John G. Turner teaches religious studies at George Mason University, is the author of "Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet,” recently published by Harvard University Press, and a contributor to The Washington Post’s local faith leader network.
On the one hand, Mitt Romney has further kindled American interest in its most famous homegrown religion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has not been in the crosshairs of this much sustained media interest for at least 100 years. At the same time, Mormonism has yet to emerge as a live political issue during the 2012 campaign.
This is not because all Americans are comfortable with the idea of a Mormon president. Ten percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats tell pollsters that they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate.
Moreover, the Republican figure is misleading, as Romney’s faith almost certainly contributed to his very tepid support from evangelical Protestants during the campaign. Evangelicals, who spent most of 2011 searching for a candidate with a faith akin to their own, have now set aside their political objections to Romney’s church. The larger number of Democrats who express discomfort with Mormonism probably had no intention of voting for any Republican.