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LDS Church leader to meet with Obama

Published July 19, 2009 9:39 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

LDS Church President Thomas Monson will meet with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office today, marking the commander-in-chief's first meeting with Monson as head of the church.

The White House said Sunday that the two leaders, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Mormon, will meet privately at the executive mansion in Washington at 11:30 MDT.

"President Monson is meeting with President Obama for a brief courtesy visit tomorrow," LDS spokeswoman Kim Farah said. She referred further questions to the White House, which did not release further details.

Reid's office did not return a request for comment Sunday night.

Obama had canceled a trip to Utah in January 2008 after the death of Monson's predecessor, Gordon B. Hinckley, and this will be the president's first sit-down with Monson as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints president.

The White House said the meeting will be closed to the news media.

Obama will visit with Monson and Reid shortly before meeting with the crew of Apollo 11 and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.

Two top church leaders, Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Russell Ballard, attended Obama's inauguration in Washington in January, and also joined the president for a prayer service the following morning at the National Cathedral.

One touchy subject between Obama and the LDS Church that may not get brought up tomorrow is the posthumous baptizing of the president's late mother into the Salt Lake City-based church.

A church member performed a "baptism for the dead" of Sanley Ann Dunham in 2007, according to researcher Helen Radkey. The White House had declined comment on the situation when it surfaced earlier this year.

Presidents have often made courtesy calls to LDS Church leaders when visiting Utah. Former President George W. Bush dropped by twice in his last years in office to chat with church officials.

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