On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton, encouraged by polls showing her in a close race with Donald Trump in the deep red state of Utah, pitched Mormon voters in the state with an op-ed in the Deseret News, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has asked presidential candidates to offer their pitches in the paper. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has already done so. The paper’s opinion editor told BuzzFeed repeated attempts to communicate with the Trump campaign have been fruitless.
Implicitly referring to Donald Trump’s suggestion that Muslims be banned from entering the United States, Clinton based her pitch on the idea that she has defended religious freedom, writing: “I’ve been fighting to defend religious freedom for years. As secretary of state, I made it a cornerstone of our foreign policy to protect the rights of religious minorities around the world — from Coptic Christians in Egypt, to Buddhists in Tibet.”
Speaking of Thomas Jefferson’s statement that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion,” which was reflected in the Constitution, Clinton continued, “It’s one of the sacred ideals that defines us as a country. And it’s something that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to grasp. Every day, Trump continues to prove he lacks the morals to be our commander-in-chief. In just the last couple of weeks, he’s attacked the parents of an American soldier who gave his life for this country. He’s all but proposed abandoning our NATO allies, and we recently learned he even mused about the possible first-use of nuclear weapons.”
Then she reached the centerpiece of her argument: “With a new, outrageous headline seeming to pop up every day, it’s easy to forget that Trump showed us his true colors early on, when he proposed banning all Muslims from our shores.Trump’s Muslim ban would undo centuries of American tradition and values. “
Clinton then segued to using GOP representatives to buttress her argument: “Listen to Mitt Romney, who said Trump ‘fired before aiming’ when he decided a blanket religious ban was a solution to the threat of terrorism. Listen to former Sen. Larry Pressler, who said Trump’s plan reminded him of when Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs singled out Mormons in his infamous extermination order of 1838. Or listen to your governor, who saw Trump’s statement as a reminder of President Rutherford B. Hayes’ attempt to limit Mormon immigration to America in 1879.”
“Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”
She concluded: “Americans don’t have to agree on everything. We never have. But when it comes to religion, we strive to be accepting of everyone around us. That’s because we need each other. And we know that it so often takes a village — or a ward — working together to build the change we hope to see.”
Clinton’s appeal to religious freedom rings hollow and utterly phony; this is the same woman who told the Women in the World Summit :
Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice—not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.
The last time Utah voted for a Democrat was in 1964.