Like Gov. Romney, I was born and raised LDS. I didn't have a choice in the matter.
Many people (former mormon or not) are focusing on the religion and its beliefs. It's true that some parts of the mormon faith are secret. Some parts of its history shock adults raised in the mormon faith.
While I have many disagreements with my former religion, I'm still not sold on the notion that faith is a critical part of the U.S. presidency.
Richard Nixon, for example, was a Quaker. I am hard-pressed to find any correlation between his Quaker faith and actions in his presidency.
And former president Bill Clinton was raised a Southern Baptist. The Southern Baptist are a conservative sect, one that voted to have women submit to their husbands. Pres. Clinton and President Carter worked with a new Baptist discussion in 2006 - 2008 to move towards a more open, compassionate Baptist ministry (away from the conservative Southern Baptists).
A person's character is an important part of their candidacy and presidency. What they have done is very important. Despite vocal indications to the contrary, most of what presidents have done over the past fifty years has been about politics, growth, defense, education.
I'm reminded of the international funding for birth control and abortion. The day after a Republican president is sworn in, they cut the funding. The day after a Democrat is sworn in, they re-instate the funding. That's politics, pure and simple.
So religion becomes a side item. It reminds me of the intense scrutiny of the president's wives/spouses and children. In the end, the character of a president's family has even less to do with the presidency itself than religion does.
And that's why I'm not sure how much control a president has. They have some control, to be sure. They set direction, suggest policy, etc. But in the end, every president is constrained by the checks and balances.
I read both Dreams from my Father and The Audacity of Hope. At first I couldn't believe that the establishment was allowing someone like Barack Obama to run.
Now, I look back on what he's been able to accomplish in his presidency (particularly compared with those two books). Honestly, not much of what he set out to do.
The difference is, I don't blame him for that. The same thing happened to George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It's true that each person had many decisions that were their own, some that I vehemently disagree with. But overall, presidents get credit when things go right, and blame when they go wrong.
Back to Romney, four years ago I wrote that I understood why he didn't want to answer questions about mormonism. I stand by that, four years later. Religion can be a factor in deciding the presidency and presidential candidates, but it shouldn't be the only factor.
Presidents can talk a good game, but in the end it's much more complicated than simple character or drive.