Mormon Church mum on Jon Huntsman Jr., Mitt Romney

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 3 2011 12:42 p.m. MDT

The LDS Church is doing its best to avoid showing any favoritism toward Jon Huntsman Jr. or Mitt Romney, the two Republican presidential candidates who are Mormon, according to a Wall Street Journal article published Wednesday (subscription required).

"Already, the church said it has reined in the participation of officials in political campaigns and reshuffled a public advertising campaign to avoid appearing to interfere in politics. Church officials now monitor the Internet, television broadcasts and print publications daily to sniff out even a hint that anti-Mormonism is entering the 2012 campaign."

The church does, in fact, have a post on its website stating its political neutrality that begins with the statement, The Churchs mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians.

And on June 16, the churchs First Presidency re-stated and clarified its position on the political neutrality of church leaders in a letter that said all full-time church General Authorities, general auxiliary leaders, mission presidents and temple presidents and their spouses should not participate in political campaigns. That includes not endorsing candidates or making donations.

New York Magazine noted that the LDS Church is taking a new position with its decision to proactively counter anti-Mormon misperceptions.

"In the 2008 primary, when Romney first ran for president, the church ignored chatter that the nation wasn't ready to elect someone from such a non-mainstream faith; this time, it will actively try to combat the perception that Mormonism is weird."

Last month, the Boston Globe reported that the "I'm a Mormon" ad campaign is "a major rebranding effort" fueled by "a major market-research study."

"The (ad campaign) overlaps with a political campaign that, for the first time, includes two Mormons who are presidential contenders — former governors Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (and) Jon Huntsman of Utah. … Both men will have to overcome the same unease about Mormons the ads seek to diminish."

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