By Emily M. Firestone
PROVO — Has Mitt Romney’s time in the spotlight led to an increased interest in Mormonism?
Professors Lane Williams and Clark Callahan, as well as undergraduate students Derek Johanson, Christina Chatfield, and Kate Zeller addressed this issue at the Mormon Media Studies Symposium held in the BYU Conference Center Thursday and Friday.
Williams stated that in his research he discovered the idea of Mormonism becoming more prominent in the media since Romney’s initial presidential campaign in 2008. Williams continued to say that his study measured both negative and positive remarks about Mormonism collectively and not separated by opinion.
“The idea of talking about Mormonism is becoming highly more favorable.” Williams said.
Whether the statements are positive or negative, Williams claims the idea of talking about Mormonism is continually growing.
As Romney and the Mormon Church become more popular in the media, Callahan’s research depicts whether or not the average Mormon completely agrees with Romney’s political views and standards.
Johanson stated that while researching he and Callahan soon discovered that not all Mormons feel the same about this topic. While the majority of members agree with Romney’s politics and feel he represents their faith in a good way, there are a number of members who do not agree with him at all.
Johanson said that within his research he was able to sort the members surveyed into four groups ranging from those who love Romney to those who think of him as a liar. Despite their differences, one thing Callahan and Johanson found in common with all four groups was that they agree politics can be thought of outside the bounds of religion.
While the reaction of the members of the Mormon faith is very diverse, Williams states that the idea of Mormons in media is constantly growing. Williams believes more studies about this topic will start to emerge as the Mormon faith continues to be consistently mentioned in the media.
For more information about Mormons in Media please visit the Mormon Media Studies Symposium 2012 Facebook page.