Presidential candidate Mitt Romney repeatedly lauds the crucial role this country has to play in human history.
"I am one of those who believes America is destined to remain as it has been since the birth of the republic," Romney wrote in his book "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," "the brightest hope of the world."
The Republican nominee-in-waiting asserts the country has declined because President Obama doesn't share his vaulted view. Alluding to a biblical metaphor, Romney has said, the "light from that shining city (on a hill) has dimmed over the last three years, and I will help restore it."
Since its founding in 1830, Mormonism has been seen as the quintessential American faith.
After all, it was launched on U.S. soil and its sacred text, the Book of Mormon, tells the story of a band of Israelites who sailed to the New World. After his death in Jerusalem, the scripture says, Jesus brought his redeeming doctrines to the Americas.
Church founder Joseph Smith taught that Missouri was home to the Garden of Eden of the past and the New Jerusalem of the future. It is, he preached, where Jesus will return.
Today, the Utah-based faith is growing more rapidly outside the United States than in it, which makes it essential for the church to play down its Americanness. Zion, the church now teaches, can be anywhere the faithful gather and worship.
Latter-day Saints also regard the U.S. Constitution as an inspired document and the nation's founding as a pivotal step in the unfolding of God's plan to restore true Christianity to the Earth.
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