Romney claims Mormon faith dictates tax return secrecy

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, August 24, 2012 12:16 EDT
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Ann Romney, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney mug for the camera at an event at Donald Trump's hotel in Las Vegas. Photo: spirit of america / Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
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Update (below): Watch Romney boast to Fox News about paying tithes

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has a new reason for keeping his financial details secret from the American people: his Mormon faith.

Speaking to Parade Magazine, Ann Romney said their tithing to the Mormon Church is so meaningful and personal, she cries every time they sign over a check. “So do I,” Mitt added, “but for a different reason.”

“Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given,” he’s quoted saying. “This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”

The statement opens a fresh front in the rhetorical war on Romney’s campaign over the candidate’s refusal to detail more than two years of his financial history, and represents yet another significant reversal for Romney, who bragged to Parade Magazine and Fox News just earlier this year that he’s given millions to the church and regularly tithes 10 percent of his pre-tax income.

But even that claim was problematic for Romney, who was dinged by conservatives after the two years of tax returns he released showed he only donated 7 percent to the church in 2010. The same year, Romney gave an additional 7 percent of his income to charitable groups like the Friends of the George W. Bush Library, Harvard Business School and the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation.

Every presidential nominee over more than 40 years has released at least 12 years of tax returns — including Romney’s also-Mormon father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney — although it is not required by law.

Because Romney is one of the most wealthy individuals to ever seek the presidency, the Obama campaign has constantly hammered him over the refusal to release his returns. Team Obama even promised last week to drop their attacks on Romney’s tax return secrecy if the former Massachusetts governor releases just three more years of returns, but the Romney campaign turned down their offer.

Update: Watch Romney boast to Fox News about paying tithes

In the January 22, 2012 episode of “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked Romney whether he believed his support for the Mormon Church would pose a problem for his outreach to Christians.

“The Bible speaks about providing tithes and offerings,” he replied. “I made a commitment to my church a long, long time ago that I would give 10 percent of my income to the church, and I followed through on that commitment.”

Romney’s comments on tithing begin at 9:53 in the video below.


Photo: spirit of america / Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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