LDS Church influence on Utah lawmakers subtle but significant

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Ten minutes. That's the time it takes to walk from the Utah State Capitol to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A forum at the Hinckley Institute of Politics sponsored by the Alliance for a Better Utah discussed the influence of the religion on the state.

Participating in the forum were two Republican State Senators, a Democratic State Representative and a Democratic Candidate for the State House. All are members of the LDS CHurch.

State Senator Todd Weiler said he's seldom been contacted, and, when he is, it's about three main issues: gambling, alcohol, and adoption.

"I have been a state senator for five sessions, and I can count on both of my hands how many times I've been contacted by the LDS Church's public affairs division," Weiler said.

Representative Brian King said the same, but added that while the LDS Church is always careful to say they are neutral, most top leaders in the Church's Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are registered Republicans.

"When you look at their backgrounds, I believe they're called of God, but I also believe it would be naive not to recognize that they are predominantly coming from business backgrounds, legal backgrounds, and they're coming from corporate backgrounds," King said.

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