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The LDS Church-owned Deseret News published an editorial Saturday calling on Donald Trump to withdraw from the presidential race, a highly unusual move for a newspaper that doesn't endorse in partisan races.
The unsigned piece from the editorial board is a reaction to an explosive video showing Trump boasting of his ability to grope and kiss women without consent.
Paul Edwards, editor and publisher of the Deseret News, said he didn't run the editorial past leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Our editorial team takes full responsibility for this editorial," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "There was absolutely no consultation with the church about our decision to take this step."
It was a step that some Utah Republican leaders in the state have also taken. And like them, the newspaper leveled heavy criticism at Trump for the way he talked about women.
"The idea that women secretly welcome the unbridled and aggressive sexual advances of powerful men has led to the mistreatment, sorrow and subjugation of countless women for far too much of human history," the editorial says. It then quotes a section of Proverbs.
"The belief that the party and the platform matter more than the character of the candidate ignores the wisdom of the ages that, 'when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.' "
The editorial goes so far as to suggest Trump has the temperament of a dictator.
"What oozes from this audio is evil. We hear a married man give smooth, smug and self-congratulatory permission to his intense impulses, allowing them to outweigh the most modest sense of decency, fidelity and commitment. And although it speaks volumes about sexual morality, it goes to the heart of all ethical behavior. Trump's banter belies a willingness to use and discard other human beings at will. That characteristic is the essence of a despot."
The Deseret News Editorial Board says its repudiation of Trump shouldn't be seen as an endorsement of Democrat Hillary Clinton and that this instead is an instance where they are urging people to stand against someone rather than for something.
"This is one of those rare moments where it is necessary to take a clear stand against the hucksterism, misogyny, narcissism and latent despotism that infect the Trump campaign even as we hope for a more auspicious future of liberty, prosperity and peace for the nation," it reads.
"We saw this as a moral issue rather than a political issue," Edwards said in an interview.
The last time the Deseret News weighed in on a presidential race was 1936 when it endorsed Kansas Republican Gov. Alf Landon, who was defeated by President Franklin Roosevelt.
The board made the decision to denounce Trump on Saturday morning in a flurry of emails, he said. He didn't initially worry that readers would believe the message was sanctioned by LDS leaders, but did wonder if he should have given general authorities a heads-up, which he said he does only on rare occasions.
In an email, LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said the church declines to comment on whether it agrees with the editorial, other than to say that "Deseret News editorials are independent of the church."
In late 2015, the LDS Church, which vows to be neutral in partisan politics, put out a statement countering Trump's plan for a temporary ban on Muslims.
It highlighted Mormon founder Joseph Smith defending the religious rights of people of other faiths.
Mormons have viewed Trump skeptically throughout the race, but that doesn't mean he hasn't had support from those within the church, which is headquartered in Utah.
The Deseret News published an opinion piece written by former LDS general authority Robert C. Oaks on Sept. 24.
"Trump's values are solid, he believes in family, country, military strength and individual rights, and he is willing to put forth the required efforts to protect these values. His willingness to put aside a luxurious, rarely criticized lifestyle to protect these freedoms for his fellow Americans is a witness of his love of nation," wrote Oaks, who is also a retired commander of NATO Air Forces in Central Europe.
The Tribune Editorial Board has not yet made an endorsement in the presidential race.