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A grass-roots coalition of Mormons has joined the "never-Trump" movement.

More than 100 Latter-day Saints — "single, married, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, teachers, scholars, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, artists, authors ... Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Social Democrats" — have signed an online statement, agreeing that the "threat posed by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump supersedes party boundaries."

The Donald plays on "the same kinds of prejudices that fueled the persecution of Mormons that deprived them, direct forbears to many modern Mormons, of their land, homes and, in many instances, lives," the statement continues. "[We], of all people, should know the scent of persecution when we smell it."

It ends with a plea to fellow Latter-day Saints of whatever political persuasion "to protect our constitutional order from the disaster of a Trump presidency ... to make a choice for liberty, for peace, for responsible government, [and] to vote against Donald Trump this November."

This Mormon movement was the brainchild of Utah author Russell Stevenson, a longtime Republican — turned independent — who became appalled as he watched Trump's poll numbers rise.

"Whatever Mormon problems he has, they're not big enough" to stop the GOP nominee, Stevenson says in an interview. That fear prompted him to launch the social media campaign a month ago. "We need bipartisan, multipartisan opposition."

But is it too late?

This week, a new survey by Public Policy Polling gives the Republican standard-bearer a 15-point advantage over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Utah.

And while most Beehive State Mormons are hardly Trump fans — the poll shows 56 percent dislike him — they are even more turned off by Clinton (84 percent give her unfavorable marks).

And Trump's Utah edge is likely to widen, predicts David Campbell, a Mormon political scientist at the University of Notre Dame, as it gets closer to November.

Voters might "consider an affair with the other party," Campbell says, "but, in the end, they are more likely to renew their vows with their original party."

For Mormons, that overwhelmingly means casting their lot with the GOP, and, in this election cycle, Donald Trump.

Even the right-leaning Mormons who jump on the never-Trump train in 2016, probably won't stay off the Republican railroad forever.

"Party identification is quite a deep-seated identity," Campbell says. "A person might vote for the other party on occasion, but to change identity takes significant effort."

Peggy Fletcher Stack

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