Sheri Dew

NEW YORK — Utah author and Deseret Book executive Sheri Dew has no idea how the committee organizing the Republican National Convention came to invite her to give the opening prayer on Monday, formally inaugurating the four-day convention the GOP hopes will send George W. Bush into a second term.

"They called me out of the blue," said Dew, who says she has "many, many times" voted for Democrats.

"I had to ask myself if this would appear too partisan, and I decided it was never inappropriate to pray," she said. "But I prayed for our country, not the Republicans."

Dew lent a distinct Utah flavor to the sparsely attended opening ceremonies — the Utah delegation was late in arriving and missed the prayer altogether — where rules were adopted, resolutions read and nominations made.

"I do feel like it was a privilege to pray for the country in a setting like that," she said. "I think it is remarkable they invited a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to pray, and even more so a woman," said Dew, a former counselor in the LDS Church's Relief Society general presidency.

By Monday night, a radio talk show in New York City was lambasting Dew, saying she was the epitome of Republican hatred and intolerance and had previously compared homosexuals and Hitler.

The radio comments were likely a reference to a Feb. 28, 2004, speech Dew gave at an interfaith conference sponsored by the Family Action Council International.

In her speech, as noted by LDS online magazine Meridian, Dew mentioned reading a news magazine article about gay marriage and feeling "heartsick" for the twin infant daughters being raised by a gay couple. And she recast a famous pre-World War II exhortation to stand up to Hitler into a modern exhortation to stand up for the family. "Before this era is over, every living human being will have chosen. Every living human being will have lined up in support of the family or against it," she said in her February speech.

Dew, who is not a delegate or involved with the Republican Party in any way, is now on her way back to Salt Lake City where she runs Deseret Book. But she says she is fascinated by politics and she'll be watching every turn of the convention.

And she admits she has more affinity for Republican positions, particularly social issues. "I am a Midwestern farmer's daughter," she said.

Dew has been approached on numerous occasions about running for public office, most recently about running for Congress.

"If I had a hundred dollar bill for every time I have heard that, I could retire," she said. "But as a friend told me, I can't even ask for the full can of apple juice on the airplane. I could never ask for votes."

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