“President Eyring and President Nelson expressed their appreciation to the president for the efforts by his administration to protect the religious freedom of non-Muslims.”

I may have edited the Church News blurb slightly. Feel free to correct as warranted.

Comments

  1. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    That press release was so anodyne Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar are suing for royalties

  2. How quickly we Mormons forget that our people were driven from the United States on the basis of our religion, because we were considered dangerous and un-American. We should be first in line (as we have been in the past) to insist that Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims, refugees, and so many others is not in keeping with our core beliefs.

  3. It’s interesting to compare and contrast today’s Church News piece about the visit with President Trump, on the one hand, with the 2015 Church News piece about LDS church leaders’ visit with President Obama, on the other.

    From the 2015 piece:

    The Church leaders expressed their appreciation to President Obama for the example he and his wife provide through their healthy marriage and family life. The president expressed appreciation for the Church’s leadership role on resolving the issues of religious freedom and nondiscrimination, as well as the Church’s worldwide humanitarian aid efforts.

  4. Can I just believe that they made that statement more in a suggestive way like when a parent tells a child sloppily eating that they really appreciate their table manners or sarcastically comments on the cleanliness of a bedroom in an effort to get the kid to clean up???

  5. I think it’s safe to at least observe that they had to bring up the subject of religious freedom with Trump, whereas Obama brought it up on his own.

  6. Almost exactly two years ago—on December 8, 2015—the church released a statement on religious freedom that was prompted by Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. The statement did not mention Trump, but it was unquestionably a rebuke to him. (The Deseret News story on the statement is here: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865643265/LDS-Church-releases-statement-on-religious-freedom-as-Donald-Trumps-Muslim-controversy-swirls.html)

    There are many things that politicians promise as candidates and drop once they’re elected, but in this thing Trump has been true to his bigotry. Today the Supreme Court allowed the latest, more carefully lawyered version of the Muslim ban to go into effect.

    It is shameful that we have gone from identifying Trump as an enemy of religious freedom to complimenting him on his “religious freedom” policies. I know that church leaders are in a difficult position as they sometimes have a diplomatic obligation to host odious people. However, they badly failed in crafting this statement today.

    Orrin Hatch especially deserves to be reviled for what happened today. He has boasted of his role in arranging this visit which placed church leaders in a no-win position. He was one of the first to jump on Trump’s neo-fascist bandwagon. Hatch seems to have been rejuvenated by this campaign of bigotry, and for the past two years he has never stopped looking for new ways to gaslight the nation, the people of Utah, and the members of the church that he so cynically manipulates for his own gain.

  7. @Danielle, :-D

  8. It looks as if Pres. Eyring is giving Trump a lesson about Jesus. I hope so.

  9. Yes, I believe so! ‘President Trump let me introduce you to Jesus Christ and tell you about Him and His principles.’

  10. “… We believe Christ appeared to people in the Americas following his crucifixion. The account is found in Three Nephi. …”

  11. Donald Trump to Pres. Eyring, “I prefer people who don’t get crucified.”

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    I take some small solace in the picture of President Nelson, who looks like he’s in the middle of experiencing an enema while standing next to Trump.

  13. It seems to me that we perceive ourselves only as a hammer and every situation as a nail. What should we do with the president? The same thing we do with every president and every potential investigator…try to woo them. Red carpet. Hand shaking and photo opps.

    Isn’t this the same type of missionary zeal that would rush in to provide a service project to a well-known klan leader, completely ignoring the fact that it might empower that odeous person to perform more harm on others, not to mention the harm it would do to people who observe that collaboration.

    Thankfully, mission presidents have pulled the reins back on young zealous missionary kids in this situation. It seems to me that the folks in the church office building need to do the same and develop a broader diplomatic diplomatic vocabulary.

    I can help. Here’s a start. “No.” Silence can be as powerful, or more powerful than words. Simple word, “no”.

    I’m heart sick to see the RS President participating in this visit, the woman who leads and represents 7+ million women in the church, many of which are the victims of sexual assault, abuse and harassment and all of whom claim to stand for family values and the care and protection of children. For her to stand next to him and smile about our humanitarian work (which we would do with or without his clumsy compliments) is heart-breaking to me. Can someone knit this woman a pink hat?

  14. We lose an enormous amount of moral authority when we praise a man for “the efforts by his administration to preserve religious freedom” just days after the man in charge retweets anti-muslim videos.

    So, what are the options? They don’t know? They don’t see it as a problem? As others have guessed, they feel it’s less significant than making this guy feel like we are on his side? They are near spineless in the face of this man? Other options?

    Very difficult for me to see how there is any way to spin this positively. The world is watching. Surely on all fronts people’s deeds are getting shouted from the rooftops for all to hear. My thoughts: we desperately need new PR people . . .

  15. your food allergy is fake says:

    ^mem for the win!

  16. Well, if the presidential visit is a tradition that could not be avoided without being offensive (or offending the % of members who love Trump, as do my very own parents), I suppose it could have been worse. The church needed to be gracious about something and at least religious freedom makes sense (although I agree about exactly how far Trump sees that freedom extending). Would it had been better if they’d thanked him for his moral example? The great way he speaks of / works with other politicians? His tax plan to help the wealthy?

    On a different note, when I opened the linked article, my first thought was to laugh at the opening photo-op picture. I can’t imagine a non-member seeing that photo of a group of people in business suits for some reason going grocery shopping together! Huh? :) Caption would be: Trump tries out plebeian meal preparation for first time, with advisors to make sure he gets it right.

  17. So, what are the options?

    My suggested answers, Brian.

    They don’t know?

    Of course they know. If nothing else, those of us who signed the amicus curiae brief using the example of Mormon history to insist upon the importance of defending the freedom of movement for minority religions made certain copies were delivered to the Church Office Building.

    They don’t see it as a problem?

    Some of them–maybe Nelson, maybe some others whose language seems to sometimes indicate an acceptance of the whole “crisis of Christianity/America/the West” mindset–probably don’t, at least not a big one. Others–Utchdorf, presumably, and probably some others–likely do.

    As others have guessed, they feel it’s less significant than making this guy feel like we are on his side?

    Some of the more politically astute–Oaks, for example–are almost certainly cognizant of the need to address the political game as it is currently laid out. And then some others–Bednar, perhaps–are likely just straight-up party-supporting Republicans, and so they stick with their guy, even if they dislike him.

    They are near spineless in the face of this man?

    I actually strongly doubt this is the case.

    Other options?

    Never underestimate the culture of nominally (but not actually) apolitical politeness and formality which exists in the COB. Should we say nice things about the POTUS? Of course we’ll find something nice to say about the POTUS! Because we’re nice people, after all.

  18. Church leaders travel the world and meet with far more odious world leaders than Trump. I think that the church leaders do like the overall position of the Trump administration on religious freedom. They should compliment him on that. They have disagreed with the immigration policies of the administration, and that did not get mentioned by the church yesterday.

  19. What overall position?

  20. Leaders of the kingdom of God on the earth hosting a leader of a likely temporary government and teaching him about the transcendent values of service, love for our brothers and sisters all over the world, and Jesus? Sign me up every single day for that. Seems a good day for the church. It was Trump that looked uncomfortable and out of place in there. He was taking selfies with hair-netted volunteers and pushing a grocery cart for crying out loud. Glad our leaders took the opportunity to show him what they did. This was no more a ringing endorsement of Trump’s policies than similar invitations to former presidents were of theirs. This was not self-congratulatory back slapping within in high-back chairs surrounded by the wood paneling of the COB. Look at the neighborhood where they parked his motorcade. A far cry from Park Avenue. Or even North Temple. I think our leaders merit charity, even praise, on this.

    Senator Hatch, on the other hand, . . . .

  21. As long as we’re replacing titles to other peoples articles, I think a good one to this post might be: “Leader of Free World Visits Mormon Church; Even Though Mormon Church Does Not Agree with Him on All Policies, It Chooses Not to Criticize Said Leader to His Face, Given that Such Criticisms Would be Feckless and Highly Counterproductive Anyway.”

    But maybe that’s too long.

  22. “Leader of the Free World.” Yeah, that’s not accurate. That title left when Obama finished his term.

  23. The evidence here suggests that leaders of the church are not as sophisticated as they need to be in situations that call for careful diplomatic behavior.

    Diplomacy is the art of getting what you want without fighting. A good outcome means: (1) getting what you want, and (2) avoiding a fight. Amateurs tend to muck it up by focusing on one of these goals at the expense of the other. It takes careful thought and preparation to have a successful diplomatic meeting. You have to identify your objectives in detail (know what you want to get), and you have to anticipate the flashpoints of conflict in detail (avoid a fight). A good diplomat is never completely defensive nor completely aggressive.

    Church leaders showed themselves as diplomatic amateurs in their meeting with Trump. They did not have to criticize or confront Trump, and they did not. But they also did not have to praise him about anything that really matters. When they praised his “religious freedom” efforts, they shot themselves in the foot. That was a needless and incredibly stupid thing to do. I don’t like calling the general authorities “incredibly stupid,” but that was incredibly stupid. They failed to think through their basic objectives. Amateurs.

    Of course, I’m assuming that church leaders see Trump’s anti-Muslim policies as the bigoted, retrograde, anti-religious policies that they are. If church leaders have somehow reversed their views on this matter, then I’m really not sure what world we’re living in.

  24. Yes, I imagine running the Church is significantly easier from the bleachers than it is from the coach’s chair, Loursat.

  25. JKC and others,
    The Trump administration sees the religious freedom issue as a domestic policy that they are trying to allow freedom to express religious views in public, even if this offends some or conflicts in some ways with other rights. The church clearly agrees with the general direction of the the Trump administration in these areas. A reduction in the opportunities to sue religious organizations for following their beliefs is clearly supported by the church hierarchy.
    The Trump team frames the immigration restrictions as a foreign policy and immigration policy, not as a religious policy. The nominally atheist North Koreans are also under the immigration restrictions after all. More importantly, most Muslims are not under the immigration restrictions that were upheld the same day. Trump and his supporters can rightly argue that it is not religious discrimination because of this.

  26. “The nominally atheist North Koreans are also under the immigration restrictions after all.”

    You do realize that almost no citizens of North Korea visit the U.S., right? Including them on the list was an attempt by Trump to make his ban look less like a religious one, without actually changing anything. Apparently it worked.

  27. jimbob, what you say is obviously true, but it has nothing to do with addressing the problem. A person does not have to be a master of diplomacy to recognize a massive failure here. The church deserves better than this.

  28. el oso, you have analyzed this situation from Trump’s point of view. That is fine if you want to apologize for Trump, but it is irrelevant to what the church or its members should do. The church is not bound to endorse Trump’s bigotry just because Trump says he’s not a bigot.

  29. jimbob, el oso, You seem to miss Trump’s attacks on religion. It may not be your religion, but it is religion and it is highly dangerous and un-Christian. The Church knew long before the visit that it would happen. That they could not frame a better “pat on the back” for Trump is, frankly, a great failure, as Loursat points out–especially considering our own “push” for religious freedom. Fine, they can host him and build common ground, etc. But on this issue of religious freedom, the praise is detrimental to the end goal. The church, as I see it, seems to be playing a game familiar to the Republicans base at this point–short term rallying gain, long term fundamental loss.

  30. Tim,
    Read my next sentence. I do not see Pakistan or Indonesia on the restricted list. India is not there either. All of these countries have more muslims that any single country on the restricted list. Any 2 of these countries have more than all of the restricted list countries. Most of the countries on the list have major problems with vetting of potential immigrants. You cannot tell a poor refuge from a crazy terrorist from Syria. The one fairly stable Islamic nation on the list is Iran. But they have had a state policy of killing and terrorizing the west generally and americans specifically for almost 40 years. We definitely should not blindly trust their government.

    In short, the immigration restrictions have real justifications besides religion, and are not targeting most muslims. Should Presidents Eyring and Nelson have that argument with Trump in the few minutes thy are together? Probably not a good idea.

  31. This wasn’t a congressional hearing, or a meeting to hash out the nuance of tricky domestic policy. I guess I can see some thinking the “praise” constituted a gaffe. I don’t think it was–church leaders recognize the dude’s need for affirmation and gave it to him. And they probably did so at a net benefit to the church. At the end of the day, it didn’t distract much from what I imagine were the goals of our church leadership–for the church to showcase its humanitarian efforts and testify of Christ in front of a large presidential audience.

  32. I think what people are desiring is some old-timey prophesying and calling to repentance. Yes, that is scary. It would seem horribly retrograde for Elder Nelson to come out naked threatening to eat poo if Trump doesn’t repent (see, Ezekiel). But it would be brave, no? Sort of Abinadi-like.

  33. A meme of Trump on a thrown flanked by chained Jaguars would be awesome john f.

  34. jaxjensen says:

    Just saw a meme of Trump at the shopping cart shaking Eyring’s hand. Captioned: Elder Eyring asks to shake Trump’s hand to test if he is an evil spirit. My face hurts from laughing

  35. I hope they gave him a Book of Mormon, distilled down to one sheet of paper with no more than 5 bullet points with Friberg illustrations.

  36. I really love that Uchtdorf wasn’t there that day. It may have been a coincidence but my heart hopes it’s more selective than that.

  37. Utahn in CT says:

    Of course this distracted from the proper goals of church leadership! Presumably these include being moral leaders and people of character and discernment — which includes showing these qualities _when it really matters_. There must be a willingness, and even desire, to show — even if just subtly — the standards and expectations of a moral and patriotic people. They should not be mere diplomats pursuing the interests of an institution; their position toward Trump should not be equivalent to that toward, say, Kim Jong-un. Though I have not been an active member for years, I am contemplating resigning my church membership after seeing how they behaved with Trump.

  38. I wondering if they had a hard time coming up with -something- to compliment him on. I’d even bet the visit wasn’t our idea, but came from someone wanting to get the President out amoungst the “common people”

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