Fallout Continues from Trump’s Last Arizona Rally as LDS Voices Criticize Inappropriate Comparison
Prominent community voices who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are criticizing Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) after he compared President Donald Trump to Captain Moroni — a heroic and virtuous figure in the Book of Mormon — at a rally in Goodyear last week.
“To my Mormon friends, my Latter-day Saint friends, think of him [Trump] as Captain Moroni,” said Lee to the crowd of mostly maskless supporters. “He seeks not the praise of the world or the ‘fake news,’ but he seeks the well-being and the peace of the American people.”
In new reporting by the Arizona Republic, Latter-day Saints expressed their shock over Lee’s comments, and underscored that Donald Trump does not reflect the values of Captain Moroni.
“[Captain Moroni] sought to do good to serve others and to protect the freedom of others, which are the complete opposite characteristics of traits that (President) Donald J. Trump has,” said Yasser Sanchez, a member of the church and former Republican who is supporting Joe Biden for president. “I don’t think anyone who is honest with their understanding of what Captain Moroni was saying would say ‘this is a person who we should compare Donald Trump to.’”
“For those of us who are not ‘in the bubble’ of being Trump loyalists and being on the far right, this idea that Trump is humble when he’s ratings-obsessed, it just doesn’t make sense for us,” said Rob Taber, the national director for the “Latter-day Saints for Biden-Harris. “I think that’s why so many Latter-day Saints, regardless of their political beliefs or where they fall on the political spectrum, found the comparison to be so jarring and why it’s been so shocking.”
Both Sanchez and Taber found Lee’s comments, and the event’s use of the Gilbert Arizona Temple as a backdrop, to be a political exploitation of their faith.
“The issue is cheapening one’s faith to promote a political candidate who doesn’t reflect the values of that faith,” said Sanchez. “You don’t use sacred sites and things that are important to us, such as the name of our church, for cheap political points.”
“We all have to figure out how to live together in a politically diverse church,” Taber said. “These guidelines about not trying to weaponize or exploit our shared faith are really important so that we can continue in fellowship and continue to work together and when Senator Lee does these kinds of things it’s hurtful and it’s harmful.”
Earlier this month, the New York Times and MSNBC reported that more Latter-day Saints in Arizona are supporting Joe Biden in this year’s election. While LDS support of Trump has remained virtually unchanged since 2016, the percentage of Church members who back Biden is double the amount who voted for Hillary Clinton four years ago.
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