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Michael R. Otterson[1] was the managing director of Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 2008 to 2016. In April 2016, the church announced that he would retire at the end of August 2016 and be replaced by Richard E. Turley, Jr.[2] On 1 November 2016, he began a new assignment, along with his wife, as president and matron of the London England Temple.[3][4]



Otterson is a convert to the LDS Church. Born in Liverpool, England and educated in Britain, he entered journalism in his native city of Liverpool before moving to Australia where he worked as a political reporter and sub-editor in South Australia and Canberra. Following a year's stint as a sub-editor on the Japan Times in Tokyo, he returned to the UK and was appointed Business Editor for the Liverpool Daily Post.

In 1976 he left journalism to manage the London public affairs office of the LDS Church,[5] which was then the only such office outside of the United States. He remained there until 1979 as Public Relations director for the LDS Church in the United Kingdom,[6] when the church invited him to move back to Australia to open a new public affairs office in Sydney.[7] He remained in that post for 12 years before moving to the United States in 1991 to manage the worldwide training program for church public affairs operations. He managed the church's news media relations[8] from 1997 to 2008, when he became managing director of LDS public affairs. Otterson has served twice as a stake president – in Liverpool[9] and in Sydney.[10]


In 2003 Otterson responded to a Newsweek article about the LDS Church, taking issue with its characterisation of the LDS Church as acting on superficial instead of deeply held beliefs.[11] In 2003, Otterson was also the LDS Church's main point man in its response to Jon Krakauer's book on Mormonism, Under the Banner of Heaven.[12]

In 2005 Otterson downplayed John M. Haddow's attempt to make the exclusion of Mormons from the National Prayer Breakfast connected with the National Day of Prayer into an issue of concern.[13]

He was engaged as early as 2006 in positioning the church as politically neutral in relation to Mitt Romney running for president and once wrote an article in which he argued that Romney's religion should be a non-issue. He also was very vocal in stating that the LDS Church would give no institutional support to Romney.

In 2008 Otterson confirmed that Proposition 8 was one of the initiatives the LDS Church had been most heavily involved in.[1]

In late 2009 Otterson gained national attention by making an official statement for the LDS Church in the Salt Lake City Council meeting in favour of city ordinances that included sexual orientation and gender identity among categories covered in fair housing and fair employment regulations. A year later, on 12 October 2010, he delivered an official statement for the church on bullying of gay young men.[14]

Otterson has a regular blog published by the Washington Post on Mormon-related issues. Among topics he has addressed is the 2011 The Book of Mormon musical on Broadway.[15]


Besides periodical columns and various articles, Otterson is the author of Finding Your Family on the Internet: The Ultimate Guide to Online Family History Research (ISBN 1933317442).


  1. ^ a b McKinley, Jesse; Johnson, Kirk (14 November 2008). Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage. The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Richard E. Turley Jr. Appointed as New Managing Director of Church Public Affairs: Michael Otterson to retire after 40 years with department", Newsroom, LDS Church, 26 April 2016
  3. ^ "New temple presidents", Church News, 28 April 2016
  4. ^ Jones, Morgan (6 May 2016). "Michael Otterson, former managing director of LDS Public Affairs, called to serve as president of the London England Temple". Deseret News. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  5. ^ Choir's media impact. Church News. 20 July 1991.
  6. ^ Otterson, Michael (10 February 1979). Osmonds draw 3,000 to fireside in London. Church News insert, Deseret News.
  7. ^ Redmond, Ron (5 June 1982). "Mormon Missionaries Working Hard". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (UPI). Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  8. ^ Listed as LDS Church spokesman: Mims, Bob (5 October 1998). Church Funds Initiative to Ban Same-Sex Marriages in Alaska (paywall). The Salt Lake Tribune..
  9. ^ Gateway to Zion. Church News. 29 August 1992.
  10. ^ New stake presidencies. Church News. 3 August 1991.
  11. ^ Spangler, Donna Kemp (3 September 2001). Church criticizes article in journal. Deseret News.
  12. ^ Marshall, John (27 July 2003). LDS Church feels 'tarred' by the book. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. – article on the Under the Banner of Heaven debate
  13. ^ Easton, Nina J. (30 August 2005). Mormonism may sour Romney for some in Christian right. The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008..
  14. ^ "Church Responds to HRC Petition: Statement on Same-Sex Attraction". News Release. 12 October 2010.
  15. ^ Otterson, Michael (14 April 2011). "A Latter-day Saint view of Book of Mormon musical". The Washington Post.


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