Top LDS Church leaders are trying to make it clear that Mormon political candidates, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, won't be expected to follow their direction on matters of public policy.
Political observers knowledgeable about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints see the move in a variety of ways, but all agree that an expanded explanation of how the church interacts — or doesn't — with LDS politicians could benefit Romney, or at least give him something to point critics to.
An official church statement, copyrighted in 2006, was posted recently on the LDS Church's Web site. It explains the church does not "attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader." It further explains that while LDS leaders may communicate the church's view to any politician, LDS or not, the church "recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent."
LDS politicians "make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with the publicly stated church position," the statement says.