Although the 2012 Presidential Election is over, journalists continue to call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Public Affairs office with questions: What did this period mean for the Mormons? Has it helped bring the Church into “the mainstream”? What happens next?
In a new piece in the Washington Post’s “On Faith” forum, Church Public Affairs managing director Mike Otterson explains that the national spotlight on the Church during the campaign season allowed the faith to “become more visible, more familiar, more accepted — especially among those who help shape public opinion.” But, Otterson adds, “this is a beginning, not an end.” He continues:
More visibility is not necessarily the same as increased understanding. In reality, a presidential election campaign is probably the worst time to try to educate and inform, because politics by its nature is divisive and often shrill. Many people are ready to believe the worst if it comports with their political leanings. But 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. … There is a sense among many Church members that historians of the future will look back on 2012, not as the eclipse of a “Mormon Moment,” but as the beginning of the real emergence of American Mormons, with all of their distinctiveness, into the rich mosaic of American religious life.