Did Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet violate Mormon Church teaching?

Kevork Djansezian GETTY IMAGES Texas Gov. Rick Perry (L) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney during the ABC News GOP … Continued

Kevork Djansezian


Texas Gov. Rick Perry (L) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney during the ABC News GOP Presidential debate in Iowa on Saturday.

Mitt Romney offered a $10,000 bet to Rick Perry over health care during Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate, a move that many analysts say shows he’s out of touch with the economic hardships facing the American public, and perhaps with the teachings of his own Mormon Church.

When questioned by Perry about whether or not the former governor proscribed his Massachusetts health care plan for the rest of the country, Romney, a former bishop and active Mormon, said: “I’ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks? Ten-thousand-dollar bet?”

“I’m not in the betting business,” Perry replied.

Romney’s bet kicked off a Twitter meme and questions about why he would publicly violate a known tenet of his faith. The LDS.org Web site says:

The site also provides a series of links and articles on the teaching as well as resources for Mormons who are facing gambling addictions. The church has a long history of opposing various types of gambling: The church traces its stance back to Brigham Young in 1845 who discouraged Mormon women from raffling quilts. There is no state lottery in Utah, and the church and its members have long lobbied to prevent gambling’s many forms.

But what does it mean when a Mormon candidate publicly violates a teaching of his church? At a time when concerns about Romney’s Mormonism make front page news, could it even help him to distance himself from church teaching in his political life?

Questions about how the church teachings shape the political life of a president have been a part of American political life from its founding. Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president, was criticized and called a Deist by Federalist opponents during his presidential campaign and was said by his adversaries to have beliefs that disqualified him from office. In more recent history, during the campaign of John F. Kennedy, the man who would become our first Catholic president was pressured to give a speech declaring that he would not bow to the Vatican during his presidency.

“I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me,” Kennedy famously declared. “Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.”

In 2007, Romney made a similarly-themed speech about his Mormon faith, saying that as governor, “I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution – and of course, I would not do so as president. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.”

So far, no final word on where gambling fits in for Romney in the plain duties of his potential office.

More on Romney and the GOP debate:

The Fix picks the debate’s winners and losers

The Take: The candidate exceeding expectations

Romney offers wager to Perry in debate

Elizabeth Tenety
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  • True_Patiot_1776

    Sheeple following the lead of a lamestream media.

    Don’t be so deceived!

    Want to bet a million I’m right??

    Oh, would that put me over the top? Oh…ok. Better not say such idiotic things. Heaven forbid such a mistake. Not to be compare, of course to lesser issues like:

    – Communism vs. Freedom (or, the few in gov’t know better. They should decide winners and losers in society, not the individual.)
    – Establishing a form of gov’t which actually helps people prosper, which incentivizes society to work hard and not depend on the government to provide for basic living, etc. (Amazing only 50% of our nation actually pays income tax!!)

    “The rich don’t pay their fair share” No, they actually pay much more than their fair share. A fair share would be a flat tax for ALL, not just the rich. Everyone pays 10%, flat, that’s it. No one pays more, no one less. No loops holes and no benefactors who don’t pay anything. (A safety net is a different issue.) 50%????!!! Boy, did we get lost somewhere along the way. No wonder our society is lost in the mire – not really valuing work and reward…accountability for one’s stewardship – using his talents to make something of himself, etc., etc., etc.

    Families, the core unit in society, are deteriorating. How relevant is that to liberals? Liberals are so opened minded, their brains have fallen out!

  • JedMerrill1

    As a Mormon, I am opposed to gambling, but I don’t think it was a bad thing for Mitt to “put his money where his mouth is.” In fact, my missionary trainer in Texas taught me the power of this. For example, if I didn’t reach a goal for the day, I might give an extra $5 to the Church as tithing. This was added motivation to reach my goals to help people learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Mitt’s case, while he used the word bet, it is questionable whether something is a bet when you know the answer. As the author of Mitt’s book, Mitt Romney knew exactly what he said and what he did not, and this was more of a challenge for Rick Perry to put HIS money where his mouth is. Rick Perry declined, maybe because his campaign can’t afford $10,000…or maybe because he opposes gambling…or maybe because deep down he knew his oft repeated claim was wrong. As one little boy said, “You don’t bet $10,000 unless you know you are right.” Mitt knew he was right, so it wasn’t a bet, and probably not strictly against Mormon teaching.

    Also, I’m pretty sure the Church position has been in place since Joseph Smith, not Brigham Young, as much of the anger the people of Missouri had against Smith and the Church was because he opposed saloons, drinking, and gambling, and they feared the growing Mormon presence in the state would lead to the loss of their favorite drunken pastime. (Smith wa also against slavery.)

  • shaunap

    Good Heavens! Have you never said, “I’ll bet you a million bucks…” I don’t believe Romney truly planned to bet Perry $10,000…but the media would like you to think that not only has he distanced the American public but he broke sacred vows in his religion. Have they got nothing better to “spin” a story on? I think it is a shame that because there was nothing else Romney said worthy of jumping all over, that they had to go after that silly phrase. Come on media…really?

  • Ijustwanttoridemybike

    I guess nobody says “I bet ya…” anymore to challenge a misrepresentation or an outright lie. Only someone desparate for a story would try to make a case for “I bet ya…” equals gambling. What next? Are you going to go after a “double dog dare”?

  • Satified

    come on folks you have never made such a statement? when you were sure you were right to make the point? or was it “I’ll bet you a million dollars”?

    Look none of you seem to care about the false claim (lie) by Rick Perry. That is the story, not the stand behind your claim challenge.

  • dewalke

    You’re kidding me, right. I’ll bet you a million dollars that Romney was using an exaggerated amount to show the bet was in name only. Perhaps he should have chosen the word “million” instead of “ten thousands”. Then, the idiots who can’t tell the difference between humor, irony and seriousness, might have woken up to what was really meant.


    haven’t you ever used that statement just in any regular conversation…as a human being? had nothing to do with his being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; had to do with being plain, old human. Come on, people; there are lives that need our help out there. ‘betting’?? really??

  • lancemacho

    So much ado about nothing.

    LDS church is against gambling – betting on random chance. This is not the case here.

    If I KNOW I never said I would ask everyone to wear an orange wig, then I would bet you $10k (or more!) if you said I wanted to do that or said I had ever said that. I would be betting on a sure thing – no luck or randomness involved.

    But betting on a horse race is gambling because there are many factors outside of one’s control, even if I were the best horse expert in the world. The same goes for betting on a coin toss, a lotto ticket, etc.

    Romney just said: “put your money where your mouth is.” I too am tired of politicians slandering others by mistating their opponents positions unde the guise of saying that (they think) “their opponents will do such and such” without ever having to offer a shred of proof. The $10,000 was enough to get the attention of all those listening and allow Romney to make a point.

    Of course, malicious minds chose to miss the obvious and thus become free to engage in a personal attack against the man and his religion.

  • VikingZag

    Did someone seriously write this? Against the teachings of his religion? Everyone who saw this or who has read anything about it should reasonably know that it was a figurative offer. While certainly not a perfect candidate, Romney is much better than most, and is forced to withstand such ticky-tacky attacks as this. Pathetic.

    We should research a candidate’s past, and choose the one most likely to succeed in office. Romney has made his millions by turning around failing organizations. Our government is the biggest failing organization, and needs someone like him that can actually do finances before we go bankrupt.

  • Rickdoc

    So, where is the ‘gamble’ when you know the answer? Where is the risk when you are ‘betting’ on yourself? When you tell someone that they can count on you, is that a ‘gamble’? When you say ‘you betcha’, is that gambling? How about ‘you bet your life, it is’, or ‘you can bet your bottom dollar on that’, or simply ‘you wanna bet’, or just ‘you bet’? All are expressions of confidence in one’s position, or oneself, or one’s intended performance, or one’s reliability. Have you ever been so confident of your position that you said: ‘betcha a million dollars that…”? This writer is so out-of-touch with common vernacular and with what true gambling really is that it is clearly just a smear attempt to try to use one’s religion to attack someone…how immature. And I am a Democrat!!!

  • jim111

    The bet was not to make money but to make a point, even if someone did pay off. So it’s hardly a problem with the church. Also, since it was to make a point, he could have said $1 or $100 or even $1,000,000. People need to get serious and quit getting so excited.

  • apsarra

    The issue with the LDS Church policy with regards to betting involves games of chance and wagering hard-earned money on probabilities. This does not conflict with what Romney stated in the debate. The word bet was used by Perry, not by Romney. Romney offered to give Perry 10,000 dollars if what Perry was saying was true. Romney, on the other hand was offering 10,000 if what Perry was saying was true. Since Romney wrote the book and knew what was in it, he wasn’t “betting” as a form of gambling or playing a game of chance – he was emphasizing that what Perry was stating was not true.

  • jobryant

    Hahaha, they’re pretty desperate to find something… anything on Romney! Gambling addiction? This is killing me haha

  • berrie21

    When I was a kid I often said “I’ll bet you a million dollars” when I was very confident of my position. I was never seriously betting, just making a statement about how sure I was about my position or belief. Honestly, I still use that expression on occasion but with a humbler, but still untrue number. It has nothing to do with gambling. It is a pure figure of speech, that has been used by many people. Really? Do people really think he was betting $10,000????

  • SixMom

    This is indescribably petty.

  • Slyfox666

    Romney could cover the bet by reducing his “tithing” a bit. Perry could match it by selling his n—–head hunting preserve, or from his generous retirement plan. Instead Perry dodged the challenge entirely. In truth, he may have been prescient enough (an unusual display for him) to know he would lose.