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Washington, D.C., becoming a 'Mormon stronghold'

Published: Wednesday, May 16 2012 8:28 a.m. MDT

Elder Larry Echo Hawk, recently called as an LDS general authority, is cited as an example of powerful "beltway Mormons" in recent CNN story about Washington, D.C., becoming a "Mormon stronghold."

Jeffrey D. Allred

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The stunning expansion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Washington, D.C., area is profiled in a long, interesting and meticulously accurate CNN story that suggests "the nation's capital has become a Mormon stronghold, with Latter-day Saints playing a big and growing role in the Washington establishment."

CNN.com religion editor Dan Gilgoff quotes well-known LDS scholar Richard Bushman, who observes "no one talks about Washington being an Episcopalian stronghold or a Jewish stronghold." So talk of "Mormon Washington," he says, "represents a kind of surprise that people who were thought of as provincial have turned up in sophisticated power position."

And this despite the fact that, as Gilgoff notes, "the official church mostly steers clear of politics."

"It's hard to point to federal legislation or a White House initiative that bears distinctly Mormon fingerprints," Gilgoff writes, "while it's easy to do the same for other faiths." He cites as an example a recent White House "compromise" on contraception funding, which he says was "mostly a reaction to pressure from Roman Catholic bishops."

"Mormon success in Washington is a testament to distinctly Mormon values," Gilgoff continues, "shedding light into the heart of one of America's fastest growing religions."

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