A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune highlighted the fact that the Church’s Presiding Bishop, H. David Burton, attended the signing of a comprehensive set of immigration reform bills passed by the Utah legislature. The article said: “One thing is clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has abandoned its claims to neutrality on these bills.”
This needs a clarification.
While the Church does not endorse or oppose specific political parties, candidates or platforms, it has always reserved the right to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that have significant community or moral consequences. Immigration is such an issue.
Before the 2011 Utah legislative session began, the Church announced its support for the Utah Compact . Our hope was that lawmakers would find solutions that encompassed principles important to Mormons and other people of goodwill:
- We follow Jesus Christ by loving our neighbors. The Savior taught that the meaning of “neighbor” includes all of God’s children, in all places, at all times.
- We recognize an ever-present need to strengthen families. Families are meant to be together. Forced separation of working parents from their children weakens families and damages society.
- We acknowledge that every nation has the right to enforce its laws and secure its borders. All persons subject to a nation’s laws are accountable for their acts in relation to them.
Our focus during the legislative session was to encourage laws that incorporated these principles. The Church did not dictate what kinds of bills should be proposed. Like many others on Capitol Hill, Church officials voiced their views and trusted the state’s elected officials to do their job. We consider the comprehensive package passed by lawmakers to be a responsible approach to a very complicated issue. Bishop Burton was invited, along with other community leaders, to witness the signing of a series of immigration bills by Utah Governor Gary Herbert and to show support for the diligent efforts of lawmakers in this area.
We expect that our country will continue to struggle with this complicated issue, which the federal government will have to address. Our hope is that good people everywhere will strive for principle-based solutions that balance the rule of law with the need for compassion.
*The Church issued its most recent statement on immigration on June 10, 2011.