I wrote last week about members of the Millcreek LDS 2nd Ward receiving fliers in their mailboxes from the Independent American Party that liberally quoted past Mormon leaders, including founder Joseph Smith, prophesying about the faithful saving the U.S. Constitution.
Based on the reaction from other IAP associates, perhaps it’s better to describe the flier’s distributors as the "Fundamentalist Independent American Party."
The most emotional reaction came from J.L. Mealer, an engineer and staunch independent who is running for Arizona governor in 2014 and gathering petition signatures to get on the ballot under the Americans Elect banner.
Because of his public stands of principle over party and constitutional integrity, he told me the Independent American Party suggested a partnership to obtain ballot access for both political groups.
That loose alliance has been posted on websites, but Mealer says he wants nothing to do with the verbiage that appeared on the "Constitution hanging by a thread" mailers.
"You must take care of this article and do damage control. Spend the next year making absolutely certain that there is no connection between this tainted version of the IAP and your IAP, which I have made a loose connection with," Mealer wrote to his IAP contacts. "If a single article from the IAP calls anyone a sister or a brother, then our connection is done, unless they [are] considered brothers and sisters by the sheer act of our state and national connections."
In addition, Mealer wrote, "You guys [Mormons] are always welcome in my home, but this crazy stuff must be left at the doormat."
The flier, which invited people to "educational" meetings at an LDS meetinghouse, mentioned Mormon "prophecies" that the Republican and Democratic parties will go to war and the new Independent American Party would be born; that the Constitution will "hang by a thread" and that "the Elders will step forward and save the Constitution
The national Independent American Party, which is striving for ballot spots in Utah and other states, is made of people of various religions, said Jim Turner, the IAP’s states militia coordinator. His task, he said, was to educate citizens about the historical and constitutional significance of state militias and dispel the notion they are made up of violent radicals.
He told me he understands the IAP ranks in Utah and Idaho are dominated by Mormons — and they may be passionate about their religion’s relationship to the independent movement — but that doesn’t define the national party.
When Mealer complained about being tied to what he believes were wacky ideas included in the flier, Kelly Gneiting, the IAP’s national chairman, responded "this is not our group."
But Gneiting, in an email sent earlier to The Salt Lake Tribune seeking covering of the IAP’s growth and ballot-access efforts, used the same quote from Joseph Smith about the two major parties going to war and the Independent American Party springing from that clash.
I was unable to contact Gneiting, but in an essay posted Thursday on the IAP website, he talked about independence and original constitutional principles, with references not to Mormon leaders but to the Bible and the country’s founders.
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