Each election year, the Church predictably issues statements affirming its political neutrality, which I find both refreshing and reassuring amid all of the mingling of scripture with the philosophies of men that we see in many churches. A few decades ago, during a presidential election season, President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency stated the following at a BYU commencement address:
You young people are leaving your university at the time in which our nation is engaged in an abrasive and increasingly strident process of electing a president. I wonder if you would permit me, one who has managed to survive a number of these events, to pass on to you a few words of counsel.
First I would like you to be reassured that the leaders of both major political parties in this land are men of integrity and unquestioned patriotism. Beware of those who feel obliged to prove their own patriotism by calling into question the loyalty of others. Be skeptical of those who attempt to demonstrate their love of country by demeaning its institutions. Know that men of both major political parties who bear the nation’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches are men of unquestioned loyalty and we should stand by and support them, and this refers not only to one party but to all. Strive to develop a maturity of mind and emotion and a depth of spirit which enables you to differ with others on matters of politics without calling into question the integrity of those with whom you differ. Allow within the bounds of your definition of religious orthodoxy variation of political belief. Do not have the temerity to dogmatize on issues where the Lord has seen fit to be silent. (emphasis added)Read more
Have you ever been in a Church meeting where someone, a speaker in sacrament meeting, or a teacher or student in Sunday School, Priesthood, or Relief Society, makes a blatant political statement? Perhaps it was only a facetious but degrading comment about a particular Obama Administration policy. If it occurred a few years ago, it may have been a statement of support for President Bush or the Iraq war. Too often, I've heard people make political comments in Church meetings, usually denigrating Democratic politicians and policies while supporting Republican politicians and policies. I have even heard people make disparaging comments in Church meetings about Church members who happen to be Democrats. Political statements, regardless of whether they are conservative, liberal, or moderate, do not belong in our sacred Church meetings. It is incredibly inappropriate and unchristian to denigrate someone because of their political beliefs, particularly while attending a Christian church! Numerous statements from the First Presidency and other General Authorities have made it clear that our church meetings are for discussing sacred gospel topics and not for politics (If you want to read more about the Church's stance of political neutrality, click here).Read more
About a year ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a statement affirming principles of a balanced and common-sense approach towards immigration reform. In June 2011, the Church issued a much more specific statement on immigration, specifically calling for "compassion" when considering what to do with the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.Read more
During the last Presidential election season, I wrote the following letter to the editor, which was printed in a prominent newspaper:
Lost amid the hype about Mitt Romney's religion speech and Mike Huckabee's surge is a story about a church that, unlike most contemporary Christian organizations, does not participate in partisan politics. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church, has stated for years that it does not "endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms." The Mormon Church also does not allow its church buildings to be used for partisan political purposes; nor does it tell its members whom to vote for.Read more
When many evangelical leaders are eager to blur the line between church and state by endorsing candidates and tacitly (and sometimes explicitly) telling their followers whom to vote for, and when many churches allow candidates to use their pulpits, it is refreshing to know that at least one church is honoring a principle established by the Founding Fathers by keeping religion out of politics. As a practicing Mormon, I am a product of this political neutrality. (By the way, I will not be voting for Mr. Romney.)
The Eleventh Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints states, "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." [emphasis added]
It is frankly shocking and disappointing that about 70 percent of Americans apparently oppose the building of an Islamic center that will include a mosque in Lower Manhattan, according to a new poll. This opposition is rooted in bigotry and in ignorance. First a few facts - the proposed Islamic center is to be built on private property located a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site. It is not going to be built on the World Trade Center site. There are two other mosques located in Lower Manhattan very close to the WTC site. They have been there for decades and have not caused any controversy.
During the most recent LDS General Conference, we heard yet another call for civility in our public dialogue. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “many in this world are afraid and angry with one another. While we understand these feelings, we need to be civil in our discourse and respectful in our interactions. This is especially true when we disagree. The Savior taught us to love even our enemies. The vast majority of our members heed this counsel. Yet there are some who feel that venting their personal anger or deeply held opinions is more important than conducting themselves as Jesus Christ lived and taught. I invite each one of us individually to recognize that how we disagree is a real measure of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. It is appropriate to disagree, but it is not appropriate to be disagreeable. Violence and vandalism are not the answer to our disagreements.”Read more
I've always felt that being good stewards of the environment was a Christian duty, and particularly an LDS duty. I recall one particular conservative friend from BYU who would always point to Doctrine and Covenants Section 59, verses 18-20 as evidence that humans could do whatever they wanted to the earth and to support his belief that environmental protection laws were not appropriate. The funny thing is that verse 20 states that our use of the earth must be done "with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion," a point my conservative friend conveniently glossed over.
In speaking about our stewardship over our planet, President Gordon B. Hinckley once stated, "This earth is [God's] creation. When we make it ugly, we offend Him."
In the previous post, I demonstrated the LDS Church’s political neutrality on the debate over the government’s role in regulating and criminalizing abortion, even as the Church emphasizes the sanctity of life and counsels its members not to obtain elective abortions. Those who believe in criminalization of elective abortion (the pro-life position) should consider the repercussions of such a law. What are some of the costs and unintended consequences of compelling a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term? I don’t intend the following as an argument against the pro-life position. I simply hope that by exploring of some of the underlying implications of criminalizing elective abortion, we will realize that abortion policy cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The implementation of ethical pro-life laws would require a significant amount of social welfare programs, which most pro-life advocates vehemently oppose.Read more