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New York Times explores how Mitt Romney's faith reflects on his daily life

Published: Sunday, May 20 2012 1:59 p.m. MDT

In this May 11, 2012, file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company in Charlotte, N.C.

Associated Press

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Mitt Romney may be hesitant to discuss his faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but reporters are doing it for him as they explore how his beliefs have shaped his life and philosophies.

A recent New York Times story by Jodi Kantor chronicled Romney's faith, from his time as a Sunday school teacher, to his ability to translate beliefs into actions outside of church.

"Just as Ronald Reagan deployed acting skills on the trail and Barack Obama relied on the language of community organizing, Mitt Romney bears the marks of the theology and culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Kantor wrote.

Romney's belief in American exceptionalism, his objections to abortion and same-sex marriage and his belief in self-sufficiency tempered with generosity and charity all tie back to his faith, the story continued. His upbeat attitude is also a reflection of his faith's emphasis on resilience and can-do optimism.

His religious ideals have come into conflict with the reality of running political campaigns, the story said, although Romney has tried to follow his principles. After Romney tried to help Texas Gov. Rick Perry during Perry's "oops" moment in a November debate, columnist Kathleen Parker branded Romney "a nice guy in a season of nastiness." More recently, Romney repudiated the possibility of using President Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a weapon against the president.

Kantor's lengthy New York Times profile comes in the wake of a Washington Post multi-part series of stories also exploring how Romney's leadership style has been shaped by his work as an LDS leader.

The LDS priesthood, for example, "produces pragmatic competent leaders effective at working within systems," Matthew Bowman wrote in one story. "Mormon scripture defines the priesthood as the power to govern through persuasion and charity. It condemns arbitrariness and power-seeking, and leaders are admonished to delegate and to seek unanimity."

"Many of the traits and skills that make up the DNA of Mormon leadership — pragmatism, leading as part of a team known as a 'council,' and doing one's share of the dirty work — are universal values," Dave Ulrich wrote in another story. "Ironically, the very part of Romney's personal leadership history that he seems to be playing down is the one thing that would help him come across as a more authentic presidential candidate and ease deficits some voters see in his electability."