The letter urges members to be "informed about the issues and candidates" and examine them within the context of the gospels.
"Some principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles," the letter continues. "Members should also study candidates carefully and vote for those who have demonstrated integrity, compassion, and service to others, regardless of party affiliation.
"Merely voting a straight ticket or voting based on ‘tradition’ without careful study of candidates and their positions on important issues is a threat to democracy and inconsistent with revealed standards (See Doctrine and Covenants 98:10)."
Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson said it was a message directed straight at Trump, among others.
"Are you listening, Donald Trump? Ron DeSantis?" he wrote.
He went on: "Think about who Trump is in so much of his public and private life — a liar, or, for those who shrink away at that term, a massive distorter of the truth, a man who comports himself in a manner far outside what is taught to Latter-day Saints, a man being investigated for a fistful of crimes, an individual who paid off an adult film star with whom he had an affair to keep her silent, a man who was recorded saying women allow powerful men to molest them, a president who claimed after his election defeat, against all evidence and court decisions to the contrary, that the 2020 vote was a fraud, that the election was stolen from him, and on and on and on. And I haven’t even used the word “insurrection.”
The LDS letter goes on to say that the church is neutral on parties and issues, despite posting "information" about specific issues that impact their "mission, teachings, or operations of the church or that church leaders believe are essential to preserving democracy."
The report questioned if the shift came due to the change after church President Ezra Taft Benson, a far-right extreme political conservative who died in 1994. The followers of his philosophy have voted GOP for decades, even if the candidates were woefully unqualified or if they didn't support democracy or the Constitution.
"In recent times, church officials essentially have said that the Republican Party is not the church’s party. Democrats and others are welcome, too. But that message apparently hasn’t been sent with quite enough oomph," Monson said. He called it a "welcomed shot across the bow of political extremism, the bow of the dominant Republican Party in Utah, and the bow of Republicans on the national scene — Democrats, too — politicians of less-than-stellar character who have made a habit of conquering, or attempting to conquer, the voting public by dividing it via their extremism."
He explained the importance of the message – that being a Democrat was generally scorned in the state: "you're a freaking traitor. A vote for the other is a vote to destroy America. A vote for a Republican is automatic for the good of the people, even if that Republican is morally corrupt."
It seems, Monson explained, the church is telling it's membership that they shouldn't be "voting for bums, crooks and criminals solely because they are of one party."
Monson closed by writing that he has hope it will influence the Utah loyalists casting their ballots for Trump but consider the morality of their decision.
He said it's clear a man like Trump is "not whom modern church leaders want their flock supporting."
Read the full column in the Salt Lake City Tribune.