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'Create welcoming communities': Latter-day Saint leaders release statement on refugees

By Liesl Nielsen, | Posted - Dec. 2, 2019 at 7:10 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Latter-day Saints should "respond appropriately and legally" to "create welcoming communities" for refugees, according to a Monday statement from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are deeply committed to living the two great commandments to love God and love our neighbor. We feel tremendous joy in helping all of God’s children, no matter where they may live in this world," the statement reads, in part.

"It is therefore with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of more than 70 million people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from violence, war, or religious persecution."

The statement from the church's First Presidency — the highest governing body in the organization — encourages members to "volunteer their time, talents and friendship to individuals and families who are integrating into our societies."

The statement is not vastly different from others the church has made in the past, most notably in October 2015 following a massive refugee crisis in Europe.

Hundreds of thousands fled across the Mediterranean Sea to escape war and persecution, and countries across the globe were faced with the decision to shelter the refugees as European countries became overwhelmed. Church leaders soon after asked members to assist the newcomers in their communities. reached out to church spokespeople Monday evening to determine the motivation behind the statement's release, but we have not yet received a response.

The same day the church released the statement, however, the Washington Post ran an article on its homepage entitled, "Trump gave states the power to ban refugees. Conservative Utah wants more of them."

"This fall, President Trump signed an executive order that, for the first time, gives states and cities the authority to veto refugee resettlements. The move alarms refugee advocates, who fear a wave of xenophobic demagoguery as governors and mayors seek to prove their anti-immigrant credentials by banning new arrivals," the article reads.

"But in Utah — deeply conservative, deeply devout, predominantly white Utah — the response has been altogether different."

The article cites Gov. Gary Herbert's recent letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to send more refugees to Utah. The state, founded by religious refugees fleeing persecution, is “far from reaching” the limit on how many people can successfully be resettled here, Herbert said.

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