OPINION – The Deseret News needs to either be sold off as a separate legal entity or the LDS church’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status needs to be changed. The two taken together have become entirely too political to pass off as a religious organization.
Currently, the Deseret News is a part of a tax-paying corporate entity and all opinions of Deseret News are not reflective of official doctrine from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Recently, this has become an easy excuse for the Deseret News to heavily opine on the legitimacy of the Republican presidential candidate.
The official stance of political neutrality of the LDS church is below taken from its LDS Newsroom webpage:
The church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics. This applies in all of the many nations in which it is established.
The church does not:
- Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.
- Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes.
- Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to. This policy applies whether or not a candidate for office is a member of The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.
(Ed. note: See full LDS position on Political Neutrality as set forth on its LDS Newsroom webpage here.)
I hear the argument that the op-ed section does not equal official LDS church positions, but I’m sorry the Deseret News is owned by the church. Does anyone really think that Fox News doesn’t answer to Rupert Murdoch? Does every academic pursuit of every BYU professor have complete autonomy from the LDS church? Dr. Steven Jones might not think so for his 9/11 chemistry research.
Complex legal structures do not make the Deseret News immune to signal to its readers on which candidate to not vote for. Understandably, they are separate entities, but why should my faith in the LDS church be questioned by readers of the Deseret News who interpret opinion as virtue signaling from the LDS church? When it did in the 1930s, it was wrong and it’s wrong now, and blatantly against the political neutrality policy.
Too often have well-intentioned members received what is written by the Deseret News as virtue signaling from the parent organization, the LDS church. This signaling can be benign but well-intentioned members do have differing political opinions not regarding LDS church doctrine. When this does unfortunately happen the general modus operandi of orthodox Mormons is to pass off the dissenting opinion as the spiritless nigh unto less-activity. Trust me, I know how it works, I rarely find myself on the receiving side of ill treatment from orthodox Mormons. I, to my now shame, did nothing when I saw others struggle mightily in their less than orthodox Mormon political / policy opinions.
The calling for the Republican candidate to exit the race is at least slightly problematic to the LDS church’s status.
In the chance the Republican candidate is elected, good luck getting a job in the administration as a BYU alum. And given his words to specially prosecute political opponents, the risk of losing tax exempt status is not zero. Good luck to the LDS church in repairing/maintaining a political relationship with the federal government at that time.
Should the Republican candidate lose, get ready to never see the words “BYU” or “Volunteer Representative” and “The Trump Organization” to ever appear on the same LinkedIn profile page.
The Republican candidate’s very unlikely negative response to the LDS church does not even begin to scratch the even deeper machinations that only well plugged-in Establishment Republican LDS members would be well exposed to. It is that the Deseret News / LDS church is signaling support for the two presidential candidates from minority parties whose campaign headquarters are in the Utah, one of which is an active member of the Deseret News’ parent organization, the LDS church.
Opponents of the LDS church would love to make connections between the Paul Ryan administration’s leaking the infamous lewd bus tape, the extremely precise orchestration of Mormon connected political leaders and media condemning the tape / Republican candidate, and the rise of an LDS presidential candidate in now tightly contested intermountain western states.
Many supporters of the inchoate LDS candidate dream of an impossibly unlikely scenario where neither Republican / Democrat candidate reach 270 electoral votes (all while the LDS candidate wins at least one state, Utah), which would throw the decision to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives as per the 12th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The same opponents would love to connect the Deseret News / LDS church’s throwing support away from specifically the Republican candidate (which is devastating in a usually very strong Republican state) and generally the Democratic candidate to the LDS candidate as covet means of obtaining executive power.
The previous attempts at the presidency from the former governor of Massachusetts and current LDS candidate would project incredible executive ambition from the LDS church generally in the previous two election cycles and very specifically this cycle.
Years ago, the LDS church exited the hospital business, and this needs to be no different. It is time for the LDS church to eject this media business off as a separate legal entity or change it’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
The LDS church will also likely need to exit the education business as well.
The religious and media organization taken together have become entirely too political to be a religious organization.
Submitted by Andrew Coleman, New York, New York; studied at BYU | Twitter: @Ninja247
Letters to the Editor are not the product or opinion of St. George News. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them.