The comments garnered considerable attention on social media, including from U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who said they were "troubling" if they were true, taking issue with his characterization as religious freedom, protected in the Bill of Rights, as a "black hole."
The Johnson campaign released a statement from the candidate, explaining that the comments were "an admittedly imprecise reference to the violence that accompanied the Mormons' early history in the 1800s — violence that was prompted by the persecution of the Mormons themselves by both the federal government and others."
Johnson said he regretted any offense to anyone from his remarks. Lee declined to comment on the campaign's attempted clarification.
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