Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mormon campaigns

The Mormon Church has always had its hand in politics.  Tax law changes and threats of losing status have caused all churches (including LDS) to be more careful about their activities.

Growing up in Utah I was aware of "The Church" getting involved in legislation.  In the 1960s it was Sunday Closing Laws and Liquor-by-the-drink.  In the 1970s, it was X-Rated Movie Houses.  Then they took a stand on the Equal Rights Amendment.  And they dabbled in the MX Missile debate.

The courts are still sorting out the Prop 8 situation in California, regarding the definition of marriage.

Still, the Church considers itself politically neutral.

But they are not shy about protecting their interests through political efforts.  The Utah State Legislature meets in session each winter.  And each winter they invite Democrats and Republicans separately to meet in closed session with Church leaders.  The Church identifies those issues they are concerned about and make a pitch to the elected officials.

And lobbyists are on hand at the capitol to twist an arm now and then.

On the federal level, the Church hires lobbyists to represent them before Congress.

FYI, there are about 6 million Mormons in the United States.  Utah is about 60% Mormon by most estimates, but geographically, many rural districts in Utah are still 90% LDS.  In urban areas, Mormons comprise about 50% of the population.

The current issue is immigration reform.  The Mormon Church has made it clear that they favor some form of amnesty for the 12 million illegal aliens living in the United States.  But this message has taken some time to develop.

The writing has been on the wall for a few years, with a General Authority signing an Alliance document in favor of legalization.  But the Church was quick to distance itself from that position, stating that he was acting alone.

Earlier this year the Utah Compact was drafted by the business community and endorsed by various pro-amnesty groups.  The Church stated that they agreed with the Utah Compact principles, but declined to sign it.

HB116 is a bill that passed the Utah Legislature this winter.  In part, it creates a state-level guest worker program, drawn from people living here illegally.  The Presiding Bishop of the Church attended the signing of HB116 in mid-March, participated in the photo op and even gave a short speech praising the politicians for their fine work.

On April 20, 2011 The Church posted its most forceful statement to date.  It read:

"Members of the public who contact the Church Public Affairs Department asking for the Church's position on immigration have been given the following response:

"The Church has spoken a number of times about the issue of immigration. Specifically, it has spoken in support of the Utah Compact and has described the package of bills passed by the Utah Legislature, taken together, as "a responsible approach" to the difficult question of immigration reform.

"The Church's position is based on three basic principles:

"The commandment to "love thy neighbor."

"The importance of keeping families intact.

"The federal government's obligation to secure its borders.

"The Church appreciates the package of bills that the legislature had passed, including House Bill 116. The Church feels that this package was a responsible attempt to address the principles outlined above.

"The February 28 Deseret News editorial, "A Model for the Nation" (see reprint below) also accurately reflects the position of the Church regarding immigration reform, including measures that will allow those who are now here illegally to work legally, provide for their families and become better contributing members of our community—but without establishing a path to citizenship or granting amnesty.

"The Church may speak further on this subject if it is necessary to refute any misunderstandings or correct distortions of its views that have found their way into the discussion taking place on this important topic."

Two urban counties held their GOP conventions and voted to repeal HB116.  One county convention refused to talk about it, calling the issue "too divisive" to vote on.  (Hmmm.)

And the state GOP convention was held today, June 18, 2011.  In an effort to clarify its position further ahead of the state convention The Church issued an even stronger statement a week ago.  It is posted here.

I am pleased to report that the Utah State GOP convention rejected the Church, the Utah Compact and the Sutherland Institute and voted to repeal HB116.

This despite intense efforts to sway them, including various pity pieces in the Church-owned Deseret News, which has posted all sorts of articles about lack of agricultural workers, the plight of the deported and their families, editorials and even a poll showing that most Utahns want amnesty.

The Church is powerful and will not stop here, but at least today the people won this battle.

With that as background, I will soon talk about the most recent statement point-by-point.

For more information about Mormons and immigration, written by a member of the Church, I invite you to read this link:


No comments:

Post a Comment