'We're taught to be steady, the opposite of the way Trump's lived his life': 200 Mormons sign letter breaking away from Republican Party and supporting Biden - as president launches campaign to win back votes in Arizona

Donald Trump is losing ground among typically Republican-voting Mormons in Arizona, as some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints take a surprising turn and put their support behind Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Yasser Sanchez, who twice worked to defeat Biden's bids for vice presidency by building support for Republican candidates among fellow Mormons, now says he'll vote for Biden in the upcoming election. 
Sanchez finds himself in a surprising position as he's become repelled from his party and by President Donald Trump. 

'We're taught to be steady, to be basically the opposite of the way he's lived his life,' Sanchez said.
On Wednesday more than 200 people identifying themselves as Republicans who belong to the church published an open letter declaring their opposition to Trump and calling him 'the antithesis of so much the Latter-day Saints community believes.' 
In a bid to recapture votes, the Trump campaign launched its Latter-day Saints for Trump Coalition this past week and sent Vice President Mike Pence to Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, for the kickoff on Tuesday.
Donald Trump is losing ground among typically Republican-voting Mormons in Arizona, as some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints take a surprising turn and put their support behind Democratic candidate Joe Biden
Donald Trump is losing ground among typically Republican-voting Mormons in Arizona, as some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints take a surprising turn and put their support behind Democratic candidate Joe Biden
Yasser Sanchez, who twice worked to defeat Biden's bids for vice presidency by building support for Republican candidates among fellow Mormons, now says he'll vote for Biden in the upcoming election because he's repelled by Donald Trump
Yasser Sanchez, who twice worked to defeat Biden's bids for vice presidency by building support for Republican candidates among fellow Mormons, now says he'll vote for Biden in the upcoming election because he's repelled by Donald Trump 
While many conservative-leaning religious voters warmed to him long ago, Trump has struggled to win over Latter-day Saints. 
His penchant for foul language clashes with the church's culture teaching modesty and self-restraint, and his isolationist foreign policy is anathema to a faith spreading rapidly around the world.
Trump's fued with Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah and one of the best known members of the church, has further tarnished his reputation among believers.  
Trump's relative weakness with Latter-day Saints is now a growing political liability. 
His standing has slumped in several pivotal states, including Arizona, where members of the faith make up six percent of the population. 
Many are clustered around Phoenix, areas where Republicans have struggled to hold their ground in the Trump era.
Vice President Pence shared a fiery speech on Tuesday in a bid to win popularity among Mormon voters.
Trump 'has stood for the religious freedom of every American of every faith every day of this administration,' Pence told the group of about 200 people. 
In a bid to capture votes, the Trump campaign launched its Latter-day Saints for Trump Coalition this past week and sent Vice President Mike Pence to Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, for the kickoff
In a bid to capture votes, the Trump campaign launched its Latter-day Saints for Trump Coalition this past week and sent Vice President Mike Pence to Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, for the kickoff
Trump 'has stood for the religious freedom of every American of every faith every day of this administration,' Pence told the group of about 200 people Tuesday
Trump 'has stood for the religious freedom of every American of every faith every day of this administration,' Pence told the group of about 200 people Tuesday
Pence, who often serves as Trump's emissary to religious conservatives, appealed to church members' opposition to abortion rights and longstanding concerns over religious liberty.
Last month, the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., hosted a conference call with reporters to commemorate Pioneer Day, a church holiday celebrating the arrival of the first church settlers in Utah's Salt Lake Valley in 1847. 
Trump Jr., said he was in Utah at the time for a fishing trip.
To be sure, Latter-day Saints have traditionally voted Republican and are likely to remain part of the GOP coalition. Clustered in solidly Republican states, they have long been a major force in GOP primaries and local politics across the West, but they have not held much sway in national elections.
Trump won Arizona in 2016 by 91,000 votes. 
There are about 436,000 Latter-day Saints in Arizona, according to church statistics. Many live in Phoenix's East Valley suburbs popular with young families, including Gilbert, Chandler and Mesa, which traces its modern history to a settlement founded by pioneers from the faith in the 1800s.
In recent elections, political consultants have considered these areas a barometer of swing voters, including women and college-educated white voters who have recently shifted Democratic. In 2018, several neighborhoods east of Phoenix popular with church members voted both for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
'From the time we're young we're taught - as are all Christians - that we're supposed to love God and love our neighbor,' Kathy Varga, a 39-year-old speech therapist from Mesa, said. 'I don´t see that happening right now. I just see the country becoming more divided.'
Varga reluctantly voted for Trump in 2016 because she was worried about Democrat Hillary Clinton putting liberal justices on the Supreme Court. Now Varga says he believes Trump is threatening government institutions and the Constitution. 
She plans to vote for Biden, even though she disagrees with many of his policies, because 'the most important thing right now is to unify the country.'
It's unclear precisely how common Varga's view is among her faith. 
In the 2018 midterm elections, about two-thirds of voters who are members of the church nationwide favored Republicans. But Latter-day Saints were less likely than other traditionally Republican religious groups to approve of the way Trump was doing his job.
Among members of the faith, 67% voted for Republicans, and 56% said they approved of Trump's job performance. 
By comparison, 80% of white evangelical Christians nationwide voted for Republican candidates, and nearly as many said they approve of Trump, according to an analysis of 1,528 midterm voters who are members of the faith, based on data from VoteCast, a broad national survey conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Even Latter-day Saints who turned out to hear Pence this past week acknowledged they were disappointed in Trump's infidelity or uncouth language. But they also viewed it as a tolerable consequence of electing a straight-talking man unafraid to ruffle feathers.
Although Trump rarely speaks about his faith or attends church services, these supporters said they believed he was a defender of religious freedoms, which is of paramount importance to members of a faith that settled in what is now Utah to escape persecution.
Norma Hastings, a 71-year-old Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member from Gilbert, waits for Vice President Mike Pence to speak at the 'Latter-Day Saints for Trump' Coalition launch event in Mesa, Arizona on Tuesday
Norma Hastings, a 71-year-old Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member from Gilbert, waits for Vice President Mike Pence to speak at the 'Latter-Day Saints for Trump' Coalition launch event in Mesa, Arizona on Tuesday
'We're able to continue practicing our religion. That's how our country was founded,' Norma Hastings, a 71-year-old church member from Gilbert, said. 
She said she thinks Pence 'keeps Trump on the right road.'
Jenn Crandall, a 48-year-old pianist from Mesa, said she looks to other figures in the administration and the campaign for connection.
'I like how hard working his kids are, his wife,' Crandall said. 'He's a family guy.'
Biden's campaign is also targeting Latter-day Saints in Arizona and elsewhere. 
A Latter-day Saints for Joe group was formed more than a year ago. In a virtual town hall for church members on Saturday, campaign surrogates tied Biden's economic, health care and immigration agendas to church teachings on self reliance, family values and refuge.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 'prioritizes caring for the poor. It prioritizes strong families, a strong moral code, sacrifice,' said Eric Biggart, co-chair of LDS Democrats who lives in Salt Lake City. 'To me, it's hard to be a Republican and a member of the church at the same time.'
The church does not back candidates or political parties.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Open Letter against Trump 

We wouldn’t pretend to give the impression that we speak for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; we do not. But as individual church members writing on our own account, we would suggest that the group holding a rally calling itself 'Latter-day Saints for Trump' is out of bounds for co-opting the Church’s name to give the impression that Donald Trump is supported by the Church as an entity. We feel the need to respond and say that while some may support the president, there are also many who disagree with President Trump for many reasons.
For us, this election is not about parties and tribalism. It is about reclaiming our core values. President Trump is the antithesis of so much the Latter-day Saints community believes. Servant leadership, kindness, honesty, acceptance, family, and respect for all are core tenets of who we are and what we stand for.
Policy positions traditionally championed by Republicans are important. Supreme Court appointments are important. But so are the traditions and institutions that make America what it is: a shared dedication to a culture of civility and respect; a tradition of loyal opposition where we don’t entertain chants of 'lock her up'; an imperative to use reason and data from trusted experts when making decisions; supporting a free press who help establish shared facts — not 'alternative facts' — and hold those in authority accountable; an aspiration to be a melting pot where all are created equal and in which anyone can embrace American values and thrive, versus the blood-and-soil nationalism that other nations suffer from.
Trump exploits our anxieties in the worst way — fanning division, fear, and xenophobia. He manipulates America’s problems for his personal benefit rather than inspiring us to solve them. He weakens critical government institutions and routinely imperils our Constitution by placing himself above the law.
In response, we will vote for Joe Biden, or a third party candidate, or leave our ballot blank in protest. None of us can justify voting for Donald Trump because, in our opinions, the harm he does to our civic culture outweighs any policy benefits we might temporarily gain. For those who share our concerns, please reject another Trump term in favor of rebuilding our party around enduring principles of truth, respect, honor, competency, freedom, and concern for our fellow man.
It is time to focus on healing our weakened traditions and institutions and to strengthen liberty through greater solidarity. 
'We're taught to be steady, the opposite of the way Trump's lived his life': 200 Mormons sign letter breaking away from Republican Party and supporting Biden - as president launches campaign to win back votes in Arizona 'We're taught to be steady, the opposite of the way Trump's lived his life': 200 Mormons sign letter breaking away from Republican Party and supporting Biden - as president launches campaign to win back votes in Arizona Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 04:27 Rating: 5

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