In late 2015, many Republican governors began banning Syrian refugees from entering their states, citing security risks as a concern. Although Utah is one of the most notoriously conservative states in the country, Utah governor Gary Herbert said he would not be among the states rejecting refugees from Syria. The reason? Mormonism.
RELATED: How Powerful Is The Mormon Church?
Utah has the highest number of Mormons per county in the U.S. and Mormons were once religious refugees themselves. Joseph Smith started the religion in western New York state, but he and his followers suffered persecution everywhere they tried to settle. Smith was eventually assassinated in Illinois and that's when another leader, Brigham Young, led the Mormons to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1846. Here they would not be persecuted for their belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, and they would be free to practice polygamy, as Utah had not yet become a U.S. territory.
Governor Herbert knows that a large population of his state are descendants of those who once suffered religious persecution, just as so many Syrian refugees have experienced. The governor's spokesman, Jon Cox, commented on the issue saying "Utahns are well known for our compassion for those who are fleeing the violence in their homeland, and we will work to do all we can to ease their suffering without compromising public safety."
Watch more on the Mormon Church:
Did A Magical Stone Unlock The Book Of Mormon?
Video via Vox