The political conscience of a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Since its founding, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been on the margin of society in the United States. There was no major political party that had any interest in protecting the peculiar needs of the members of The Church. The Church was formally organized on April 6, 1830 in Western New York. Less than two full months after its founding, “a constable arrested Joseph and carried him off to jail for causing an uproar in the community by preaching the Book of Mormon.” A local mob had hoped that the constable would turn Joseph over to them so they could, presumably, kill him. This was one of MANY instances where leadership from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was singled out by the mob AND the members were left without support from their fellow Americans.
The delegates got right down to business the first day by adopting a platform. The key plank was firm opposition to the extension of slavery. “It is the duty of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery.” The polygamy reference was aimed at the Mormon settlement in Utah territory.
The Republican party was founded on ending slavery and ending the faith that I love. Members of my Church have overwhelmingly become members of that very same party. In 2012, Mitt Romney was the nominee for President of the very party founded on trying to destroy the faith that Mitt and I share. I have been a Republican my whole life. I still am a Republican. How is that possible?
Well, as the Republican party became increasingly the party of religious conservatives in the United States, my people went all in. Critical issues are held at the center of the GOP platform that are in complete harmony with what members hold true today. Namely:
- Pro-personal freedom (gun rights, free markets, libertarian stuff)
- Pro-religious conscience in the public square
- Traditional Family
The Church is neutral in terms of party affiliation and most political issues. The guiding principle regarding elections was stated by Brigham Young (successor to Joseph Smith as President of the Church and Prophet during the migration West)
“No matter how good a government is, unless it is administered by righteous men, an evil government will be made of it.” (Journal of Discourses, 10:177.)
The GOP nominated Donald Trump in 2016 and he became the President the same year. Donald Trump caused deep questions by me AND many members of my Church at the time. Should we vote for issues when the person is, well, not good? We all remember Mitt Romney’s scathing takedown at the time of Donald Trump at the University of Utah. He said, “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.”
He didn’t stop there.
“Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. You know, we have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He’s the only person in the entire country to whom we have added an article before his name, and it was not because he had attributes we admired.”
My favorite zinger though is
“Let me say that again. There’s plenty of evidence that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake. Mr. Trump has changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign.”
Well, Trump got the nomination in 2016. Mitt got PILORIED by the Republican media. It didn’t stop there. Every time Mitt has raised the flag of “hold on, maybe this Trump guy is actually the fraud I said he was in 2016” he has been threatened by the GOP.
Members of my Church didn’t know how to react in 2016. I do think more members of the Church have become more comfortable with Trump during the past 4 years, even so it still remains a sticking point.
This is where my conscience kicks in. As the United States has become increasingly polarized AND hatred between the parties is at dangerous levels, I have seen members of my Church go after other members who dare to break ranks with the GOP. I have seen it said on social media and heard it privately that anyone who supports the Democratic party (or doesn’t support Trump generally) should have their membership revoked. That is poison and has to stop.
There is a real problem with Trump’s character. Its huge. Its absolutely valid to worry about Trump’s character. Its absolutely possible to support the Democrats in the 2020 election and still be a member in good standing in our Church.
At the same time, the liberal members of the Church need to cool their jets as well. The core issues that separate the Progressives from the Conservatives are still there. Many may vote Biden and still be pro-life, pro-markets, pro-traditional family etc…
My conscience says there isn’t a “correct” vote this November. If the personal politics of Trump are so distasteful (and dangerous) to you, vote your conscience and vote for Biden. If you think the issues protected by the GOP are so important that you would vote for a can of soup over a Democrat, thats fine.
HOWEVER, DON’T belittle, name call, or attack any member for doing what they think is right. You can persuade. You can encourage. Don’t yell. Don’t threaten. Don’t use hyperbole.
Be meek. Listen and acknowledge the other person’s point of view. Be kind. If you raise your voice OR stroke keys that were more hurtful than intended, be quick to apologize and listen. Elder Maxwell rightly stated:
Meekness, however, is more than self-restraint; it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindness and gentleness, reflecting certitude, strength, serenity, and a healthy self-esteem and self-control.
Without meekness, the conversational points we insist on making often take the form of “I” — that spearlike, vertical pronoun.
The Country and our politics needs to heal. DO YOUR PART. If your child/spouse/bishop or whoever votes the other way than you, kindness, charity, and meekness will do more to change their hearts than hyperbole found online, on the news, or on talk radio.
Vote for whoever you want. Then be kind.