President Obama meets with Mormon Leaders

By Gorman Gorman

Jul 20, 2009 4:21pm

President Obama met today with Latter-Day Saints Church President Thomas S. Monson,  Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is a member of the LDS church.

The church leaders gave the president five large leather-bound volumes by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tracing back the genealogy of the president’s family, as they did for President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It was the president’s first meeting with Monson, though First Lady Michelle Obama met with some church elders last year.

"I enjoyed my meeting with President Monson and Elder Oaks,” the president said in a paper statement. “I'm grateful for the genealogical records that they brought with them and am looking forward to reading through the materials with my daughters.  It's something our family will treasure for years to come."

According to Mike Winder, author of "Presidents and Prophets: The Story of American Presidents and the LDS Church," senators who are members of the LDS church have helped arrange meetings like these since 1911 when Sen. Reed Smoot, R-Utah, introduced Joseph F. Smith to President William Howard Taft.

In a statement, Monson said, “President Obama’s heritage is rich with examples of leadership, sacrifice and service.  We were very pleased to research his family history and are honored to present it to him today.”

Oaks, who oversees the Church’s family history program, said, “The Church has great resources and experience in genealogy work, and we are proud to have researched such a unique and impressive family history.”

Sen. Reid today said that he was “glad that President Obama and Elder Oaks had an opportunity to discuss their shared passion of the law.  Recognizing the President and First Lady's deep regard for family, I am honored that our Church can have any part in documenting their family history.”

The White House did not offer a comment as to whether President Obama raised the subject of his late mother being posthumously baptized into the Mormon faith last June.

-jpt

*This post has been updated with the statement from the LDS leaders.

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