Both Mormon church, anti-Mormon group buy Google ads targeting Romney

Both the Mormon Church and an anti-Mormon group have purchased advertisements on Google targeting Internet users searching for information about Mitt Romney.

A search for videos on Google using the search term "Romney" brings up keyword-targeted ads promoting www.mormon.org, the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.

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Another ad sends users to www.4mormon.org, a website controlled by Witnesses for Jesus, Inc. That group deems neither Mormons nor Jehovah's Witnesses to be Christians and works to expose what it calls deception by those religious groups.

"We offer our research into the history and doctrines of Mormonism as a loving attempt to alert unsuspecting Mormons and potential converts to this deception so they can be liberated from the seduction of evil spirits," reads the group's website.

Google’s AdSense service allows advertisers to place ads alongside the results of specific search terms. The ads are purchased through an auction, which determines the price to target any given keyword.

The church's decision to advertise alongside Romney-related search terms is striking because of its previous attempts to steer clear of political issues, especially as they pertain to Romney, who has avoided emphasizing his Mormon faith out of concern it could alienate some voters.

Romney's faith has come up time and again on the campaign trail, usually when controversial comments by those supporting Romney's rivals have attracted widespread attention. A prominent pastor called Mormonism a cult while endorsing Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who dropped out of the race in January. And Newt Gingrich's Iowa political director had to step aside after making pejorative comments about Romney and Mormonism.

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