MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
President Trump is heading to Utah tomorrow. And while a lot of attention has been focused on his decision to shrink two national monuments in the state, he’s also going to visit with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church. It’s common for sitting presidents to meet with Mormon Church leaders.
But while the majority of Mormons identify as Republican, some 70 percent, members of the church have also been among President Trump’s most vocal critics, including Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Utah’s governor, Gary Herbert, who opposed the president’s proposed Muslim ban during the campaign. That’s one reason we thought we’d like to hear more about what we might expect from the president’s meeting, so we’ve called Hal Boyd, opinion editor of the Deseret News, which is owned by the Mormon Church.
Hal Boyd, Thanks so much for speaking with us once again.
HAL BOYD: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: So could you just set the stage for us? Is there anything in particular that you think that the church leaders are hoping to hear from the president?
BOYD: Well, I think they probably are going to have discussions. You know, the church is obviously very big on family and on faith and religious belief and religious liberty. And so kind of out of those derive certain policies that are important. The church, of course, is neutral on partisan politics, but with regard to principles, it’s known to, you know, take stands. And I think they might discuss, as they did in 2015, the church’s position on immigration. And, of course, the president is expected to tour Welfare Square, which is the church’s kind of ground zero for its humanitarian and welfare programs and initiatives.
MARTIN: Your newspaper published an editorial during the campaign urging then-candidate Trump to drop out of the presidential race after “Access Hollywood” tapes surfaced of him bragging about groping women. That was a very unusual move for your paper. And then, as we’ve mentioned, a number of high-profile Mormon politicians have criticized the president for an – on a number of levels of vulgarity, policy questions, et cetera. I’m just wondering what kind of reception that he – is he going to get? And how is he generally viewed in the state now?
BOYD: Well, I can – as you sort of mentioned at the beginning, a lot of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…