As a proud member of the Religious Left – and a Mormon – I understand that membership in the Church does not require a specific, pre-defined stance on important social issues. That said, I am regularly baffled by the vastly different interpretations that some members of my church arrive at on social issues, when ostensibly working with the same set of religious texts and modern-day revelations that serve to guide my own morals and beliefs.
Many social issues, from capital punishment to war, funding for the social safety net to environmental stewardship, are clearly related to Church doctrines and teachings. Yet the second greatest commandment that we have ever been given, to love our neighbors as ourselves, seems to often be absent from the analysis of social issues by the Religious Right, Church members included.
Add to this list the issue of immigration. The NY Times recently ran a story about how the immigration stance of America’s most well-known Mormon, Mitt Romney, is at odds with the official position of the Church.
The Church recently supported the Utah Compact, a declaration calling for humane treatment of immigrants and condemning deportation policies that separate families. They have also taken the rare step of publically getting involved in the immigration debate, “issu[ing] a series of increasingly explicit statements in favor of allowing some illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work”, and acting as a “…defining factor in passing…immigration legislation” in Utah (which, while far from perfect, was opposed by anti-immigrant groups in the state).
And Romney? Well, lets just say that on this issue he has chosen another tack. He supports the Dream Act, or at least the part that would give citizenship to immigrants who put their lives on the line fighting wars to protect American economic interests, which neither he nor his own sons felt any compulsion to become personally involved with. He slammed Newt Gingrich (and I feel a little nauseous defending the Newt) for suggesting that breaking up families that have been longstanding contributing members of our communities is bad for everyone involved. And he made Rick Perry look reasonable (Perry!) when Perry suggested that undocumented residents who were brought to this country as children should not be punished for their parent’s actions, which Romney pounced on as “amnesty”.
Now I know that I probably shouldn’t read too much into Romney’s stance on immigration, as it is subject to change depending on what crowd he is speaking to, but it makes me wonder how he defines “loving” and “neighbor”. I am not suggesting a free-for-all at the southern border, but I do believe that if Romney, and the rest of the Religious Right, really thought of the brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking foreigners they call “illegals” as their literal brothers and sisters (which our doctrine teaches us they are), they might treat them a little differently than they do now.
My principal reason for backing President Obama is his support and initiation of healthcare reform, and ultimately his signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. Republicans have pejoratively labeled it Obamacare; meanwhile President Obama has embraced the term, saying, "I have no problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care." I care too, and this issue is the political lynchpin for me. I cannot support any candidate who does not appreciate or understand the need for an expansion of access to healthcare in this country. Healthcare should not be a privilege of the wealthy, but a right for all. I believe that if we can get behind public monies for libraries, sports arenas, museums, parks, wildlife protection, and Bombs over Baghdad, then we should also ensure healthcare access.
And so you might further see my point: are you aware that through local tax payer money, you (and your children) can check out Saw I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and Saw: the Final Chapter from the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library System? And I just checked - you can get it at the Salt Lake City Library as well.
My belief is that providing healthcare is the right thing to do; it is the Christian thing to do, and this aligns with my Mormon faith. I echo the words written by Boyd Peterson in his essay entitled, Why I'm a Mormon Democrat:
"I believe that the Democratic party takes the strongest position on many moral issues. For example, King Benjamin's address in the Book of Mormon admonishes us to prioritize, 'feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants' (Mosiah 4:26). I believe the Democratic party works harder to protect and defend these moral priorities."
And so I feel about President Obama. When I decided to vote for Barack Obama, I did so with the belief that he would bring change to America and especially its healthcare system. Of course, there is more to be done. However, President Obama has fulfilled his promise of change in so many ways; therefore, I will continue to support him and his presidency.
In addressing the specific issue of healthcare, I like these two quotations, one from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the second from the American Medical Student Association:
"Our approach to health care is shaped by a simple but fundamental principle: 'Every person has a right to adequate health care. This right flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons, who are made in the image of God.' Health care is more than a commodity; it is a basic human right, an essential safeguard of human life and dignity. We believe our people's health care should not depend on where they work, how much their parents earn, or where they live. Our constant teaching that each human life must be protected and human dignity promoted leads us to insist that all people have a right to health care."
USCCB - June 18, 1993, "A Framework for Comprehensive Health Care Reform."
"In a time when thousands of people lose their health insurance every day, when health care is becoming elusive to even well-to-do Americans, and when any person is just one pink slip away from becoming uninsured, it becomes clear that health care for all is not just important to achieve, but imperative.
At its root, the lack of health care for all in America is fundamentally a moral issue. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some form of universal health care (defined as a basic guarantee of health care to all of its citizens). While other countries have declared health care to be a basic right, the United States treats health care as a privilege, only available to those who can afford it...
Americans purport to believe in equal opportunity. Yet, in the current situation, those who do not have health care are at risk for financial ruin and poorer health, both of which disadvantage them in society and thereby do not give them equal opportunity...
The Declaration of Independence states there are certain 'inalienable rights', including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If Americans believe in an inalienable right to life, how can we tolerate a system that denies people lifesaving medications and treatments? Similarly, if Americans believe in an inalienable
right to the pursuit of happiness, how can we allow millions of dreams to be smashed by the financial and physical consequences of uninsurance?"
AMSA - Aug. 27, 2009, "The Case for Universal Healthcare."
It feels dang good to be on the right side of history on this one.
Let me state the obvious, just because I am Mormon, I don't feel the need to vote for a Mormon. Although I might say that I am voting for Obama because I'm a Mormon. In that same vein, I suppose that every Jew was not lining up behind Joe Lieberman for his 2004 presidential bid just because he is Jewish. (Although I admit that Lieberman is probably more of a Jon Huntsman of Jewish religious practice, so it is not a perfect analogy. But again, if Huntsman was in Romney's position, then my very liberal sister just might throw her support his way because she finds him rather attractive.)
At church a few weeks back, a discussion came up about how one should interact with the numerous homeless people on the streets. The opinions were varied and numerous and stretched across the spectrum of possibilities. We heard everything from a Mr. Wendal-styled approach (this is where I tend to fall) to a response that seemed to be directly pulled from Mosiah 4:17. The point is this: I don't see that Mormons agree on everything, so why would Mormons necessarily all agree on the same candidate for president, regardless of religious affiliation? And I realize that most Mormons know this. So possibly I am writing for those of us that may not understand the diversity of opinion within the LDS church.
But back to my first paragraph: is it possible that a Jew might not vote for Romney because he is Mormon? According to an article posted today on the Huffington Post website, some Florida Jews may take issue with Romney because of the past practice of baptisms for the dead of Jewish Holocaust victims. Or maybe this may be used against him by his rival(s)? Either way, I have to agree with Gary Mokotoff, the Jewish genealogist quoted in the article: "Romney should be judged on his political views and political past and not on the views of the president of his church." True. That is why I am not voting for him.
I guess I could begin by explaining what this website is not, before explaining what the website is. Firstly, we don't hate Mitt Romney, and we don't want to character-assassinate him here. Personally, I kind of like the guy and wouldn't mind having him as my home teacher. My sister (who is unabashedly liberal) keeps emailing me links to various anti-Romney videos, cartoons, and articles; I mostly read them, laugh, or shake my head in pretend disdain, but occasionally I feel the need to reply back in Romney's defense, forgetting to check myself that I am in fact a Obama supporter. (But more on that later.)
Secondly, we don't want to imply that Mormons, by some definition of being Mormon, should of necessity vote for Obama, although my faith does influence my voting decisions. I have observed this sentiment from some conservative Mormons: that because I am Mormon, I need to vote Republican to be a "good" Mormon. We don't want that to be the case here.
Finally, this website is not purporting to speak on behalf of any candidate or the LDS Church. We are Mormons, and we are voting for Obama, but our ideas are our own, and any guest contributors to this website also take responsibility for their thoughts as well.
It probably goes without saying that we originally thought to make this website because of Mitt Romney's campaign for President and the expectation that because we are Mormon, we logically would vote for the Mormon candidate. We noticed that some Facebook groups of Mormons supporting Obama existed from the 2008 election. However, we wanted to have a place to express our support for the President, his vision and policies, and his campaign for reelection; hence, we've created this website.
Through this site, we are hoping to provide a space for an online community for those who are like-minded, but also for those who may differ or disagree that they might learn as well as teach us something. So please feel free to comment on posts and links!
Additionally, we are looking for content. Therefore, if you have thoughts or ideas that you would like to contribute, or if you come across any relevant news links, please send them to us and we will post them here. A brief explanation of submission guidelines will follow, but as long as it's "nice," there shouldn't be a problem. Thank you for your interest!
~The Editors of MormonsforObama.org