SALT LAKE CITY — A group calling itself Latter-day Saints for Trump and co-chaired by retired Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch intends to promote the reelection of the president among members of its faith.
“Latter-day Saints for Trump will work to mobilize and energize Latter-day Saints communities across the country to reelect President Donald Trump by focusing on and educating the community on the many successes of the Trump administration,” according to the group’s website.
At the bottom of the website it reads: Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. The “contact us” link goes to a Trump-Pence campaign website.
Hatch, who retired in 2019 after 42 years in office, was one of Trump’s early supporters and strongest defenders in the Senate.
The post shows the names and pictures of the group’s 18-member advisory board with the Salt Lake Temple as a backdrop.
The group is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which maintains a neutral stance in matters of party politics.
The church does not endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms. It does encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections.
According to the coalition, “Reelecting President Trump will ensure continued victories in school-choice reform, pro-life issues, judicial appointments and religious freedom. As citizens of this nation and members of the Latter-day Saints community we must be active and cannot be idle spectators in this important mission.”
The Trump campaign has had its eye on the Latter-day Saint vote.
Vice President Mike Pence mentioned plans to launch a “Latter-day Saints for Trump” coalition during a speech Tuesday in Mesa, Arizona, in what is becoming a battleground state. Pence and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris are scheduled to debate at the University of Utah in October.
Samantha Zager, the Trump campaign’s deputy national press secretary, told the Arizona Republic that Trump has been a “staunch defender of religious communities.”
“President Trump’s victories on school choice, pro-life issues, judicial appointments and religious freedom have benefited the LDS community,” Zager said in a written statement, and the Latter-day Saint coalition is “dedicated to spreading the message of those successes.”
But another group of Latter-day Saints in Arizona denounced Trump in a letter Tuesday, and called the coalition “out of bounds” for co-opting the church’s name to give the impression that Trump is supported by the church.
“For us, this election is not about parties and tribalism. It is about reclaiming our core values. President Trump is the antithesis of so much the Latter-day Saints community believes,” according to the letter signed by more than 200 people.
“Trump exploits our anxieties in the worst way — fanning division, fear and xenophobia. He manipulates America’s problems for his personal benefit rather than inspiring us to solve them. He weakens critical government institutions and routinely imperils our Constitution by placing himself above the law,” the group’s letter says.
The most recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows 55% of Utahns approve of how Trump is doing his job. In a head-to-head matchup, Trump leads presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden 50% to 31% in Utah.
Donald Trump Jr. celebrated Pioneer Day, which commemorates the entry of the Latter-day Saints into the Salt Lake Valley, in Utah on behalf of his dad last month.
Members of the Latter-day Saints for Trump advisory board include Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who faces Democrat Greg Skordas in the November election, and Burgess Owens, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. Trump has endorsed Reyes and Owens via Twitter.