In their 180-year history, Mormons have evolved from a reviled and persecuted people in exile to a religious group that produces top leaders in business and politics.
New films, books and the presidential campaign of Mormon Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, are bringing Mormonism into sharper focus on the national scene. The question: Will closer examination hasten society's embrace of this group or reinforce longstanding fears?
"We tend to use elections as a way to hold national seminars on religion," says Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion & American Public Life at Boston College. The candidacies of John F. Kennedy and Sen. Joe Lieberman triggered "seminars" on Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism.
"This is our seminar moment for Mormonism," Wolfe says.