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GOP senator offended LDS community after likening Trump to a ‘selfless’ Book of Mormon hero: report

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Utah Sen. Mike Lee (screengrab)

Politics and religion are colliding out west after comments a Republican senator made while stumping for the president.

“Sen. Mike Lee drew criticism from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this week after comparing President Donald Trump to Captain Moroni, a heroic and selfless figure in the Book of Mormon,” The Arizona Republic reported Friday evening.

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“To my Mormon friends, my Latter-day Saint friends, think of him as Captain Moroni,” Lee (R-UT) said, pointing to Trump. “He seeks not power, but to pull it down. He seeks not the praise of the world or the ‘fake news,’ but he seeks the well-being and the peace of the American people.”

The newspaper gave context for the remark.

“In the Book of Mormon, Captain Moroni is described as a virtuous, selfless man who did everything in his power to serve and care for others, according to Yasser Sanchez, a member of the church who is supporting Democrat Joe Biden for president,” the newspaper reported.

Sanchez said that does not describe Trump.

“(Captain Moroni) sought to do good to serve others and to protect the freedom of others, which are the complete opposite characteristics of traits that (President) Donald J. Trump has,” Sanchez said. “I don’t think anyone who is honest with their understanding of what Captain Moroni was saying would say ‘this is a person who we should compare (President) Donald Trump to.’”

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“The issue is cheapening one’s faith to promote a political candidate who doesn’t reflect the values of that faith,” Sanchez explained. “You don’t use sacred sites and things that are important to us, such as the name of our church, for cheap political points.”

Rob Taber, the national director for the “Latter-day Saints for Biden-Harris,” also took issue with the comparison.

“For those of us who are not ‘in the bubble’ of being Trump loyalists and being on the far right, this idea that (President) Trump is humble when he’s ratings-obsessed, it just doesn’t make sense for us,” Taber said. “I think that’s why so many Latter-day Saints, regardless of their political beliefs or where they fall on the political spectrum, found the comparison to be so jarring and why it’s been so shocking.”

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