Romney Defends His Religion

"My church says I can't drink alcohol, right? OK, should I say, as governor of Massachusetts, we are stopping alcohol sales? No. My religion is for me and how I live my life. So don't confuse what I do, as a member of my faith, with what I think ought to be done by government."

With commercials playing in the background, the two kept going at it.

"I accept all my faith, but I don't impose my faith's beliefs on you," Romney explained.

Mickelson tried to explain his line of questioning: "What I was trying to get to was: People who will reject your Mormonism on a theological basis can, would put up with that and might vote for you if they thought you were a consistent, morally consistent Mormon."

"Well, I am," said Romney. "I am. I am!"

"If they don't think you're a morally consistent Mormon they're not likely to hold their nose," said Mickelson.

"I made it very clear I do not, I do not try to distance myself from my faith in any way shape or form," Romney said.

Mickelson said Romney was trying to "hermetically seal" his religious views away from his political ones, thus alienating potential evangelical and Catholic supporters.

"And what should I do? And so tell me what I should do," Romney asked, sarcastically. "I should not have been pro-choice? And therefore I'm just finished, right there."

Advice for Romney

Mickelson said Romney should say that he "made a mistake" by not governing as an anti-abortion governor, since it wasn't in accordance with LDS theology.

"Every Mormon should be pro-life?" Romney said.

"If that's what your church says," Mickelson answered.

"That's not what my church says!" Romney said. "You're wrong! That's your problem."

After a brief on-air farewell, the intense discussion resumed.

"Let me help you understand. You don't understand my faith like I do," Romney said. "My church has very strong beliefs that Mormons should not participate in, encourage, in any way support abortion."

Mickelson interrupted again, but Romney continued. "Let me once again say I understand my faith better than you do. You don't believe that do you?"

"I'm not sure." Mickelson said.

"Then it's hardly worth having a discussion," Romney said.

Mickelson explained that the reason he had doubts was that on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," Romney said that Christ would return to earth in Jerusalem, whereas "your church says it's going to happen in Missouri."

Romney explained that the Latter Day Saints Church "says that Christ appears on the Mount of Olives and splits the Mount of Olives and appears in Jerusalem, that's what the church says. And then over the 1,000 years of the millennium, that the world is reigned in two places, Jerusalem and Missouri. The second coming, the arrival of Jesus Christ, our church says is in Jerusalem."

'Not Running to Talk About Mormonism'

"I want you to understand one thing. I take this stuff real seriously," Mickelson said.

"Oh, I don't, though," Romney snarled. "For me it's all frivolous. Come on. I'm running for president!"

Romney argued that the church does not teach that Mormons cannot allow choice in society "and therefore there are Mormon Democrats. There is a Democratic party in Utah filled with Mormons, and the church doesn't say, 'They're wrong. They're being excommunicated,'" Romney continued.

The position of the LDS Church is, 'We are vehemently opposed to abortion, ourselves and for ourselves, but we allow other people to make their own choice,'" he said.

Mickelson expressed interest in having Romney return to spend more "quality time" on the air.

"No, I don't like coming on the air and having you go after my church and me," Romney answered. "I'm not running as a Mormon, and I get a little tired of coming on a show like yours and having it all about Mormon."

"See, I don't mind it being about that," said Mickelson.

"Yeah, I do, I do," Romney replied. "You're trying to tell me that I'm not a faithful Mormon. … I'm not running to talk about Mormonism."

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