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Faust pulled for Democrats

Published August 12, 2007 2:04 am

He sometimes would assure candidates that they could belong to the party and the church - like him
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bill Clinton's ascension to the White House in 1992 was a wake-up call to many Mormon leaders. Several of them, including then-LDS Apostle James E. Faust, agreed to meet with members of Utah's Democratic Party to discuss how best to maintain political ties with the new administration.

The Mormons were concerned about being seen as a one-party church, tied too closely with Republicans, said Todd Taylor, a Democratic Party executive who was there.

"They wanted to find better ways to get more Mormons involved in the Democratic Party."

Faust, who had once been a Democratic state legislator, continued to serve as a kind of behind-the-scenes consultant, even after joining the LDS First Presidency in 1995.

"Every once in a while, President Faust would quietly make calls, urging people to run, mostly to help the state have a healthy balance of political parties," said Taylor on Friday.

"He would talk to any potential candidates who were concerned that their LDS Church callings would conflict with public service. He assured them they could do both," Taylor said.

After all, Faust did.

He was a Democratic state legislator from 1949 to 1951, while he was an LDS bishop. In the mid-1950s he chaired the party in Utah and helped manage a campaign of Sen Frank Moss, D-Utah. He looked to two other prominent Latter-day Saint Democrats - N. Eldon Tanner and Hugh B. Brown - as mentors.

"I am a conservative on fiscal and property matters, and I am liberal in terms of human values and human rights," Faust told his biographer, James P. Bell. "I believe what it says in the Book of Mormon, that the Lord values all of his children equally - black and white, bond and free, male and female, Jew and gentile - and that the Lord likewise has compassion for the heathen."

He went on to say that the LDS Church would prefer to have members in both parties.

"Both locally and nationally, the interests of the church and its members are best served when we have two good men or women running on each ticket, and then no matter who is elected, we win," Faust told Bell, as reported in the 1999 volume, In the Strength of the Lord: The Life and Teachings of James E. Faust.

Faust, who died early Friday morning at 87, was "a compassionate, virtuous man and a beloved teacher," said Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.

"I will always remember his concern for the less-fortunate and what a strong advocate he was for public service. He made the world a better place."

pstack@sltrib.com