What Mitt Romney sees as the greatest threats to the LDS Church

It’s a far different assessment than that of the late apostle Boyd Packer from 30 years ago.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney, appearing at the Hinckley Institute of Politics in August 2023. declined a request to form a Latter-day Saint version of the Anti-Defamation League.

In 1993, then-apostle Boyd K. Packer famously — or, to some, infamously — pointed to gays, feminists and intellectuals as the greatest threats to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Three decades later, Mitt Romney, who made history as the first Latter-day Saint to top a major party’s presidential ticket and the first senator to vote to remove a president of his own party, has a different take.

Among the many revelations in McKay Coppins’ highly anticipated biography, “Romney: A Reckoning,” comes this enlightening episode:

After being asked by senior apostle M. Russell Ballard to form a Latter-day Saint version of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, apparently to counter wrongs slung at the Salt Lake City-based faith by outsiders, the Utah Republican, then weighing his Senate run, ultimately declined.

As Romney saw it, Coppins writes, the most pressing challenges in the global church of 17 million members came not from without, but from within — namely in “retaining young people, promoting faith in a secular world, and addressing prickly issues in the church’s history.”

“In other words,” Romney would later reflect, “we have met the enemy and it was us.”

Learn more insights from the new book about Romney here and in the coming week’s “Mormon Land” podcast interview with Coppins.

Correction • Oct. 21, 2023, 10:26 a.m.: This story has been updated to fix a reference to the timing of Boyd Packer’s 1993 remarks.