I hope my readers will indulge me as I play a little imagination game...
interviewer: Don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?
guest: Yes. That's part of the plan of salvation. "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become."
(instead of: I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, "As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." Now that's more of a couplet than anything else.)
interviewer: So you're saying that God wasn't always God, and that once upon a time he used to be a righteous guy on some other planet?
interviewer: Well who was God back then?
guest: His own Heavenly Father.
interviewer: Like Heavenly Grandpa, then?
interviewer: How far back does it go?
guest: That has not been revealed at this time.
interviewer: So you're not really monotheistic?
guest: We are monotheistic in the sense that we believe that there is only one God who has jurisdiction over our world and the others He created. So we have no other Gods before Him. However, we believe that there exist other Gods.
interviewer: That's a rather unusual doctrine.
guest: We don't choose our doctrine according to what is popular with the other religions. *laughter*
In my opinion, a few people watching the interview would have said "Hmm, that's pretty weird," and that would have been the end of it. I don't think that such an interview would have made a single negative blip for the LDS church on the news scene. Because none of it is news. Everyone knows that different religions believe different things, and the doctrines of Mormonism aren't a secret.
Or at least they weren't when I was a kid. This is what I was taught. Was I taught wrong? Did it change?
To my LDS readers, if any: I mean this to be discussion, not dissuasion/attack, so please tell me if you think I've crossed the line into the realm of "anti-Mormon" with this post. It was inspired by Christopher Bigelow's post about mainstreaming here. The thing is that I find this mainstreaming weirdly frustrating myself even though I know it's none of my business since I'm not in the church anymore.
It just seems that downplaying the unusual doctrines is counterproductive even for those who want to see the LDS church grow: It's not fooling anybody, and it accomplishes nothing except to confuse and upset the core members, who are the ones the organization can least afford to lose...