Analysis; Religion in Key US Campaign
Byline: TONY CZUCZKA Deutsche Presse Agentur
WASHINGTON (dpa) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought Thursday to dampen questions about his Mormon faith, saying he would keep his religion out of the White House if elected in 2008.
But the millionaire businessman and former Massachusetts governor insisted that religion deserved a prominent place in US public life and drew a contrast with Europe, where he said churches are "so grand -- and so empty."
Romney's faith is a campaign issue in part because of Mormons' strict conservative social values, their view that other Christians have errant beliefs, and tricky relations with Jews.
In a speech in Texas that evoked the driving force of religion in US history and public life, Romney said he would separate his faith from the presidency if he wins the Republican nomination next summer and the presidential election in November.
"Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions," he told supporters at the presidential library of George H W Bush, the current president's father.
"I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest," Romney said. He expressed respect for other religions, including Jews and Muslims.
Drawing a parallel to his own controversy, Romney recalled a famous speech by John F Kennedy aimed at dispelling concerns about his Catholic faith before he won the presidency in 1960.
And he said some civilrights activists were going too far in pushing for greater church-state separation in the US, a nation led by a born-again evangelical Christian - President George W. …