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My view: Why this Mormon won't vote for Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves his hands as he speaks during a campaign rally Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Scranton, Pa. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves his hands as he speaks during a campaign rally Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Scranton, Pa. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Mel Evans, AP

On Dec. 8, 2015, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement countering the position of a major political candidate. The candidate was Donald Trump, and the issue was his proposed policy that the United States should temporarily ban the immigration of Muslims. That position has since changed.

The LDS Church’s statement quoted Joseph Smith: “The same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul — civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race.” The church’s statement also quoted from a Nauvoo law which stated that “the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopals, Universalists, Unitarians, Mohammedans (Muslims), and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration, and equal privileges in this city.”

Although the statement was specifically about the policy proposal, many political commentators interpreted it as a rebuke of Trump, and that is one of the reasons so many Latter-day Saints refuse to embrace his candidacy.

Last month, the Deseret News received much positive attention around the country when it published an editorial urging its readers not to vote for Trump and calling on him to resign his candidacy. That expression was the first time in 80 years that the newspaper had endorsed or opposed a candidate for president.

These events are clear indications of the intense unease many Latter-day Saints have with the idea of a Trump presidency. And they are even more remarkable coming from the consistently Republican state of Utah and the consistently Republican Mormon electorate. Commentators around the country have made note of the anti-Trump stance of many Latter-day Saints in articles with titles such as “Mormons’ Consciences Have Put White Evangelicals to Shame this Election” and “Utah Is the Political Conscience of the Nation.”

Latter-day Saints have many reasons to oppose a Trump presidency. For me, a handful of specific LDS teachings suggest that a vote for him is not in keeping with my faith.

I believe in being “honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.” Donald Trump is free to have his own standards of behavior that may not be the same as mine. But if I support his candidacy for president, what does that say about my own commitment to such ideals? Trump’s crudeness and lack of respect for others became obvious in the recently released video in which he engaged in “locker-room talk” about groping and forcing himself on women.

I also believe in the admonition to seek “honest," "wise" and "good," political leaders.

Does Donald Trump fit such monikers? Not at all.

His level of dishonesty is easy to see in the whoppers he tells virtually every time he talks. These range from the lie that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the assassination of President Kennedy to the bizarre notion that Hillary Clinton was on drugs during a recent debate. Trump has mastered the distasteful rhetorical trick of throwing out unfounded insinuations to poison reputations and distract from issues, even when he claims not to believe those insinuations himself.

Is Trump wise? There is nothing wise about him. The reckless way he thinks and talks makes him extraordinarily unfit for the presidency. He has never mastered the basic skill of controlling his mouth and his basic instincts. While many of us are frustrated on occasion at the measured words of public figures, a President Trump’s erratic and untempered speech and behavior would hurt the American people again and again.

Nor is Donald Trump good. His political and business careers show him to be excessively in love with himself, interested only in his own concerns and uncaring of the effects of his actions on others. Those of us who were inspired by the grand visions and contagious optimism of leaders like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan cringe when we see Trump pandering to the lowest instincts of our nature. Great leaders inspire people to be good. They inspire people to virtue and self-sacrifice.

Donald Trump represents something very different. He inspires his followers to anger, hostility and cynicism. This is not what we want in a president.

Kent P. Jackson lives in Orem, Utah, and speaks only for himself.