The Mormon Church says it doesn't back Rex Rammell's candidacy and doesn't endorse a prophecy Rammell believes in which church founder Joseph Smith supposedly said the U.S. Constitution "will hang ... by a single thread."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement this week after Rammell, a Mormon who is challenging Republican Gov. Butch Otter in the primary election next May, announced a series of meetings for Mormon elders on the so-called "White Horse Prophecy." The prophecy is said to have been given by Smith and says church elders will save the Constitution.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is politically neutral and does not endorse or promote any candidate, party or platform," spokeswoman Kim Farah's statement said. "Accordingly, we hope that the campaign practices of political candidates would not suggest that their candidacy is supported by or connected to the church.
"The so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy' is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine."
In a news conference Wednesday, Rammell reaffirmed his belief of the prophecy based on his research of alleged statements by former LDS President Ezra Taft Benson.
"In order to motivate my fellow elders in the LDS church, I have invited many to attend meetings to discuss Joseph's prophecy and how we can help save the Constitution," he said in a statement.
"Some people, LDS and non-LDS, think it is inappropriate for me to hold such meetings. I think that is ridiculous."
The only accounts of the prophecy were provided second-hand, years after Smith died, and cannot be corroborated with other sources, said Scott Gordon, the president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, a group of LDS defenders who have studied the topic.
"For many people, it is a faith-promoting rumor that been around for a long time," Gordon said. "It's a rumor that never dies."
Rammell plans his first meeting at the Hampton Inn in Idaho Falls at 7 p.m. Jan. 19. Subsequent meetings are planned in Rexburg, Blackfoot, Pocatello, Twin Falls and Boise. He invited only the Elders of Israel, who are all men, but said anyone who believes Smith is a prophet may attend.
The Idaho Statesman contributed.