New poll finds perception of LDS Church influence on legislature is mostly split down party and religious lines

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – A new poll is gauging what Utahns think about the influence the LDS Church has on state politics.

The poll finds most people think the influence on the Utah Legislature is just about right, but when you pull church members out of the equation the results drastically change.

In the political process it’s common to see religions take a stand.

“I think any religion, business, organization, individual has a right to access the legislature and give their views on individual topics,” said Peter Corroon, Chairman of the Utah Democratic Party.

But does the states dominant religion have too much influence? The answer depends on who you ask.

A new Utahpolicy.com poll finds 51% of Utahns say it’s about right, 34% say the LDS Church has too much influence, 10% say too little and 5% don’t know.

Breaking it down by religious affiliation tells a different story.

84% of Protestants, 79% of Catholics, 85% of other religions and 80% who have no religious affiliation say the LDS Church has too much influence.

Along party lines 70% of Utah Democrats say too much, but only 15% of Utah Republicans agree with that.

Speaker of the House, Greg Hughes who is a member of the LDS Church says the church has no direct line to legislative leadership.

He says the church participates openly just like other stakeholders do.

“I think you can’t really pass a bill if you are just myopic in who you want to please or what you want to do. I think every bill up here requires compromise and requires coming together,” said Hughes.

Hughes says the historic LGBT nondiscrimination and religious freedom compromise that passed this year is a perfect example of that.

Corroon, who is Catholic says you can’t expect lawmakers to leave their values at the door.

As to whether the LDS Church has too much influence?

“Really not my job to tell people. It’s really to work with the LDS Church on legislation that we feel is important as democrats since they do have influence over the state legislature and legislation that goes on,” said Corroon.

Corroon also points out any where you have a dominant religion in a state, that church will have more influence than others.

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