Jewish Federation responds to Utah House candidate’s flyer urging vote in memory of ‘our religion’

SALT LAKE CITY -- The United Jewish Federation of Utah questioned a flyer allegedly made by a candidate running for Utah House District 36, which asks residents to vote in memory of "our God," and "our religion."

Candidate Todd Zenger, who is running against Jewish candidate Patrice Arent for Utah House District 36, is standing by the following political flyer sent to residents in his district:

Alex Shapiro, Executive Director of the United Jewish Federation of Utah, released a statement on the flyer, saying, "An overt appeal to vote for or against someone because of their religion gives us pause."

"To imply that an opponent of a different faith may answer to or believe in another God seems both naïve, spurious and misguided when that person belongs to one of the three Abrahamic faiths that revere one God," Shapiro wrote in a press release Sunday. "We hope that candidate Zenger means that he supports all our religions, one God, and the American right to choose one’s beliefs, if he does, he should clarify immediately."

Arent currently represents Utah House District 36 and has also served in the Utah Senate. She is a graduate of the University of Utah and Cornell Law School.

Arent issued this statement in response to the mailer:

“I am truly disappointed by a mailer recently sent by my opponent, Todd Zenger. In that piece, he implies that he stands for religious freedom, whereas I do not. Because it is well known that I am the only Jewish legislator in Utah and very active in my religion, many people in our Jewish community are hurt and upset by Mr. Zenger’s statement.

Right now, Jews across the country feel very vulnerable. We should all hope that the lesson of Pittsburgh can be one of respect and acceptance of our differences, much like we have felt as the entire community has wrapped their arms around us over this past week.

The right to worship as we choose is one of our most precious liberties. It is vital that we judge everyone by their merits, regardless of religion or creed.

In a statement issued yesterday, Mr. Zenger denied the plain meaning of the words he chose to put in print and distribute to the voters of House District 36. I hope that in the future, he will refrain from divisive and inaccurate comments and focus on the issues facing the residents of House District 36.”

Zenger attended the University of Utah for Mining Engineering. He went to Brigham Young University where he earned a law degree, then went to George Washington University In Washington, D.C. where he received a Master’s Law Degree.

Zenger released the following statement on the flyer:

"I support all religions, including those that espouse a belief in one God, many Gods, or no God. I especially champion the American right to choose one’s own beliefs and religion.

The mailer invited the people of our district of all religious backgrounds to vote. The reference to “our God, our religion” was inclusive of all those in our district regardless of their religious persuasion.

As George Washington stated at Valley Forge, “We are fighting for freedom and human dignity and the right to worship the God of our choice.” If elected I will champion religious freedom.