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Former Mormon missionary awaits next transfer — as ambassador to Yemen

Published January 21, 2014 12:31 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Apparently, returned Mormon missionaries make good U.S. ambassadors — even in dangerous places. Maybe especially in dangerous places such as the Middle East.

Last week, President Barack Obama nominated Matthew Tueller, a Utah native, to be the next ambassador to Yemen, a country reputed to be a hotbed of al-Qaida operatives.

Tueller, a Brigham Young University graduate and career Foreign Service officer, is now the ambassador to Kuwait, a post he has held since 2011. Before that, he was the deputy chief of mission in Egypt.

In 2012, R. Stephen Beecroft, another Mormon and BYU graduate, became the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Beecroft, who served a two-year LDS Church mission to Argentina, was the ambassador to Jordan from 2008 to 2011.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Deborah K. Jones, is also a Mormon and a BYU grad.

The diplomatic corps was once a tough environment for teetotaling Latter-day Saints, like Tueller's father, Blaine Tueller. But these days, Tueller, Beecroft and Jones are among dozens of Mormons in the Foreign Service.

In 2012, Tueller told The Salt Lake Tribune he has experienced no criticism for his faith. In fact, Middle East dignitaries almost always respect that he abstains from coffee, tea and alcohol for religious reasons.

Given their posts to countries with serious security concerns, neither man will have his family with him.

The most well-known LDS ambassador was, of course, former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, whom Obama tapped for China. He served from 2009 to 2011.

It was not, though, a particularly dangerous mission and Huntsman did bring along his large clan.

Peggy Fletcher Stack