The Salt Lake Tribune takes a look at the early days of the Republican Party, when the founders of the fledgling anti-slavery party “saw Mormons as their enemies,” and how that evolved into the modern trend of Mormons overwhelmingly supporting Republicans.
“The GOP’s first party platform in 1856 took direct aim at polygamy, placing it in the same sinister frame as slavery in the hope of cultivating the votes of Christians wary of the spread of these dual threats to the republic… Later on, Republicans used their congressional power to wipe away any secular power Mormon leaders had in the Utah Territory and were the main backers of a law that disincorporated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints… Republicans over the next several decades targeted the LDS Church over polygamy and suspicions that Mormons were attempting to form their own sovereign country in the Mountain West.”
“The GOP’s take on social issues, such as abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment and gay marriage, drew Mormons into the conservative fold beginning in the 1970s. Church apostle Ezra Taft Benson, who supported the right-wing John Birch Society and served as Agriculture secretary under President Dwight Eisenhower, helped further push his fellow Mormons into the conservative camp. A report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in January showed that about 74 percent of Mormons lean toward the Republican Party.”