The gospel and progressivism go hand in hand

I’m a Latter-day Saint. I’m progressive.

I didn’t put qualifiers of religion or politics on either for a reason.

11944925_10206910346735275_1102467043_n.jpgI believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God, was visited by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John and others to restore God’s power, and was the vessel by which the Lord’s kingdom and the pathway to achieve full salvation was restored.

Those beliefs have provided a lens: We are in a temporal world, where the Lord expects us to be good stewards and – more than anything else, other than loving the Lord – actually realize this commandment:

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Thus, I believe in education for all, non-warfare foreign policy, environmentalism, health coverage, education for all and equality. (And I believe in markets!)

Putting aside the lower law, if you will, of Machiavelli and all of the other philosophies of men found in political theory and instead emphasizing the fullness of the gospel, here’s a sampling why:

Health coverage

Before you go all Obamacare this, Obamacare that on me, consider: What did the Savior say of the actions of those who would “inherit the kingdom prepared… from the foundation of the world” who would not be among “the goals on the left?” He said: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt. 25: 34-40)

I don’t know how this mandate is answered any more strongly than by making sure folks have health insurance.

Obamacare is certainly problematic. So was the New Deal.

Non-warfare foreign policy

The work in the final dispensation is meant to prepare the world for the Millennium, when the Prince of Peace will reign. We know that Isaiah saw our day – the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, the final dispensation, and the very-soon Millennium.

What did he say about it?

The Lord “shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4)

As an example of the Lord’s wisdom of peace, why did the George W. Bush administration blitzkrieg a nation when their reason (weapons of mass destruction) didn’t even hold water? No weapons of mass destruction were found, and even right-wing pundit Bill O’Reilly apologized about it, less than one year into an eight-and-a-half year war. Since those in the media who are his allies were so quick to apologize, didn’t President Bush make up an excuse from the outset?

Why did Americans need to lose thousands of their husbands, wives, children, brothers and sisters? Why did thousands of Iraqis – the seed of Hagar blessed with a good portion of the gospel (Gen. 16 (see CES manual), 2 Nephi 29:7) need to have the same thing happen to them?

It’s because of this thing called the military industrial complex. That means that weapons manufacturers have powerful lobbies that push politicians hard to go to war because then they stay in business. What did the Lord say about greed? He didn’t just say “seek not for riches,” but added to seek “for wisdom.” (D&C 6:7)

We all know that the Vietnam War was an atrocious mistake. With Iraq, it repeated itself.

In our modern day, the Lord has repeated the mandate that he told Isaiah: “Renounce war, and proclaim peace.” (D&C 98:16) Out of two or three witnesses. The Prince of Peace is urgent about this.


This is the definition of stewardship for the Earth the Lord created and gave to us. One scripture passage that has always stuck out to me on this is in Moses 3, where we read the Lord created all things “spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” (Moses 3:5) I’m not going to say that Pocahontas’ song is in step with that principle, but Pocahontas’ song is in step with that principle. (“I know every rock and tree and creature has a lifehas a spirit, has a name…)

There’s also this wonderful piece from the Church titled “Environmental Stewardship and Conservation.” And do we really want our brothers and sisters in Utah who have the trial of asthma to literally be requested not to step outside on a significant number of days during the year? They are, because of red air days caused by output of lobbyists’ clients. (Of course, that means the state legislature doesn’t do anything about it – not even propose tax breaks to incentivize these mega-corporations from being responsible.)

Education for all

We know that “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36), that we must “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), that you learn “in your mind and your heart” (D&C 8:2), and that you “study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you” (D&C 9:8). Because I know that God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) and that “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33), these blessings of gaining intelligence, learning and critical thinking are meant for all of God’s children.

Thus, in Heavenly Father’s plan, schools are established for this purpose. Yet, many of our brothers and sisters struggle for this opportunity, particularly when it comes to college. For tens of thousands, it’s still simply not affordable, and even if they do get in, the loans they pay will burden them for the rest of their lives. Not to mention that the cost of college is continually rising. We should be open to any idea that would mean affordable education for all.


We know that the Lord “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.” (D&C 101:80) This Constitution established a congress by which further laws would be established and a system by which it would be quite difficult for congress to change the constitution. There have been 17 since the first 10, which were passed rather immediately after the Constitution was ratified essentially by the same inspired Congress. Thus, those 17 amendments have been miraculous. One of those is the 14th amendment, which provides this guarantee:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

So if our inspired constitution and the miraculous provisions that it has wrought, equality is inspired. And the Lord has said as much in His revealed word. “God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34) “All are alike unto God.” (2 Nephi 26:33)

And “ thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 22:39)

Admittedly, I’m a bit angry about the quite-judgmental culture I in which I grew up. It made me feel like a movement that should have led to greater empathy, compassion and tolerance – in other words, love – instead made me feel like it was more like Darth Vader stepping through the doors of the Rebel cruiser for the first time and choking people the further he swept across the galaxy.

What I know now: It was the spirit of love of God moving upon the face of the nation. Much like that spirit of love moved upon Abraham Lincoln as he performed the gutsiest act of presidential history in fleeing the slaves – an evolution that he called “a process of crystallization” in his relationship with Heavenly Father. And much like the spirit of love that moved upon Martin Luther King, Jr. as the Lord’s true principle that “all are alike unto God” took greater hold in the hearts of millions.

I only wish that I had escaped that culture and gained that understanding while that spirit was cutting through a chorus of tension.

Now, if we could just be fair to women (equal pay and maternity leave, to start a long list…) The Savior must understood women’s issues a lot, besides His feeling their pains in the Atonement. Remember how much time he spent with them and that they followed him everywhere? (New Testament)


Does the Republican Party believe in markets, or corporations?  Markets allow us to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” as “agents unto ourselves” (D&C 58:27-28). Corporations?

So many of all of the aforementioned issues have been made worse, made difficult to fix and even created by those whose “hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men.” (D&C 121:35) This especially includes those lobbyists representing monolithic corporations that are often built upon the backs of the humble and the politicians who listen to lobbyists before the people. That’s because lawmakers have proven to listen to lobbyists before constituents on an industry forged merely through face time. (Check out this Harvard study.)

Oh, and Barack Obama, our president, is rather awesome.

Who wanted to expand health care coverage for the needy? (Compared with a candidate who disparaged 47 percent of the nation over a related issue?) Who is getting an Iran resolution passed that might just keep us from global nuclear warfare?

Who opened doors again with Cuba shortly after Elder David A. Bednar dedicated the nation for missionary work?

The Brethren have repeatedly said that “principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties.” Let’s ask questions about that. Including this one: Why would the Brethren feel the need to add that to a letter that had to do with a different topic in areas that were overwhelmingly Republican?

I know that the fullness of the gospel is true. I know that it espouses progressivism. Because we are the “Lord’s hands,” as the Savior told Isaiah, we can be for others the answer to this prayer:

O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us. (D&C 121:4)

Showing 37 reactions

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  • Richy Hicken
    commented 2015-09-07 20:34:33 -0700
    If the gospel and progressivism go hand in hand, why are there so few progressive/liberal Mormons? Why are 11 of the 15 apostles registered as Republican, and 4 are unaffiliated. NONE of them are Democrat and NONE of them voted in the Democrat primaries.

    Surely you may point to James E Faust as being a Democrat and in the First Presidency. However, just read his talk entitled “Serving God without Offending the Devil” and there can be no doubt that while he was a Democrat, he was NOT progressive/liberal.

    The author quotes the “go to” paragraph that most Liberals do about how principles compatible with the Gospel can be found in the platforms of all major parties. Progressivism is not a party. The Democrat party has some good principles, but it is NOT the Democrat’s progressive principles that that statement is talking about. Yes, the Church wants its members to join either political party. In fact, they have done things to help encourage members to take part in the Democrat party. Why? Because they want the influence of good LDS members taking their CONSERVATIVE values into the Democrat party.

    But let me go back to my first point. It cannot be stressed enough. Follow the Brethren. We are all given our agency to choose for ourselves. But when you are making that choice, look to those who are special witnesses of Jesus. Look at how they exercise their choice. Without fail, those who know the most about the Gospel, and those who are closest to Jesus are never progressive.
  • Daron Fraley
    commented 2015-09-07 17:34:32 -0700
    This blog post is so far off the mark that it is beyond ridiculous. Please spend some time reading the writings of Reuben J. Clark, Harold B. Lee, Joseph Fielding Smith, David O. McKay, Ezra Taft Benson, Heber J. Grant… and Marion G. Romney… on the subject of progressivism / socialism / communism and all of the other isms that destroy agency. I’ll get you started here:
  • Scott Campanaro
    commented 2015-09-07 17:23:15 -0700
    You are: A Mormon, a Progressive, and a Sociopath… Violence is NEVER, and never will be, the Lord’s Way… only Self-defense is a justifiable use of Force.

    All of the ‘blessings’ that the ‘state’ gives… is given with things taken at the point of a sword.

    The State, that you idolize, is nothing other than naked force… and there is no blessing associated with threatening your neighbors children to provide for those YOU think need help.

    Free Markets; Free Peoples… the natural outcome of Moral Agency & Free Will.
  • Anthony Davis
    commented 2015-09-07 16:13:53 -0700
    Exactly what part of “free agency” don’t you understand? And what on Earth causes you to think that sitting on your butt expecting government to help the poor instead of getting your hands dirty and opening your wallet to do it yourself is what Jesus meant when he talked about helping the poor? Have you actually read King Benjamin’s speech, or Mosiah’s? What about the innumerable conference talks (given before you were born) that condemned socialism as Satan’s counterfeit of the Law of Consecration and a secret combination designed to enslave mankind?

    The only thing that you are right about is war, and maybe about corporatism vs. actual free markets, which I credit you for understanding better than the typical “progressive”. But other than that you have gotten Gospel principles completely backwards and have demonstrated an extremely shallow and superficial understanding of true charity.

    I guess this is symptomatic of right-wing Utah Mormon culture, that those who reject it too recklessly tend to pivot instead to the opposite, equally blasphemous extreme…
  • J. B.
    commented 2015-09-07 14:44:18 -0700
    Rhett, You show me in the Scriptures where Christ petitioned the Roman Senate, and went to the people and demanded charity at the tip of the Roman spear. Because that is what progressivism is. You desire certain things, then go outside of the legitimate functions of the Federal Government outlined in article one, section eight, and demand taxation from the people to pay for it. While doing that, you take away everyone’s ability to use their agency to decide if they want to support your vision of Christ’s mission through Government or not.
    Let’s take Obamacare. No where in Article 1, Section 8 is healthcare listed as a responsibility of the Federal Government. Yet, Obama, Reid and Pelosi went outside of that, passed it with only Democrat votes. It goes to Supreme court and the only way Justice Roberts to make it work in his head was to re-write part of the law from the bench. He has no power under Article III. So basically what Obama wants to do spread the full costt of health insurance to those who can afford it so others can have it for free. My cost has gone up 3k a year for me and my family. Because I am paying for someone else’s premium. This is righteous right? I’m being charitable, right? Wrong. I had no say in it. My agency to decide was taken away. So you Rhett, as an Obamacare lover, see a person that needs healthcare, that is where you covet something that someone else has. You take it further, you petition the Government that I owe this person healthcare without ever knowing them, agreement or contract, you say I owe them a dept. Rhett, you go further, you would have government steal from me to pay for this other person through higher premium, and if I don’t I would lose my heath insurance for my family, have to pay a fine or even go to jail. Your are so righteous to force me to be righteous. There, you have broken the 8th, 9th and 10th commandments. But if I am forced to be righteous, I guess I would be righteous. I absolutely LOATHE the fact the mormon left think somehow they a higher-minded, hyper-righteous group of people when the only way they can enact their progressivism is go outside the legitimate function through the coercive force by and armed agent of Government. Where is my agency to decide if I want to participate in that?
    You know what, your article is worse the second time I read it. You want all of your righteous desires to occur through government. You don’t make the connection that government is force. Take your progressivism, I will stick with the true Gospel of Christ.
  • Jacob S
    commented 2015-09-07 08:46:34 -0700
    Html links apparently don’t work, here is the link
  • Jacob S
    commented 2015-09-07 08:45:01 -0700
    Progressivism, on the surface, does appear to line up with the gospel nicely. However, like many counterfeits, ends up being the philosophy of men mingled with scripture, leaving out many plain and precious things. A key one progressivism omits is <a href=“”">">this</a>.

    Lest you think I blindly support one party, I disagree with both major political party’s with regularity, and feel the country would be better off without them, they can be just as bad & damaging as the military industrial complex mentioned, and for similar reasons.

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