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Romney Campaign Opened Door for Understanding of Mormonism

Mitt Romney may have lost the U.S. presidential election, but he won a spiritual victory by standing up for his beliefs. The stakes between good and evil have never been higher, and Romney was a valiant leader. By declaring his love for America and the values upon which this country was founded and by taking a moral stance against abortion, same-gender marriage and the definition of marriage, he made it easier for those who have the same convictions.

Mitt Romney MormonThis is especially true for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes mistakenly called the Mormon Church) who are few in number but strong in belief. Though the Church was widely unknown before the campaign, interest has been unprecedented since the spotlight became focused on Romney and his family.
Even after the election, the Church was still receiving calls—though fewer than before–according to an article in Meridian Magazine by Michael Otterson, LDS Church spokesman.

…Some journalists were still calling with questions: What did this period mean for the Mormons? Has it helped bring the church into “the mainstream?” What happens next?

Other writers have already addressed those questions, and the short answer is that this is a beginning, not an end.

Otterson cited an article written by Joel Kotkin in the City Journal:

“Just as President Obama’s nomination and election marked a sea change in the country’s tortured racial history, so Romney’s nomination has changed religious boundaries that have persisted for more than 160 years.”

Otterson also said that the day before the election, Mike Allen, a respected political commentator, wrote in Politico that the Mormon Church was one of the “winners” as a result of the campaign because “the electorate had decided that being a Mormon and holding high office is no longer an issue.”

Otterson explained that media interest in the Church has created greater need among members to have meaningful dialogue with the rest of the world:

…Serious journalists have gotten to know us by dropping into church services, talking to our local leaders in their own homes, and joining us on service projects. Church leaders from the top down have reached out to – and have been invited by – dozens of community leaders including state governors, leaders of other faith groups and academics, all with the intent of providing more in depth understanding of the church, its people and practices.

It has all had a cumulative effect. The church has become more visible, more familiar, more accepted – especially among those who help shape public opinion. And frankly, we have become more transparent and for a once-persecuted minority, less defensive.

… with the heat and divisiveness of a political campaign behind us, thoughtful Mormons can now look to the possibility of having more serious discussions with others about our faith, and especially about how our theology translates into the way we live.

Otterson said that LDS church leaders believe this is just the beginning—that they have a greater long-range view. He suggested that it is the start of “the real emergence of American Mormons, with all of their distinctiveness, into the rich mosaic of American religious life.”

This new recognition carries with it increased responsibilities. Church members must live up to the reputation of having sound character and integrity. They must be spiritually prepared and physically willing to “put on the whole armor of God” and defend those values that are God-given to sustain liberty.

Ezra Taft Benson, late president and prophet of the Church, and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, explained this keen responsibility in a BYU devotional address in 1986, The Constitution, a Heavenly Banner. He said:

We must become involved in civic affairs. As citizens of this republic, we cannot do our duty and be idle spectators. It is vital that we follow this counsel from the Lord: “Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil” (D&C 98:10). Note the qualities that the Lord demands in those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest. We must be concerted in our desires and efforts to see men and women represent us who possess all three of these qualities.

We must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, and our advice. We must be wisely informed and let others know how we feel. We must take part in local precinct meetings and select delegates who will truly represent our feelings.

I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington. It will be saved by the citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church—men and women who will subscribe to and abide by the principles of the Constitution.

With that sense of purpose before us, I pray that like-minded people will take the charge to fight against the evils that are contrary to God’s plan and preserve the freedom of this great country.

This article was written by Jan Mayer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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