Mormonism has been in the spotlight in recent years because of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the popular Broadway satire "The Book of Mormon" and the presidential aspirations of Republican Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor, once a top Mormon leader in the Boston area, is about to become the first Mormon presidential nominee from a major party. Here are some basics about his church:
AMERICAN ROOTS: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830 by Joseph Smith in upstate New York. He said he had a revelation that God wanted him to restore the true Christian church by revising parts of the Bible and adding additional scriptures. Church headquarters are in Salt Lake City.
BY THE NUMBERS: Mormonism is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, claiming 14.4 million members. Since the 1980s, the church has been expanding faster outside than inside the United States. Within the U.S., Mormons comprise just under 2 percent of the total population, or about 6 million people.
VALUES: Two-thirds of Latter-day Saints describe themselves as socially conservative, compared to 37 percent of the general public. Nearly three-quarters of Mormons say they are Republican or lean Republican. Still, one of the most prominent Mormons in public office is a Democrat: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
THE BLOGGERNACLE: Mormons are so active online they've been dubbed the Bloggernacle, after the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The Web has given church members and outsiders more access than ever to information about Mormon beliefs and culture. But the proliferation of blogs has also raised a debate among Mormons about who can speak for the faith.
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: http://www.pewforum.org/Christian/Mormon/mormons-in-america.aspx
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics/