Do you ever get the feeling that everyone is watching you? It's a suddenly relatable phenomenon in 2011 for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of whom may feel that who they are and what they believe is the subject of greater public scrutiny than at any time since the early history of the church, when Joseph Smith and his followers were a subject of national controversy.
The scrutiny is at least greater than at any time since 2008, which, not coincidentally was the last time that a Latter-day Saint mounted a serious presidential bid, and also brought the prolonged and very public quarrel over Proposition 8 in California. What's different in 2011 is that the latent atmosphere of suspicion and resentment has been replaced by something more curious and less contentious.
When Newsweek published a cover story in June that heralded the arrival of a "Mormon Moment," there wasn't even really a suggestion that such a phenomenon might be strange or undesirable. Has America moved on from merely putting up with the church to actually being kinda welcoming of it?
Maybe. Professional pollster Gary Lawrence, author of the books "How Americans View Mormonism" and "Mormons Believe ... What?!" (released earlier this week), said that church members have a heightened sensitivity to media coverage of their faith.