LDS leader presents President Obama with family history

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It was a meeting of two presidents today: The president of the United States and the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Church officials brought President Obama a gift. It was a leather-bound, five-book record of President Obama's family history.

Presidents and religious leaders often meet at the White House, but this meeting is happening amid complex wars and conflicts overseas. There are cultural differences and divisiveness here at home too, such as an economy struggling to recover and a looming health care crisis.

Politically, Monday's meeting, though fairly routine, is still a sign of mutual support on what unites us.

Political pollster Dan Jones said, "President Monson wants to get across to the people of the United States and the world that we want our president to succeed."

After receiving the five-book volume of his family's genealogy, President Obama said in a statement: "I enjoyed my meeting with President Monson and Elder Oaks. I'm grateful for the genealogical records that they brought with them and am looking forward to reading through the materials with my daughters. It's something our family will treasure for years to come."

President Monson said, "President Obama's heritage is rich with examples of leadership, sacrifice and service. We were very pleased to research his family history and are honored to present it to him today."

It's interesting to point out that parts of President Obama's history were already known. He has ties to former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney; the two are eighth cousins.

Nevada senator Harry Reid arranged Monday's meeting, which was also attended by Elder Dallin Oaks.

"The Church has great resources and experience in genealogy work, and we are proud to have researched such a unique and impressive family history," Elder Oaks said.

The Church has also presented personal histories to other U.S. Presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

This is only the 14th time that an LDS Church president has been invited to the White House. This meeting is evidence that members of the LDS Church do have political clout and that President Obama respects that.

It's the first time President Obama and President Monson have sat down face-to-face. First Lady Michelle Obama met with LDS apostles M. Russell Ballard and Quentin L. Cook on behalf of her husband during a campaign stop last year in Salt Lake.

Photo courtesy the White House


Story compiled with contributions from Carole Mikita, Richard Piatt, and Andrew Adams.

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