Would such a poster cause you pause to think about the neutrality of the political position of the church? Would you wonder why a poster of a sitting President who was actively campaigning for re-election decorated the same hallways as Jesus kneeling in Gethsemane or healing a leaper? Would you ponder the singularity of such an event when no such other depictions of US Presidents adorned the hallowed passageways?
Although the LDS church created no such poster and the image is a photoshop of my own hand, it is however based on a similar 1956 poster depicted then with President Eisenhower instead of President Obama. As in the case today with Obama, Eisenhower was running for re-election in 1956.
By announcing the poster before the body of the church just a month before elections, could the poster have served as an over-zealous attempt by the church to influence its membership while staying technically neutral? Furthermore, the governorship for the state of Utah was in chaos in a tight three-way race with incumbent Gov. Lee running as a Republican-turned-independent against strong Democrat and Republican contenders. Both Lee and Republican Clyde both sought Eisenhower's endorsement, with Clyde (who would win) receiving a more current endorsement than Lee. The issue of Eisenhower appearing in the LDS "Great Men Pray" distributions was addressed in Chapter 17 of Gov. Lee's biography "Let Em Holler" (Digital version avail at Utah State History) where the author was apparently unawares of the October announcement, instead crediting a post-election December date. This raises the further question of did the "Great Men Pray" poster influence the outcome of a Utah gubernatorial election?
Bringing us to 2011, the issue of the involvement of the LDS into the political arena remains a poignant one for dedicated members such as myself. We are currently dealing with a church who wants to influence immigration bills and to even formally lobby and praise the state legislature when it passes bills it likes.
Now the question before us is how much will the church want to promote or influence its two Mormon Presidential candidates: Romney and Huntsman. Although I don't worry about the church overtly supporting either candidate, as it has recently and repeatedly reiterated its neutrality stance (The Blaze, June 29, 2011), I do worry about the more subtle--yet potentially equally as powerful "Great Men Pray" types of support or advocacy the church may want to exert both pre- and post-election.
Mormons as a group are in the tank for Romney and to a lesser extent Huntsman. Just today the Daily Herald revealed that Romney had secured support from 57 out of 80 Utah legislators, including 13 from Utah County. Mormons will support the Mormon POTUS candidates just like blacks supported Obama in 2010, if for no other reason than their perceived political advancement of their minority. For me I have a hard time supporting Romney who backed now ex-Sen. Bob Bennett in our grassroots push to replace him; and Huntsman is hard to swallow because he lied to his Democrat contender three years ago about his commitment to serve as Governor for his full 4-year term (Nacilbupera, May 2009). While I'd take either Mormon over Obama in a wink and am glad they are both in the race, I am more appreciative of the multiple better-principled contenders for the Republican nomination I have to choose from.
P.S.: For the die-hard Obama haters that can't imagine President Obama being a man of prayer, I derived the photoshop of Obama praying from this actual photo (White House Blog, Feb 2011) of Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast. I don't hate Obama; I just hate his policies, lies, and lack of leadership.