Utah's Lone Jewish Legislator Criticizes Overt Religious Reference On Republican Opponent's Flyer
The sole Jewish member of the Utah Legislature is speaking out against a flyer sent by her Republican opponent that appears to make veiled references to her religion.
Democratic Rep. Patrice Arent called the recent campaign mailers sent by Republican Todd Zenger “disappointing.”
On them, Zenger, a Mormon, encourages residents to vote “in memory of our God, our religion and our freedom, our peace, our wives, and our children.” The quote is a reference to a Book of Mormon scripture.
Several voters in the district shared photos of the flyer on Twitter over the weekend.
“[He] implies that he stands for religious freedom, and I do not,” Arent wrote on Monday. “Because it is well known that I am the only Jewish legislator in utah and very active in my religion, many people in our Jewish community are hurt and upset by Mr. Zenger’s statement.”
Zenger is challenging Arent for the House District 36 seat, which she’s represented since 2011.
Zenger denied the flyer was anti-semitic and in a statement said he was inviting people of all religious backgrounds to vote.
“I support all religions, including those that espouse a belief in one God, many Gods, or no God,” he said. “I especially champion the American right to choose one’s own beliefs and religion”
The United Jewish Federation of Utah has also expressed concerns about the flyer.
In a Twitter post late Monday, Gov. Gary Herbert weighed in on the controversy, defending Arent.
"Having worked with @RepPatriceArent over the years, I can say that while we don’t agree on every topic, I have always appreciated her dedication to preserving freedom of religion and conscience," he Tweeted.
The governor, a Republican and Mormon, then added that anyone "micharacterizing her position on religious freedom" should reference a scripture in either the Hebrew Book of Exodus or the Book of Mormon's Second Nephi.
Having worked with @RepPatriceArent over the years, I can say that while we don’t agree on every topic, I have always appreciated her dedication to preserving freedom of religion and conscience. She is a wonderful person who respects others’ points of view. pic.twitter.com/7ZIaDtRLu4— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) November 5, 2018
This post has been updated to add a statement from Gov. Gary Herbert.