Mike Lee Compares Donald Trump to Captain Moroni From the Book of Mormon

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) compared President Donald Trump to a figure in the Book of Mormon at an Arizona rally on Wednesday, causing strong backlash from some believers.

Lee told a crowd that the president is like Captain Moroni, a hero from the scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), sometimes called Mormons. Lee is a member of the church.

"To my Mormon friends, my Latter-day Saint friends, think of him as Captain Moroni," Lee said at the Latter-day Saints for Trump event. Around 436,000 LDS members live in Arizona.

"He seeks not power, but to pull it down. He seeks not the praise of the world or the fake news, but he seeks the wellbeing and the peace of the American people," Lee said of Trump.

As Atlantic staff writer McKay Coppins pointed out on Twitter, Lee modified a quote from the Book of Mormon to include the phrase "fake news."

Captain Moroni is a heroic figure from Latter-day Saints scripture who is remembered, in part, for fighting for the liberties of the Nephite people. He is not to be confused with the Angel Moroni.

Lee faced major backlash on social media, with some self-identified members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accusing him of blasphemy. Many compared Trump's morality unfavorably to Captain Moroni's.

"I can't believe Mike Lee is now comparing Trump to a righteous leader from the Book of Mormon. What a disgrace," tweeted former Republican Evan McMullin, who was a 2016 independent presidential candidate and is a member of the LDS church.

"Mike knows that Trump is a threat to the republic, but chooses to enable him anyway because doing so serves his personal ambitions in Washington. Utahns deserve better."

The group Latter-day Saints for Biden Harris issued a statement accusing Latter-day Saints for Trump of exploiting their faith and highlighted believers who have endorsed Biden.

"The good news is that many Latter-day Saints, including Jeff Flake, Tom Udall, Evan McMullin, and the 1,600 Latter-day Saints who have publicly endorsed Joe Biden, know that it's time for a change," they said.

"That our great country deserves a leader who cares for us, who will fight for our families, who will honor the sacred trust of the presidency, who will do his best every day to be honest, wise, and good."

Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) listens during Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice in the Hart Senate Office Building on October 12, in Washington, D.C. Lee has garnered criticism for comparing President Donald Trump to a figure in the Book of Mormon. Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images