Post by Joseph M -
Thanksgiving is surely a great time for reflection. Rob's post, Michael Otterson's guest article in the Washington Post, and this recent post by Joanna Brooks have all caused me to think on this past election season and the part that we Mormons for Obama played in it. I am thankful for the community of saints who have come together here and the amazing amount of good that we have accomplished. Not only have we demonstrated our support for President Obama, but we also have shown the world that Mormons are a diverse group of individuals with varied political ideas and persuasions. (And I fully acknowledge that this post is starting off a tad bit self-congratulatory.)
I have especially enjoyed hearing the many stories that folks have shared about their Mormons for Obama t-shirts and bumper stickers. Kelly ended up in an Italian online news journal with her shirt. And another example: Butch in Pennsylvania emailed me describing reactions that he has received from people. He takes his sister shopping and sometimes will wait in the car, and he has enjoyed watching the positive reaction of the passersby. (This kind of sounds like missionary work.)
He writes, "I have to laugh at stop lights here - seeing people take pictures and some honking their horns." Of course not everyone was happy with his bumper sticker: "one lady pulled up next to me and shook her finger at me, scolding me!" But Butch isn't alone in seeing some negative reactions - as we see in this post by Joanna Brooks - but much of the reaction has been positive. And even when it wasn't, we found it humorous all the same.
In fact, many people found this website and Facebook group because of the bumper stickers on your cars or the t-shirt that you casually wore to the grocery store. One woman emailed that she was tailed down the street, and when she finally exited her car, her follower asked, "where did you get that bumper sticker? I need one!"
Read this wonderful post by Jana Reiss about her thoughts on the bumper sticker and how the conjunction "and" is not enough.
Admittedly, we Mormons for Obama have a lot to be thankful for this season. Also, we were pleased to discover that Mormons actually voted for Obama in higher numbers than those who voted Democrat in 2004 when Bush was reelected. (Or said another way, GW Bush received more Mormon votes than did Romney.) See this article from Business Insider, and thank you to Dave in Seattle for emailing this to us.
I am grateful for a lot this Thanksgiving season. And I am especially grateful to all of the Mormons for Obama out there who stood up for the President (and sometimes made difficult sacrifices) in the midst of a contentious election season that sometimes came closer to home than we would have hoped or anticipated. Please share your stories with us! We would love to hear about your experiences with your t-shirts and bumper stickers! (And Happy Thanksgiving!)
Rev. Derrick Harkins, National Director of Faith Outreach for the DNC
It's hard to believe that the election ended less than two weeks ago. I didn't post much the last few weeks of the campaign because I was knocking doors in Florida, and there's one thing I must say:
THANK YOU to Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee for keeping Governor Romney's Mormonism and mine off the table this campaign! I never doubted President Obama's or Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz's commitment to steer clear of religious attacks, but presidential campaigns are gigantic operations. For Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee to keep the message that tight required serious dedication on the part of staffers and surrogates to resist the urge to "go there."
In the most high-profile anti-Mormon maneuver by a surrogate of which I am aware, she quickly announced her regret for her remarks. I recognize this effort didn't prevent Bill Maher, Andrew Sullivan, and other pundits from attacking the Church, and that we read some news stories that were uncomfortable-but-accurate, but I think these things further underscore the tremendous amount of work the campaign did to keep Mormonism a non-issue in its own operations. Throughout the campaign, Latter-day Saints on the other side of the political aisle would ask me, "What are you going to do when they attack Mormonism in late October?" I told them, "Not going to happen." Thank you again, OFA and DNC, for proving me right and for running a great campaign.
Too often we fail to recognize what goes right in politics. If you (Latter-day Saint or otherwise), want to express your thanks to Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee for keeping Mormonism out of it, I encourage you to leave your name and state in the comments.
I am still incredibly excited about last Tuesday night's win - and I guess I'll admit, I've felt no small desire to gloat. This is partly due to the amazing amount of vitriol we've received in emails and comments on this website. And now that Governor Romney has gone from that title back to Brother Romney, we've seen an overwhelming increase in "hate mail" here; I've been deleting inappropriate comments regularly, and I have to stay on top of it or I'll find myself swamped in it like a zombie apocalypse. I keep thinking, "who are these people? and how did they find our email address? (And then I remember, "Oh yeah, that's right. I put it out there on the website.")
But then I saw this video - and I am humbled. President Obama is not gloating here, but instead he expresses genuine gratitude for his supporters who have worked so hard to make this second term possible. As Brooks and Shields pointed out on Friday's PBS NewsHour, this is a side of President Obama that we don't often see. He generally plays it very "cool" and expresses a limited range of emotion. But considering the ugliness of this election season and the bitter battle we've all just witnessed, his heartfelt speech to his campaign staff in Chicago revealed a truly inspired man with a depth of feeling that often goes unrecognized. I am thrilled for these next four years. And the President is already back to work, taking the lead towards a great compromise that will help us avoid the "fiscal cliff." So once again, let each of us get back to work as well - mending fences, repairing relationships (Facebook or otherwise,) and maybe even getting our home and visiting teaching done! Also, let's follow the words of our church leaders released in a statement this past week:
We congratulate President Obama on winning a second term as President of the United States.
We invite Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to pray for the President, for his administration and the new Congress as they lead us through difficult and turbulent times. May our national leaders reflect the best in wisdom and judgment as they fulfill the great trust afforded to them by the American people.
While Ray Suarez interviewed Rahm Emanuel for PBS NewsHour's coverage of the election, the crowd at the McCormick Place broke out in cheers, causing Rahm to break away mid-sentence to see what had happened. (CNN had just called the election for President Obama.)
Rahm Emanuel threw up his hands and belatedly cheered at the news, (and my sister in Louisiana undoubtedly began to cry.) This has been a roller-coaster of an election for us Mormons, and doubly so for us Mormons for Obama. While my faith and hope in the President's reelection campaign never "officially" wavered, I did find myself responding to his donation email requests more than I'd ever thought I would. So I greet the news of President Obama's election with happiness and an assurance that the future of our country is in good hands. Four more years is no longer a chant, but it is a reality - even if Romney isn't accepting it and is still challenging Ohio.
This website and the Facebook group have been an uplift for me and for many of us. I am so grateful for the support and good wishes that we have received from the many Mormons for Obama across the nation and also in the greater world community. I believe I will reflect on this more in the upcoming days. But for now, it is with a tinge of anticipatory nostalgia that I write this post.
But alas, the moment is here, and we have cause to celebrate! So press forward Saints! Let's not forget the charge to do our part to bring peace, equality, and opportunity to our great nation! Whether this is through our service in Church or in our wider communities, we possess the awesome ability to do good, and that has been evident through this Mormons for Obama group!
I love America. I love President Obama. And I love being a Mormon.
Guest Post by Julia Taylor; this article is cross-posted on poetrysansonions.com
I am doing a series of posts on the "Mormon Moment," on my personal blog. (My original post focused on the policies of the LDS church, and included the issues around the Prop 8 election in California, which has already been more than covered here on this website, so I won't go into all the details again.) Most people assume that the cultural bias towards the Republican party by many members of the LDS church is doctrinally based. As a recent post on my personal blog addresses, culture and doctrine can be tricky for members of the church to sort out. For those who are not LDS, it can seem downright convoluted. I hope that this post and its sources help to clear up some of these distinctions in regards to politics.
Mormon Policies on Politics and Conscience
Most of the time, the LDS church stays out of political races and referendums, and it releases only general statements on issues that relate to church doctrine. Church leaders do not tell members how to vote or ask for them to reveal how they voted. The only constant doctrine taught about the responsibility of church members consists of asking their members to be active citizens who intelligently vote their conscience. The official church position regarding politics can be found in the Articles of Faith, the Doctrine and Covenants, and also the Official Church Handbook 2, which is available online at LDS.org. The Articles of Faith and Doctrine an Covenants are canonized LDS scripture, while the Official Church Handbook is a manual with instructions for how to administer the day-to-day functions of a LDS congregation and life.
Articles of Faith 11 and 12 states:
11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
Doctrine and Covenants 58:19-22 elaborates on the basics in the Article of Faith, when it says:
19 For verily I say unto you, my law shall be kept on this land.
20 Let no man think he is ruler; but let God rule him that judgeth, according to the counsel of his own will, or, in other words, him that counseleth or sitteth upon the judgment seat.
21 Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.
22 Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet.
Doctrine and Covenants 98: 7-10 elaborate further when it explains why good political leaders are important, and why being actively involved in choosing good leaders, (when living in a place where citizens have the chance to be involved in choosing their leaders) is important, and keeping bad leaders from governing is a sacred responsibility.
7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.
8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.
9 Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.
10 Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.
This means that Mormons start with the foundational understanding that as members of the LDS church we have an obligation to obey, honor and sustain the laws of the land, even when we don't agree with specific political leader(s) or a particular law. We recognize many forms of government, not just democracies, as being viable and acceptable in the eyes of God. We may claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one true church, but we respect the right of others to believe and worship differently. We can share our religious beliefs, but every person on the earth has the right to believe or not to believe in God. Every person has the right to worship in ways that are consistent to their beliefs, even if we do not understand, agree, or approve of those religious practices. Every government has the expectation that Mormons who are citizens will follow and uphold the laws of their land, no matter the specifics of how that government functions.
The Official Church Handbook has several areas that speak about the responsibility of LDS members in relation to their government, regardless of where in the world those members live. This is a sampling of the sections that are important within the framework of the current election in the United States of America.
21.1.21 Income Taxes
Church members are obligated by the twelfth article of faith to obey the tax laws of the nation where they reside (see also D&C 134:5). Members who disapprove of tax laws may try to have them changed by legislation or constitutional amendment. Members who have well-founded legal objections may challenge tax laws in the courts.
Church members who refuse to file a tax return, pay required income taxes, or comply with a final judgment in a tax case are in direct conflict with the law and with the teachings of the Church. Such members may be ineligible for a temple recommend and should not be called to positions of principal responsibility in the Church. Members who are convicted of willfully violating tax laws are subject to Church discipline to the extent warranted by the circumstances.
21.1.23 Laws of the Land
Members should obey, honor, and sustain the laws in any country where they reside or travel (see D&C 58:21–22; Articles of Faith 1:12). This includes laws that prohibit proselytizing.
21.1.29 Political and Civic Activity
As citizens, Church members are encouraged to participate in political and governmental affairs, including involvement in the political party of their choice. Members are also urged to be actively engaged in worthy causes to improve their communities and make them wholesome places in which to live and rear families.
In accordance with the laws of their respective governments, members are encouraged to register to vote, to study issues and candidates carefully, and to vote for individuals whom they believe will act with integrity and sound judgment. Latter-day Saints have a special obligation to seek out, vote for, and uphold leaders who are honest, good, and wise (see D&C 98:10).
While affirming the right of expression on political and social issues, the Church is neutral regarding political parties, political platforms, and candidates for political office. The Church does not endorse any political party or candidate. Nor does it advise members how to vote. However, in some exceptional instances the Church will take a position on specific legislation, particularly when it concludes that moral issues are involved.
Church members are encouraged to consider serving in elected or appointed public offices in local and national government. Candidates for public office should not imply that their candidacy is endorsed by the Church or its leaders.Church leaders and members should also avoid statements or conduct that might be interpreted as Church endorsement of any political party, platform, policy, or candidate.
Members are encouraged to support measures that strengthen the moral fabric of society, particularly those designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
Church records, directories, and similar materials may not be used for political purposes. Church facilities may not be used for political purposes. However, facilities may be used for voter registration or polling where there is not a reasonable alternative (see 21.2).
(Emphasis and underlined text has been added by the author to emphasize parts of the church policy that oftentimes is ignored by cultural Mormons.)
In this presidential election, I have already voted for Barack Obama. My choice in voting is really two-thirds a vote for Obama, and one-third of a vote against Mitt Romney. I didn't think I would be voting against Mitt, (if he ever was on the ticket) when he was running back in 2008. Then I saw him as a real possibility of a moderate Republican who had a record of putting together solutions that work. He did some impressive things getting the Olympics back on track, and while Romneycare didn't go as far as I hope a national plan eventually will, the way he got it passed showed he could work with people who are not Republicans. This is was an improvement over Bush.
That was 2008, and this year is 2012. The Romney that I had respect for in 2008 does not seem to be around in 2012. His willingness to say ANYTHING to win does not sit well with me as a citizen, a Mormon, or a voter. Whether he believes all of the things he says or not, he can't mean everything he says, because he disagrees with himself over and over. Mitt's choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate was his final bad choice - made out of expediency, and this choice made it impossible for me to see him as the man I admired four years ago.
That is why I am not voting for Romney, but the reasons I am voting for Obama are quite a bit more nuanced. Some of it is self-interest. I am on COBRA health insurance, and if Obamacare stands, I will be able to keep the very good insurance I have now. If I had to buy insurance on the open market, I would be uninsurable. In 2008, health care was one of my big issues, and Obama delivered on his promise to expand health care to many more Americans. My husband's company pays him well, and our income qualifies us as the lower end of the middle class. The Obama economic program will benefit us much more than the Romney/Ryan plan would. So selfishly, I get more benefits, even if I do pay more in taxes, if Obama is president for the next four years.
I am not looking for a grand change in fiscal policy. I think President Bush did some unforgivable things to the economy, and we aren't anywhere close to having those items turned around. Obama hasn't been perfect, but I trust him to make the best choices he can, and to think about the middle and lower class as Americans, not a drain on the "real Americans." I am hoping that there will be enough pressure on the Republicans in Congress so that some work actually gets done, but I would rather have Obama get less done, than Romney getting most of what he says he wants to do. I trust Obama to find policy compromises that work. I can't see any Republican having the guts (or gonads) to go against the right-wing of the party, least of all Romney.
Obama is my choice. He got my vote, and he got a $50 donation a few months ago. Obama also got the support of my kids, (without them knowing what I thought,) and they volunteer with their father and participate in the "Get Out the Vote Effort!" (Taking my children to political rallies, protests, and campaign events with politicians and political movements on both sides of the aisle has been an important part of educating them to be good citizens.) My children believe that Obama will give them the best future, and they are not your average preteens. When they laid out their reasoning for why they want Obama to be president for the next four years, I was proud to discover that their reasons were similar to mine. While I am the only one with the legal right to vote, my vote carried the hopes and dreams of my children when I mailed my ballot on Monday.
Authors Note: My goal with the "Mormon Moment Series" has been to explain "Mormony" things to those who may be interested in learning about Mormonism. I include my experiences, and those of other bloggers, so I regularly have links to blogs I read and comment on, while I also link directly to official sources like LDS.org or other official church sites.
In no way is this post meant to be an exhaustive study of the issues related to the LDS church and its policies regarding voting and elections. For those of you who would like to read my personal thoughts on Prop 8, or are interested in why I, and Mormons for Obama, always clearly state that we don't speak for the LDS church, you can read the rest of my original post here. If you are interested in a laugh, and understanding which policies were broken in the Gay Trees and Gadianton Robbers incident, you will also find that there as well. For another Mormon perspective posted yesterday, see Sarah Familia's great post on why she chose to vote for Obama.
A little about us: we are not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nor the 2012 Obama Presidential Campaign. However, we are Mormons, and we are for President Barack Obama. We created this website in order to represent the unique perspective of Mormons who are voting for Obama. We are all active and believing Latter-day Saints in Washington State, Florida, Utah and Washington DC. We are not necessarily Republicans or Democrats, and we are not anti-Mitt Romney, but we are united behind President Obama as he seeks his second term. Let us know what you think and thank you for visiting!
Dan Spindle from some Fox News affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona has an article/news piece, entitled, "Can a true Mormon vote for Obama?" (The video is attached to the article, but don't bother to click on it; it doesn't seem to be working at the present.)
But seriously? My first issue is that this whole topic has already run its course in the news cycle. To borrow President Obama's joke from this past debate (which he borrowed from some frat guy): Hello, Dan? March 2012 called and wants their junior-college essay on "Wow there are Mormon Liberals!" back. Apparently this writer missed the flurry of news stories about Mormon Democrats that appeared online throughout the Democratic National Convention.
But honestly, that isn't my real issue this piece - because I wasn't bothered in the least when the KSL covered Mormon Democrats in a news story a few weeks back - and in fact, it featured Hannah and Ben from BYU Democrats and we wrote about it here on Mormons for Obama. My true issue is Dan Spindle's use of the word "true" in posing his titular question. He follows it up with, "Can a faithful Mormon be a Democrat? We wanted to find out." He proceeds with his investigation by interviewing several Mormon Democrats, and he cites the examples of Harry Reid and a general authority who used to be a Democratic state congressman. Ultimately he ends by quoting the Church's position on neutrality, and he also includes a quotation from Jill Henrichsen, a Mormon Dem. She says, ""For a church that tries to teach the gospel to others, of course all these people are going to come from different backgrounds and have different beliefs and there absolutely has to be room for that, and more tolerance."
So I guess that means the answer is yes, a true Mormon can vote for Obama?
Well, the answer is clearly yes for the many of us who have (or will) cast our vote for President Obama on November 6th and then turn right around and sit in sacrament meeting on Sunday, November 11th with our conservative Mormon brothers and sisters (regardless of who wins). Of course we'll all breathe a sigh of relief that it's not fast and testimony meeting, because that might force a few of us out into the foyer.
But the real question is what does Dan Spindle mean by "true Mormon?" Because I think true might also mean that if you say one thing during the Republican primaries, you would say the same thing now. Or true could also mean that if you promoted a health care plan that extended coverage for most of the citizens of your state (and did so with an eye to running for president with that plan tucked under your arm,) that you would continue to support that plan regardless of its political expediency in the present. Or true would also mean that if you spent hours upon hours (and a good amount of your own money) serving others while Bishop (pastor?) or Stake President, that you would also support public policy that benefitted those same people you'd privately helped. And true should also mean that if you are going to constantly talk about the 23 million people in America who are out of work, you would not then malign these same people by inferring that they're irresponsible and lazy while speaking privately in front of your super-wealthy homies at a fundraiser.
Contrary to my better judgement, and Marianne's advice, I have worn a bit sensitive to the questioning of my faith because I support President Obama. So journalists out there: please don't even ask the question about who is a true Mormon and who is not. Leave it to us Mormons to argue about that among ourselves; also you can rest assured that we will be certain to include our friend and fellow Mormon, Mitt Romney, in the debate as well. (And Dr. Gregory Prince has already gotten this started for us.)
Well... unless Dan, you are Mormon yourself... (And you just might be, considering you are from Phoenix, Arizona, which is like baby Provo, and you have a BYU/GAP haircut, and you called the Church by its correct name, and you knew where to find all those Mormon temples.) If you are LDS, then just forget I wrote any of this, and nice tie by the way.
But I guess there must be someone out there who doesn't want to be lighthearted or take themselves less serious, and they should definitely bemoan the fact that these people's votes are worth just as much as their vote. And for that they must surely say God bless the America.
We have about 2 weeks until the election, and the polls are up and down - hot and cold, like a middle school crush. However, some interesting endorsements hit the internet this past week, and Obama is looking to regain some momentum in the Monday evening debate.
Joanna Brooks, author of Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith, wrote an editorial piece for CNN's Belief Blog entitled, My Take: Hard truths matter; I’m Mormon, and I’m voting for Obama. While Joanna Brooks has written about the election before on her website, Ask Mormon Girl, this endorsement lays out clear reasons for voting for President Obama in the light of being a mother, an educator, and a Mormon. According to her article, she has been listening for the two candidates to speak to the "hard truths."
...as a Mormon, I grew up with a healthy sense of respect for worst-case scenarios. I was raised, after all, with a religious aversion to debt and a year’s supply of canned wheat, beans and powdered milk in the garage, as instructed by LDS Church leaders. The Mormon food storage tradition isn’t about end-times-paranoia: It’s a lesson passed down from our pioneer ancestors, who knew the importance of being prepared for difficult seasons so you can do right by your family and community.
Joanna Brooks reports that she has seen that truth-telling in President Obama: "I have seen Obama work steadily, patiently through a difficult season. I have seen him face some hard truths and accept that there are no easy fixes. And I will vote to give him a second term."
I would add that I found Joanna's book in Target on Friday; I have been planning on ordering it from Amazon for some time. (So now for a different type of endorsement: I am only a couple dozen pages into it, and I am already mesmerized by her prose and her insight.)
Also, The Salt Lake Tribune shocked everyone (or confirmed everyone's suspicions, depending on who you ask,) with their endorsement of President Obama for a second term. Admittedly, they posted the editorial with title, "Too Many Mitts," in bold letters, while "Obama has earned another term" was positioned limply in smaller type underneath. This may imply that the piece is more of a rejection of Mitt Romney than a whole-hearted endorsement of the president, and that might be right. Much of the endorsement shuffles around in the junk drawer of Romney missteps, false starts, reversed positions, and political "shape-shifting," while a shorter summary of Obama's accomplishments is enumerated towards the end. The final paragraph is telling:
Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.
[caption id="attachment_2712" align="alignright" width="300"] This young man is an avid reader of the Tribune[/caption]
Regardless, this endorsement is a bold move for the Tribune, considering that Salt Lake City and its surrounding municipalities are comprised of more that a few Romney-leaning Mormons. Although I guess we shouldn't be too surprised considering that The Salt Lake Tribune has always been kind of gangster in that it opts to retain its Old English tattoo-looking script for its logo while some newspapers create bland fonts like Escrow.
On a side note, I am certain that the Tribune's endorsement won't stir up anger the way the Seattle Times has done here locally. They are actually running a series of pro Rob McKenna ads for free. McKenna is the Republican gubernatorial candidate - and you can read more about this on (where else?) the Seattle Times website. People are not happy; I'm not happy. I am concerned that my newspaper is sliding down the hill towards biased reporting, and I can't shake the feeling that little piece of Fox News is being delivered to my doorstep each morning. In protest, I will cancel my subscription tomorrow.
I will end this post with one other endorsement: my own. I received my ballot in the mail a few days ago, and I will send it in tomorrow. This ballot was one of the easiest to complete - with only the King County Sheriff race not clear in my head. I voted for President Obama first. And I am excited for another four years with Obama as president. Let's make this happen folks!
And well... if you're still undecided, just vote for somebody: