Mitt Romney refused to mix religion with politics in this year's presidential campaign, but that didn't repress people's curiosity about Mormonism. His candidacy brought the homegrown faith into the spotlight.
Patrick Mason, a professor and chairman of the Mormon Studies program at Claremont Graduate University, says attention paid to his faith has been twofold. On one hand, it's been good for attracting new converts. On the other hand, it's turned Mormonism into something of a cultural punch line.
Young supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin have staged several protests this month outside Mormon meeting houses, claiming that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an "authoritarian sect" with connections to the CIA and FBI.
The protesters are members of the Young Guard, a youth organization of Putin's United Russia Party. They insist their actions have nothing to do with Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate and Mormon who called Russia the "No. 1 geopolitical foe" of the U.S.
Poor Chris Stewart. The former Air Force pilot had just won a landslide victory in his first bid for Congress in Utah, but the crowd of Republicans listening to his acceptance speech at a Salt Lake City hotel kept pointing to the massive television screen behind him.
"Do you want me to stop?" Stewart asked. "You would rather listen to Gov. Romney than to me, wouldn't you?"
Some in the crowd shouted "Yes!" and the sound of Romney's concession speech filled the room.
They billed the gathering in a Charlotte, N.C., Holiday Inn conference room Tuesday as the first national meeting of Mormon Democrats.
Don't laugh. Crystal Young-Otterstrom says she figures there are 1 million of them out there, and she's determined to find them.
"It's like a missionary effort," Young-Otterstrom said in a room packed with the curious, the media and a cadre of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints making the argument that the Democratic Party best represents their personal and religious values.