The Business Of Faith

Sep 30 2012 @ 12:25pm

Benjamin Wallace-Wells examines Romney's role in the Mormon church during the '80s and '90s, when he was in charge of more than a dozen congregations. He notes that the businessman's prosperity was closely tied to the church's ideology:

His peers from church will often say that he was very good with teenagers, not as a confidant but as a cultural counterprogrammer, a promiser of the rewards the straight path might bring. The church’s program for teenagers includes instruction on work ethic, on modest ­attire, on personal finance, and Romney would have over for pancakes the dedicated groups that showed up to seminary lessons before school. He would invite teenagers from the church’s poorer wards to his house for dinner, let them swim in his pool, let the tangible connection between godliness and prosperity sink in.

This is a peculiarly American promise, the conviction that there is a connection between virtue and wealth. Romney would urge teenagers struggling in school not to give up, that great success was still possible; he would emphasize the practical applicability of spiritual lessons, saying, according to Bennett, "These values you are learning—empathy, honesty—will be a great aid to you in your careers."