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LDS Church ramps up on global stage

Mormons have been making headlines across the nation — from HBO’s “Big Love” to California’s Proposition 8, from David Archuleta to Stephenie Meyer, from Harry Reid to Glenn Beck.

LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson writes essays for The Washington Post . Mormonism is included as a major faith on several respected religion websites and in an important new book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us . The church’s “I’m a Mormon” ads have attracted widespread media attention in nine major U.S. cities. Two more universities are poised to launch “Mormon Studies” courses.

All these developments and more have given the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a glimpse of playing in religion’s big leagues.

Indeed, says LDS blogger Jana Riess in Cincinnati, Mormonism is becoming part of the “mainstream national conversation in a way that it wasn’t 10 years ago.”

Such visibility could partially explain why the LDS Church-owned Deseret News laid off nearly half its Salt Lake City staff. The paper plans to tap a stable of “correspondents” and be guided by a national advisory board of high achievers as it charts a new and brighter future — beyond the Wasatch Mountains — for the 160-year-old periodical.

Mormonism’s more prominent profile also may have helped propel its flagship school, Brigham Young University, to bolt from the Mountain West Conference and sign a deal with ESPN to broadcast Cougar football games with a promise to fill stadiums across the land with true-blue BYU fans. The arrangement offered the church school a chance to showcase its talent in some 99 million homes and play “high-profile” teams.

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