Gordon Monson: How can Latter-day Saints vote for Donald Trump? There’s only one unhappy answer.

Church leaders urge members to vote for candidates of integrity, who serve the public, who show compassion and who demonstrate “Christlike love and civility.” How does the presumptive GOP presidential nominee meet those standards?

Here’s a question that has just one answer: How can self-respecting Latter-day Saints vote for Donald Trump?

That’s what polls and pundits expect to happen. A whole lot of Latter-day Saints in Utah are going to vote for one of the most — if not the most — dishonest, self-interested, narcissistic, hypocritical, criminal individuals to ever run for high office in U.S. history.

This is the guy you want to be your president, the leader of the free world?

A politician who broke the law in paying off a porn star to keep her quiet about an alleged affair so he could better his chances of getting elected the first time around? A politician who was found guilty on 34 counts of falsification of business records? A politician who was found liable and fined for sexual abuse and for defaming the victim in the case? A man who faces other serious charges in looming legal showdowns? A man who still claims, with no real evidence, that the last election was stolen from him? A man who some believe incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol — or did little to stop it — as a means of interfering with the rightful transition of the presidency after that election.

What and where in the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are there provisions made and encouragement laid out for supporting a person like that?

I get it. Nobody’s perfect. But this imperfect?

Do the writings in the Bible or the Book of Mormon or from modern church leaders make space for this kind of behavior, this kind of character? I’m just wondering: If church authorities interviewed a member who had displayed that kind of conduct, would they feel comfortable calling that person to be bishop or Relief Society president or even deacons quorum adviser?

That would almost certainly be a big ol’ no.

And yet, worshippers who go to church to hear God’s good word and do their best to apply those teachings to their own lives, who are exhorted to do so, and who exhort others to do so, sometimes swinging morals and honesty and integrity like a hammer, week after week after week, want not just a man of Trump’s checkered character, but actually Trump himself, to be voted in as the most powerful leader on the planet?

This is the presidential candidate of their choice? Even if other candidates are far from their ideal, they choose … this?

I attend a Latter-day Saint congregation. I hear what is preached from the pulpit. I study the manuals and the scriptures. I listen to General Conference talks. I’m not naive about the need for a president to be tough at times, to take strong positions on difficult issues, to make hard decisions. But nowhere inside the faith have I found much tolerance or approval for Trump’s actions, his ridiculous name-calling, his lack of kindness, his bullying, his lack of accountability, his lying, his disgusting comments about grabbing women.

Instead, what I read are church teachings like, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men …”

Except for the dude we favor to be president?

I read the words of Paul in the New Testament, statements such as, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”

Top Latter-day Saint leaders have issued statements over the past year urging their followers to vote for candidates of integrity, who serve the public, who show compassion and who demonstrate “Christlike love and civility in political discourse.”

Such admonitions are, in so many words, requiring church members to decide whether they will adhere to what they are taught at church or adhere to Trumpism. Not sure how it can be interpreted any other way.

The answer to the initial question: By ignoring the principles in which they say they believe.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tribune columnist Gordon Monson.

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