Ann Romney ‘stay-at-home mom’ debate: Mormons react

The public dust-up over Ann Romney and stay-home mothers played out in a particular way in Romney’s own community of … Continued

The public dust-up over Ann Romney and stay-home mothers played out in a particular way in Romney’s own community of Mormon women, who are twice as likely to be housewives as non-Mormons.

Mormon culture and preaching is strongly protective of distinct gender roles, with church members more likely than Americans of any other faith group to say it’s better for women to stay home and men to work outside the house.

Whitney Curtis


Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann Romney, speak during the NRA’s Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits April 13, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri.

On Thursday and Friday, with reports flying about a Democratic pundit’s comments that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life,” Mormon social media outlets were bustling. The vast majority of Mormons lean Republican, but even some liberal and self-described feminist Mormons felt defensive of the candidate’s wife.

“These are people who have a lover’s quarrel with the church, and were upset to a person that such a comment could be made about a stay-home parent. It seemed to undermine women’s work,” said Jana Reiss, a Mormon writer and religion professor. “Among all Mormons, feminist or not, they identify with the primacy of the family, and this seems like a comment that just dismissed the family as an appropriate calling for anyone.”

The private Facebook page of Mormon Feminist Housewives, a group blog that’s among the most-read of Mormon blogs, included many commenters concerned for the respect of stay-home parents.

“Even liberal Mormons will feel protective of Mitt Romney. I’m not going to vote for Romney but I will defend his lifestyle and his culture,” said Lisa Butterworth, an Idaho mother of three who founded the blog in 2004.

Some commenters on the Facebook page wondered if the controversy was a sign that Mormon culture or doctrine would be coming up more, now that the presidential field appeared to be effectively down to two.

“I think racism and LGBT issues will probably be at the forefront, and gender inequality will take a back seat as always,” wrote one woman.

Others saw sexism in the criticism of the pundit, Hilary Rosen. “She sounds really reasonable. That misrepresentation of women with opinions is sooo reprehensible to me right now,” said one commenter.

The issue of gender — as any potentially controversial issue — is raised cautiously in the tight-knit Mormon Church. The church officially opposed the Equal Rights Amendment “because of its serious moral implications.” In 1987, church president Ezra Taft Benson gave a seminal talk called “To the Mothers in Zion,” that urged working moms to “come home.”

But more recent comments have been more nuanced and leaders have worked to make working women “feel at home,” said University of Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell, a Mormon who writes about religion. “Both church publications and sermons from LDS leaders have recently emphasized the specific needs of working women, including single mothers.”

He mentioned one by a church apostle, or top leader, Quentin Cook, from 2011, that said women who stay home need not apologize for their choice and that church members should not be judgmental of those who work outside the home.

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  • dlalder

    Mitt or Ann Romney could say or do anything, and 98%+ of Mormons would still vote for them. Too bad for Santorum that Catholics aren’t as tribalistic as the Mormons, he’d have won the nomination.

  • kitzen1

    Total Republican Horse Pocky; Once again the GOP has zip so they try to make anything and everything into a political football. Rosen’s comment was taken completely out of context. Women who have to work, some of whom also have major health issues, work a full time as well as a part-time job to support their family while also fulfilling the role of ‘a stay at home Mom’ and without the benefit of maids, housekeepers, cooks, and nannies. Therefore, it is those women who have a far better concept of economics and sacrifice than the ultra-rich such as Ann Romney et al ever will.

  • leibowde84

    This is just the GOP trying to get people worked up over nothing. Nobody meant that stay at home mothers ddn’t work, just that they weren’t part of the work-force, a term meant to apply to those who either are looking for, or currently are employed by someone or something. The amount of work that women do at home would never qualify them to be included into that definition. It’s simple logic, and it is pretty ridiculous that anyone is buying into this GOP trap.

    Basically, Romney was claiming that his wife knew what women on the work-force (the group of women, polls say, are most concerned with the economy … more than social issues at least) wanted in a president. He kept on claiming that talking to her was a gateway into the needs of women. This alarmed a lot of women who didn’t rely on their husbands for financial support (a fact that is unarguably true). Their tie to the economy was much stronget than many other women, and they, in no way, have to deal with the prejudice still applied toward women in the workforce … which is what the CNN correspondent was trying to say in the firstplace.

    The obvious problem was with how she said it. She should have said, “Ann Romney has never been a struggling part of the female workforce a day in her life.” This would have been completely true (assuming that she didn’t have a job before she met Mitt, which I couldn’t speak to), and shouldn’t offend anyone, since “workforce” is an economic term that doesn’t include stay at home moms. The difference is, when you are a stay at home mom, there is no threat of losing your job. With practically every job on the “workforce,” there is.

  • bajaMN

    Why has the never been any critism of Michelle Obama, even when she makes very radical statements. Why are her and Barrak’s past radical activity not discussed in the media? Can you imaging taking your children to hear Rev Wright speak/preach at church? Exposing chilrden to someone so hateful, at such a young age, borders on child abuse, in my opinion.

  • koza_dereza

    LOL. Poor working mom’s. Can’t take care of their children, and they don’t earn as much as men.

    Kudos to any woman who decides to stay home and raise her children. America needs many more such women.

  • Secular1

    Dlader, I think your characterization while correct does not mean anything so bad as you make it out to be. If 98% of LDSers vote for him that is no different from similar numbers of blacks voting for Obama, or perhaps similar proportions of catholics had voted for JFK. After the first few times that will disappear. Both Jindal & Haley benefited similarly from the indian community, even though great many of indians in US are pro democratic than proGOP.

  • Vanka

    It is the Mormon cult sexism that Americans should find repugnant!

    Ann Romney did not “choose” to be a SAHM, she was brainwashed into it!

    The Mormon “prophet, Spencer W. Kimball declared: “Women are to take care of the family–the Lord has so stated–to be an assistant to the husband, to work with him, but not to earn the living, except in unusual circumstances. Men ought to be men indeed and earn the living…”

    Kimball added,

    “…[women], you are to become a career woman in the greatest career on earth–that of homemaker, wife, and mother. It was never intended by the Lord that married women should compete with men in employment.”

    “Numerous divorces can be traced directly to the day when the wife left the home and went out into the world into employment. Two incomes raise the standard of living beyond its norm. Two spouses working prevents the complete and proper home life, breaks into the family prayers, creates an independence which is not cooperative, causes distortion, limits the family, and frustrates the children already born.”

  • haveaheart

    “Among all Mormons, feminist or not . . . ”

    No feminist with ideals and integrity would be a Mormon. Ergo, there is no such thing as a Mormon feminist.

  • haveaheart

    And this has what to do with the topic under consideration?

  • tucanofulano

    Rosen and most Lesbians insist only expert experience will do, for example Obama’s medical credentials to support Obamacarenot, which of course he has none. His only credentials are those Marxist/Wrightist AGITATOR experience. Obama, by their yardstick is NOT FIT for anything at all but a soapbox spew.

  • dragonrose10

    I only have one comment to make to the foolish political comments and the DUMB Media who bring ridicule and negative comments about this. If any other indivudal who had public attention — a Media representaive, a entertainment person, a regualr citizens of the USA who has faiced what she has would not get negative statements. Any other woman who had and raised 5 boys while fighting breast cancer and MS who be getting acclaim for her guts and abilities!
    Please Politica NUTS stop tossing religion and her current policial role around. YESH — GROW UP! I do not think she made the decision NOT to WORK on only her faith. I think it was definetly affected by her HEALTH! She took the chance of having kids and being a GOOD MOM how is that any different from anyother choice that women make. TO WORK and still be GOOD Mons’ to fight any sort of CANCER and still be a good mom??? NO. MEDIA wake up and do not give +++ marks to political NUTS

  • dragonrose10

    Yesh being a stay at home MOM does not mean you as an individual do not have a job. It means you do not have what is considered by part of the world as not having a “paying” job. That became the common thought process after the 1960’s. Yes the USA and much of the world economy has the statistic of a double income for families. But would there be ridicule for ANY other family who faced a MOM who is facing 2 life threating medical issues and chooses to be a Stay at home MOM and take on as her job!!! raising the children and taking care of the house needs and I think also handling the money. Yesh I grew up with a MOM who has serious heart medical issues and diid not work and my DAD worked 2 jobs and I started working at 16 to assist in family support. Would the idiots who made negative comments agains that….NO! So be realistic about what the REAL USA families face!

  • dragonrose10

    Also in that group is women who face serious life threating medcial issues and do something. ALL — those who struggle and work and take care of family and kids part of the time — those who medical issues are serious enough that they can not work but do take care of their kids and family — and other combinations of that challenge. She was a Lucky woman who with all the mdical issues she faced married someone who did work and did also take care of the family. Any regualr (not political Media target) woman who made the choice she did would be considered a good example for others to value highly.

  • discovega

    I think it’s great that Ann stayed at home to raise her 5 sons. She was in a way, making America stronger, by raising a family. Working women are doing the same thing when working outside of the home…for a woman to be attacked for staying at home to raise her family is a pathetic attempt of the liberal “progressive” to belittle something that is great and wonderful. Shame on democrats. — Remember: “No success in life can compensate for failure in the home.”

  • discovega

    You are so brain washed it’s pathetic…it was the liberal’s who brought up the “woman issue” of late; it has now back-fired on them and they can’t deal with. LOL

  • leehall20

    Rosen’s statements are just another example of liberals forbidding others from weighing in on matters because they don’t qualify according to their snobbish criteria. They find some reason to denounce any and all person’s opinions that do not march in step with their liberal rhetoric. As a stay at home mom back 10 years ago and has a sole provider for my child today I have the very same understanding and interest in the economy. The economy affects everyone. How absurd to disqualify anyone from weighing in on something so universal as the economy.

  • dnpearce1

    No, It is the Republicans who are waging war against women. It was Mitts comment that “brought up the ‘woman issue’ by bringing his wife into it. She could afford the best medical care in the world – somthing most americans can’t afford. The made it through grad school by having to make the sacrefice of selling stock. Whad a hard life they lead. She has no idea what most people go through to make a living and raise a family.

  • Nanatoo

    Once again those who hate Mormons or had a bad evil experience with a Mormon or excommunicated from the churchs or are just ignorant of the religion …jumps on the band wagon to spread hate. No religion is free from this kind of hate. I feel so sorry for those of you who are so angry and eat up with hate. I am sorry you had a bad experience in regards to the LDS church or a member. Maybe you should consider counseling or just move on to a more positive life. This hate will do nothing for you and hurts no one else but you.

    This pundit has no right to think she can speak for me as a women. Her circle of friends doesn’t include my circle of friends. What a bigot to think she can speak for all women and get paid for it. Her statement offended me as a mom who has experienced all stages of mom …working or not.

    I have during different stages of my life been…single, stay at home mother of small children, work while my kids were in school mom, full time working mom of grown kids, and now a single working Nana helping raise my grandkids. I made the choice to be a stay at home mom with $8 dollars left over a week to feed my family and not on welfare or food stamps. It can be done if you are determined to do so. At no time did I not know what was going on in the world or not know about ecomonic, work, women or world issues. I read, listened, watched the daily news, was involved in my community, kids schools and church. I know what it is to struggle and be poor doesn’t matter what year you live in… if you have lived through it … you are an expert on the subject. I got my college degree in my late 40’s but I wasn’t stupid before then just because I didn’t have a degree.

    Hats off to all mother’s ….it’s the hardest job you will ever do and it never ends until you are pushing up daises.

  • emaritza

    Feminist and liberal they don’t have a choice most of them they DO NOTBHAVE A HUSBAND TO SUPPORT THEM and they have to sacrifice their babies or kids when they need them the most. Thanks God I have two grown ups boys WELL BEEHIVE one in college and the other in high school with excellent grades and I feel so blessed that I was be able to stay with them every second in their first years. I worked for a couple of years since 2005 til last year but believe me I am sopy to stay home again and be able to take care of my family. I admire Ann
    Is a hard work to to take care of your kids and carried them and the right path.

  • rbmarkham

    According to the average mother works 92 hours a week. The studied concluded, “The job titles that best matched a mom’s definition of her work are (in order of hours spent per week): housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO, and psychologist.” According to the average salary of a stay-at-home mother should be $138,095. Stay at home mother and all mothers who are raising children work hard. And for stay at home mothers, work comes without a paycheck.
    It’s important to keep in mind that the average stay at home mother works a busy 24/7 schedule. Most stay at home mothers rarely get a luxury vacation to Hawaii, transportation in private planes and limousines,
    fine dining every night of the week, and being waited upon for every want and need. I’m not sure too may stay at home mothers have time for a round of golf.