Bob Bernick’s notebook: Mormons and Trump

Bernick Mug 01

I went to lunch the other day with a long-time friend who is a faithful member of the LDS Church.

And the conversation turned, as it often does these days, to politics; Trump and impeachment.

And so I asked him — as a non-Mormon myself — how it can be that so many good members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can support Trump?

He was as mystified as I was — he and his wife, a woman he described as a proud “never Trumpster,” dislike the president and just about everything he does.

Before I get into the reasoning, some numbers that come from a recent Analytics poll:

— For a very Republican state, Utahns don’t like the president much.

— Overall his job approval ratings (and these are several months old) are upside down — 55 percent of Utahns “strongly” or “somewhat” disapprove of the job Trump is doing.

— Only 43 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of Trump.

Utah women really don’t like the president — for obvious reasons, like his historical treatment of women, his admitted affairs while he was still married and so on.

— Women here disapprove of the president, 62 percent to 37 percent.

— Men like Trump, 52-49 percent.

Now, we all know that most faithful members of the LDS Church in Utah are also Republicans and conservative.

And those traits would bleed over into approving of a Republican president.

And sure enough:

— 52 percent of “very active” Mormons approve of the job Trump is doing as president.

— 47 percent disapprove of the president, and 1 percent don’t know.

But look at these numbers, for comparison:

— 91 percent of “strong” conservatives approve of Trump.

— 85 percent of “strong” Republicans approve of him.

In that context, the fact that his approval rating among “very active” Mormons is only 52-47 percent tells me that many Mormons are like my friend and his “never Trumpster” wife.

While they are faithful members of the LDS faith, that faith is actually one reason they don’t like or support Trump.

“He has no morals,” said my friend.

He is a terrible example of how to treat women, how to conduct yourself in public.

“The man lies about everything,” my friend adds. “He lies about stuff that isn’t even important.”

Indeed, I believe it was the Washington Post who detailed more than 11,000 “lies” the president has told since in office — big things and very small things.

LDS Church leaders have, historically, stayed away from controversial political issues that they don’t see as morally-critical.

And they certainly try to stay away from individual personalities of politicians.

They don’t endorse, nor oppose, individual candidates. And the leaders try to stay on good terms with U.S. leaders — welcoming all U.S. presidents to meet with them.

I was wondering myself if at the last LDS General Conference any of the talks by church leaders would hint at Trump’s politics, like immigration or treatment of minorities and such.

Didn’t see it.

After conference, one church leader said we should all pray for our national leaders in these challenging times.

Ok. But that could bend various ways, pray for Trump to succeed on important issues with the will of the people, pray that he is impeached and gone. Take it as you will.

Thirty percent of “very active” Utah Mormons “strongly” approve of Trump’s job performance.

Thirty-five percent “strongly” disapprove of Trump, the latest Y2 polling shows.

So good Utah Mormons are split on Trump, despite many of them being Republicans and conservatives.

Seems to me, many faithful Utah Mormons — especially women — would love to have an alternative to Trump on the ballot next year, someone they could feel good about supporting.

But Democrats may not give them such a nominee.

How many Mormons will not vote for president next year? Or will hold their noses and vote for Trump, a man they don’t like?

We’ll see.

My friend and his wife are clearly in this rocky boat today.