SALT LAKE CITY - Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and members of his staff discussed how to incorporate Mormon principles into state policy, according to public documents obtained by the
Salt Lake Tribune
The documents, reviewed by the newspaper for a story published yesterday, included minutes of the discussions, which took place in 1996 when Leavitt and aides gathered before work at private homes and the Governor's Mansion. The group reviewed stories from the Book of Mormon and how they applied to government, the newspaper reported.
The principles discussed were not exclusively religious but included accountability, equality, stewardship and marriage, which are all part of Mormon doctrine. The group also talked about how to communicate those ideas to non-Mormons.
Leavitt, now U.S. secretary of health and human services, said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never tried to influence his decisions in state or federal government.
"Like everyone else, my faith is part of a complicated chemistry of experiences that shape the way I see the world," Leavitt told the Tribune.
During the meetings, Leavitt said the discussions were not official state business and asked staffers to keep the conversations confidential.
After the newspaper obtained the documents, Leavitt asked that they be pulled from state archives, saying the discussions were private because they contained personal or even "sacred" thoughts from members of his staff.
The records were removed and are now the subject of a 30-day review.
Leavitt said he has never held comparable gatherings as a member of President Bush's Cabinet, or as administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency.