Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is one of the most famous members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and if elected will become the first Mormon to be President of the United States. With Mitt in the national eye, now is as good a time as any to check out the Mormon Channel, the online video hub for all things LDS.
The channel features live chats with big figures in Mormonism (though my favorite Mormon, Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings, is unfortunately absent), the complete collection of ads from the Church’s I’m A Mormon campaign, and several other videos about various member of the religious group who describe the ways in which their faith has changed their lives. The channel’s most viewed entry is a stirring eight minute mini-documentary about Stephanie Nielson, a mother of four who nearly died after being involved in a plane crash back in 2008.
The Mormon Channel has the most views of any official channel of any organized religion on YouTube. Its collection of premium content has helped it garner over 43 million views, more than six times as many as the Vatican’s official channel (which eschews premium content in favor of addresses from the Pope and his associates). The LDS Church also runs channels in 5 other languages; El Canal Mormon has over three million views in its own right.
The push for premium Mormon-centered content is a direct result of the poor press generated by the LDS Church’s fervent support of California’s Proposition 8, the anti-gay rights amendment that passed during the 2008 election. The LDS Church was widely criticized after it raised over $20 million in support of Prop 8, so the faith responded with an equally large, multi-million dollar ad campaign that hopes to paint Mormons as normal, god-fearing folks.
But even with the additional advertising, a recent study showed that 18% of Republicans are hesitant to support a Mormon candidate. Will the faith’s YouTube push change that figure in 2012? We’ll find out on Election Day.