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Mike Weinholtz, the Democratic candidate for governor, defended his planned fundraiser at Friday's performance of "Saturday's Voyeur" and said Mormons offended by the annual parody of Utah's culture and politics weren't likely to vote for him anyway.
His comments come a day after Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans called on Weinholtz to cancel the event, calling the Salt Lake Acting Company's production "bigotry."
Evans said the GOP "believes that choosing to celebrate the camaraderie of being a Utah liberal with a play about religious bigotry is repugnant, especially in the current religious and political climate."
Weinholtz responded by saying Evans is raising the issue as one of his "typical political stunts."
" 'Saturday's Voyeur' is satire and parody. It is a Salt Lake City tradition for 38 years. It's largely a parody of politics in Utah, and it crosses over into Mormonism because Mormonism is so intricately connected to politics here," Weinholtz said during a visit with The Salt Lake Tribune's Editorial Board on Wednesday. "If I'm elected governor, I fully expect to be parodied by 'Saturday's Voyeur' as well."
Weinholtz added: "I suspect that certain members of the LDS faith who find 'Saturday's Voyeur' offensive aren't going to vote for me anyway, so I intend to present myself in a way that is reasonable, well intended and for the people, with smart programs and policies, and people will relate to that or not."
This year's "Saturday's Voyeur" focuses on a character who is the son of lesbian mothers and gay fathers who live next door to one another, jabbing at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' policy against baptizing children in gay families, and weaving in presidential politics. Mormon founder Joseph Smith is involved in dream sequences, as is Heavenly Mother.
Cynthia Fleming, executive artistic director of Salt Lake Acting Company, said the theater group "prides itself on being an equal-opportunity lampooner," and encouraged Gov. Gary Herbert, who is running for re-election, to hold his own fundraiser at the theater.
Crystal Young-Otterstrom, one of the founders of the LDS Democrats Caucus, said Evans is "shameful" for asserting that the performance is religious bigotry.
"Many active and faithful members of the LDS Church love 'Saturday's Voyeur' and attend each year," she said in a statement released by the Weinholtz campaign. "As an active member of the LDS Church and supporter of our vibrant Utah arts community myself, I take strong issue with this attempt to conflate harmless satire with religious bigotry."