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Linda & Richard Eyre: Why a possible Mitt Romney presidency thrills many Mormons

Published: Sunday, June 17 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

In this June 8, 2012, photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney smiles has he talks with his staff while riding on his bus after a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Republicans riding high from a string of breaks in their favor are increasingly optimistic about Romney’s chances to claim the White House in November, even among conservatives who had qualms about making him the party’s nominee. The bullish take is reflected in interviews with party strategists and activists, including people who supported Romney rivals during the primary season. Mood matters because it can fuel fundraising and volunteer hustle. But some of those GOP players stress that Romney has little room for error if he expects to topple an incumbent president. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Evan Vucci, AP

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Today’s column diverges from the family topics we usually cover, but we thought it appropriate to share our experience this week on a topic of interest around the country — the perspective of Mormons on Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president.

A political reporter with the New York Times was in Salt Lake City last week doing a story on what he saw as the over-the-top enthusiasm of many Mormons about the possibility of having a Mormon president. We agreed to be interviewed for the piece and shared a pleasant afternoon with the reporter. Here are some of the things we talked about.

When members of the LDS Church contemplate what life might be like with a Mormon in the White House, there are two basic schools of thought: One is that the increased scrutiny might make it tougher than ever to be a member of the faith. The other is that it would bring the church out of obscurity in an advantageous way, making it both more acceptable and more exciting to be a Mormon. We tend toward this latter perspective.

Why are so many LDS members intrigued and enthusiastic about the possibility of a Mormon president?

We think there are three unique perspectives that fuel the enthusiasm of three separate groups of LDS Church members. The best way we could think of to explain each of these three groups is with a metaphor about three school kids:

The Athlete. The first student is a terrific athlete who wins most of his games but plays in an obscure town and wishes there were more people in the stands — more who knew of and appreciated his talents and performance. This athlete is like church members who value the church for its positive results — better health, longer life, lower divorce rates, etc. and welcome the added appreciation and admiration that the heightened awareness of a Romney presidency might bring.

The Student. The second schoolmate is a strong academic performer who wishes there were more people who were as interested as he is in the things he is studying. This is like church members who love the unique and enlightening doctrines of the church — from our surprising view of the hereafter to our belief in a premortal life — and look forward to the time when more people will discover and appreciate these doctrines as we do.

The Unpopular Kid. The third student just wants some relief — to be accepted and valued by his classmates rather than ridiculed or disrespected by them. This is like church members who feel persecuted and unfairly treated by media or by other churches and simply want to be accepted as a legitimate and valued part of the Judeo-Christian tradition and of the diverse religious mix in the country.

The Romney candidacy has already advanced the wishes of these three groups immeasurably. A Romney presidency would likely, to one degree or another, make even more lasting progress.

As parents and grandparents, we all wish for greater understanding and for more mutual respect and admiration among various groups and diverse religions. That understanding should flow both inwardly toward our Mormon family and outwardly from us toward others. Accepting and valuing each other throughout our society might be one of the greatest collective human goals.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that was one of the things accomplished by this year’s election?

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog at www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com.

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