SALT LAKE CITY — In a statement released Friday, top leaders for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemned politically motivated violence and lawlessness seen recently in the United States, including the recent riot at the nation's Capitol.
"We remind our members — whatever their individual political views — to be united in our commitment to the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His teachings," the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the statement. "As His followers, we should treat one another and all of God's children with respect, dignity, and love."
Leaders said they have observed "with great concern" the political and cultural divisions in the U.S. and across the world and noted they condemn violence and lawless behavior of any kind, including the recent violence and threats of violence seen in Washington D.C. ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
As an institution, the church remains politically neutral and encourages its more than 16 million members worldwide to participate in elections, while noting that values of the church can be found across multiple political parties. As part of a longstanding practice, the church previously released a statement congratulating Biden on his victory and offering thanks to President Donald Trump for his service.
On Jan. 6, a group of rioters descended upon the U.S. Capitol in support of Trump and in protest of Biden's win. Hundreds of individuals, including at least one man from Utah, have since been arrested in connection with their alleged involvement in the incident. In the aftermath, Washington D.C. implemented a citywide curfew in response to threats of violence and security concerns that prompted a National Guard presence.
In Friday's statement, church leaders also condemn any threats or "suggestion of further violence," as well.
In the immediate wake of last week's riot, church officials did not release a statement but instead pointed members to a recent talk given by President Dallin H. Oaks of the church's First Presidency, in which he said: "We peacefully accept the results of elections."
"Principles of government that allow God's children to maintain human dignity and freedom belong to all mankind. (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:5).
"With great concern we observe the political and cultural divisions in the United States and around the world. We condemn violence and lawless behavior, including the recent violence in Washington, D.C. and any suggestion of further violence.
"While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics, we remind our members—whatever their individual political views—to be united in our commitment to the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His teachings. As His followers, we should treat one another and all of God's children with respect, dignity, and love. No political or other affiliation should supersede that covenant and sacred responsibility.
"We urge all people to remember the precious and fragile nature of freedom and peace. As citizens of the United States look ahead to the Inauguration of a new President, we urge our members to honor democratic institutions and processes, and to obey, honor, and sustain the law (see Articles of Faith 1:12)."
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