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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints isn’t political, but its candidates shouldn’t be denied office for being who they are, either, and the group is mounting a PR push to make their case:

“We not only don’t want to cross the line” between religion and politics, Michael Purdy, director of the church’s media relations office, said in an interview at church headquarters here. “We don’t want to go anywhere near the line.”

And that means being actively apolitical. In contrast to its relatively quiescent approach in 2008 when Mr. Romney ran for president, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is going on the offensive, aiming to swiftly counter anti-Mormon political arguments and push back against what it considers unfair portrayals of the faith.

“We now have two Latter Day Saints running, and the potential for misunderstanding or missteps is therefore twice what it was before,” Michael Otterson, the LDS’s managing director for public affairs, said. Earlier this month, Mr. Otterson used a blog post to challenge opponents who label the LDS a “cult”—even before that charge had surfaced.

Romney himself made a speech during his last run on religion described by the chattering class as a solid attempt at mimicking JFK’s pitch to Protestant ministers in 1960, arguing he shouldn’t be denied office because of his faith or a perceived allegiance to a church. Coupled with the public ad campaign — New York City taxi cabs are a prominent example — arguing Mormons are just like everyone else, this marks an overt campaign to legitimize the prospect of an LDS president, regardless of his political affiliation (which, Harry Reid notwithstanding, will almost inevitably be Republican).

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