In the fight to fend off Donald J. Trump’s conquest of the Republican Party, there has been no fiercer faction this year than the Mormons.
Throughout the primaries, Mr. Trump was pummeled in the Book of Mormon Belt. In Utah, he suffered one of his worst defeats, finishing dead last with a paltry 14 percent of the vote. Outside Utah, he often underperformed in counties where Mormons were more heavily concentrated.
On some level, this dynamic might seem intuitive. Mormonism is a faith that holds up chastity as a virtue and condemns pornography as a soul-rotting vice; Mr. Trump is an unabashed adulterer who has posed for Playboy covers. Mormons draw inspiration from their ancestors’ modest frontier frugality; Mr. Trump travels the world in a tricked-out Boeing 757 with his name stamped conspicuously across the fuselage.
Many conservative Christians were willing to overlook these defects during the primaries because they liked what Mr. Trump had to say about issues like immigration. But Mormons are considerably more conflicted about his mad-as-hell message — and their ambivalence could cost the candidate in Western swing states.
Of all the iniquities committed in this less-than-saintly campaign season, only one has managed to elicit an official response from Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City: Mr. Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns,” the church’s statement read. “However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom.”