Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce, Bad Mormon? At Least According To the Utah Compact

When I first began reporting on immigration and Sand Land politics several years ago, I was under the mistaken impression -- because I'd never lived in an area so heavily influenced by the LDS before -- that most Mormons were like neo-Nazi-hugging state Senator Russell Pearce.

Very quickly, I learned how wrong I was. I've met Mormon political candidates who opposed Pearce and nativism, Mormon Hispanics here illegally who have been given crucial support from the members of their church, and pro-immigration activists and attorneys who just happened to be Mormons.

And now, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints this week announcing its support for a document calling for a compassionate approach to immigration -- known as the Utah Compact -- it certainly seems as if the LDS is officially opposed to the sort of hatred and bigotry that Pearce represents.

Check out this simple approach to reasonable immigration reform, and keep Pearce in mind as you read it:


A declaration of five principles to guide Utah's immigration discussion

FEDERAL SOLUTIONS Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries--not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah's congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.

LAW ENFORCEMENT  We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement's professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code. 

FAMILIES  Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.

ECONOMY  Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah's immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.

A FREE SOCIETY  Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.

Although the LDS has not officially signed the compact, its statement makes it clear that the church stands behind it:

As a worldwide church dealing with many complex issues across the globe, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints promotes broad, foundational principles that have worldwide application. The Church regards the declaration of the Utah Compact as a responsible approach to the urgent challenge of immigration reform.  It is consistent with important principles for which we stand:

  • 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. 

Public officials should create and administer laws that reflect the best of our aspirations as a just and caring society. Such laws will properly balance love for neighbors, family cohesion, and the observance of just and enforceable laws.

Does Pearce's SB 1070, his opposition to the DREAM Act, his hateful plan to undermine the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment comport with the Utah Compact and the LDS' stance?

Sure doesn't look that way to me.

So unless Pearce mends his ways, I'd say he's a bad Mormon. The worst you can imagine, actually.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons