A letter from directors of the LDS Church's Temple Square is part of a packet of materials used by lobbyists pushing for state funding of Salt Palace expansion and renovation.
However, Jerry Cahill, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Friday that the endorsement - though on church letterhead - in no way represents an official position of the church on the issue.The letter should have been cleared through formal channels but wasn't because of an honest mistake by Temple Square directors new in their positions, Cahill said.
The letter is addressed to Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi. But it was included in a package of endorsements distributed to legislators being asked to approve $15 million in state funds for the Salt Palace expansion, the commissioner said.
"It's one of about half a dozen letters we sent up" to the Legislature, Horiuchi said.
He expressed surprise at the idea the endorsement might be construed as an official church position.
"It's not like it's from (LDS Church President) Ezra Taft Benson or anything," Horiuchi said.
But Cahill acknowledged the letter might easily be misinterpreted as an official church position.
"We'll do a little checking" to ensure there was no confusion on that point by legislators who may have received it, he said.
The letter from Temple Square directors Robert Harbertson, John Bevan and Russell Herrscher specifically endorses legislation, although not by bill number.
The church always has maintained it takes no institutional stand on legislation unless it addresses a moral issue of concern to the faith.
"As the directors of Historic Temple Square, we wholeheartedly support legislation to upgrade the convention facilities of the Salt Palace to make them adequate and attractive for groups considering our city for their future meetings," the letter said.
"This letter does not represent the position of the church," Cahill said. The Salt Palace expansion bill is entirely outside the scope of legislation being monitored in the current session by the church, he said.