A regional representative of the LDS Church says despite some perceptions to the contrary, the anti-lottery campaign was not orchestrated through Salt Lake City.
Grant Ipsen of Boise said that to suggest that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the main cog in the anti-lottery organization is "an insult" to other church leaders who were active in the campaign.The anti-lottery campaign was spearheaded by the group Consider. Ipsen said he was the LDS Church representative on the board of directors but added that other churches were represented on the board, including the Nazarene, United Methodist and Seventh-day Adventist.
Ipsen said that LDS Church leaders in Salt Lake City were interested in Idaho's vote from a moral standpoint and encouraged Idaho members to get involved in Consider's campaign. But with one exception, Ipsen said, no effort was made to raise money through the stake and ward system.
In that one instance, Ipsen said, an LDS bishop used church stationery to solicit funds through an LDS ward.
"He was fighting fires in Yellowstone, heard that the effort was needed, so he did his part the best way he knew how," Ipsen said.
LDS members contributed heavily in the anti-lottery effort, Ipsen said, but church officials did not want to have a campaign conducted in an official capacity or use church facilities to raise money.
"Of the 500 wards in Idaho, as far as we know, only one letter went out (under a ward sponsorship)," Ipsen said.
The encouragement from LDS leaders on the lottery issue was no different from the encouragement for members to run for public office.
"Just because we're Mormon doesn't mean we're not citizens," Ipsen said.
At Idaho Falls, Mel Richardson, a state representative-elect and the LDS church's communications director for eastern Idaho, said eastern Idaho church wards were not involved in the fund-raising effort.
Ipsen said that the effort now will be trying to stop casino-type gambling done in the name of charity.
"We're not talking about a $5 or a $50 bingo pot," he said. "As Eugene Thomas, past president of the American Bar Association said, the amendment leaves a window big enough to throw a slot machine through."