Several metro-area Mormon leaders said fellow Mormon Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has brought opportunities for dialogue about their often misunderstood faith beliefs.
“I don't know if Mitt Romney is going to win or not, but it has elevated the conversation,” Dr. Gordon Bean, of Oklahoma City, said Wednesday.
Bean, president of the Oklahoma City South Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and two other Mormon leaders all agreed that Romney's bid for the White House has put their faith in the spotlight like never before.
Kent Bowman, of Edmond, is president of the Stillwater Stake and Kevin Graves, of Oklahoma City, is president of the Oklahoma City Stake. The men said a stake in the Mormon church is akin to a Roman Catholic or Episcopal diocese in terms of a congregations within certain geographical areas.
Graves, a senior executive for Quest Diagnostics, said there are about 13,000 Mormons in the metro area, and about 42,000 across the state.
He said he has enjoyed the increased interest in Mormonism that has been generated because of Romney's high profile.
“It's been a wonderful time to bring clarity and understanding to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said.
Bean said he has welcomed opportunities to correct misinformation about Mormonism.
“As hard as we try, there are still a lot of misperceptions and misunderstandings about the church,” he said. “This has created an opportunity for dialogue. Some of us are shy and some of us are bold. For all of us, whether you think you're ready or not, you're going to have an opportunity to tell people about your faith.”