If part of the point was to show family values in action, it worked. Among Romney backers, the hope seems to be that eventually the Mormon theme will play out and the media will move on. For now, though, it's still a matter of public concern, or at least curiosity. In public forums, Romney's approach is to steer his rhetoric away from the specifics of his faith and toward the common ground of values, God, and patriotism – themes that play especially well among GOP primary voters.
At a recent "Ask Mitt Anything" forum in Indianola, Iowa, the first comment from the audience centered on Romney's faith.
"You know, one of the great things about this country of ours is that we don't choose our leaders based on what church they go to. We care about the values they have," Romney began, his wife and son Josh at his side. "And if you want to learn something about my values, you can meet my wife and my son and you can see that we have American values like anyone else in this country.
"And I'm really proud of the fact that wherever I go, people say, 'We love the fact that you're a person of faith, you believe in God, you believe in the Bible, you believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world.' Those are my beliefs, they form who I am. And one of the great elements of America is that we accept people of all faiths as long as they share our values and our love for this great country."
But even in that answer, in mentioning Jesus Christ, Romney is treading on sensitive territory. Many Protestants and Roman Catholics do not recognize Mormons as Christian because the church does not adhere to the common view of the Holy Trinity. The Mormon Church, instead, sees God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost as three separate beings – God and Jesus having human form – who collectively make up the Godhead.
Another objection is to the church's use of additional scriptures, such as the Book of Mormon. Richard John Neuhaus, a prominent conservative Catholic priest, calls Mormonism "a false religion." The Southern Baptist Convention instructs its members to view Mormonism as a cult.