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In our opinion: Mitt Romney's candidacy helped shatter an invisible barrier of religious bigotry

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney walks with wife Ann as they arrive at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Belmont, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012.

Charles Dharapak, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Throughout this year's presidential election, much has been made of Mitt Romney's religion. In the 2008 primaries, Romney's Mormon faith was considered an insurmountable political liability by many. And although numerous Latter-day Saints have served in high elective office, a misunderstood and sometimes misrepresented Mormonism has seemed to act as a glass ceiling between an otherwise qualified Mormon and the presidency.

Although Romney lost the general election, his candidacy helped shatter an invisible barrier of religious bigotry. By running a competitive race at the top of the Republican ticket, Romney's viable candidacy demonstrated that the American electorate could entrust its highest office to an active and believing Latter-day Saint.

The act of shattering doesn't happen without effort against significant resistance. And such has been the case for Romney. Rumors of a Romney run at the presidency six years ago allowed Jacob Weisberg in Slate to say shamelessly that American should not countenance a Mormon candidate because of his or her Mormonism. Among cognoscenti who would never tolerate the brutal official persecution of the LDS Church that happened in the 19th century, there were signs of an acceptable cultural condescension towards Mormonism.

But Romney and his fellow Latter-day Saints have handled the sometimes uncomfortable scrutiny of faith that came during this hard-fought election with equanimity, grace and humility. And the media and the American people have simultaneously matured in their understanding of Mormonism.

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