Mormons Duck Romney-Huntsman Political Duel

Wednesday, 03 Aug 2011 02:16 PM

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The Mormon Church, with two candidates running for the GOP nomination for president, is on alert for signs of religious discrimination while at the same time taking a hands-off approach to campaigning, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"We not only don't want to cross the line" between religion and politics, Michael Purdy, director of the church's media relations office told the paper in an interview at church headquarters in Salt Lake City. "We don't want to go anywhere near the line."

Both Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and the church plans to act quickly to counter any anti-Mormon political arguments or unfair portrayals of the faith.

Mormon Church has Romney and Huntsman running in 2012.
Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman
(AP photos)
"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 managing director for public affairs, told the Journal.

The church has reason for concern. A Quinnipiac University poll found that 36 percent of voters said they are somewhat or entirely uncomfortable with voting for a Mormon. Only atheists and Muslims fared worse.

On July 3, LDS leaders ordered permanent employees of the Mormon Church and their wives to stay out of presidential politics. The prohibition directly affects about 400 people, including general church officers, senior ecclesiastical leaders, mission presidents, women in the "general auxiliary presidencies," and temple presidents, according to the Journal.

Regardless, the church still gets involved in political issues, such as efforts to ban gay marriage in California, viewing that fight as one of morality, not political partisanship.







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