Comments about ‘Huntsman says his Mormon church membership is 'tough to define'’

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Published: Thursday, May 12 2011 10:00 a.m. MDT

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Woods Cross, UT

Don't kid yourself, Obama has cultivated Huntsman as a liberal republican that cannot provide significant opposition to a very liberal incumbant. Of course they are trying to push him up the scales in Republican esteem. The last thing we need is another fiscally soft, domestically soft republican than cannot separate himself from the democratic opponent. Obama is playing a very cunning game. Huntsman is somewhere left of McCain and Dole and you know what happened to them. This country is going in exactly the opposite direction and needs fiscal conservatism and responsibility, it needs reduction of budgets in the big and political areas, it needs president that can provide leadership to congress on these issues not pander to the media and the public. Obama cannot provide that because he is the poster child for it. Huntsman also cannot be what he is not. He has always been a liberally minded republican. That is why he gets almost no support or press outside of Utah. Oh... excuse me he is getting the endorsement as the best Republican candidate from Obama. Humm...Kind of like the spider saying the fly is the best at getting out of its web.

Kearns, UT

Huntsman is a RINO and a MINO. I guess he is hiding his candle under a bushel, eh?

Cedar Hills, UT

@vanka 10:49 - seems to me you're a "sheeple" of anti-Mormon thought. Most LDS member don't think so uncharitably toward fellow members with doubts, questions, or lesser commitments of the heart. Such judgmental ones are the minority.

Although we dream of the perfect politician who's also a strong defender of the faith, I think we primarily hope our members are honest. JHJ's comments seem disingenuous and politically calculated to prevent offending one camp or another. As one commenter said, a question like "Are you a member?" is not in any way "tough to define," especially for someone raised in a devout LDS family. He could have said "Yes" or "Yes, but regarding my personal convictions..." His level of personal conversion may indeed be tough to define.

His intentionally ambiguous answer opened him up to questions and speculation about his religious commitment and forthrightness. Personally, I agree with whoever said JHJ should have just answered that his religious commitment and faith were his own personal business and had no bearing on his ability to govern. Instead, his answers gave credence to the line of questioning, and opened himself up to unnecessary, irrelevant criticism.

The Judge
Kaysville, UT

If Huntsman were somehow able to earn the republican nomination, he might well be the first republican in my lifetime NOT to win Utah.

Salt Lake, UT

'Being a member' IS tough to define. Technically someone on Church record is a member and I'm sure Huntsman still is a member in this sense. However, many members only consider someone a member if they actively participate and believe in the religion. I think Huntsman has made it clear that he no longer fulfills this definition of member. I think his responses are sincere. He clearly no longer fully believes and follows the LDS religion but he retains an appreciation of his LDS heritage and culture.

Kansas City, Missouri

Matt 10:32-33 "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Why would you not acknowledge your faith instead of fishing for the fleeting, vain, pathetic, empty, rotten, fake, Hollywood praise of the telestial world.

Capt. Smash
Bountiful, UT

Obama might be Mormon will he when Utah?

Cedar Hills, UT

@VocalLocal - I challenge you to go to anyone in your local bishopric and start asking them about people in the ward, whether this person or that person "is a member." In fact, ask just about any member about the people in their neighborhood. It's just not a question that's "tough to define."

Even though General Authorities have asked us not to divide ourselves as members and nonmembers, active and inactive, we still do, and even inactive members who don't believe at all are identified as members, although there may likely be a follow-up referencing activity or commitment or belief, or lack thereof.

The question asked by the reporter seemed pretty straightforward, and unless JHJ has been excommunicated, the very simple, honest, and only answer is a simple "I am still a member." If he chooses to follow that up with an explanation of his commitment level, I have no problem with that, no matter the answer. But, the non-answer he gave to the very simple question begs the follow-up dialogue of whether he's intentionally distancing himself from the religion for crass political gain.

Mount Pleasant, UT

When I read the first answer he gave about being a member and active I got this sick feeling in my stomach which said, he does not have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel or he would not have answered as he did. I'm sorry for him, for his family and his Eternity. He seems to be a man who is confused as to what is most important - the earthly things or the Eternal things. I think he is struggling within himself and I pray he will come to his senses and do what is right - if not he faces many trials and heartaches.

Brad Smith
San Francisco, CA

Mr. Huntsman isn't the only Mormon(s) that try to pretend and/or distant their LDS/Mormon roots from their existence.

For some reason BYU-tv, the satellite/cable channel that is ultimitely owned by the Church itself through BYU and the Church Education System (CES), is doing the same thing. Other than Sundays and real early in the morning for just a couple of hours or so, the TV channel will air anything BUT Gospel flavored programs. Looks like they now want to get "better ratings" or some other "WORLDLY" Approval distinction. In the first decade or so of BYU-tv, it was almost 50% or more LDS Gospel flavored programming (A Mirror of the LDS Culture and Beliefs). I used to tell people who wanted to know what "Mormons Really Believe" to tune it in and see and hear for themselves. But now it's just another attempted copy of PBS and/or ESPN type programming.

Maybe the former Governor of Utah got his ideas of "hiding" from his roots by watching the "new" version of BYU-tv??

Clearfield, UT

Romney yes, Huntsman no. He may be a decent person and was a good governor. Unfortunately his attempts to distance himself from the faith don't sit well wih a lot of LDS faithful. I don't think he has a chance at winning the nomination. He is virtually unknown outside of Utah.

Marco Luxe
Los Angeles, CA

What do the readers of the DN think about Huntsman sending his children to Catholic school?

Casa Grande, AZ

Well we know what's really important in Utah. Over 200 comments, really?

Glendora, CA

A Southern Evangelical, a Catholic, or even an atheist, won't respect a weaseling comment like that, much less a Mormon.
I can't help but think the promotion that the liberal-leaning press is giving this guy is a mere pathetic attempt to split the LDS vote from Mitt.

Bill Freeze
Lindon, UT

Former Governor Huntsmans response lacked a show of devotion to his church. Many people felt that during his tenure as Governor he failed to do the heavy lifting in regards to important issues, but was always available for photo opportunities. We dont need more talking heads in government, but leaders of courage and conviction!

Eugene, OR

Huntsman is dead wrong. Now is not too early to have an opinion of his faith or the lack of it.
It would be far more possible for him to win the Democratic than the Republican nomination.
Evangelicals may not be happy with Mitt the Mormon, but they will completely reject Huntsman the religious waffler.
He cannot be seriously eying the Republican nomination for President. He has to be running only for Vice-President. But no GOP nominee will be dumb enough to add him to their ticket.
I predict he will flop early as a GOP candidate (accomplishing nothing but damaging Mitt - the real candidate the Dems fear most).....and be available for Obama to put on the 2012 ticket in place of Biden - as a grand gesture of bi-partisanship.
If I wasn't a Mormon, I'd take bets on it.

Salt Lake, UT

@DSB I don't think there is much to gain by distancing himself from the LDS religion. The reality is Mitt Romney received huge amounts of donations from LDS believers and Huntsman has essentially cut off those donations by expressing ambivalence about his LDS faith. As to appealing to a larger audience the other reality is that to make it through the funnel of the Republican primaries candidates almost always have to express a complete loyalty to Christianity and Huntsman didn't take this opportunity to act like he had become a born-again Christian as I'd expect a political opportunist to do. I think he's trying to be honest and while he is technically a member I think he wanted to add clarity to that since he no longer accepts an orthodox view of his faith.

Cedar Hills, UT

@VovalLocal - why did JHJ feel the need to "clarify" his view of Mormonism? I think it's naive to think there was any reason other than to distance himself from it. What is there to gain? Well, if you think you can trade Mormon votes for Evangelical votes, that's a monumentally positive tradeoff for a politician. I can't imagine that Mormons outside of Utah/Idaho are swinging elections for anyone, and those states are going to vote Republican no matter what. So if JHJ makes it through the primaries, where Evangelical votes play a far more significant role than the Mormon vote, he'll own Utah and Idaho in a general election anyway.

Even though I think JHJ miscalculated the impact of his intentional ambiguity, he can't possibly be stupid enough to think he could claim a "born again" Christian conviction. To have any credibility with the Evangelicals, he'd have to completely denounce Mormonism, and have a history of "conversion" far earlier than the instant he chooses to run for President.

I still think his best option is to leave it with "that's a personal issue I'm not going to discuss."

newhall, CA

I find it unfortunate that he his beliefs or faith has to be questioned and scrutinized. If he says he has a spiritual side stronger than his religiosity, then that should be acceptable. Who are we to judge? Active or not; just because his father is an area Seventy and the late David B Haight was an apostle, should not be the litmus test. The choice is his. He has his reasons and personal convictions. To even report that his children attended private Catholic schools creates a false sense of wonderment as to why? What's wrong with the non-religious schools? Or to ask, "Don't you like being a Mormon anymore?" Perhaps it is only that he, like Mormonism teaches, searches for and embraces ALL truth; and sole ownership does not belong to just the Mormon church. I also believe that it is ridiculous to delve into a man's belief system and then pass judgment. Is he a good leader? Will he serve the country well? Does he care for those he has served? Or, does he speak with a forked tongue? As successful as he has been, he will have his detractors. Time to Listen.

Tolerance and Peace
Centerville, State

To Article-Reader: "You either believe the church is true or you don't..." Ever heard of Agnosticism? Every naturalist (i.e, Darwinism, The Platonic concept of Knowledge), atheistic, or theist concept contradict one another in some way. This in turn proves and disproves every one, validating the possibility while excluding the probability. It's a very earthly, accepting, and fool proof "belief" system that inspires intellectual pacifism: where you can be strongly opinionated yet not point fingers and say someone's religion is wrong. Instead of jumping to conclusions and calling Huntsman a political sell out we can take a step back and look at the strong philosophical influences involved. In my view, the reason he uses the term "tough to define" to describe his falling away from the LDS faith is to try and avoid the vehement criticism we see posted on this comment board. This doesn't lessen him as a person or politician in my eyes because I see where he is coming from as an ex-Mormon myself.

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