No doubt about this one: 90 percent of Utahns and 92 percent of faithful Utah Mormons do not want LDS Church leaders to endorse political candidates, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.
Those are, of course, overwhelming numbers.
It’s not like LDS Church leaders are about to do so, but there is also no doubt that more than a few politico eyebrows were raised earlier this year when leaders of the international church – headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah – made several statements clearly critical of stands by then-GOP-candidate, now presumed-GOP-nominee, Donald Trump.
And 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a recognized Mormon and new Utah resident, has been bashing Trump for months, adding he won’t be voting for Trump this year.
So one may have wondered, as UtahPolicy folks did, whether this may be the U.S. presidential race where Mormon leaders take a more-clear stand on the candidates.
But Utahns don’t want that, finds pollster Dan Jones & Associates.
And Utah-based Mormons don’t want it, either.
Some of the numbers:
- 90 percent of “likely voters” said they don’t want leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to endorse candidates.
- 4 percent said they would like to see that.
- And 6 percent didn’t know.
Utah is over 60 percent Mormon by population. And “very active” Mormons – those who pay tithing and attend church regularly – are also against their church leaders getting involved in candidate endorsements.
- 92 percent of “very active” Mormons said no political endorsements.
- 4 percent of active Mormons said they would like to see such endorsements.
- 4 percent were undecided.
Several faithful Mormon Utah legislators took out after their own church leaders during the January-March 2016 general session when the church issued statements that clearly killed several bills – including legalizing medical marijuana in certain cases and strengthening hate crime law to include crimes against LGBT individuals.
It was an unusual backlash against a very patriarchal church that admires cohesion and support from grass-root members.
The church – half of whose members are of Hispanic origins, according to some sources – also issued a statement critical of Trump’s stand on Mexican immigrants (“rapists” and “murderer,” he said) and that Muslims should temporarily be banned from entering the U.S.
To the latter, church leaders republished a quote from church founder Joseph Smith in which he welcomed good people from all faiths – including Muslims -- to Nauvoo, Ill., once the largest settlement in that state before Mormons were forced to move West.
Utah Mormons got the messages – and Trump finished a distant thirdhere in a party-run primary last March, winning no national delegates.
Several journals have opined since why Trump is so unpopular among Mormons, especially Utahns of the faith.
Not since the 1930s have church leaders expressed concerns about candidates – when leaders supported an opponent of Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt only to see Utahns vote overwhelmingly for Roosevelt’s re-election.
However, church leaders have taken what they call moral stands on political/public issues a number of times since – most notably against the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the 1970s, more recently opposing same-sex marriage votes in a number of states, including California’s Prop 8.
But, finds Jones, taking the next step and openly supporting or opposing candidates is not welcomed, the new survey finds, by Utahns belonging to any political group:
- Utah Republicans oppose LDS Church endorsements, 86-6 percent.
- Democrats oppose, 95-2 percent.
- And political independents oppose endorsements, 90-3 percent.
Jones polled 614 adults from June 8-17. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.95 percent.