Matthew Wilson, a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas who specializes in religion and politics, said it's not clear how much attention the average American paid to the debate over Romney's faith in the last election.
"There remains a lot more ignorance about Mormonism" than other religions, Wilson said. "There are a lot of people in this country who don't know any Mormons."
He said Utahns who believe the national perception of Mormons is improving "may be somewhat optimistic, or looking with rose-colored glasses. … Most Americans are not hostile to the LDS Church. But there remains a significant minority that has prejudices they are willing to state."
Wilson said with Romney as the frontrunner in the 2012 race, Mormonism will be even more of an issue in this election. He said candidates would do well to stress that on most social and political questions. "Mormon belief is right in the mainstream of American conservative Christianity."
Earlier this month, the head of public affairs for the LDS Church wrote an open letter published on the Washington Post's website addressed to an evangelical writer who said that a vote for Mitt Romney or any Mormon "promotes a false and dangerous religion."
"Substitute the word 'Jew' for 'Mormon' and see how comfortable that feels," Michael Otterson wrote. "We may reasonably hope that most people vote on the basis of policy positions and not of denomination."
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