"I don't know if we're ready for this kind of deluge"

The church has long contended with conspiracy theories of Mormon plots to take over America — claims that have only increased with Romney’s prominence. If the former governor wins the White House, however, several political scientists predict LDS officials would be more likely to pull back from any policy debates to avoid an appearance of undue influence, even when Mormons have a clear interest.

“There is a good chance that the main way a lot of leaders of the church will respond to the election of a Mormon to the presidency will be to stay as quiet and uninvolved in politics as possible and put as much daylight as possible between that president and the institutional church,” said Russell Arben Fox, a political scientist at Friends University in Wichita, Kan., and a Mormon writer. “They’re a global church and have responsibilities all around the world. For them to appear to be lining up behind a Mormon president and endorsing his policies would just be bad for the church.”

Despite their fears, Mormons acknowledge that Romney’s nomination will be a milestone like none before for the church…

Christian groups with a competing emphasis on evangelizing worry about a flood of Mormon converts if Romney prevails over President Barack Obama. With 14.4 million members, the church is among the fastest-growing in the world, supported by a full-time missionary force of about 55,000 young people.

Yet, with Romney in the Oval Office, the popularity of the church could fall as well as rise.