Mormon presidential hopefuls elicit range of reactions

Published: Tuesday, May 10 2011 8:09 p.m. MDT

Proposition 8, Glenn Beck and other topics have drawn media attention to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or "Mormon church," in the past.

Now, the term "Mormon" is often packaged with discussion on the upcoming presidential race. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is receiving more attention as the media homes in on Mitt Romney and John Huntsman. Both men are presidential hopefuls and, of course, "Mormons."

In an opinion piece in The New York Times in 2007, Kenneth Woodard wrote about the opportunities that Romney has to speak about his faith.

"History was bound to have its Mormon moment in presidential politics, just as it had its Catholic moment when Kennedy ran," said Woodard.

The Washington Post blog On Faith posted a column by Michael Otterson, head of Public Affairs for the LDS Church, titled "Is this really a 'Mormon moment'?".

"With another presidential election season upon us and the possible candidacy of not one but two people identified with the Mormon faith, are we in for another spike in interest?" Said Otterson.

Otterson offered three things the media should consider as they cover stories on the LDS church: Mormons follow Jesus Christ, emphasize the family and incorporate their believes in their daily actions.

The Seattle Times reported that Americans are still "wary" of Mormons. The article was provoked by antagonistic comments on their website on a previous article about the new University of Washington President Michael Young, who is a Latter-day Saint.

"Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed in an August 2010 Time magazine poll had a somewhat or very unfavorable view of Mormons," The Seattle Times reported." That's far higher than the 13 percent unfavorable ratings for Jews and Protestants, and 17 percent for Catholics."

With these numbers, Ottersons' comments may be needed to help eliminate wariness among predominately evangelical states.

Though some animosity is real, others believe that it isn't as intense as some think.

Politico reported on the distance Romney is keeping with South Carolina.

"He's making it tough on his South Carolina supporters to get behind him when he doesn't appear to be engaged in the South Carolina process," Rep. Alan Clemmons of South Carolina told POLITICO. "I just don't buy the religious bigotry in South Carolina that seems to be part of that message."

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

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