After more than a century on the fringe of America's consciousness, Mormons are riding a wave of media attention and public scrutiny -- and say they welcome the chance to set a few things straight.
From Mitt Romney's bid to become the first Mormon in the White House to Public Broadcasting Service's four-hour documentary on Mormonism in May and a Hollywood movie opening this month focusing on one of Mormon history's darkest episodes, the once-isolated religion is moving into the open.
"We welcome it," Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, a church leadership body, said of the sudden attention.
"To the extent that attention can be informative as opposed to pejorative and there's a sincere interest and honest curiosity, I think that's positive," he said.
But look at today's story in the New York Times: "Romney’s Run Has Mormons Wary of Scrutiny." How does it begin?
In this wide valley where the twin spires of the Mormon temple dominate the landscape and some neighborhoods have a Mormon chapel every few blocks, Mitt Romney’s bid for president is both a proud sign of progress and a cause of trepidation.
Many Mormons here are rooting for Mr. Romney, a fellow church member whose success in business, Adonis looks and wholesome family tableau seem to them to present the ideal face of Mormonism to the world. Among the Republican front-runners, Mr. Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, recently was the leader in campaign fund-raising; his candidacy is, for many Mormons, a historic moment of arrival.
“He represents the best of what the church can produce,” said Kenneth W. Godfrey, 73, a historian of Mormonism and of this valley about 80 miles north of church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
But even for the many Mormons who support Mr. Romney, the moment is fraught with anxiety because his candidacy is bringing intense scrutiny to their church, and could exacerbate longstanding bigotry.
I assume they are both telling the truth from somewhat different perspectives. Mormons want to be understood, but they also don't want to be alienated. How will you as a Christian respond?