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Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Be ready, Mitt, for more Garden of Eden questions

Now that Mitt Romney has again dipped his toe into the presidential pool, he better get ready for more wacky questions about his Mormon faith.

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Like this one from an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" in October 2007: Do Mormons believe the Garden of Eden is in Missouri?

Though a former LDS bishop and stake president, Romney dodged the question, suggesting Bob Schieffer call church officials in Salt Lake City for an answer.

They would have told him, yes, indeed, that is a Mormon teaching.

"Latter-day revelation specifies that as a mortal, Adam lived at what is now Daviess County, Missouri," the Encyclopedia of Mormonism says. "Several early LDS leaders, among them Brigham Young, ... stated that the Prophet Joseph Smith taught them that the Garden of Eden was located in what is now Jackson County, Missouri."

The Mormon take on the biblical garden isn't the weirdest by any means, says Brook Wilensky-Lanford in a Huffington Post essay.

To members of the Utah-based church, this foundational story isn't about creation, natural beauty or sin, wrote Wilensky-Lanford, author of a forthcoming volume, Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden. "The Mormon Garden of Eden is about exile and return."

Just as Adam and Eve were thrust into the world, Mormons were kicked out of Missouri. But many church members visit the site every year on a kind of reverse pilgrimage. It is where they believe Jesus Christ will return.

Romney might have won a lot more votes in the political bellwether state if he had embraced the Garden-in-Missouri story with wide-eyed delight.

Don't worry, though, with that belief as a punchline in Broadway's new "Book of Mormon" musical, he'll have plenty of of other chances this time around. So, just in case, Romney might want to be ready to answer whether he believes God lives on or near a planet called Kolob (a celestial spot not found on any electoral map).

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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