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The Mormonizing of America

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 9:31 a.m. MDT

In this file theater publicity image released by Boneau/Bryan-Brown, from left, Rema Webb, Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad perform in In this file theater publicity image released by Boneau/Bryan-Brown, from left, Rema Webb, Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad perform in "The Book of Mormon" at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York. (Associated Press)

Our take: Despite the recent prominence of the "Mormon moment," members of the LDS Church only account for 2 percent of the American population. While Mormons may be few in number, they seem to have permeated the American populous from Broadway to politics.

In this piece from the Huffington Post, Stephen Mansfield describes how Mormons have become prominent in American society and why Americans seem intrigued by the Mormon faith.

There are nearly seven million Mormons in America. This is the number the Mormons themselves use. It's not huge. Seven million is barely 2 percent of the country's population. It is the number of people who subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. London boasts seven million people. So does San Francisco. It's a million more people than live in the state of Washington; a million less than in the state of Virginia. It's so few, it's the same number as were watching the January 24, 2012, Republican debate.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, walks towards The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012 in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Associated Press) Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, walks towards The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012 in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Associated Press)

In fact, worldwide, there are only about fourteen million Mormons. That's fourteen million among a global population just reaching seven billion. Fourteen million is the population of Cairo or Mali or Guatemala. It's approximately the number of people who tune in for the latest hit show on network television every week. Fourteen million Americans ate Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant in 2011. That's how few fourteen million is.

Yet in the first decade or so of the new millennium, some members of the American media discovered the Mormons and began covering them as though the Latter-day Saints had just landed from Mars. It was as though Utah was about to invade the rest of the country. It was all because of politics and pop culture, of course. Mitt Romney and John Huntsman were in pursuit of the White House. Glenn Beck was among the nation's most controversial news commentators. Stephenie Meyer had written the astonishingly popular Twilight series about vampires. Matt Stone and Trey Parker had created the edgy South Park cartoon series--which included a much- discussed episode about Mormons and then went on to create the blatantly blasphemous and Saint-bashing Broadway play The Book of Mormon. It has become one of the most successful productions in American theater history.

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