ST. GEORGE — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Friday condemning the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump protesters, as well as “any suggestion of further violence.”
The statement comes from the First Presidency, the top leaders of what is commonly known as the Mormon church outside of Utah. They noted the political and cultural divisions taking place in the United States and across the world and urged church members to move past political differences and be united through commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“As His followers, we should treat one another and all of God’s children with respect, dignity, and love,” the First Presidency said in the statement. “No political or other affiliation should supersede that covenant and sacred responsibility.”
The church leaders added, “We condemn violence and lawless behavior, including the recent violence in Washington, D.C. and any suggestion of further violence.”
The church itself strives the remain politically neutral and stays away from voicing support for any particular candidate or political party. However, it has lent its voice in support of, or opposition to various cultural issues. Thus has related to legislation regarding religious freedoms, alcohol or marijuana policy, or policies church leaders believe impact the family and marriage, and so on.
The statement from the church comes in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump protesters who gathered in the nation’s capitol to protest the election results while Congress certified electoral college votes.
Since last week’s incident – which left five people dead, including a police officer – states of emergency have been declared in Washington, D.C. and state capitals across the county due to the potential outbreak of additional violent demonstrations ahead of, and possibly during the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Gov. Spencer Cox has also declared a state of emergency in Salt Lake City and has asked the National Guard, Utah Highway Patrol and local police departments to stand by to intervene and protect the Capitol in case protests turn violent.
Cox’s order has closed the State Capitol grounds to the public through next Thursday.
The Utah Capitol is expected to remain closed to the public for an indefinite period as the Utah Legislature convenes Tuesday. This is being done due to concerns raised by the UHP over the possibility of violent demonstrations, as well as to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In closing their statement to members of the church, the First Presidency urged them to “remember the precious and fragile nature of freedom and peace. As citizens of the United States look ahead to the Inauguration of a new President, we urge our members to honor democratic institutions and processes, and to obey, honor, and sustain the law.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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