SALT LAKE CITY — As a group of rioters overtook the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Wednesday in support of President Donald Trump, Americans across the country watched the scene unfold in horror.
Among those watching was the Most Rev. Oscar Solis, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. In a released statement Thursday, he said he had a "heavy heart" after seeing "the violence perpetrated by some of my fellow Americans."
In his statement, Bishop Solis condemned attempts to interfere with the country's democratic process.
"Efforts to intimidate, threaten, and physically harm our democratic institutions and public servants based on the results of a free and fair election have no place in our country," he said.
He invited all to join him in prayer — a prayer for peace, a prayer for Americans to recognize shared values and a prayer that elected officials serve with integrity. "Hateful and divisive rhetoric must stop as we instead join our hearts and voices in prayer for national healing and unity," he said.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not officially make a statement in response to this week's events, but instead referred members to a recent talk by President Dallin H. Oaks of the church's First Presidency, in which he said: "We peacefully accept the results of elections."
News footage from Wednesday's riot showed a participant holding a flag that appeared to be a reference to a passage in the Book of Mormon written on it.
"In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children," the flag read, which is a direct quote from Captain Moroni, a military commander who inspired soldiers in a fight for freedom.
At a Trump campaign rally in Arizona, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee compared Trump to the Book of Mormon hero. After facing backlash for what some called a blasphemous comparison, Lee said his statements weren't meant to offend.
As an institution, the church remains politically neutral and encourages its members to participate in elections. As part of a longstanding practice, the church previously released a statement congratulating President-elect Joe Biden on his victory and offered thanks to Trump for his service.
"We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome," President Oaks said in the October 190th Semiannual General Conference. "In a democratic society, we always have the opportunity and the duty to persist peacefully until the next election."