Here are the first two paragraphs of a statement posted at the LDS Newsroom November 9, 2016, the day after the presidential election of 2016, titled “First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Congratulate U.S. President-Elect”:
We congratulate President-elect Donald Trump on his election as president of the United States.
We invite Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to join us in praying for the president-elect, for his new administration and for elected leaders across the nation and the world. Praying for those in public office is a long tradition among Latter-day Saints. The men and women who lead our nations and communities need our prayers as they govern in these difficult and turbulent times.
Now let’s compare that to the statement the First Presidency and Twelve issued congratulating President-Elect Biden. Let’s see … searching at LDS.org … searching using Google … nada. There is no such statement, apparently. The closest I could find was an article posted at the Newsroom titled “Vice President Joe Biden Receives Family History During Temple Square Visit,” from February 2016 (see image at the top of this post).
It isn’t just “We congratulate Republicans but not Democrats.” Here are the first two paragraphs of the congratulatory note to President Obama, posted November 6, 2012, titled “First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Congratulate President on Election Win”:
We congratulate President Obama on winning a second term as President of the United States.
After a long campaign, this is now a time for Americans to come together. It is a long tradition among Latter-day Saints to pray for our national leaders in our personal prayers and in our congregations. We invite Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to pray for the President, for his administration and the new Congress as they lead us through difficult and turbulent times. May our national leaders reflect the best in wisdom and judgment as they fulfill the great trust afforded to them by the American people.
So what’s the problem? Why is there no public statement by LDS leadership congratulating President-Elect Biden? Seriously, this is a puzzle that requires some explaining. Even if a similar letter is in fact issued at some point, we need an explanation for why it is coming out a month or two or three after the election. What do readers think? It would be nice if someone had an inside source, something like, “My uncle is a GA and at a meeting with two apostles was told ….” Let me just offer a few possibilities and let readers choose one or offer their own explanation.
Some possible explanations:
- Despite an overwhelming victory in both the popular vote and the electoral college, LDS leaders honestly can’t figure out who won the election.
- Despite a clear victory for Joe Biden, the majority of senior LDS leaders are strong Trump supporters and are withholding a congratulatory letter just to spite Mr. Biden.
- Despite a clear victory for Joe Biden, one or two stubborn senior LDS leaders are strong Trump supporters and are blocking the issuance of a congratulatory letter to Mr. Biden.
- Despite a clear victory for Joe Biden and a desire to issue such a letter for Mr. Biden, senior LDS leaders know that roughly 70% of LDS are strong supporters of President Trump and don’t want to alienate the mainstream membership of the Church by issuing a congratulatory note.
- Despite a clear victory for Joe Biden, senior LDS leaders are waiting for permission from President Trump in the form of a clear concession to issue a congratulatory letter.
- Despite a clear victory for Joe Biden, senior LDS leaders will not issue a congratulatory letter because they have decided to no longer issue such letters but haven’t told anyone of this change in policy.
None of these options are very acceptable. Stupidity, cowardice, spite, partisanship … which is it?
Whatever the explanation, this delay certainly calls into question any remaining credibility of the frequent claim of LDS leadership to be politically neutral. The leadership is not neutral. They’re probably 70% or more Trumpists, just like the membership. Like it or not, it’s now The Church of Jesus Christ of Donald Trump.