Friday, March 20, 2015

Former Utah House Representative Carl Wimmer: The Role of The LDS Church in Utah's Politics

Our take?  There's an 800-pound Gorilla on Utah's Capitol Hill

In the interest of kick-starting a possible Friday morning Weber County Forum discussion, we'll highlight this extraordinary expose' from the "An American Dream Revealed" blog, authored by former 52nd House District State Representative, Carl Wimmer.

Here's the lede, folks:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just passed a pro-LGBT piece of legislation in Utah.
Does that sound odd to you? It does to me, but it is essentially true.
For years, there have been those in the Utah legislature who have pushed for statewide legislation that would prevent businesses and landlords from prohibiting homosexuals from working at their business or renting a home from them; they called it a “statewide anti-discrimination” bill.
And for years the legislation failed.
Year after year the bill sponsor would bring the bill forward simply to have it die before it got off the ground, but this year was different. This year the most powerful entity in the state of Utah, the LDS Church, endorsed the legislation.
This year the legislation passed.
Having served in the Utah legislature, I have been asked several times what role the LDS Church really plays when it comes to Utah politics, and until now I have remained largely silent. While in the legislature I was a faithful member of the LDS Church; to speak of things that might bring embarrassment to the church would have been unwise, not to mention political suicide. Today, the issue is very topical with the recent passage of the pro-LGBT legislation, and I feel it is time to break the silence and provide some insight:
Fasten your seatbelts; and read up, folks as former Utah House Rep Carl Wimmer "spills the beans":
Among other revelations, Mr. Wimmer presents a eye-opening anecdote, concerning HB116, an extremely controversial 2011 LDS Church-backed bill, dealing with illegal immigration and proposing the issuance of state worker cards to illegal immigrants.
The night HB116 was debated for final passage was insane. There was intensity I had never felt before or after on the house floor. It was the intensity that comes only from political bullying, and it killed me to know that this time the “bully” was my own church.
I was approached by a younger representative who was on the verge of tears. He expressed to me that he had just gotten out of a “PPI meeting” and asked if I had had mine yet. I knew what he meant and I was sorry for him.
A legitimate “PPI” or “Personal Priesthood Interview” is conducted within the confines of the LDS Church. It is an ecclesiastical meeting between an LDS leader and a male member under their “authority.” When I was an Elders Quorum President, I held PPI’s with the elders under my charge. A PPI is used to check on the spiritual welfare of the man being interviewed, and to make sure they are on the “straight and narrow.” But that is not what this legislator meant…
What he had just experienced was an intense, closed-door meeting with select members of house leadership and the LDS Church lobbyists who made it abundantly clear that when HB116 came up for a vote, he was to support the bill, period.
"So, what role does the LDS Church really play when it comes to Utah politics? From my experience, it all depends on how badly the church wants a specific piece of legislation passed," says Mr. Wimmer.

Our take?  There's an 800-pound Gorilla on Utah's Capitol Hill.

A Weber County Forum Tip o" the Hat to former State representaive Wimmer, for forthrightly providing this useful "insider's insight" into the often enigmatic interworkings of our Utah State legislature.


Angela said...

KRCL and KUER broadcast legislative wray-ups last Friday. Both reported on the church lobbying. Even though I knew the LDS Church has undue influence with the dictators on the hill, I was shocked that they had three to four lobbyists pushing Teapublicans religious freedom (in reality religious oppression ) aspects of SB 296 and SB297. If these guys, not women, are paid to lobby the LDS Church needs to lose its tax status as religious non-profit. I suspect that they are "called" to lobby to avoid this

Michael said...

I have mixed feelings about this, Rudi. This guy clearly holds political opinions that are opposite of mine, so I have no sympathy that he didn't get his way on some legislation.

On the other hand, the LDS church being so thoroughly involved with Uah Legislation is something I hope the people of Utah will rise up against. (Won't happen, but I can hope.) So, kudos to him for being so forthcoming.

Carlo said...

Thanks to a former LDS affiiiated Utah State Representative, we now get the unvarnished Truth, Bravo. Mister Wimmer!

blackrulon said...

One should try to remember that the LDS church is also a corporation that will protect their business interests and a special interest political orginazition. The LDS church has proven to be very ruthless in suppressing business competion. they also dance close to the edge in regards to their political lobbying. Many members cannot tell the difference from the LDS position in regards to religious matters, business interests and political interests. They will change when their business is threatened. A example is SNL show. Whenb KSL lost their CBS affiliation and became a NBC affiliate they refused to air SNL. They daid it did not represent the standards of their viewers. But when they became suffering low ratings on Saturday night they reclaied SNL broadcast and now show special SNL episodes in prime viewing time. The broadcast division of the LDS church once owned the CBS affiliate in the Seattle Washington area. When their station lost its CBS affiliatiion and had to become a independent station they quickly sold their station. They became much friendlier to gay issues when boycotts of their local business began to impact their bottome line.they would like members to group their religious points, their business points and their political poinbts as all being a test of how faithful their members are to the church.

Danny said...

This post is one of the reasons I stop by the WCF blog. I see things here that matter to me that I would not know about otherwise.

The comments of Carl Wimmer were very interesting. His article seems heartfelt and I'm inclined to believe what he has said is true.

Personally, I was angered and appalled by the amnesty for illegals that the Church promoted as well as their recent gay rights legislation that seemed to exempt the church but threw everyone else under the gay rights bus. It offended me for the church to state as policy abiding by the law and opposition to homosexuality and then to feel like I was hit by a curve ball from left field, thrown by the church itself with their backdoor Mexican amnesty and gay rights bills. If Wimmer feels he has a beef, I do too.

On the other hand, regardless of Carl's feelings about the church or the apparent coercion and self-serving dishonesty of of some of their lobbyists, the church is true. And these lobbyists and many others should be grateful I feel that way, because were it not for that, many of these people (as well as many others) would already be sleeping with their forefathers. Lord, in this one thing doth thy word constrain me so!

The real issue here is so many people are fundamentally, cowards. Moreover, they are obsessed with being accepted by others, by the praise of man. Whether those men are their cronies, or church leaders, it makes no difference. They want to be "accepted". It appears Wimmer left the church merely because he no longer felt accepted when he did not always tow the political line precisely (assuming he could tell what the church's line was from moment to moment!) That's not much reason to throw eternity away, Carl.

Each man should find the light for himself and then walk by that light. If people would do that, it would be an easy matter to tell church lobbyists, "I already know your opinion. I don't need to keep hearing it," then vote however they wanted. They would cast aside any supposed "pressure". They would recognize that church members and leaders are men, not God. They would never confuse the two, although some church leaders find it convenient when people do, and sometimes even encourage it.

There are so few who find that light and then walk by it with forthrightness. That's the real problem.

But the church is indeed true. It does a lot of good and there are good people in it. But it is full of SOBs, A-holes, and sociopaths just like everywhere else and some of them are leaders because for all their faults they make sure the "trains run on time" when nobody else will. It is the S-hole of a world we all have to live in.

Each person finding the light for themselves and then honestly walking by it, is the beginning of the cure for all this crap.

Ozboy said...

It is interesting that the Church didn't put the full court press on over the Healthy Utah issue. Even more so given that the bill seemed to conform to the Church position on reaching out and helping our less fortunate citizens, and several top Church officials publicly endorsed it.

rudizink said...

Given Mr. Wimmer's insider "revalations," Oz, It becomes fairiy obvious that prophet/revelator "Tommy," doesn't "like" Utah's still uninsired "poor people," very much. Sad observation about Utah's home grown mormon "Chistian" Church (so-called), methinks.

blackrulon said...

The LDS church will only speak on what they call moral issues, liquor laws, gambling or gay rights that impact their self appointed image. But clean air and water or health care are not what they consider moral issues. When their corporate bottom line is threatened or tax exempt status challenged then other issues will suddenly become moral issues. Back in the 1970s KSL used to have a nightly editorial opinion on the 10pm newscast. They always said opposinng responsible editorials will be broadcast. They then had a nightly editorial basically supporting the Vietnam war and called those holding rallies in opposition were wring. A coaliation of opposition groups submitted a counter editorial opposing the KSL editorial. They counter editorial was rejected because the opposition were not responsible groups or people. When the FCC broadcast permit for KSL came up for renewal many groups opposed the automatic renewal on the groups that KSL was not representing all community viewpoints. The opposition included several non mormon church leaders, student lesders at the University of Utah and other community and business people. KSL was seriously afraid of losing their broadcast rights and begin allowing true opposition editoriasl to be broadcast. They di9d not have a real change of heart on what they deemed acceptable but saw the possibility of losing a revenue stream because of KSLs CBS network addiliation.

blackrulon said...

The debate here is not about the LDS church being true or not true. The question and concern is that the LDS church tends to sponsor or oppose legislation that their religion is against.irregardlous of how other religions felt on the same issue. For many years proposed legislation was sent directly to the COB on north temple to get their input and direction. No other religious group was afforded that same opportunity. As worthy as protection for gay rights it has been proposed for several years but did not pass until the LDS church supported the bill with exemptions carved out that directly benefited them.

rudizink said...

Bottom line, Blackrulon, I think everyone should agree that the mere concept of having Mormon Churh lobbyists "shaking down" any LDS Utah legisltor is plainly not only "unethical," but sleazy.

Ozboy said...

So whatacha sayin BR, the Church is driven by profits and not by prophets?

rudizink said...

BINGO, Ozboy!

blackrulon said...

There is a reason the statue of Brigham Young in downtown SLC has his hand pointing directly at the Zions bank building.

Ozboy said...

Back in the day when the statue was out in the middle of the intersection folks used to say - "Yep, there is old Brigham with his hand toward the bank and his ass toward the church"

rudizink said...

Bingo Ozboy!

Bob Becker said...

Well, here's the thing, Rudi: when Mr. Wimmer was a full-blown right wing fruitloop in the legslature, I tended to dismiss much/most of what he said as self-serving drivel. Not sure that, now, since his well-publicised troubles with the UtGop and tgat has undergone a political and spiritual conversion, we shiuld be granting him more credibility than we did before, simply because sone of his former critics find his new testimony more to their liking .

rudizink said...

Ahem Mister Bob Becker! Even though Rep Wimmer got out into the "tea party ozone," for a time, I don't recall anyone branding him a "liar."

Bob Becker said...

Didn't say he was lying. Just that, given his checkered past, I'm not sure I 'd simpy take him as a reliable witness now. Liking the song now being sung doen't necessarily mean the singer is a choir boy....

blackrulon said...

You need to think of the LDS influence like that of a political city political orginazition. No smoke filled rooms but the disdain of your fellow members when you go against their wishes. It might not be directly in your face but the LDS influence can make or break a political career and hurt business prospects.

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