Since Proposition 8, the ‘Book of Mormon’ musical and Mitt Romney’s campaigns of 2008 and 2012, the public’s curiosity of Mormon culture has grown. Utah Valley University has taken notice of this and will host a panel in the Ragan Theater on Feb. 13 to discuss what some are referring to as “The Mormon Moment.”

Laurie Goodstein, a national religion correspondent for The New York Times, will express her thoughts and views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in popular culture at 12:00 p.m. Following her lecture will be panel moderated by Brian Birch, associate vice president for academic affairs and director of the Religious Studies Program.

“We are very pleased to host Laurie Goodstein,” Birch said. “She is a world-class reporter who has done outstanding work on the Latter-day Saints and other religious communities.”

by fr.wallpapersus.comIn 2012, the LDS Church reported 2 million new members within the last 10 years, one of the fastest-growing religious groups among 26 states, according to a Religious Congregations and Membership study. The so-called “Mormon Moment” comes from growing curiosity of the Mormon religion.

“I’m surprised, but glad that the discussion has continued. I thought it might end with the [presidential] election,” said James Faulconer, associate director of the Wheatley Institution at BYU.

Others agree the rise in popularity of LDS culture isn’t likely to end anytime soon.

“The fact Mitt Romney even got to where he was tells us something about the culture change,” said Russell Fox, associate professor of political science at Friends University in Witchita, Kansas. “It tells us something about this moment.”

Still, the large majority don’t understand or aren’t familiar with the religion or culture.

“I have been invited by another university, to talk about this type of thing, but the way they approached this was: ‘We want you to come and talk about how it is possible to be Mormon and a smart person,’” Faulconer said.

Despite the many views of different regions or faiths, Faulconer hopes the panel will touch base with people in a way that will help them open their mind to other Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

Because of because of how little time the panelists have, the discussion can only cover so many things.

“You could spend an entire year’s worth of study on this,” Birch said. “This is just one little slice of a conversation about a very dynamic religious tradition.”

For more information on the panel, check out the website for Religious Studies at

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