Truth be known, there were many negatives to me as a candidate — just ask my wife, friends and Bishop. But let me ask you if being an active Utah Democrat is a big enough issue to keep a voter from punching my name on the ballot? For many in Utah the one reason can outweigh the 300 reasons to vote for a candidate and that is the unfortunate truth in the state of Utah and America as along as we are trained and continue to look for our differences instead of seeking out our similarities.
The Clipper has asked what role will religion play in the next Presidential election and should it be a factor? A recent national poll recently released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press states that 68 percent say a candidate’s Mormon affiliation does not matter to them, while 25 percent say they would be less likely to support an LDS candidate and another 5 percent would be more likely to support.
That’s more than two-thirds of Americans who say it doesn’t matter to them if a presidential candidate was a member of the LDS Church.
So, the majority of Americans could and would elect as president a member of the LDS Church if they felt that candidate was the best choice. This is good and it is the way it should be and I know that there are so many Latter-day Saints who want the nation to see the quality of LDS candidates running for president — and yet many of those same Utahns will use national issues to ignore the quality of Democratic candidates here in Utah. Think about it — Utah Democrats stood with the majority of Utahns on education funding, fair boundaries, ethics and transparency, but in 2010 we lost several legislative seats in Salt Lake County and a seat in both Tooele and Weber counties mostly due to a reaction to national politics. After the 2010 election was said and done one of the rewards for allowing the Utah GOP a super majority in both houses of the Legislature was H.B. 477, The GRAMA bill that rammed through the Legislature with little or no public input.
In life we are judged. We are judged by the religion we choose to associate with and our political affiliations. We are judged by our triumphs and failures. In 1960, then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy said, “These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues — for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.”
Like President Kennedy I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no citizen is denied public office merely because their religion differs from the president who might appoint them or the people who might elect them.