Over the weekend, newspapers in places such as Chicago, Indiana and Maine published "Time to shatter Mormon myths," the syndicated editorial by Dallas Morning News columnist William McKenzie that first ran April 23.
"Mormons have a teachable moment with Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. But this breakthrough is not just an issue for Romney to address," McKenzie wrote. "It matters more that Mormons in the pew, and those of us who don’t share their views, better understand each other."
McKenzie's column referenced the 2010 book "American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites us" by Notre Dame professor David Campbell and Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam, as well as the Pew Research Center's recent "Mormons in America" survey.
The syndicated piece concluded with a tone of reflective poignance that is very rare in op-ed writing — a feat McKenzie accomplished by recalling his chance encounter with a Mormon couple out on the campaign trail.
"I regret not taking advantage of a chance to get beyond my own passing impression of Mormonism while on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. I kept bumping into a delightful Mormon couple from California who had come to watch Romney. We talked politics on several occasions, but I never knew how to strike up a conversation about their faith. The loss was mine, but Romney's emergence presents us all a chance to learn more about an often-misunderstood faith."
In his work for the Dallas Morning News, McKenzie moderates the Texas Faith blog, which offers a weekly forum focused on a specific religious question. Last week's line of inquiry was, "What issue would you most like to discuss with a Mormon about their religious faith?" The 10 responses came from opinion leaders in Texas religious circles — mostly evangelical, but also including Jewish and Hare Krishna perspectives.