-Day Saints congregants. Around the time he stepped down from his church duties, an official Mormon temple was erected in Belmont, designed to serve the entire Northeast. “Built of marble imported from Italy, the temple sits on a hill high above this well-heeled suburb, surrounded by tall trees, an immaculate lawn and an even more immaculate parking lot,” the Washington Post reported. Its steeple, like most LDS temples, is topped with a gold-leaf statue of the angel Moroni, whom the faithful believe delivered the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith. The temple, though, has not been without its controversies, including a lawsuit in federal court, which ultimately made its way to Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled in the church’s favor in 2001. Romney himself faced a lot of blowback from his religion in 2008 but managed to skate by several months without the “Mormon question” coming up, thanks largely to being a known quantity and because voters simply don’t care as much, what with the economy in the tank. Southern Baptist minister Robert Jeffress did try to stir up that pot again at this year’s Values Voter Summit in October — he called Mormonism a “cult” — but pundits proclaimed that specific line of attack dead on arrival, while many of Romney’s competitors distanced themselves from the remarks or, at the very least, evaded questions about it. From the perspective of Romney’s campaign, though, his religion is the least of their candidate’s worries, what with his wooden delivery, flip-flopping past, and — he will never be allowed to forget it — Romneycare.