Rabbi Boteach was planning to visit Salt Lake City (he lives in New Jersey) that following week for previously scheduled business meetings with executives at Bonneville International, the company which owns KUTR-AM. (Bonneville is entirely owned by the Mormon Church.) But on Saturday—one day before he was scheduled to fly out and one day after the broadcast where he organized the gathering—KUTR Program Director Rod Arquette left Rabbi Boteach a series of frantic voice mails to inform him that he would not be coming to Utah.
When Rabbi Boteach finally talked with Arquette on Sunday, September 11, he learned that his show was being canceled—immediately. Arquette also tried to cancel Rabbi Boteach’s plane ticket out to Utah, but the host had booked the travel himself.
While in one breath expressing great admiration for ordinary Mormons, Rabbi Boteach is convinced that Bonneville fired him for “plain bigotry.” The station, of course, doesn’t see it that way. It claims the show was canceled for “insubordination,” to which Rabbi Boteach retorts, “Are they serious? I was fired because I took initiative to help victims of one of the worst natural disasters of our time?”
Despite the station’s efforts to stop it, the event went ahead as scheduled—and was attended by both the mayor and the Lt. Governor. Rabbi Boteach estimates that there were roughly 50 evacuees and 200 local residents who came together in a bid to help black former residents of New Orleans resettle in lily-white Utah. And those numbers likely would have been much higher had the event been promoted beyond that one show.
As Rabbi Boteach enthusiastically notes, Bonneville’s actions stand in sharp contrast to the efforts of the local Mormon community.
How does this tie back to Romney, should he decide to run for the White House? Democrats in a general election would almost certainly hound a candidate Romney on old Mormon theology and church doctrine. Additionally, Romney would find himself attached to the firing of Rabbi Boteach—as well as anything else that could be interpreted as bigotry by the Mormon Church, fairly or unfairly.
To those who think such attacks would be rejected as unfair, remember that the NAACP had much less to go on when they broadcast that reprehensible ad featuring the daughter of James Byrd (“it was like my father was killed all over again”), to great effect.
Imagine what Democrats could do with the actions of a church to which Romney proudly belongs, and about which most Americans know little.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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