Through his long presidential campaign, Romney has managed to maneuver his way around one of the most difficult questions in the history of Mormonism: The church’s systematic discrimination against African-Americans, who were barred from the priesthood until 1978. But as the political landscape shifts in the coming weeks to pit the first Mormon nominee directly against the nation’s first black president, a new set of voices — black intellectuals and religious leaders, in particular — are beginning to demand that Romney address a subject that’s rarely far from the surface of modern American politics: race.

“I think what you’ll find folks on the left doing is saying, ‘Look at this, look at the Mormon faith, this is what they used to believe while Mitt Romney was practicing!'” said David Wilson, founding editor African-American news site The Grio. “A lot of folks are going to want answers.”…

For the Obama campaign, trying to turn Mitt’s Mormonism against him would be something of a high-wire act, threatening to injure the incumbent should the strategy go awry. But as Democrats seek to galvanize an underwhelmed liberal base, associating racism with Romney — a bland moderate who often comes off as more hapless than villainous — could help boost election-day turnout.

Rev. O’Neal Dozier, a black conservative pastor at Worldwide Christian Center Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, has been an outspoken critic of Romney’s “racist religion,” and told BuzzFeed he knows many 2008 Obama voters in the black evangelical community whose support for the president is wavering. But once they learn about the racial history of Romney’s faith, Dozier predicts they will “simply dance back toward Obama.”