Monday, December 18, 2006

Church "public education' campaign

Washington Prowler
Mormonism in the Spotlight
By The Prowler
Published 12/18/2006 12:09:15 AM

The Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
is growing increasingly concerned about the public-perception hit the
presidential candidacy of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have on
the Mormon Church.

That's one reason the church is looking at what is being called a
"public education" campaign that could reach a budget in the tens of
millions in media buys for TV, radio and print.

"There is an expectation that some of the church's more archaic
traditions and obscure points of history will become more widely
publicized by Governor Romney's opponents in an effort to embarrass
him and raise doubts about his faith in the minds of the public," says
a New York-based media consultant who has heard buzz of the potential

Already, the Mormon Church runs a series of radio ads about family
issues that are branded as messages from the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. There is also a small TV campaign that runs
occasionally highlighting the church and some of its faith-based

But the current campaign is of a different sort, one that would be
high profile in as much as the church would be openly discussing and
clarifying points of the Mormon faith that have long been either
misunderstood or misreported.

But this campaign may not be simply about educating the American
people about what many people consider an odd faith. Sources say that
initial spending on the campaign would most likely be focused on media
outlets in six geographic areas: Washington, D.C., New York, Los
Angeles, Iowa, South Carolina, and Michigan.

"Remember, this isn't just about the church's image. This about
Governor Romney's image, too," says the political consultant. "I think
increasingly the two are becoming bound together."

Any advertising campaign targeted in that way would almost assuredly
come under review by the Federal Election Commission and perhaps by
the Internal Revenue Service, due to the church's tax exempt status.

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