Every year Time magazine chooses a person of the year, and, perhaps in that spirit, Kent Larsen, on the Times and Seasons blog, has created a new category–Mormon of the Year- which is about judging the impact that the nominees had on the world and on Mormonism.

Kent , knew, of course, that suggesting such a thing, would open him up to criticism. Would this be a popularity contest or create a category of the elite? Would this be about wealth, power or influence on the culture? With time, most of us come to suspect that the Mormon of the Year in our own lives is somebody who is quietly there when we need them. Our own Mormon of the Year may be our mother, our home teacher, our bishop.

In general, the question really is who wants this new kind of categorizing when we hope to move our hearts to the point where we are one? Nevertheless, Kent ‘s suggestion has created a lively debate and groups like David Archuleta’s fans base are urging votes for their man.

The ground rules for the game were that the prophet could not be considered. Kent said, “My fear is that if the Prophet is a candidate, he will be selected as the Mormon of the Year every year.

On that same basis, he also excluded the apostles, as he said, “I’m afraid the designation would just rotate among them. Much more interesting, at least to me, is who deserves such a recognition without having the admiration that comes with these Church positions.

He also noted, “Another factor that should be considered is whether this recognition is about the person’s positive actions during the year, or whether it is simply about how much the person’s actions made the news. Time recognized Adolf Hitler as its Person of the Year in 1938 because of his impact, despite its negative nature. If the Mormon who makes the largest impact has made a negative impact, should that person be recognized? Or should that be some other designation? Personally, I’m not opposed to noting someone because of their negative impact, but I doubt everyone will agree with me on this.”

He asked for nominations from readers, and then made a few suggestions of his own to get things started.

  • Mitt Romney – I know its kind of hard to reward a lack of success, but his candidacy in the past year has certainly brought attention to the Church and to Mormonism. And as far as LDS candidates for President go, he may have gone farther toward the Presidency than any other Mormon.
  • Harry Reid – As the Senate Majority Leader, it is kind of hard to ignore Reid, since he is the highest ranking Mormon in government ever. He also provides a nice antidote to the assumption that Mormons must be Republicans (to say nothing of the fact that his politics are probably more in line with the vast majority of Mormons – when you take into account those that do not live in the United States ).
  • Stephanie Meyer – Like or hate her books, she is certainly the face of Mormonism among many people around the world, especially this year, with the first Twilight movie in theaters and news articles frequently mentioning her religion.
  • David Neeleman – The JetBlue founder and well-known Mormon has started his fourth airline – this time in Brazil , bringing with it multiple profiles of Neeleman, why he was born in Brazil and how he served his mission there.
  • David Archuleta – The American Idol finalist brought a lot of attention to Mormons during the show’s recent run.

Voting on the various nominees will be accepted through Monday night, January 5. Click here to see the discussion and vote.