Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

On Being A Mormon Democrat

Posted by Shawn L on February 1, 2008

Over Christmas break, I attended my in-laws’ ward in Logan, UT.  The Gospel Doctrine class was filled to capacity with approximately 50-60 people of all ages.  The lesson was on the Book of Revelations, which admittedly is not an easy subject.   The teacher, a young guy no older than 25, handled it in a fairly rote fashion, leading a class discussion about the “signs of the end times” seen in the U.S.’s rapidly-devolving-into-pure-evil popular culture.   He hit all of the usual suspects:  abortion, gay marriage, naughty television shows, etc.   Then, he held up a picture from the front page of the local paper showing a picture of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Photo in hand, he said something to the effect of, the fact that either one of these folks could lead this nation is surely sign of the latter days.  The teacher said that while he wasn’t necessarily taking a partisan stand, the scriptures make clear that, in the final days, wolves in sheeps’ clothing would rise to power and we should be on guard.  All heads nodded in knowing agreement.

This, unfortunately, was not an isolated incident.  Over the years, I have witnessed numerous other instances of Democrat/liberal bashing in Church.  You likely have seen a few yourself.   I say, enough is enough!  It is high time that those of us on the left of the politial spectrum make our voices heard.

The purpose of this post is neither to explain to you, dear readers, all of the reasons why I am a Democrat (you’ll have to buy me lunch for that rant), nor to sway you over to my side of the political fence (although, you do know that one of the Republican Party’s founding principles was anti-Mormonism, right . . . I’m just saying).  Indeed, it has been pretty well established by now that (i) yes, Mormon Democrats are out there (heck, they have even infiltrated the Lord’s University), and (ii) yes, you can be a good Mormon and a good Democrat all at the same time

What I am interested in discussing is how (and whether we should attempt) to curb anti-Democrat political bias in our Church meetings.  Let me offer a few more examples to give a feel for what I talking about.  By no means is this an exhaustive list: 

  • An Elders Quorum lesson last year, taught from the Spencer W. Kimball manual, about self-sufficiency devolved into a rant against the evils of “governmental programs” and reliance on “the Welfare State.”
  •  Just last Sunday, a member of our Stake Presidency (for whom, by the way, I have a lot of respect) taught the combined Priesthood meeting during Ward Conference.  Speaking from the pulpit, he implored everyone to get off their rear ends and vote on February 5, a message with which I wholeheartedly agree.  However, this charge was backed by all-too-typical scare tactics.  He talked about the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the “increasing number of abortions in this country.”
  • A few years back, my wife was asked to give a short lesson in a weekday Homemaking meeting about patriotism.  Despite my valiant efforts, my wife is no left-winger.  However, during the lesson, she expressed a very mild dissatisfaction with Pres. Bush.  Out of respect for my wife, I’ll spare you the details of what happened next, but let’s just say, the RS sisters still talk about that crazy lesson and my wife has not been asked to teach again.
  • I was in law school during the last few years of the Clinton presidency.  Virtually every week in Gospel Doctrine class, there would be at least one or two comments from members about “Slick Willy” and/or references to the Monica Lewinsky affair.

As I see it, these comments have no place in worship services.  Although we can quibble about how the policy is actually applied, the Church is officially apolitical.  Similarly, our leaders counsel with politicians from both major parties regading moral issues.  Nevertheless, many of us feel all too comfortable making, and agreeing with, conservative political/partisan statements made in lessons, talks and classroom discussion.*

The threshold question question is, am I (and others like me) simply being oversensitive?  Should I simply let it roll off my back, and say nothing?  I willing to consider the possibility that, in fact, I am overreacting.  As a bearded, blue-shirt-wearing Mormon Democrat, I am often prone to feeling offense where none is intended.

If not, then the more interesting issue is, what do we do about it?  In each of situations above, my reaction was the same:  I did and said absolutely nothing, believing that if I piped up, it would likely derail an otherwise appropriate lesson.  Thinking about it now, I have come to see such silence as tacit approval.  Muttering to my wife on the way home on Sunday afternoon does absolutely nothing other than cause me to be resentful towards others.  

There is a wide variety of possible approaches ranging from walking out of class in an angry huff (which is clearly the wrong answer) to responding to each and every perceived slight by taking time enlighten everyone on my political views (equally wrong).  The more measured approach I hope to use when (not “if”) I find myself in a similar situation is to ask myself the following two questions: (i) what point is the teacher/speaker trying to make with this example/statement, and (ii) can I make a contribution that not only will balance out the comment in question, but will not take away from the Spirit of the lesson? 

If the answer to the second question is “yes,” then I believe that it is my prerogative, perhaps even my duty as a member, to say something.  I have little patience for complaints about lessons from folks who refuse to participate.  This is my (our) Church, too, after all.  I can’t expect the tenor of our discussion to change unless I am willing to inject an alternative (or contradictory) line of thought.  So, fellow Democrats, I say stand up and make yourselves heard!  Next time your Gospel Doctrine teacher expounds on the righteousness of Pres. Bush’s “war on terror,” take a deep breath, raise your hand, and then let ’em have it!  Only by doing so can we ensure that our worship is truly “fair and balanced.”

* This is not (another) attempt to blast my Republican brothers and sisters.  Of course, I fully support the idea that Church membership, and ward attendance, should represent a number of political views, even ones with which I disagree vehemently.  But query, when was the last time you heard a Democrat/liberal make overtly political statements in Church?  It may happen, but I have not seen it.   

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57 Responses to “On Being A Mormon Democrat”

  1. WHY said

    I can imagine this is a very difficult time for members of the church. Please know that my own personal beef is not with you, as a member. My concern is about the leaders. The 12 and the 50. The lies, the secrets, the stealing of souls through proxy baptisms and so much more. More than all of that, I believe that Romney will carry the Antichrist torch for Bush. I know it my core. His lies to the fine people of MA. where I use to live. His money- on this campaign, when there are starving children. And worse: no military service for him or his sons, and yet he wants to double Guantanamo. His parrnership with Blackwater is the most telling. If he becomes the nominee, I won’t be alone in knowing that it is indeed the end. The sheep’s costume will come off the second he is sworn in.

  2. Shawn L said

    Uh, I think you might be missing the point of my post. I’m no Romney fan, but I certainly don’t think (i) he is the Anti-Christ, or even one of Satan’s minions, or (ii) the Church’s leaders are leading any us down the primrose path to destruction. All I want is a bit more representation for us lefties in Church meetings. Is that really so much to ask?

  3. wilt said

    I agree concerning too many liberal/Democratic slams by all too many well-intentioned LDS folks – but I’m also a bearded/white shirt wearing/shaved head politically liberal (not only Democrat) Mormon.

    My car also sports a bumper sticker, “God – The Greatest Liberal of All”

    Here in Southern Arizona it can feel lonely at times. When a comment goes too far in Priesthood I’ve been known to suggest there are other ways to see things. I’ve also found it personally needful to speak “No” rather than the conventional “Amen” at the end of a sacrament meeting talk which went too far into political dogma as celestial doctrine. (Most of the time when I hear something mildly bothersome I just stay quiet – neither “Amen” nor “No”)

    It’s to the point now that folks stop to talk – with a headshake – and say something along the lines of; “Yes, brother, I know your opinion.”

    Don’t stay quiet – but neither should we enter into contention. We had an interesting conversation in Sunday School recently concerning contending ideas without entering into the spirit of contention. A fine line sometimes, but I love Harry Reid’s talk at BYU concerning his Democratic view based on his LDS values.

    No, Romney isn’t the Antichrist. Though I had one member here during the 2000 elections – suggest I represented the doctrine of the Antichrist. Since he and I had periodic conversations, I just smiled and pointed out I saw him as an out-of-work fascist looking for a government to overthrow. Darned if he didn’t smile as well.

    wilt

  4. Mike L. said

    I don’t like labels but I’m a Mormon, unofficial republican, and lean conservative. I’ll get that out front.

    I haven’t observed the same kinds of episodes very frequently. I wonder if because I tend to agree with the comments, I don’t notice them as much. But I agree with you such comments are out of place, even if I agree with them. I especially think the teacher holding a picture of Clinton and Obama was way over the line. I find it a bit demeaning to me to assume that I must agree with those sorts of political positions (although frequently I do), just because I’m Mormon. And I find it deaming to the church to put faith and politics on an equal footing by mixing them in church. I cringe any time a talk or lesson starts to get political, although I don’t see that happening very much in my ward. I also think location plays a role (I’m in a liberal area).

    Probably the best course of action if you really think your ward is turning out too much political talk would be to talk to your bishop. Not sure how receptive he would be, but if I were a bishop I’d have a talk with the teacher with the Hillary and Obama pictures for sure. Can you imagine if a democratic investigator, or less-active member, had been in that class?

  5. waiting said

    My bishop told my daughter that he couldn’t understand how our Liberal family could behave like such good Christians. She replied “Duh, bishop.”

  6. Kerry K. said

    Wow, nice post Shawn.

    In the spirit of fair disclosure, on the political spectrum I consider myself very conservative, especially economically. But, I am not affiliated with any political party.

    Even though I lean right, your experiences reminded me of an email forward I received the other day that I found quite offensive (sent by a family member and church member). It spoke of Obama and his Muslim religion and how “radical Muslims have planted this Manchurian candidate to destroy the US from the inside.” This crap really insults me, even though I am not voting for Obama. I see similar emails and comments about Hillary. Although I won’t be voting for either Democratic candidate, I still believe that they want the best for this country and have actually come to respect them a great deal lately. We simply disagree (hopefully civilly) with the best approach to take.

    Here is another point for the guy that held up that picture of Obama and Hillary and called them evil: I guess our Apostles are chillin’ with the bad guys: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/michelle-obama-visits-church-hq

    I very much agree that political discussions are inappropriate in church. But they come up all the time because many people assume that all members lean to the right. Even if that was the case, I still don’t see how it could be appropriate.

    The approach you take can be tricky. Like you say, you don’t want to distract from the spirit of the lesson. And we all know how Sunday school lessons can deteriorate into meaningless, spirit-less discussions. Political disagreements are probably a catalyst for these types of meaningless discussions (in church, that is. Outside of church they are very meaningful). However, I do believe you could make a comment that would contribute and still make people stop and think.

    If a teacher is consistently guilty of “holding up pictures of those evil people Hillary and Obama”, I would think a private discussion (don’t we call them Golden Spoon discussions?) would be very appropriate.

    Regarding your bullets, here is my take:

    •I can see why many church members call “doles” evil, as it has been preached from the General Conference pulpit. Although, most of these quotes are fairly old, the main one from a 1936 talk by Heber J. Grant on welfare. Maybe Double-A, our resident General Conference expert, can find a more recent GC talk that supports or refutes this idea. http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=84010fd41d93b010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&hideNav=1&query=evil+dole&bucket=GeneralConference&submitSearch=Search

    •This one is interesting: Encouraging to vote? Seems appropriate. Commenting on Roe v. Wade, as if to make one’s point be the church’s official stance? Seems inappropriate. Speaking against abortion (within the current stance of the church)? That one seems appropriate to me.

    •This one is hands-down stupid. Over the last few years, I have started to witness the same type of infallibility-expectation that we place on our church leaders (which is wrong) placed on the US President. This one really confused me….how could anyone think W. Bush is infallible? I think he has had good moments and bad moments, but I noticed that church-members who disagreed with him (and I for one disagreed with him at times on economic, spending, and other issues) were derided. Three cheers for Mrs. Shawn!

    •Again, seems a little inappropriate.

    Thanks Shawn, and let us know how your efforts are received.

  7. Marc L said

    As an earring-wearing, politically-left member I find that I’ve had many of the same experiences. In my ward- because there is an inordinate number of very wealthy individuals- there seems to be an air of implied political commonality; that we all think the same. Comments are frequently made where it is to be understood that we all think the same because we’re all of the same religion. That one irks me to no end. That stance is almost always framed in political statement. Dumb, unthinking comments such as the recent, “We’d like to hear any ideas from you brethren on how we can improve Brother Romney’s chances in the election.” Or the equally ignorant, “He was obviously a drug dealer or criminal because he had long hair and tattoos.”

    My opinion is that, because nobody ever says anything in opposition to those comments, the idea that we all think the same is perpetuated. I think it would just slay the whole room full of Priesthood holders if I stood up and said I didn’t like Mitt Romney and wouldn’t be voting for him. It’s simply understood that, if one is Mormon, one is Republican or, at the very least, conservative.

    The reasons are many: social, cultural, habit. The way to combat it, I believe, is to speak out but to do so in a measured, constructive manner. Otherwise you end up being labeled as the kooky member who might say “penis” in a talk. We don’t want that.

    Instead, I have found that a calm disagreement has actually worked. “I’m sorry Brother X but I believe we should be careful in generalizing people’s political opinions,” I’ve said to good effect. Another equally left-leaning member once said, “Well, I appreciate your position but let’s remember that we don’t all feel the same way even though our faith in the Gospel is equal.” I thought that was a well-put remark.

    So the effective tack seems to be vocal disagreement in a calm manner to assuage the fears that left-leaning members are really minions of Satan. If we don’t speak up, I submit that the ridiculous comments will continue and will even proliferate.

    As a final thought, I think members that are “out of the ordinary” should be encouraged to teach and to speak. I find the opinions, views and angles expressed by those members are often the most refreshing in the church. I get tired of hearing the same ol’ tithing lesson. A little interesting debate is a healthy and much needed element in church teaching.

    My 2 cents.

    • K Greene said

      I’m not a Mormon, but I have attended a conservative Christian church for some time, now. Your descriptions are oh so familiar; most Christian-conservatives, Mormons included, genuinely believe that it is categorically IMPOSSIBLE for one to be a faithful, obedient Christian AND be a Democrat or even moderate Republican simultaneously. My father believes this, and this division has destroyed our relationship. The IRONY: I am neither a Democrat, Obama supporter (although I do know him from years ago), nor a progressive or socialist!
      As it is, I have never voted in my life for any candidate, because, in good conscience, I cannot support some of the views held by both parties. This means that due to my fidelity to principle (I am a principled moderate-centrist), I am effectively disenfranchised in the voting booth and ostracized in the church chapel!
      Peer pressure and the genuine desire to do the right thing places intense force upon people to fall in line and refrain from holding or expressing heterodox (non-conformist) views. This can be a good thing, true, but it can also be a very bad thing because it snuffs out intellectual honesty, truth-seeking beyond dogma and ideology, and beneficial discovery (ever hear of the Scopes Monkey Trial? And Catholicism’s rejections of galileo and Copernicus?)
      Religion, at its heart, is about the dispisal and distrust of Humankind. THAT is the sub-message in the Fall of Adam scriptures. And it is because of our corrupted state that we supposedly cannot trust ourselves to make judgements about things.
      THAT’S why we must utilize an imposed morality.
      We are the ONLY species alive that hates itself. And eachother. And all the talk about “love” which pervades Christianity and essentially all other faiths, including Islamic fundamentalism/”jihadism” rings so hollow when you strip away the outer window dressings of the doctrine. RAGE against those who commit anything less than paying the ultimate price in SACRIFICE to their religious faith is THE salient trait of religion, especially Christianity and Islam. This is called the sacrifice ethos.
      >> God gave his only begotton son to ransome Mankind’s sins, true, BUT it was, nonetheless, God’s own doing that labeled Man’s actions sinful and subjected Humankind’s souls to eternal damnation in the first place! In other words, the spiritual mess Mankind faces is not soley of his/her own creation BECAUSE WE DID NOT CREATE OURSELVES, NOR DID WE CREATE OUR NEUROPSYCHOLGY AND RESULTANT PSYCHOLOGICAL NATURE.
      Now, I am NOT saying that morality is fabricated and that “anything goes.” I’m not a moral relativist nor an anomic. Only that some measure of this religiously-induced human self-loathing (of human nature) is uncalled for, since we are not entirely responsible for our own existence and nature. We were created to be this way!
      >> Back to the politics: People are “fundamentally group-ish,” says social psychologist Jonathan Haidt of NYU in his book titled, THE RIGHTEOUS MIND. This psychological drive force, along with several others, create the powerful values, attitudes, and sensibilties which pit otherwise-well-meaning people against eachother in bitter struggles over culture, faith, and politics.
      This book is an essential for any thinking person of any point of view who strives to be able to live in a world where people disagree. Read it!

  8. Aran said

    First of all it is clearly stated in the scriptures and in plenty of GC’s that all Demos will one day burn in hell. Sorry Shawn. And quit your cryin. Holy crap…if you’re going to support the devil’s party, then you should expect this.

    For those of you not astute enuf to know, that was a joke.

    I agree. And although I’m a registered Republican, I find myself agreeing with most democratic topics. And abortion itself is such a serious topic that it is above and beyond any one party “owning” the subject.

    I personally feel abortion should be legal. Just like anything else, there will come a day to pay for our deeds, and if someone wants to do it, then have at it.

    I for one will start to stand up for our disenfranchised brethren who have strayed to the dark side but whom I still love.

    And you are not the only one Shawn that has noticed the higher amount of demo-bashing. Hang in there. At least your mom loves you.

    My 5 cents

    • K Greene said

      Aran, interesting comments.
      But on abortion, who asked the baby if it wanted to DIE?
      But I do have to say, in all honesty, that a true ban on surgical abortions AND ALL ABORTIFACIENT DRUGS, which include virtually ALL ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES/HORMONAL CONTRACEPTIVES, would be all but impossible because there would be a HUGE black market for selling “the Pill.”
      And, generally, conservative Catholics oppose abortion even when trying to carry the baby to term would kill the mother. As for Mormons, I don’t know, not being one. Commentator Laura Ingraham from Fox News believes this, that a mom should be willing to sacrifice her own life to give that baby every chance to live and grow.
      I am struggling with this issue; I find coercive altruism which requires a woman to risk dying young to be horrific, but God may demand that of us, like fighting in a war for one’s country, if it is a righteous war. Ayn Rand had a dim view of compulsory and coerced altruism. See her YouTube video on Altruism.
      >> DO WE HAVE ANY RIGHTS, IN GOD’S EYES? I hope so!
      I do not oppose married spouses using artificial contraception, as long as it cannot ever end an implanted pregnancy OR prevent the implantation of a fertalized egg.
      And I believe in reasonable family size for several pragmatic, common-sense reasons.

  9. Shawn L said

    Just this past Sunday, I got an earful from two folks about my views. A buddy of mine (whom you know, Aran), said to me, without a hint of sarcasm or irony, “you know, you’re only person I know with any sense that actually votes Democratic.” Oh well.
    That comment was balanced by something another blue-stater in my ward said to me: “Once McCain names Huckabee as his VP choice, I’m going to stand up in Priesthood meeting and say, ‘brethren, welcome to the Democratic Party. It’s either that or vote for an anti-Mormon. You choose.” That warmed my heart a bit.

    P.S. My mom is a Democrat, too. My dad, on the other hand . . .

  10. […] A “Theology Of Peace”: I’ve written at length in other places about the travails of being a Mormon Democrat, a role which often puts me at odds politically with […]

    • Kandee said

      I am so grateful that Eugene England shared many of his thoughts in writing. I feel less alone when I read something of his.

      • K Greene said

        Ditto! I’m not a Dem, but not a Republican, either. I am 1 of a dying breed: a moderate centrist who finds they agree with some things each side says but dispises others!

  11. BHodges said

    I wouldn’t have let that newspaper incident stand. Guest to the Ward or not. I would have objected at the inappropriate nature, and invited anyone who wanted to know my take on it to come over to my place anytime.

  12. Kandee said

    Thank you for this blog/website. I am grateful I came across it tonight. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I often feel very alone for many of the reasons shared on this page. The assumption that we all as ‘members of the church’ are republican has at times been so difficult for me. I did not vote for President Bush but I did my best to respect him and the office of President of the United States. I am so sad and upset about the unkind, evil speaking, and self-righteous opposition I continue to witness regarding OUR new President. I am grateful for a two party system and I am SO grateful for President Obama. I feel he deserves our respect and patience as he tries to lead our country the best he can given the numerous challenges he/we face. Thank you again for helping me not feel so alone.

  13. DBM said

    I am so glad I found this post – it’s helping confirm to me that I am not crazy. 😉

    In recent weeks, the whole health care reform debate has been big in the news, and I didn’t really pay attention to the details much until I heard that Palin had mentioned these “death panels”, and that other Republican leaders and media mavens had claimed that Obama was for euthanization of the elderly. I immediately started investigating the facts, reading the proposed bills (there are 5 versions, as of this writing, much to many people’s surprise), and learning all about the issues at hand.

    In seeing all of these Republican crazies on TV shouting at town hall meetings (mostly to hear their own voice, I can only assume) really got me to thinking about being Mormon and being a Democrat. My wife and I voted for Obama, and with good intention: we believe his message and the platform he ran on was one of unity, common goals, caring for the least of our citizens, and turning the country around through service and commitment to positive change.

    What’s alarming is that many of the people I attend church with start to all sound like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh after a while; they all have “talking points” and one-line stingers aimed at Democrats and Obama himself. They’re running around like chickens with their heads cut off about this health care reform issue, and no matter how many facts you present to them (and they certainly have NO facts to back up their arguments – they “just know that Obama is up to no good”), they still refuse to listen or be teachable. They are too proud to admit that maybe – just maybe – they jumped the shark and didn’t do their homework. The ignorance is astounding, really.

    Anyhow, thank you Shawn for this post. It has definitely given me good ideas and tactics to use when voicing concern over right-leaning teachers and members who are clearly stepping over the line. Thanks to all of your who posted before, as well – your comments have helped me see that being a Democrat and being LDS are not mutually exclusive concepts. 🙂

  14. Sandy C said

    I live in a very conservative part of the country and our stake members are staunchly conservative. Most of these people rely heavily on FOX news for their information so you know what kind of paranoid half-truths and lies they subscribe to. To the point that I’ve wrestled with going inactive because I so often leave church upset. After reading this blog I feel much better knowing that there are other LDS who know that Obama is not the antichrist, but that Glen Beck and his ilk might be. And I’ll be speaking up more often instead of just stewing. Thanks, Shawn

    • K Greene said

      Sandy, you can study the scriptures and other church materials on your own, and then attend only group meetings where there’s no class discussion. And receive Communion.

  15. Pearl F. said

    A week ago I googled Mormon democrats I found this site and Later that night a talk given by Harry Reid at BYU during the primary . I honestly felt all especially in the last 10 years that I should repent because I felt completely alone in my belief in the democratic party .I have crossed over voting on occasion but my heart has always been with the dems on most issues .I have been a member of the church for 30 years ,I turned 50 in January .I feel like I have been living under a rock here in western Montana because I did not know there were other like minded “Mormons” out there other than our 25 year old twin sons , Who Of course have political views like mine. It is nice not been alone any more.

    • K Greene said

      What is it about the GOP that most alienates or bothers you? And what about the Democratic Party most appeals to you? Tell others, making sure you first come up with logical, FACT-BASED, non-emotional statements and answers to the conservatives’ questions.
      Conservatives are VERY hard to disagree/argue with because they genuinely, resolutely believe that ALL the “facts” are on THEIR side, and that the left is overly emotional, intellectually sloppy and illogical, and morally bankrupt. I know: I am a moderate centrist, and my dad is a Christain-conservative traditionalist with a very dim view of the non-conservative world.
      Prepare your talking points and rehearse them well, and learn how to be personable and cheerful no matter how angry and hurt they make you feel inside! Don’t show it. Don’t give ’em the satisfaction!
      Good luck!

  16. EA said

    I find it endlessly appalling that the majority of church members are Republicans. The Church clearly falls more in line with the Democratic party on issues like abortion (the church is pro-choice), war, the environment, charity, etc, etc.

    I can’t think of a single issue that the church agrees more with the Republicans than with the Democrats.

    • Mike said

      EA,

      Gay marriage?

      But in any case, does the Republican party love war, hate the environment, and hate charity? (I’ll take your point on abortion. I wouldn’t classify the church’s position as pro-choice, but it is not purely pro-life either.)

      Of course you would think that the church agrees with Democrats if you believe those things about Republicans, just as one could believe the church agrees with Republicans if he believes that Democrats want to limit our religious freedom, legalize drugs, and teach our children in school to be gay. Neither caricature is correct.

      • K Greene said

        What Rt-wing and leftist S-P’s (secular-progressives) say is that our political system only supports TWO, not three, parties, so you have to suck it up and “Choose yea this day whom yea shall serve!”
        OK, that’s true.
        But I don’t have to vote for anybody, either!
        Joke’s on YOU extremists. You don’t have me!

    • K Greene said

      OOOPS! No. Mormons are totally pro-life. Check your facts.

  17. Dan said

    Oh heaven’s it was nice to find this board. I have been on the brink for months now as the EQ president (due to lack of brethren in our branch, I’m sure) and requested to attend every PEC, priesthood leadership meeting, etc. When I get up the gumption to car pool to stake-wide events I know I’m taking great risks as the hour + drive to the stake center is usually filled with political hackery and one-line jokes about slapping Pelosi or something. In reading through these posts I am reminded of the true challenge I have with my church…not my faith…that aside from the LDS moniker on facebook or something, I have nothing in common with the vast majority of the members of my branch.

    The comments mentioned are legion here. They are usually coming from the branch president so the notion of going to talk with the bishop over some inappropriate lesson is not really an option. I’m usually the one teaching lessons and he’s usually the one bringing up the political bits from the congregation. It’s a mystery to me that they have me teaching at all given my penchant for of white shirts and the occasional facial hair laziness. Anyway, the issue is a hard one to deal with and I know many others deal with it regularly. Shawn’s opening post apes my feelings perfectly and I thank him for writing it down. It does give a bit of hope. We are a people of tradition and trends. They are often confused for the other, sadly, and we are in a trend of extreme conservatism (and I use the word here purely in it’s present political meaning) that is so often taken as part of our tradition. Hopefully the stark division will fade and though we may have some of those black and white things doctrinally, politically we will be wise enough to seek out the positives from any point of view.

    It’s late…

    • Pearl F. said

      I had an experience last week that gave me great hope and may help you. I needed to talk to a friend and went over to her home for the chat during the conversation I mentioned That one of the struggles I was having is because I am a democrat and going to church was often painful for me . She then told me she is a democrat too so now I know there are at least two of us in our ward. I wonder who else out there is suffering in silence . Also in my social circles since national election I have not been silent among my very republican LDS friends The reaction respect and Less political talk around me I am more passionate because I had being silent to long .I do not speak up at church yet but that may come with time . Good luck in your journey Do not Shave more often from peer pressure Not many years ago most of the brethren had facial hair.I do not remember the revelation that banned it.

    • K Greene said

      The extreme conservatism is in reaction to the past fifty years of “secular progressivism”(Bill O’Reilly).
      Conservatives are literally “gunning up” for a religious civil war to impose a THEONOMY upon America. Witness the NRA’s propaganda barrage against any moderate efforts at gun control.
      I want to deny the Right the ability to force their beliefs onto the country, yet, I am also wary about the socialist-leaning progressives (I live in San Francisco, CA).
      SOO sick of what Ameica has become.
      And I, too, leave church meetings depressed and angry. I wonder if many other Christians do, too, but are afraid of being chastized, so they shut up and pretend to go along to get along with the far-Right?

  18. john g said

    Interesting reading. I found this while preparing to teach the Gospel Doctrine lesson on ‘Being Good Citizens’.

    Giving what appears to be the customary disclosure on this page– I am… dyed in the wool LDS, clean shaven, short hair, white shirt on sundays… independent… left leaning on many things, fiscally conservative
    (don’t see either repubs or dems consistently being fiscally responsible–happened for a short time in the 90’s with a dem pres and repub congress–gone),
    pro life (I don’t just mean abortion here, but avoiding war except when any other alternative is much worse and a slight leaning against the death penalty too.), teach lift educate and change hearts–see prevention as better than punishment alone, freedom for and of all creeds and beliefs, caring for your neighbor… I could go on, but will spare you.

    Yes, I could write pages about my political views–but they don’t come up in church. I too have seen the occasional right wing member and even on occasion a leader bring political views to the pulpit or classroom. Conversely, I have never heard anyone express a left leaning idea or democratic party stance/candidate in a similarly endorsing manner as if it was self evidently part of the gospel.

    Many wards and branches I have attended have a member or two that regularly ‘bears testimony’ of the republican party in testimony meeting, talks, and or classes as if this affiliation was really only a common sense outgrowth of gospel teachings. Sort of the ‘only true and living party’ approach.

    While this isn’t right or good doctrine, the church is there for members to grow and become more like Christ. These kinds of statements give us the opportunity to practice christ-like love, forgiveness and importantly teaching of correct doctrines by the spirit. It would be no more appropriate for me to spout and bear testimony of my political beliefs in this setting than for pro republican/bush/or whatever else members to spout their beliefs.

    The response in testimony meeting is to just listen and move on. If need be, and at the right time, teaching and bearing testimony of the tenth article of faith, the first presidency’s statements of political neutrality, church history including recent democratic apostles (not to say–hey we should be democrats–but as an illustration that neutral really means neutral)in a manner that brings the spirit.

    Not every inaccuracy needs to be immediately addressed. If so, we’d spend our lives correcting ourselves and everyone else.

    I’ve been in sunday school and priesthood classes that have gone the wrong way on a topic. So has everyone else I would expect. When we get the opportunity to teach, it makes it all the more important that we teach ‘none other things than what the apostles and prophets have taught’. Brings the spirit, and we can invite people to apply these things to their lives–politically as well. The topic will come up occasionally and can be discussed–just need to stick to applying all the principles individually in this case….back to the plain statement from the first presidency:

    “As citizens we have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy. Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future.
    Latter-day Saints as citizens are to seek out and then uphold leaders who will act with integrity and are wise, good, and honest. Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties.
    Therefore, in this election year, we urge you to register to vote, to study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully, and then to vote for and actively support those you believe will most nearly carry out your ideas of good government.
    The Church affirms its neutrality regarding political parties, platforms, and candidates. The Church also affirms its constitutional right of expression on political and social issues. ”

    I myself could not find it in good conscience to support either party 100 percent of the time. I can respect and accept that both major parties in the U.S. have good qualities that could attract members to support them. There are good men, wise men, scoundrels, and schemers to be found in both parties–nature of humanity.

    • K Greene said

      Problem is, WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES!
      Politics at the pulpit has the unique ability to use guilt and the sense of doctrinal obligation to manipulate members to swallow their honest disagreements and “take it on faith.”
      Early in 2012, on Fox News, Rev. Mike Huckabee said that he particularly enjoys the Iowa Caucuses BECAUSE the caucus-goers with the more avidly-conservative views can arm-twist the others into supporting the most politically and culturally-conservative candidates, and people’s ministers who are caucusmembers can PREACH TO THEIR CONGREGATIONS that they must vote only for the most conservative candidate.
      Nice going, Huckabee!
      Why don’t we aspire to be just like the Islamo-fascist jihadis!

  19. Kirsten said

    Glad to have found your blog, ive added it to my favorites. Finally like minded LDS Democrats! YAY

  20. melbuckner said

    I just happened on this blog (2 years too late) and have to respond to the Romney stuff. I am a democrat, (no longer a mormon, but am reconsidering it), and an RM. I know Romney – he was the Stake President on my mission in Boston. He’s not the anti-christ, but he is an empty suit. He’s good with business (mainly becuase he hired the right support staff) but politically his opinions change with the wind He’s nothing more than a pretty airhead. (Nice guy, but stupid).

    • RachelM said

      I definitely agree with you about Romney. He definitely isn’t evil, just an empty panderer.

      As for being a mormon democrat (which I am, I think the church is asking us to stand up and be counted as both. They issued a letter recently encouraging participation in elections, not just as voters, but as candidates, on both sides of the aisle. While I don’t think church is a place to be contentious, I think it is becoming clear that we need to make our presence known and our ideas a part of the conversation.

    • Alan said

      I hope you become a mormon again.

  21. C-Van said

    Shawn,

    I agree wholeheartedly. Living in a strongly Republican area, I have heard things like my former teachers quorum advisor sending a tea bag to the White House, and comments like “Oh, Obama’ll take all our money if he can get his hands on it”. But if you just zoom out and look at the straight up facts, the Church is more in line with the Democratic party. But even so, who cares? What about separation of church and state? Let’s just learn to be tolerant and supportive of each other, regardless of our political standpoint. The Gospel is why we come to church, not to get into political arguments. But anywho, good on ya for sticking up for yourself, and hang in there!

    • K Greene said

      Bill O’Reilly of Fox News says the separation of church and state is ruining America.
      He believes that the impetus of the gov’t is needed to help various Judeo-Christian denominations teach and enforce morality.
      What do you think about this?

  22. Emily said

    I completely agree with you Shawn.

    I am a faithful Mormon Democrat, and I’ve been living in Southern Utah which is even more conservative than Northern Utah, and I literally get comments made to me about being a democrat every day. I’ve even had in Sunday School lessons the teacher say something about how “Obama is leading us to hell” “Democrats are what’s wrong with this country” blah blah blah… and I’ve gotten to the point where it’s no use defending because they just pat my head and just think of me as the “little democrat in the corner” and that they can save my soul later. I just think it is ridiculous because like some others have said on here, if you look at the Church’s beliefs they fall more in line with the Democratic Party. Obviously not everything, but it’s not like I necessarily agree with everything in the Democratic Party either. It’s a matter of where the majority of your beliefs lie, which for me is in the Democratic Party.

    Also, my sister’s brother in law works for the church, and has had the opportunity to get to know the 12 Apostles, and I’m happy to say over half of them are Democrats. So to those that say good Mormon’s can’t be democrats… tell that to the Brethren!

    • John G said

      I would LOVE to see any data confirming that last paragraph!

    • K Greene said

      No. Sorry, but the candy coating on Christian churches’ beliefs appears to be more in line with the Democrats, but under the surface, it is anything but that!
      The central tennets of Christianity and Islam are:
      1) Absolute obedience, irregardless of the resulting hardships.
      2) Painful, difficult SELF-SACRIFICE is literally the ONLY “gift” we humans can give to God, in return for his grace (gifts to us).
      3) “Fairness” is a dead issue. (Phyllis Schlafly literally told me that in person, while we were on TV.)
      And, that’s it!
      Peace/out.

  23. Mormon Moderate said

    Last month the Bishop’s wife (We LOVE their family, they have done so much for us so this isn’t to shed negative light on her. I don’t think any less of her in spite of this) said in Sunday School that Judas had to have been a democrat… I couldn’t focus on the entire lesson after that I was fuming. I had to read http://www.utahcommonvalues.com/im-lds-im-progressive/3-profiles/23-boyd-petersen.html on my smart phone to cool down. I don’t ever go online at church but at that point…

  24. Bill Jensen said

    Well, at least they havnt made Republican or Teabag membership a temple recommend requirement yet (but who knows?). Sometimes it seems that the LDS leadership is performing summersaults in order to be accepted into the right wing evangelical fold. And of course the primary litmus test is a political manifesto somewhere to the right of Attilla the Hun.

  25. Jennilee said

    I remember being younger and having the bishop come to our house just before the election. I remember that he actually told my grandmother how to vote! He told her to vote no on the abortion bill. I remember being very upset, because it really wasn’t any of his business how she voted. I’ve never really felt much a part of the church because of my social views. I feel sometimes that many republican members are hard and aren’t willing to accept different ideas from their own. I vote the way I do because I feel that is what Christ would have me do, feed the poor, help those less fortunate, lift up others and not tear down. Its been awhile since I’ve set foot in a church.

    • John G said

      I agree that it wasn’t his business. People of responsibility in any organization are still individuals and what they say or ask may or may not coincide with the stance of the organization (thus all the legal disclaimers we see on stuff). It’s unfortunate that he did that–and I can’t say that I haven’t heard Bishops or Branch Presidents say similar things–even after reading First Presidency statements that give guidance on moral issues and then ask members to support these principles and vote according to their own conscience. The feeling is….we know what they really mean…. and my answer to that is yes–they mean the church is politically neutral and we should vote according to what we believe is best.

    • K Greene said

      I know how U feel!

  26. conto deposito…

    […]On Being A Mormon Democrat « Burning Bosom[…]…

  27. Neto Barbosa said

    I’m brazilian and curious about these elections in USA. On the media they say that about a quarter american members are democrats. I’d like to hear more about this from you!! Do you think these members are going to change their votes because the republican candidate will be a member of the church? I’ve never lived in USA, but I think I would never vote for a republican if I live there. So I’m really curious about that althoug it’s the first time that a member gets a real chance to be the the president. What do you think?? Another question is that the comments before me gives me the impression that the statistc that about a quarter of the members being democrats is not true, what do you think about that too??

    • Jennilee said

      I would never vote for someone because of their faith, however, many people think differently. Romney who is LDS will win LDS states in the primaries. My family, pretty much all of them but me will vote republican in General Election. I sometimes feel that many LDS folks think that you cannot be a good Mormon and be a Democrat at the same time.

  28. John G said

    Neto,

    I am an independent, and like Jennilee, Romney’s membership in the church is not a factor for me when considering who to support for president. (I don’t support him.) This is true for most of my family who are members as well–my adult children, my parents, and the majority of my siblings that are members.

    I don’t have statistics about the distribution of members across political parties in the United States. It has been my experience, however that there are generally more Republicans than Democrats who are members here, but that since those with left leaning sentiments tend to be quieter and less brash about their politics at church than some on the right side of the spectrum, it may appear more skewed than it actually is.

    This is a graphic claiming (I haven’t verified it.) to be based on Pew Research Data that indicates political leanings of LDS members in the U.S.– http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/imgs/media/120209/Partisanship_1.jpg

    • Neto Barbosa said

      Thank you for your comments!! I believe that this interfusion among religion and politics isnt good anywhere in the the world and its always explosive!! This fanatism for this this somewhat mixure is already been negative in USA, based on what we’ ve heard. Is´s nice that some members are realizing that and I hope that decreases from now on.

      • John G said

        I agree that the fusion of religion and politics is not a good thing. It twists both religion and political decisions in ways that create prejudice and regularly ends up with religious people acting in ways that are decidedly not in harmony with core religious beliefs. By the way, I found the original Pew Research Report: http://www.pewforum.org/Christian/Mormon/mormons-in-america-executive-summary.aspx#ideology

        I find it interesting that in the early days of the church, its U.S. opponents often feared the liberal left leaning ideology that most new convert immigrants brought with them to Missouri and Illinois. Now, the majority of U.S. members are on the other side of the debate. Yes some of the issues have changed, but many of the issues that concerned church members at the time: social justice, living wages, caring for the poor, corrupt business practices, tolerance for those with unpopular religious views, immigrants, women’s rights (at the time suffrage), and greater equality for those of African descent, are still positions that the U.S. left represents.

        On a personal note: Though my ideas don’t match up clearly with either party, I’m a decidedly left leaning independent as far as current U.S. policy trends go.

  29. My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought
    I might as well check things out. I like what I see so
    now i’m following you. Look forward to exploring your web page yet again.

  30. Can i use this article for a documentary film i am doing how the lds church is influences the political spectrum?

  31. Tyler Ricks said

    Please email me if i can or not. tylerricks@outlook.com

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