In the wake of the New Hampshire primary victory, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is on course to become the first Mormon to secure nomination as the Republican presidential candidate.

One issue that surfaces in heavily evangelical Christian states such as Iowa and South Carolina is whether Mormons are Christians.

Mormons believe in God the father, Jesus the son and the Holy Ghost. They believe in Jesus as our savior and Messiah, Robert P. DesJardins, a Los Angeles attorney who has studied the religion, said.

So how why would anyone say they're not Christians? The difference is, they do not believe the three gods are one. And they believe in human deification - that humans can become gods. Those are two fundamental reasons why some Christians say Mormons do not share their faith, he added.

According to DesJardins, there are now about 14 million Mormons worldwide and they comprise just 2 percent of the U.S. population. The church has long been regarded with suspicion and even outright violence. Despite its growing prominence in American culture, those attitudes seem to still prevail.

The church itself hired two ad agencies in 2009 to research public perception and was disappointed to find Americans still describe it as 'cultish,' 'secretive' and 'sexist,''' DesJardins said. It set about to change that with a multi-million-dollar TV, billboard and Internet campaign in 2010, he added.

Meanwhile, supporters of the former governor of Massachusetts have dismissed claims his religious beliefs could hamper his presidential ambitions. As if to prove this, they point out that Romney went on to win in Iowa and he is leading the polls in South Carolina.

Romney recently sent mailers to South Carolina voters, which reads Meet Mitt ... Faith. Family. Country. The pamphlet also features a quote of Romney: If I'm President of the United States, I will be true to my family, my faith, and our country, and I will never apologize for the United States of America.