Mormon ad campaign raises questions

The Mormon church has launched a series of television ads.

INDIANAPOLIS - The Mormon church is promoting itself more and some are asking if it may have something to do with the presidential race.

The campaign has seemingly come out of nowhere. Not Mitt Romney's campaign for the GOP nomination, but his church. If you are watching TV in your own home, you can't miss it. The campaign also dots the landscape along the interstate.

Estimates show there are just over 10,000 Mormons in central Indiana and 41,000 in the entire state. So the real question is, "What is this campaign all about?"

"The church has done some research and found in America, half the people don't know us or don't know much about us," said Paul Sinclair.

Sinclair says the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is building a temple in Carmel and running similar ad campaigns in South Bend and Fort Wayne. Since America has never had a Mormon president, the timing, coming just days after former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney visited Indianapolis, has prompted some skepticism.

On Indiana Insiders, scheduled to air Sunday on Channel 13, Republican analyst Peter Rusthoven said it's more of a church effort than a political one.

"I am just wondering if there are voters out there who are hesitant to vote for a Mormon for president? The polling on that is astounding. More than were hesitant to vote for a Catholic president, Jack Kennedy," Rusthoven said.

"We are on a political talk show. I think this benefits not only Romney, but [Utah Gov. Jon] Huntsman, who is also a Mormon. Look, we are more you," said Democratic analyst Robin Winston.

"We don't take a position on an office or a candidate," Sinclair said.

We opened the topic up for discussion on Facebook.

"Being a Mormon myself, I think it is a nice way to bring others 2 the church," wrote Cathy Wesling.

"Trying to push everyone into being Mormons," replied Bill Swank.

Thomas Bailey found the middle ground.

"There has to be an agenda somewhere, but I would rather my kid see those billboards than some of the crap with barely clothed people," he wrote.

Sinclair says the church just wants to use an opportunity to fulfill an obligation.

"Go to, look at the profiles and see that they are your neighbors, your friends, people you work with. They are the people your kids go to school with and we want to be your friends and neighbors," Sinclair said.

The ad campaign is scheduled to run into early February.