Mitt Romney's campaign impacts LDS in Texas, Kentucky

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 8 2011 8:00 a.m. MST

In this file photo taken Aug. 11, 2011, Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is seen during a commercial break at the Iowa GOP/Fox News Debate at the CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa.

Charlie Neibergall, Pool, Associated Press

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With the race for the Republican presidential nomination heating up, Mormon college students deep in the heart of Texas are acclimating themselves to the increased attention Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations bring to their religious observance.

The Daily Texan, the student newspaper for the University of Texas Longhorns, published an article Monday about the intersection of Romney's candidacy and the lives of the approximately 300 students who attend classes at the LDS Institute of Religion in Austin.

"In his campaign for president, Mitt Romney has come under scrutiny for his religion, Mormonism, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For University of Texas Mormons, Romney's running is an opportunity for others to learn more about their religion. … 'Politics and the media, they're going to do what they're going to do,' Institute Director Eric Johnson said. 'Members of the church are being given more opportunities to say, "this is who we are and this is what we've been, and it points to the Savior Jesus Christ." ' "

Texas isn't the only place where Romney's campaign is catalyzing Mormons to speak up about their faith — it's also happening in spades in Kentuckiana (a regional term for a border-straddling metropolitan area that cover parts of both Kentucky and Indiana), the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Sunday.

"Members of Kentuckiana's small but steadily growing Mormon community say they welcome the scrutiny. 'We get to explain ourselves more, which is nice, actually,' Becky Shumway, 36, of Louisville, said after an Oct. 23 worship service. … Mormons number 32,261 in Kentucky — up from 24,366 since 2001."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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