SALT LAKE CITY -- In a pair of letters to Mormons in four western states, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have asked them to vote against ballot initiatives for recreational marijuana and physician-assisted suicide.
One letter to LDS Church members in Arizona, California and Nevada urged Mormon voters to reject recreational ballot initiatives. It is signed by the First Presidency of the LDS Church: Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
Read the letter on recreational marijuana here:
Supporters of Nevada's "Yes On 2" campaign in favor of recreational marijuana said Friday it was inappropriate for the LDS Church to weigh in.
"I really do think it's inappropriate," said Andrew Jolley, a supporter of Yes on 2. "It crosses the boundary of church and state. I also think it's just flat-out wrong."
Jolley, who runs a medical marijuana dispensary, told FOX 13 that the LDS Church has been mobilizing against the Yes on 2 campaign. But while the LDS Church wields political influence in Utah, it does not have the same reach in Nevada.
"I understand that the leaders of the LDS Church, who are very old, have their own opinions," he said. "I think those opinions are completely outdated and wrong. However, I think the people in Nevada feel like they have the freedom to make up their own mind regarding these issues and practices."
The LDS Church declined to comment beyond its letters.
The letter on physician assisted suicide reiterated the LDS Church's longstanding opposition to it. It was sent to church members in Colorado.
Read the letter on physician-assisted suicide here:
The LDS Church and the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City have come out in opposition to "right to die" legislation pending in Utah. The legislature is expected to consider the issue again (alongside a medical marijuana bill) in the 2017 session.
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, said she believed the letters could signal the church's stance on Utah legislation. She is sponsoring a "right to die" bill in Utah.
"It's been very made clear to me the church opposes the legislation that I have proposed," she told FOX 13. "What I like to share is there are a number of members of our community who do not subscribe to this faith tradition or any faith tradition."
Rep. Chavez-Houck said the LDS Church has a right to weigh in with its position on policy matters, but she said many others disagreed and also can weigh in with lawmakers.
"I am representing a constituency that is begging to be heard, is begging to be considered and whose rights also need to be preserved," she said.