Arizona Mormon group breaks from GOP to support Biden as they are 'opposite of the way Trump's lived his life'
Over 200 people belonging to the church and identifying themselves as Republicans published an open letter last week, opposing Trump
President Donald Trump appears to be losing his allure amongst Mormons in Arizona who typically vote Republican. In an unprecedented move, some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints backed Trump's political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and presumptive Democratic nominee. Over 200 people belonging to the church and identifying themselves as Republicans published an open letter last week, opposing Trump.
One of the members of the community, Yasser Sanchez, who previously worked twice to defeat Biden's bid for vice presidency, has now said that he will vote for him in the 2020 elections set in November. Sanchez reportedly said he found himself in the unusual position as he is repelled by Trump. "We're taught to be steady, to be basically the opposite of the way he's lived his life," Sanchez said of Trump.
The group of Mormons, in their letter, called Trump "the antithesis of so much the Latter-day Saints community believes." The Trump campaign, in an effort to recapture voters from the community, launched its Latter-day Saints for Trump Coalition last week and sent Vice President Mike Pence to Mesa, Phoenix for the kickoff. Trump, during his term, has struggled to win over Latter-day Sants owing to his penchant for foul language, which clashes with the church's culture that teaches modesty and self-restraint. The president's isolating foreign policy has also threatened the faith, which is spreading across the world rapidly.
The Republican leader's image amongst the community has further been tarnished considering his ongoing feud with Republican Senator Mitt Romney, one of the best-known members of the church. The president's political standing appears to have slumped in multiple pivotal states, including Arizona, where members of the faith make up six percent of the population. According to church statistics, there are about 436,000 Latter-day Saints in Arizona. Reports state that many are clustered around Phoenix, an area where the Republican Party has struggled to hold ground.
Pence, last week, shared a speech in an effort to win popularity among Mormon voters. The vice president, while addressing a group of about 200 people, had said, Trump "has stood for the religious freedom of every American of every faith every day of this administration," according to the Daily Mail.
Political consultants, in recent elections, have considered certain areas populated with Latter-day Saints members like Gilbert, Chandler, and Mesa in Phoenix, as a barometer of swing voters, which includes college-educated White voters and women who have recently made a switch to the Democratic Party. Multiple neighborhoods popular with church members east of Phoenix reportedly voted both for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in 2018.
A 39-year-old speech therapist from Mesa, Kathy Varga, in a statement to the outlet, said: "From the time we're young we're taught - as are all Christians - that we're supposed to love God and love our neighbor. I don´t see that happening right now. I just see the country becoming more divided." Varga added that she had voted for Trump in 2016 reluctantly because she feared that Trump's then political rival Hillary Clinton would put liberal justices on the Supreme Court. The 39-year-old, however, has changed her mind now and believes that Trump is threatening government institutions and the Constitution. Although she disagreed with many of Democrat policies, Varga plans to vote for Biden this year.