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As Election Nears, Mormon Democrats a Newly Significant Voice Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, November 5 2012

No matter who wins the election Tuesday, the campaign has helped establish an online voice for a population with a unique perspective in this election -- self-described Mormon Democrats and supporters of Obama.

Matthew Anselmo is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints currently based in Ohio, and he had been running a blog with posts going as far back as 2006 that share his moderate, Democratic-leaning perspective from the Mormon point of view. But when he felt he wasn't able to produce enough content to gain more traffic since he works full-time as a middle manager at a multinational pharmaceutical company and has four small children, he began searching the web for like-minded authors. Earlier this year he found the web presence of a blogger who writes under the name "Aaron," who is a former president of the College Democrats at Brigham Young University and, Anselmo said, is "much more liberal and very passionate," but also stays away from emotionally charged issues.

Since then, the two blogs have merged their content to become a more full-fledged Mormon Democrats website that is also complemented by two busy Twitter accounts,@MormonDems and @MormonDemocrat, with the goal of promoting "fact-based" dialogue from a Democratic Mormon point of view.

Anselmo noted that among many LDS members, the debate over abortion and gay marriage can serve as wedge issues. "[Our site understands] that these two issues are aligned with the the church position, but that they are a very small part of the political process. If you're a Democrat or Republican, it has nothing to do with these issues, it's about the role of government," Anselmo explained.

"Before [the online presence] you would know one or two people within your congregation that perhaps share your views. Mormon Democrats are very drawn to each other...the website allows us to come together in a larger voice and unify [our] position," Anselmo said.

Lately, the site has been getting around 40,000 hits per month, Anselmo said. They are also in touch with the Mormons for Obama effort, which also has an active blog and Twitter presence. Posts by the two main writers are complemented by other contributors.

"Just because we're Mormon, doesn't mean we're Republican, is really the core message," Anselmo added, citing Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also a member of the church.

Taking advantage of the potential of Twitter has also been a significant driver of momentum helping to generate more readership, he said. The site's tweets have not only gained traction among some prominent personalities, with retweets coming from MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell for example, he said, but also from members of an online grassroots community.

Anselmo said he's optimistic about Obama's chances, but that the site would continue to participate in the online conversation regardless of the outcome. "I don't have any problems with the character of Romney, I don't think that's what these political debates are about. It's really about what Governor Romney's plan is for the future of our country," he said. "Do I side with his logic, with his reasoning? Of course I stand with his religion, but that's not a critical element of being a president of the United States."

As someone who grew up in a bipartisan household, he said he believed "it's perfectly acceptable to be a member of the Mormon Church and also to be a Democrat."

On Twitter, meanwhile, the official @Mormonorg account appears to have been running this promoted Tweet the past few days: "All over the world, the Mormon Church remains neutral in matters of politics. Learn more about the Church's stance. http://mrmn.org/VIdsDB."

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