Romney’s nomination introduces Mormon religion for the first time in US presidential elections, writes Todd Holbrook in Phoenix, Arizona.
With Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney clenching the Republican Party nomination for US President, the topic of his Mormon faith continues to be of increasing interest to American voters.
Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), are currently experiencing a time when their often misunderstood religious beliefs and practices are being held under scrutiny.
Mitt Romney is a devout member of the LDS Church and is the first of his faith to secure a presidential nomination for a major political party.
LDS Church members have long endured suspicions about their practices and beliefs . In recent years, pop culture and news media have both highlighted the religion in what observing pundits are calling “the Mormon Moment.”
The LDS Church has been the topic of the award-winning Broadway hit, The Book of Mormon Musical, and was an influential backer of successful Proposition 8, a California law that restricts marriage between one man and one woman.Questions on their theology, history and place in Christendom are also widely debated topics.
Now with Romney’s campaign at the media center of political news, the opportunity for increased discussion has allowed more than 6 million church members in the United States to explain their beliefs and politics to encourage understanding.
“I think there is a large portion of LDS members who will support Romney just because he is Mormon,” said Jared Ray, a Mormon political activist in Arizona who shares Romney’s Republican partisanship.
“His service in church leadership is admirable. But it is unfortunate if that is their only basis for supporting Romney.
“I suspect, however, that there is more to political loyalty for Romney among church members than just his being Mormon. His platform and promises are important, Mormon or not.”
But within the church, members have diverse political viewpoints and their loyalties are spread among both major parties.
The Church itself does not endorse any particular platform and its website encourages members to seek out and vote for whoever they consider to be the best candidate.
“Am I voting for the Governor Romney? No,” said Crystal Young-Otterstrom, Acting Chair of the LDS Democrats Caucus, an official caucus in Utah.
“I find that President Obama lines up more closely with my beliefs and thoughts on public policy. However I am proud that we have such diverse options.
“I am proud to live in a country, in the 21st century, in which an African-American man and an active Latter-day Saint have the nominations of the two major parties.”
A recent church “World Report” details the Mormon presence in Australia, which is growing, and includes an exclusive interview with Mormon National Rugby League Star Will Hopoate.
Official information about the LDS Church in Australia is available on the church’s newsroom.