The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the right, the power, and, I believe even the obligation to use its influence and resources to maintain and improve the moral and ethical structure of our community. It even has the unconventional ability to strongly influence our state Legislature.

The calling of the leadership of the Church of Jesus Chris is to be a “Special Witness of Jesus Christ.” The problem is that they are not doing their job. They are putting Jesus on the wrong side of multiple critical issues.

LGBTQ Rights • The church has always been mistaken in its approach to LGBTQ issues. That God loves all his children absolutely and without reserve should be the only guiding principle. California’s Proposition 8 in 2008; the 2015 revelation on gay couples and their children; the extremely high rate of suicide; the recanting of the revelation in 2019; allowing conversion therapy to continue unchecked in 2019; and now the open opposition to the Equality Act have been only a few of their public disasters. Jesus loves me as he loves you and you and you. He would not place balancing religious liberties above loving and supporting His oppressed children.

Medical Marijuana • Why, with the church’s influence, did the Legislature change what they had already negotiated and determined to be best for the state? People who agonize and suffer deserve better. Jesus would want those who suffer to be eased.

Medicare expansion • Why, if the church cared about the health of God’s children, did the Legislature squander the past five years of federal government aid, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without health insurance and millions of dollars on the table? Even this year, the Legislature left more than 60,000 people outside of insurance coverage despite the voter’s desires. We all have a responsibility to the sick. Jesus would want the sick to be attended.

Poverty and homelessness • Salt Lake City and the state of Utah are known as the headquarters of the church. Why do we have human beings sleeping on the streets, begging at the exit of the City Creek Center, camping along the Jorden River and Pioneer Park? Why do we have one in five children facing hunger right here in our beautiful state? That is about 150,000 children. This is a problem that can be solved. Why does such a wonderful church spend billions of dollars on shopping centers, hundreds of millions on office buildings, millions and millions on church structures and have children go without food, shelter and adequate medical care? Will it cost a lot of money? Yes!

Let us forgo another office building in London and spend the hundreds of millions to solve homelessness and poverty right here in Utah. If Utah is known as the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it should be known as the home of love and charity. We could do it. It is what Jesus would do.

Michael Olsen, a Utah businessman, is an almost semi-active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He lives in Salt Lake City with his wonderful and tolerant wife and wrangles cattle in northern Utah.