Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: LDS Church Lobbying the Legislature

utahpolicy ksl 400 wide smaSo far this year, the LDS Church has taken a position on medical marijuana and proposed hate crimes legislation. Our “Political Insiders” are split on whether the Church has helped or hurt the legislative process.

48% of our Republican insiders say the Church has helped while 45% claim they have hurt legislative efforts.
Just 14% of the Democrats on our panel think the Church’s lobbying efforts have helped while 78% say they have hurt. 

Selected anonymous comments:
“Although I do not agree with the church on many issues, it is a major piece of Utah and should give its opinion openly. Utahns have to make the decision whether to support or not.”
“Any entity should have a right to voice their opinion on issues. Suppressing the political speech of any person or group would go against everything our founders fought for.”
“The Catholic Church in Salt Lake has a very personable lobbyist active in social causes at the legislature. Other religions make their opinions known as well. The LDS church is resented much more strongly because of its influence here in Utah.”
“The LDS Church, just as any entity, has a right to advocate for issues it cares about. Just like any other lobbyist or advocacy group, sometimes it can make a difference, sometimes it can’t. People owe the LDS Church and the Legislators an apology for trying to make people think that the LDS Church runs the State. The advocating helped the process; everybody should advocate on every issue, that is what civics is about.”
“Every individual, as well as, all groups are entitled to speak in the public arena and give their opinions. The Mormon Church is no exception.”
“Utah’s governor should be the only person in the state with veto power.”
“The church has the right and even the responsibility to address public policy issues that impact their mission as does any church or other organization or citizen in Utah and the U.S. The LDS church is pretty selective these days on the issues they engage on with the Utah legislature. Their remarkable leadership on the gay issue last session was quite amazing and a balanced approach. The ink on that was barely dry before the gay community was pushing for more. That is the problem, not the LDS church.”
“No separation of church and state exists in Utah. No pretense of either anymore.”
“The blatant attempt by the LDS Church to control the Utah legislature is fundamentally wrong in many ways: it not only violates the State’s constitution but undermines the whole democratic process. Yes, they have the right to do what they did but having the right and doing what’s right can be two different things. They have unique power/influence and they know it.”
“The LDS Church is representative of a majority of people in Utah. I am very supportive of religion and religious people having a voice in the public square.”
“Whatever happened to separation of church and state? A church, and it doesn’t matter what religion, has no business mingling in legislative affairs that could potentially help (or hurt) people that don’t have the same beliefs as them.”
“The LDS Church, like any other group, has a right to state their opinions on matters that concern them and their members. Politicians are not obligated to follow them in lock-step march.”
“This interference is inappropriate. This is in effect playing a ‘trump card’ because many legislators belong to the LDS church, and both strongly in it. This is a clear-cut case of lack of separation of church and state.”
“The LDS Church has way too much influence on the legislative process. The vast majority of legislation they want or don’t want is passed or defeated based only on their say-so. That’s not healthy for democracy, even if you acknowledge that they have a valid concern on many issues.”
“On medical marijuana, it’s obvious that they jumped in too soon before the Legislature had fine-tuned the bill. Consequently, they had to backtrack on their earlier statement. And their position on hate crimes seems a bit hypocritical knowing their position on tolerance and equal treatment of all people.”
“I have personally seen the LDS Church lobby behind closed doors for years. While I believe any church should be able to express its opinion on issues, it must be done in the open for all citizens to see. Citizens can see whether those influences affect their legislator and then vote for/against the legislator at the next election.”
“As a non-Utahn and believing member of the LDS Church, I feel their lobbying efforts hurt the legislative session. While I acknowledge their right to lobby for their religious stances on certain issues, the disconnect for people like me take place when it feels like they are using their influence in Utah to sway Utah legislation. I do not see them getting involved in things like medicinal marijuana legislation in other states like Colorado. If the LDS Church would like to lobby, let them lobby – but that lobbying should be in all states where members are represented, not just the one state where they hold the most sway. The appearance it gives to me, as a non-Utah Mormon, is that they are wielding influence in a theocratic fashion.”
“Why is it ok for other groups to lobby and not the LDS church? The Catholic diocese weighs in on many bills, yet no one complains, but the LDS church gets creamed.”
“As much as I respect that the church does have opinions and are entitled to those opinions, their announcements come out as instructions to the legislators, rather than just their opinions. They meddle way too much in Utah politics.”
“It’s offensive to suggest that any entity, including a church, should not exercise its right to petition the government.”
“The LDS Church is not only out of sync with the general public, but it’s out of sync with its own members on these issues. The suggestion that the hate crimes bill that is supported by multiple churches and identifies people of faith as a protected class disrupts the balance with religious liberty is laughable.”
“If you lobby, own it. Don’t hide behind offering an opinion.”
“Everyone gets the option to weigh in on the process.”
“They are an organization that represents 2 million people in Utah. They have a right to be heard.”
“Whether or not we like it, the LDS Church represents a huge majority of Utahns. In what world would an organization with that large of a membership base in a given area not have a voice? We should encourage more voices in this discussion, not less.”
“The Catholic Diocese of Boston hires a whole team to lobby the legislature. Baptists and other, similar Congresses do throughout the South. Only seems to be a big deal in Utah.”
“Why does it matter? Why do we care? Every other organization or association has weighed in on these issues. Why does the church get so much scrutiny?”
“The same people complaining about the Church lobbying this year are the same people whose legislation passed last ONLY because of the church’s support. They were hugging an apostle last year during the press conference. This year they are giving the church the middle finger. So, as to whether it ‘hurts’ or ‘helps’ the legislative process, it depends whose side you’re on.”
“When one voice interrupts an entire process, balance is lost, and people aren’t fairly represented.”