Mormon liberals are lame, lame, lame

T&S’s ever-excellent notes from all over linked to this article at Meridian. In it Robert Bork shares his thoughts on the culture wars with a conservative Mormon audience, a perfectly acceptable and admirable thing to do. Except….

…I am annoyed that he frames his remarks as of worth to "orthodox Mormons." As far as I am concerned, "orthodox" Mormons can be both liberal and conservative in political terms. This may be hopelessly naive of me, but still.

I am a political liberal (in American-speak anyway; the lines are drawn differently in the UK where I tend to the centre). I consider myself to be a fairly orthodox Mormon (whatever that means). I go to church. I have a calling. I hold a temple recommend. I believe.

But I am not a lobbyist against gay-marriage or abortion or some of the other hot topics that energise some conservatives. This is has nothing to do with my Mormon "orthodoxy." It is because I feel other "moral values" have been neglected by the Right and deserve my support.

This is my current political philosophy and I am annoyed by certain politically conservative Mormons who have sold their positions as "orthodox." But I am more annoyed that Mormon liberals have not fought back, that our message has been largely marginalised and dismissed. I support Mormons for Equality and Social Justice, for example. They are religiously "orthodox" and claim not to take positions that are contrary to official Mormon teachings. They are also politically liberal. I like them. But last year, when they tried to organise a DC Chapter, three people (including myself) turned up. Lame, lame, lame. So, my liberal pals, we only have ourselves to blame that conservative Mormons have Robert Bork batting for them and we have, er….

Comments

  1. pdmallamo says:

    Suggest to the Mormons for Equality and Social Justice that they advertise a nice pot roast for their next gathering. That should do the trick.

  2. Serenity Valley and I had a quite similar experience a few years ago when we created a MESJ chapter in the Bay Area. One would have thought that would have gone well. It is the Bay Area, after all, home of every conceivable radical left. But, no.

    Part of the difficulty of all of this is that there is a terrible conceptual muddle related to the idea of “orthodoxy” in Mormonism. Mormons accept a relatively clear set of behavioral imperatives, which can establish whether a person adheres to “orthopraxy” but not orthodoxy. But we lack a creed or other similar list of core, compulsory beliefs–other than the quite minimal set of belief questions in the temple recommend interview.

    Hence, people necessarily interpret Mormon orthodoxy in quite divergent ways. Some folks are happy to let anyone who believes in God and revelation in the big tent, whereas others stipulate acceptance of specific teachings by specific leaders as necessary. (Nobody can possibly stipulate that orthodoxy requires accepting all teachings by General Authorities, since such teachings not infrequently contradict each other.) Those who require acceptance of Ezra Taft Benson’s political teachings as a sign of orthodoxy would obviously believe that there can be no such thing as an orthodox person on the political left–or even on the center.

    But anyway, the antidote to all of this is to get Harry Reid to write a piece for BCC… Simple, no?

  3. I was part of the reason MESJ in the Bay Area kinda fizzled. Good intentions, but too busy.

    Anyhoo, I don’t think Mormon liberals being lame is the problem. There are just far too few of us. That and for those of us younger than 50, we haven’t been empowered (as our predecessors were) by an era of radicalism (60s). We make our way privately.

  4. RT,

    I agree that that’s the problem but I’m frustrated that “orthoprax” Mormon liberals don’t stand up to it. (Some do, of course.)

    It is also frustrating to me that all these supposed red-lines thrown down by Mormon conservatives* are largely irrelevant outside of the US, or at least (speaking personally) in the UK. For example, the British Conservative Party do not want to “ban” abortion, nor would they run on a platform opposing gay marriage. So a British Mormon navigates through wholly different political issues, and may come across as ambivalent concerning the American “culture wars”. This would not reflect on his/her orthodoxy though.

    PD: I think a tofu-roast would be more appropriate, but maybe that’s the problem!

    *They are of course entitled to make them within a US framework.

  5. Toady,
    Could be true. Maybe there are only 3 Mormon liberals in DC.

  6. Last Lemming says:

    I don’t know if I would have come to the DC meeting, but I never heard about it, so my nonattendance is not a symptom of lameness, just cluelessness.

    But if you’re going to serve tofu, don’t even waste your time inviting me.

  7. It’s not surprising that ‘orthodox liberal Mormons’ would not be able to so much as get a barbeque together. Being liberal and being Mormon may not be mutually exclusive, but it would be tough to be both and not feel weird.

  8. And by weird, I mean out of place

  9. APJ,

    I don’t feel weird. I’m a Mormon, pretty normal, I vote for a party that is not “conservative” by American Republican standards, and I usually get behind causes that I feel are neglected by the Right (environmentalism, internationalism, social justice). Nothing weird about that. But you may be right: some Mormons have been to feel weird for that. Which is my point: I won’t let the Right tell me who I am.

    Lemming,

    Joke about the tofu. I’m a bloody steak man, myself.

  10. Davis Bell says:

    I wonder if part of the problem MESJ has is its name. It strikes me as fairly poor marketing. Of course, equality and social justice are great things. For a great many, though, Mormons in particular, I would imagine those terms are associated with a whole host of things they percieve to be radical and undesirable. Contrast that with groups that use the word “family” in the title. That’s going to play big with Mormons. Maybe I’m wrong.

  11. Liberal Mormon is not an oxymoron as some claim. Instead, I suspect that they deal in more cognitive complexity and have a higher tolerance for ambiguity.

  12. Considering that (I am reliably informed) a High Council in Happy Valley spent an evening (at least) debating the issue of whether Mormon Democrats could be issued temple recommends, it’s little wonder that many Mormon liberals resist being outed in their own wards/stakes.

    I’ve always felt that was the virtue of the Internet Ward: it’s a place where those of a more liberal persuasion can feel like part of a community, rather than (as APJ so eloquently phrases it) feeling weird. In every ward I’ve lived in (except the wondrous old UCLA ward), those Mormons who support worthwhile abstractions like equality and social justice meet in ones or twos in the hallway, where they can’t be overheard by those who believe the essence of true Mormonism is the straight Republican ticket and doing your home teaching on the last day of the month.

  13. Hello, my name is Athena (except it isn’t), I am lame, lame, lame. I knew about the opening of the MESJ chapter here in NYC, and I didn’t go to the meetings. I meant to, and didn’t, and I can only say that I’ve been writhing in my liberal Mormon guilt ever since. The real reason I didn’t go (aside from lamity, that is)? I’m painfully shy. I need a liberal mormon buddy with whom to go gadding about for social justice.

  14. The Bush adminstration is in a mess. Supporters like Rupert Murdoch is hanging on for control of his empire. This is the man who owns the tabloid press in the UK and who dumped his wife (Lachlan’s mother) for a younger woman. Darling of the Religious Right Newt Gingrich is on his wife. So much for family values Arnie in California (don’t be a girlie) is in trouble.The Democrats would have to shoot themselves in the foot to lose. Maybe the voting day lines where blacks predominate will be longer next time

  15. Davis,
    That’s a good idea. “Mormons for Strengthening the Poor Inner-City Family”?

    Laurie,
    Those conservative Neanderthals! Yep, Mormon liberals are much smarter.

    Hugh,
    That Happy Valley high council should have their TR’s yanked for going against a *politically neutral* church, although I can’t help but think that story is apocryphal. Surely!

    Athena,
    You can’t find liberal-but-faithful Mormon buddies in NYC? Oh dear. We are lame.

    Noel,
    I see you live in Oz. What’s the political situation among Aussie Mormons?

  16. I’ll second the “it’s hard to find a liberal tro show up with and I don’t want to go alone”.

  17. john fowles says:

    Those conservative Neanderthals! Yep, Mormon liberals are much smarter.

    Ronan, this is not bridge-building language. I’m sure you can understand how those who identify themselves as “conservative Mormons” would find this shallow and even offensive.

    One problem with analyses like these is how they take for granted that politically conservative Latter-day Saints are somehow not interested in “equality and social justice.” This also necesarily implies, by the way, that politically conservative Latter-day Saints are elitist, racist, sexist, specist, etc., doesn’t it? That is very judgmental and doesn’t seem to be a good faith attempt to address and debate the position that politically conservative Latter-day Saints take on issues such as “equality and social justice.”

    It would be more accurate to admit the obvious: orthoprax but politically conservative Latter-day Saints are also interested in “equality and social justice” (to the extent that those words are used in the economic sense) just like orthoprax but politically liberal are but that they are of a different opinion about the means by which those ends can be obtained. Just because politically conservative Latter-day Saints hold to a different view of the means by which those goals can be obtained doesn’t mean they are not interested in those goals. But it seem to have long been a tactic of the left to accuse the right of outright disinterest.

    To the extent that “equality and social justice” is code for a social rather than economic agenda, surely you can see why many orthodox (and orthoprax) Latter-day Saints would shy away from groups with that name. It is not out of disinterest for the plight of the poor. Rather, if it is code for elective abortion, gay marriage, licentiousness under the banner of free speech, etc., then it is likely that politically conservative Latter-day Saints feel constrained by their understanding of the plan of salvation not to support such things. You might argue with that substantive position and if you do indeed disagree with it, then you should make such arguments–that is your right. But in the process, hopefully you will be able to understand where these politically conservative Latter-day Saints are coming from, and if high percentages of them belong to the Republican party, then (1) that should be irrelevant to you as an “international” Latter-day Saint (as you already hinted in your post), and (2) it would logically be because those individuals had made a political choice based on what they believe is right, and not out of conspiratorial design.

  18. Oh, John, I do wish sarcasm were easier to convey. If you really think I consider conservatives to be stupid Neanderthals then I should give up blogging because my writing style is based on a little levity and clearly no-one’s seeing it. (And you know me, so that’s doubly problematic. Off I crawl to my hole…)

    FWIW, you should really visit MESJ’s website. They do not support gay marriage, licentiousness or elective abortion. Was that what you were suggesting, or have I misunderstood you?

  19. So, for the record, and without a hint of sarcasm or humour, here’s what I think about politically conservative Mormons (i.e. my dad):

    I respect their views, I understand where they are coming from, I can see how Mormonism would influence their political stances, and I welcome their efforts to make the world a better, more moral place.

    Their Mormon “orthodoxy” (or not) is, however, not something I can pass comment on, inasmuch as “they” are made up of a group of individuals whose relationship to God and personal conformity to the teachings of Christ are beyond my right to judge.

    The point of this post was to decry the efforts of some conservatives to dismiss people like me as “unorthodox” because we choose different, but wholly legitimate political causes, and to lament the fact that most liberal Mormons in the US seem to only bleat from the sidelines.

  20. “Rather, if it is code for elective abortion, gay marriage, licentiousness under the banner of free speech, etc., then it is likely that politically conservative Latter-day Saints feel constrained by their understanding of the plan of salvation not to support such things.”

    Of course, John, you realize you’re guilty of doing what you just accused Ronan of doing. By pointing out why you would avoid those things as a politically conservative Latter-day Saint, you suggest those who are liberal are doing the opposite. And if a liberal does support some of those things (ie, gay marriage), feel constrained by their understanding of the plan of salvation to support such things.

    That’s my biggest objection: Too often, politically conservative Saints act as if they have a monopoly on interpreting scripture and doctrine; you simply can’t be a Latter-day Saint and support such horrors! I wonder, who made them God?

    I’m all for free debate and open discourse with conservative Saints on their perspective. But far, far, too often, they simply end up defending themselves by referring to their orthodoxy, not by defending their ideas. Not all are guilty of that – certainly – and I’ve found people in the bloggernacle to be much more open to real discussion. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be here in the first place.

  21. “They do not support gay marriage”

    Well on their website, they state that the group:

    “Affirms its commitment to equal civil rights for all people.”

    This would imply that they support gay marriage, being that marriage is now being considered a civil right and homosexuals would obviously be included in the group ‘all people.’

    In support of this they use a statement derived from the 1963 October conference of the Church which states “Latter-day Saints have been called to work for “the establishment of full civil equality for all of God’s children.”” Given the timing of this statement and the Church’s opposition to the active practice of homosexuality, it seems clear to me that they are twisting what was a statement in support of full civil rights for African-Americans, not homosexuals.

  22. Marc Bohn says:

    John…

    In context Ronan’s quip about “conservative Neanderthals” was clearly tongue-in-cheek and I think his original point brings up an important issue which you did not address. While, as you point out, there may be many conservative Latter-Day Saints with an interest in equality and social justice, the issues many of these members hinge their votes on are abortion and gay marriage. In literally hundreds of conversations with many of my conservative friends it’s been made clear that those issues often, by themselves, determine the votes of these friends in an election. I certainly don’t mean to stereotype all conservative Latter-day Saints as invoking this sort of single-issue political analysis, many do subscribe to a broader conservative philosophy that underlies their decision to support the Republican party, but there are many that are not as thorough in deciding which party to support or which candidate to vote for.

    What troubles me about this is that I don’t think distinctions between “good” and “bad” candidates to vote for are made so easily. Hot-button issues like gay marriage and abortion make up such an infinitesimal portion of the legislative agenda, that to assume because of a candidate’s stance on a particular hot-button issue they will vote in a “good” way on the legislation that really occupies the bulk of their time seems completely illogical to me.

    Moreover, I don’t think that simple opposition to abortion or gay marriage necessarily instructs one on how to vote because simply believing these things are wrong says nothing on how these issues should be best handled policy-wise. Take Mitt Romney’s 1994 stance on abortion in his run for Senate against Ted Kennedy (http://www.ontheissues.org/Governor/Mitt_Romney_Abortion.htm – Disclaimer: Romney has appeared to move more to the right on this issue in recent years). Does opposition to abortion necessarily translate into a wholesale reversal of Roe v. Wade and subsequent support for a Congressional Act outlawing all forms of abortion? (While some right-to-life groups may support that extreme, I don’t think it’s clear that all Mormons would, considering the Church recognized exceptions and the Church’s neutral stance on when life begins). Does opposition to gay marriage require one to be opposed to civil unions?

    I’m not advocating a particular position here, but merely trying to demonstrate that these issues themselves are not black and white. Given that and the fact that real governance involves much more than these hot-button issues, I think deciding between candidates is not as simple as voting along strict party lines. No party should be touted as the party for “orthodox” Latter-Day Saints. I took Ronan’s original post only as an attempt to emphasize that there are committed orthodox members on both sides of the political aisle and that assumptions on faithfulness should not be made along partisan lines.

    As a side note, studies have shown that people are more likely to inherit their parents political views, so maybe political affiliation has more to do with culture than faithfulness. (See “Partisan Hearts and Minds” by Donald Green, Bradley Palmquist and Eric Schickler). Take Elder James E. Faust for example, a former Democratic legislator and leader in the Utah Democratic Caucus. His son, Marcus Faust (currently a Bishop in Falls Church, Virginia) is widely known as a Democrat.

  23. Marc Bohn says:

    By the way Ronan – If there is another attempt to start a chapter of MESJ in the DC area, let me know. My wife and I would be interested in helping out.

  24. Samuel,

    I suppose one sees what one wants to see. Perhaps they are being coy, but I would hope that if MESJ supported gay marriage they would come out and say so. Supporting civil rights for gays could be parsed in several ways, I admit. But I would caution you against claiming something for MESJ that they haven’t claimed for themselves (to my knowledge).

    John H. and Marc,

    Thanks for helping to clarify my position. And Marc, I kind of gave up on DC MESJ because a) I’m lame, b) I’m leaving Maryland next year, and c) as a non-citizen I came to decide that lobbying on issues of US domestic policy was silly. You should email MESJ and get the list of those from DC who are on its email list. There are about 30 as far as I remember.

  25. john fowles says:

    Ronan # 19, The point of this post was to decry the efforts of some conservatives to dismiss people like me as “unorthodox” because we choose different, but wholly legitimate political causes, and to lament the fact that most liberal Mormons in the US seem to only bleat from the sidelines.

    None of what I wrote, I believe, expresses any disagreement with your fundamental complaint in this post. I agree with you that that can be a problem. It is regrettable.

  26. Davis Bell says:

    Athena, I’m almost went, too, but flaked out.

  27. Rowan,

    Yes, that is true. We do see what we want to see. But I honestly do not see how any other reading can be made of this statement. Since the 1963 statement on civil rights was obviously focused on the need for civil rights for African-Americans (those rights subsequently being given to them), any further use of the statement would seem to support civil rights absent from groups today (we can assume gay groups since it is listed in the section called Gay Rights.) As far as I am aware, the right to marriage (arguably not a civil right) is the major one denied to homosexuals across the country.

    As for them coming out directly and say they support gay marriage, I highly doubt they would take such a public stand against a teaching of the Church. That doesn’t mean they don’t hold such a belief; they could have easily said they do not support it rather than coyly dodging it.

    As I said, the statement seems to speak for itself. It directly (and very strongly) implies a support for gay marriage.

  28. Samuel,
    I don’t want to speak for them. I’ll try and coax them over here…

  29. Hello, my name is fMhLisa and I am lame, lame, lame.

  30. Lisa,
    The only “liberal” Mormon blog to make the NYT? Not lame.

  31. John Fowles, back to your original comment about conservatives being equally interested in economic equality and social justice — as a generalization, there is some evidence that this is not true. Survey and experimental evidence have suggested that people on the political right are meaningfully more willing to tolerate inequality than those on the center or the left. Furthermore, economic inequality and poverty consistently rank lower as problems among people on the right in survey evidence, both in the USA and in other countries around the world. So, while any given person on the right may well be committed to ending poverty and to enhancing economic equality, people on the right taken as a group may well be less interested in these goals than others.

  32. Responding to Ronan’s comment #15:

    “Laurie, Those conservative Neanderthals! Yep, Mormon liberals are much smarter.”

    Liberal Mormons do not always believe that because someone has spoken, the thinking is ended. They have to defend their views with logic, argument, persuasion, and scripture; at the same time, it is perfectly acceptable for conservative Mormons to quote a GA and that ends the discussion. Some could make the argument that this indeed points to conservative Mormons being smarter–or at least more efficient!

    “Hugh, That Happy Valley high council should have their TR’s yanked for going against a *politically neutral* church, although I can’t help but think that story is apocryphal. Surely!”

    We wish. When these events (plural) occurred the Utah Senate Minority (Democratic) leader took the matter to the First Presidency; shortly thereafter Elder Jensen was dispatched to talk to the _Salt Lake Tribune_ in a front page interview, asserting the legitimacy of any member’s affiliation with the Democratic Party. It was also picked up by the Deseret News.

  33. Laurie,

    A GA has said it’s ok to be a Democrat? That settles it then :)

  34. A while back I wrote a post at Splendid Sun on President Grant’s views of politics. My favorite quotes:

    Many of the Latter-day Saints have surrendered their independence; they have surrendered their free thought, politically, and we have got to get back to where we are not surrendering the right.
    Heber J. Grant Conference Report, April 1941 pg. 144

    I regret exceedingly that in political controversies men seem to lack that courtesy and that respect for their opponents that I believe all Latter-day Saints ought to have. I have never yet heard a Democrat make a political speech that I felt was fair to the Republicans. Being a Democrat, I shall not say anything about what I think of the speeches of Republicans regarding Democrats…From my own personal contact with dear and near friends, Republicans and Democrats, I have not been able to discover the exercise of what you might call charity, if you like, for the opinions of others who oppose them politically; at least not as much charity as should exist among our people.

    I am a thorough convert myself to the idea that it is not possible for all men to see alike. You know the remark made by a young man once: “It is a splendid thing that we do not all see alike, because if we did, everybody would want to marry my Sally Ann”; and the other man remarked, “Yes, thank the Lord. If everybody saw your Sally Ann as I see her, nobody on earth would have her, and she would die an old maid.
    Heber J. Grant Conference Report, October 1919 pg. 19

  35. As a politically liberal member of the putatively most conservative group blog in the bloggernacle, I often have to point out the point you’re making here, Ronan. Part of the problem, of course, is that I don’t blog about political issues at M*, so no one really knows my politics.

    Here’s a post I made at T&S last year about an I experience I had at BYU when I proclaimed my membership in the Democratic Party from the pulpit.

  36. Hmm, I just realized that I disclosed that I voted for Bush in 2000 in that post. For the record, I didn’t vote for him in 2004. Not that it helped.

  37. Thanks for that link, Bryce. I hope I don’t sound like a stuck record when I harp on about good ol’ England (should that be jolly old England?), but if I was to say at church over there, “I voted Labour”, or “I voted Conservative”, or “I voted Liberal Democrat”, people would say, “so what?” Honestly. That’s a good thing, in my mind. The only Mormon MP is Labour (roughly “Democrat”), FWIW.

  38. Ronan, don’t apologize. Frankly, I’m jealous.

    Baseball is still better than cricket, though.

  39. Brother Tom says:

    I would be tempted go to a MESJ meeting and argue that equality and social justice depend on outlawing affirmative action, commiting to free market capitalism and free trade, and doing what it takes to keep tax rates reasonable. But I wouldn’t base any of my arguments on religion.

    I am fairly moderate on most issues, though, so I probably agree with some of the MESJ causes, but being contrarian is so fun that I wouldn’t let on.

    My father is one of the right-wingers that Ronan is complaining about. Just yesterday he told me the Democrats are using “devilish” means to regain power. He made it clear that he didn’t think the Republicans were “angels,” but he’s never left any question in my mind that he sees the Democratic party as evil and the Republican party as good. And it’s not just the social and cultural stands that most Democrats take that lead him to believe they’re evil. Their economic policies are “wicked” too. Socialism and tax policy are not just academic problems to him. To be honest, I can see where he’s coming from and I agree that economic policy has moral implications. But I see much more gray area than he does and I think the Republican party is close to equal with the Democratic party in terms of evilness.

  40. Language matters. Even in this disembodied conversation on the internet.

    “But it seem to have long been a tactic of the left to accuse the right of outright disinterest.”

    Au contraire. The left is much more likely to accuse the right of being interested, i.e., having a personal financial interest in the outcome. One recent example is the “No war for oil” mantra of some on the left, accusing the right of starting the mess in Iraq for personal gain.

    What Mr. Fowles means, I suppose, is that the left accuses the right of having no concern for the poor, or for social justice. That is an altogether different thing from saying that they are disinterested, or impartial.

    Now, I’m sure you can find some recent dictionary that will confirm that “disinterested” and “uninterested” have the same meaning. If that has indeed become the case, then the language is cheapened. And all because somebody thinks it sounds more sophisticated to say “dis” rather than “un”.

  41. John Mansfield says:

    Just to provide a glimmer of hope to the non-Republicans, let me recount something I wrote at T&S a year ago. In 1985 three of Clark County, Nevada’s seven commissioners were Mormon Democrats. One was a Mormon Republican. I also remember James I. Gibson, the state senate majority leader, who died in office in 1988. He served the Church as a stake president and a regional representative. His son, James B. Gibson, is now in his second term as mayor of Henderson, Nevada’s second largest city, and is spoken of as a likely Democratic candidate for governor in 2006. Harry Reid is not the anomaly many think him to be. He is the third Mormon Democrat that Nevada has sent to the U.S. Senate. (The details are here.)

    This comment is really just an excuse to bring up Nevada on Nevada Day. I always look for a chance to sing the state song to someone on October 31. Feel sorry for those I see at lunch.

    Home, means Nevada, Home, means the hills,
    Home, means the sage and the pines.
    Out by the Truckee’s silvery rills,
    Out where the sun always shines,
    There is the land that I love the best,
    Fairer than all I can see.
    Right in the heart of the golden west
    Home, means Nevada to me.

    Happy Nevada Day!

  42. John Mansfield says:

    Update: James B. Gibson was reelected last spring to his third term as mayor of Henderson, Nevada. He officially kicked of his campaign to become governor on October 20.

  43. Because I’m too lazy to look it up, why is October 31st Nevada day? The rest of the country calls it Halloween.

  44. Oct 31, 1864 is the date of Nevada’s admission to the Union.

  45. John Mansfield:

    Looks (sounds) to me like “home” means the Carson Valley and Sierra foothills. Like a good state song, it ignores 90% of the state. Coming soon, my rendition of “And Here We Have Idaho,” with its strongly economic emphasis (“silver and gold in the sunlight”). I like your Nevada song.

    John Fowles:

    It’s likely that conservatives are interested in equality and social justice, but they don’t want to attack it at the “demand side.” All conservative responses focus on deregulation, laissez-faire capitalism, and supply-side solutions. In other words, conservatives think that the solution to poverty is to allow more rich people to become super-rich and to force more middle-class people to become poor. Unfortunately, there’s no empirical support for the idea that this approach reduces poverty, especially now, when we have the highest concentration of wealth since the Gilded Age, as well as a constantly increasing proportion of the US populace living below the poverty level, even as the GDP expands.

  46. To Athena (#13) and Davis (#26)

    The New York MESJ chapter is going strong. We are focused on humanitarian rather than political issues. There are several members in your ward. You can contact us through the website and we would be happy to put you in touch with a equality and social justice buddy to come to the monthly gatherings.

  47. JWL: “We are focused on humanitarian rather than political issues.”

    This sounds interesting. So the idea is to actually go out and help people or donate your own money to help people rather than lobby for a political change? Or maybe I am misreading you.

  48. According to exit polls 80% of the LDS in the US voted for Bush is 2004. What do the BCC’ers think of this?

  49. “According to exit polls 80% of the LDS in the US voted for Bush is 2004. What do the BCC’ers think of this?”

    According to the Atlantic Monthly, in 2000, 88% of the LDS voted for Bush. Looks to me like Bush, or the republicans, is/are losing ground. If the trend continues, perhaps in 2008 the republican presidential candidate will only receive 72%.

  50. I think that 88% is an overstatement. Its been about 80% for about 40 years.

  51. I am wondering what advantage it would be to self-identify as Mormon and leftist if one lives outside of the Juarez-Alberta Mormon corridor and not in a major metropolitan area. I live in a blue rural county and have interacted with several leftist causes, but never as an out and proud Mormon. What would this do? Is it in any way rhetorical, or would it simply be me dragging my personal baggage [the arguments with conservative parents, the ostracism by conservative ward members, etc] into the public sphere? I don’t think it would move anyone to support the cause I’m advocating for. I just don’t think overt Mormonism on my part would cause other people to have conversations like this one: “Honey, look at that war protester! His sign says he’s a Mormon! No wonder his little kids look so healthy and all-American! I’ll have to rethink my support for W’s exercise in compassionate colonialism!”

  52. OK, some responses:

    Brother Tom,
    I am sure that your father is an honourable man with good intentions, but is it a small wonder that many American Mormon liberals feel marginalised when any vote they give to the Democratic Party is considered to be aiding and abetting “evil”? Dear, oh dear.

    Brother Mansfield,
    Considering that Nevada has a hoary Mormon past, why is it that Democrats do so much better there? Is it because of those pesky Gentiles?

    Hugh,
    To continue your point: American poverty is rampant. I was shocked when I first drove through some neighborhoods in Baltimore. Clearly something is wrong. With the lowest taxes, the weakest welfare state, and the least equitable health care system in the western world, I would venture to suggest that American conservatism is not really working that well for the poor. Or maybe it’s that taxes should be even lower, and all social benefits quoshed.

    BBell,
    If I told you that 25% of German Mormons vote for the Green Party and 35% for the Social Democrats would it mean anything?

  53. Actually Boris, I think a big banner saying “Mormons against the war” would indeed make quite a significant statement.

  54. Hi Ronan.

    Not really. There is not a real serious conservative political party of any power like the Repubs in the US in EU.

    It just makes Mormon Liberals a really small minority. Thats all.

    Just an FYI my stake is from the pulpit the last two sundays asking the members to go out and vote against SSM in tomorrows election here in TX. Its another reason for Mormon liberals to feel marginalized. Also its so non-controversial in my ward for the ward leaders to ask us to vote this way.

  55. Just to clarify:

    My spin of Hugh’s comments was to say that America’s approach to “social justice” is very “conservative” compared with western Europe and that evidence suggests that it isn’t working too well. Not that Europe is some shangri-la (ask unemployed French and German voters), but still, I would rather be poor in Berlin than in Baltimore.

    BBell,
    Was that an official instruction from the FP, or is your Stake doing its own thing?

  56. Nate Oman says:

    Ronan: I agree with you that Mormon liberals are lame, lame, lame.

    However, I think that MESJ is a great idea, and if they have a DC meeting, I will publicize it and attend if possible. I think that a lot of their politics are muddle-headed nonsense. On the other hand, I think it is very important for people to understand that:

    (1) Being a Mormon does not require that you become a conservative Republican.

    (2) There are elements of American conservativism that are hostile to the restored gospel.

    (3) Political diversity increases collective Mormon political power. Being seen as the blacks of the GOP (ie absolutely safe votes) decreases the influence of the Mormon electorate.

  57. Hi Ronan,

    The other stakes in the area are having the same types of announcements the last couple of weeks.

    I think that after the FP statements in 2004 against SSM the local stakes are acting on their own and using the FP 2004 statements as justification.

    As a conservative I feel very comfortable in the church. I can see why liberals would be a bit uncomfortable. My own family has the 80R-20D split that seems to have proven true about LDS political affiliation for the last 40 years. I personally think that the 80-20 split will hold true for at least the next couple of election cycles if not for much longer.

    (1) Being a Mormon does not require that you become a conservative Republican.

    (2) There are elements of American conservativism that are hostile to the restored gospel.

    1. This is true. I know the Gibsons in NV. I was comps with one of the candidate for Gov nephews on miss. They are phenominal LDS people who just see politcs a bit different than I. They are part of 20% DEM.

    2. The evangelical base of the Repubs strongly dislikes the church. Frankly. They have overly strong anti-mormon feelings. What does this mean? Not sure……

  58. Ronan, while I can’t speak to the status of instructions about SSM in BBell’s specific case, it is part of the historical record that the church hierarchy specifically instructed local leaders to vote during California’s similar referendum in 1999. (The instructions also told local leaders not to disclose that there was central church involvement.) Similar church tactics in the anti-ERA struggle of the 1970s are documented in Martha Sonntag Bradley’s new book on the topic.

  59. A. Nonny Mouse says:

    Ronan (#33): “Laurie,
    A GA has said it’s ok to be a Democrat? That settles it then :)”

    Just for the record, Marlin K. Jensen is a democrat, which is why he was dispatched. Also for the record, I believe President Faust is a Democrat.

    The problem I have with any political party is that to be a good Christian/Member of the Church/Priesthood holder as a voter, I have to vote both sides. There is no party which actually lines up with what Christ would vote for. Republicans believe in the death penalty, which I’m pretty sure Christ’s, “Turn the other cheek” and “Forgive somebody seventy times seven,” would indicate that he’s against. Democrats believe in abortion, which I’m pretty sure the “Thou shalt not commit murder nor anything like unto it” would apply to. Democrats support gay marriage, which it’s pretty clear the church doesn’t, but Republicans seem to support stripping our planet of all it’s natural resources in the name of big business, which both “filthy lucre” and the whole, “treat the earth properly” doctrine from the D&C (sorry, at work, no time to look up stuff) are completely against.

    Bottom line, I wish we had something more along the lines of the “Centre” that Ronan spoke of. Folks like the gang of 14 should get together and form their own party so that we can actually have somebody worthwhile to vote for.

  60. RT, I would distinguish between actual (if often covert) COB support for particular initiatives, and statements by local leaders who can’t quite grasp the simple concept that over the pulpit you can encourage members to go vote but NOT tell them who they should vote for or how they should vote on ballot initiatives. I think the Texas announcements sound like the second of the two.

    I think that’s why senior leaders send those “do your patriotic duty and go vote” letters to be read from the pulpit around election time — to prevent local leaders from attempting such an announcement on their own, then ending up giving a five minute stump speech guided by their own political opinions and punctuated with an Amen.

  61. Death penalty and scripture:

    “Republicans believe in the death penalty, which I’m pretty sure Christ’s, “Turn the other cheek” and “Forgive somebody seventy times seven,”

    REALLY?

    Read D&C 42 vs 19 it supports capital punishment. Even the TG reference for vs 19 refers the reader to Capital Punishment in the TG. Both the NT and the BOM support Capital Punishment per the Topical Guide This scripture and others and the history of the death penalty in Utah suggest that capital punishment is justified.

  62. Dave and others who are interested: Scanned copies of the official church letters that are publicly available with respect to the California Knight Initiative efforts by the church are available here, here, and here. Note that the documents are housed on an “anti-Mormon” website; hence some readers may want to disregard the commentary. However, the scanned documents are authentic and were discussed in newspapers, with church acknowledgement, at the time.

    Note that the instructions distributed by the area presidency involve fundraising goals and a specific script for members to use in talking with voters and encouraging them to vote in favor of the Knight initiative.

    I was living in California at the time. Some local wards and stakes temporarily replaced home- and visiting-teaching assignments with Knight Initiative political work. At least one ward bishop that I know of began refusing temple recommends to people who wouldn’t promise to vote in favor of the initiative.

    In other words, the California experience certainly fell into the camp of messages, from at least the area presidency level on down, encouraging members to take a specific side on the initiative. The subsequent scandal raised issues of whether the church could retain tax-exempt status after such official, institutional political activism.

  63. Re: 56

    I heart Nate.

  64. Heed the wisdom of Oman. Do you think W gives two hoots about Utah? They’ll vote for him regardless.

    Mouse and BBell: I would love to have a death penalty discussion, but not here if you don’t mind. Not now.

    Boy, do you Yanks need a viable third party. I’m a bit of a floating voter myself, usually voting for the party which in balance best matches my politics at that time. I have voted Conservative, Green, Liberal Democrat, Pro-Euro Conservative, but never Labour.

    Before the last presidential election, the Vatican sent out a letter that attempted to answer whether a Catholic could vote for a pro-choice candidate. As I understand it, the letter (written by Cardinal Ratzinger) said “yes, as long as you are not voting for them because they are pro-choice.”

    RT, I was aware of the California initiative. My sense is that choosing to abstain from the campaign ought not to be grounds for having one’s TR yanked. Such a sanction was not suggested in the letter and it looks like some local leaders overstepped their mark.

  65. Note point 2. The action was “voluntary” and members were to be considered as “private citizens.”

  66. Brother Tom says:

    Ronan Re: No. 52
    I still haven’t figured out my Dad. I’ve never heard him speak ill of any person (‘cept maybe the Clintons) or treat anyone disrespectfully. He is a model of hard work and self-sacrifice. He just somehow believes that the Democrats and the Left are conspiring to take over the country and take away our freedom. I think he’s read too many books about the end of times and such and is looking for fulfillment of prophecy. Maybe you can sleep easy, though, with the knowledge that, though most of his thirteen children are conservative, very few or none share his more radical political views. It seems to me like our generation is a bit more tolerant and moderate than our parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

    Personally, I hate both parties. I’m not comfortable aligning myself with either of them. They both engage far too frequently in intellectually dishonest hackery. I agree that it would be nice if there was another party in the mix. I’ve been a big fan of Ralph Nader, not because of his politics, but because of his criticism of the established parties and the system that we’ve let them set up. I wonder what it would take for a third party to rise to prominence. Probably a mega-crisis of some sort.

  67. Well, Tom, you know what John Fowles thinks would get a third party going…

    …Harry Reid vs. Mitt Romney

  68. Their Mormon “orthodoxy” (or not) is, however… made up of a group of individuals whose relationship to God and personal conformity to the teachings of Christ are beyond my right to judge.

    Here here! I have often observed that American politics and religion are far too often woven together in the same tapestry. I could be wrong (most likely I am), but Mormonism is no exception.

    My family always laughs at me because they think I waste my votes with the Libertarian party (I’m registered LP). This is only half true. I vote for them in the primaries only, but when push comes to shove, I make sure my vote counts (usually Democrat [Kerry], but not always [Bush Sr.]).

    As a scoutmaster of 2+ years, I’ve also noticed among some of the other scoutmasters the idea that an “active young man” in church is also a valiant Scout. Sometimes I think some of our boys (and scoutmasters) feel that Scouting is part of their religion based on the way they talk about it. My patrol doesn’t think so–I’ve told them that it’s not connected to any form of religion (besides, we have a Catholic boy in our patrol, who is the only non-Mormon). True, we meet in the church. True, their parents (mostly) make them come. False, it’s part of active church membership. I mention this solely because I was wondering if anyone else has noticed the similar situation within their own ward? It seems somewhat connected to the politics/religion (lack of) dichotomy.

  69. Personally, I hate both parties… I agree that it would be nice if there was another party in the mix.

    Ross Perot almost had something going back in ’96, if you recall. If he hadn’t been so quirky and unpredictable on his views, I probably would have leaned that way myself.

  70. RE Ronan #65, the instruction that members are to participate as private citizens and not mention that they were brought into political activity by the church is sometimes regarded as an attempt by the church to avoid the negative PR consequences that in fact resulted when this covert activism became public knowledge. It may to some extent have enhanced members’ autonomy to not participate, but only to some extent. The ecclesiastical pressure to participate in the campaign was, in my experience, palpable to say the least.

  71. RT,

    I’m a simple guy. A spade is a spade. Mormon life is challenging enough without making up new rules:

    “Sure, the letter says that members are free to make their own minds up about this, but we all know that’s not what it really means…”

    This kind of stuff is really frustrating and borders on ecclesiastical abuse. I’d be interested in your opinion.

    A politically neutral church cannot hold a member’s privileges in question because they will or will not vote/campaign on a particular issue, no matter how laudable said issue is. It goes against what I understand of the church’s core teachings and violates the kind of political neutrality that is necessary for a non-profit. But in this case it seems that local leaders went beyond their remit. The instruction from the Seventy seems quite clear.

  72. David,
    Ross Perot? ROSS PEROT?

  73. Re: Ronan (#52)

    My wife (a professor of public affairs) constantly bemoans the fact that, among “developed” countries, the USofA spends the highest proportion of its GDP on health care, but still manages to exclude a huge proportion of its populace from any form of health care at all AND has demonstrably the poorest quality of health care in the industrialized world — including Third World level infant mortality figures. So much for the conservative approach to keeping citizens healthy (never mind wealthy and wise).

  74. Ross Perot? ROSS PEROT?

    Dude, I was 23 at the time… so young… so naive… so full of… it.

    He still didn’t get my vote, but merited my consideration.

  75. A. Nonny Mouse says:

    Ronan: Sorry. I wasn’t trying to threadjack.

    BBell: I’d love to talk about this more, because I’m way into discussing the doctrinal ramifications of the whole blood atonement thing, and I could be probably be swayed to accept it in some cases. At any rate, the point there wasn’t the death penalty itself, it was the collection of a bunch of things that seem at least arguably shady on both sides for a Christian/Mormon voter. I think the death penalty the way it currently exists in the United States judicial system is at least arguably not entirely in the clear in terms of moral propriety, but I don’t want to threadjack, so… Maybe one day somebody will post something and I’d love to read it. I’ll probably lurk though.

    David J (#69?): Unfortunately, there was no Ross Perot with a real plan during the last election cycle. Based on living in Salt Lake City and talking to folks who are orthodox Mormons here (clearly anecdotal evidence, but it’s all I’ve got), I think somebody like that, without the quirkiness (a la McCain maybe?), could have potentially moved the parts of the conservative base that thought the way we were prosecuting the war in Iraq was wrong. I don’t know how many people weren’t truly satisfied with the president, but voted for him because they felt there was no other alternative.

  76. Ronan,

    In the US being a not-for profit does not preclude political activity. Here is a list of not-for-profits.

    NRA
    Planned Parenthood
    ACLU
    Moral Majority.

    The church would have consulted to its many lawyers prior to entering the political waters in CA over SSM. The church is in the clear legally in opposing SSM.

    What churches cannot do is advocate for a certain party or candidate. The laws on this were passed in the 1950’s by then senator LBJ after some churches in TX opposed one of his senate runs. (ha ha think black democrats giving sermons in black churches on Sunday or white repubs doing the same in conservative churches)

  77. Hugh,

    What 3rd world countries did your wife have in mind? The World average is around 50 deaths per 1000. The U.S. number is around 6-7 per 1000. Obviously it would be good to drive that lower, but we’re no Botswana.

    Also, The world health care situation would, I think, be dramatically different without the U.S. to fund the fixed costs of producing new health tech. Thus, were we to stop paying as much for medicine, the expected result would be a decline in medical tech throughout the world, since we would not be footing the bill.

    RT,

    Happily I can report that not all local leaders stepped over the line in California. All the counsel I heard in or out of Church was in line with the cited directives. Some Bishops, apparently, did too much, others, presumably, did too little. So it goes.

  78. Frank–of course you’re right, there’s never uniformity at the local level on implementation of these issues. Nonetheless, it’s good to hear that not everybody went through what some of us went through. Thanks for the good report!

    Ronan #71–I’m not trying to argue that any member in fact had a moral obligation to vote in favor of the Knight Initiative. I have always been (and continue to be) proud of my personal “no” vote. One bishop of mine told me that I was not free, in good conscience, as a church member to cast that vote and that he felt a “no” vote should cost me my temple recommend. However, I moved before the election and my new bishop encouraged me to vote my personal conscience.

    That said, there is a particular perspective within our church culture that any guidance whatsoever from anyone in a position of authority has the force of divine commandment. I have to imagine that the general authorities act with knowledge of the existence of that culture. So I have a hard time concluding that the church did not want such positions to be taken at the local level. At the very least, there was an inadequacy of organizational safeguards.

    Let me wrap up my discussion of this point with what I consider to be an inspirational story. A close friend of mine was contacted by his stake president in a similar political fight (but in a different state). The stake president told my friend that the prophet had called him to donate $10,000 to the church’s political action committee for the gay-marriage initiative struggle. My friend asked for some time to think and pray about it. After consultation with his family, prayer, etc., my friend decided instead to donate the $10,000 to the missionary fund. That I call courage!

  79. RT, #31 and Hugh, #45

    Guys, I’m not disputing the validity of the data you cite, but I am going to argue that is is probably incomplete. RT, you seem to suggest that the surveys may be telling the whole story, and I agree.

    With that in mind, what do you make of this? There are all kinds of plausible explanations why the states with more conservative voters appear to give more as a percentage of their income than the states with voters who tend to vote leftward. But I don’t think it is possible to conclude conservative people are any less generous than anybody else.

    I appreciate what J. Stapely said. I’m glad that smart and good people see the same problem from different perspectives, because that increases the likelihood that we will get a good answer, assuming good will all around.

    I agree that MESJ could present itself more effectively. I more or less agree with its mission statement, and subscribe to its goals. But somewhere, deep in the reptilian part of this neanderthal’s brain, the term “social justice” sets off the pinko alert, and I start seeing the redistribution of property at gunpoint, the forced collectivization of agriculture, and five year plans. I guess I need to attend a meeting and make my voice heard.

  80. #77 re: infant mortality

    According to the US’s own statistics

    found at http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

    the US ranks 184th out of 226 jurisdictions (the lower your rank the better).

    Jurisdictions that beat out the US includes Cuba, the Isle of Man, Canada, New Zealand, most of the EU states, Macau, Switzerland, Aruba, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore (the best).

    The only one I can see that could maybe be classified as a 3rd world country is Cuba (though in the hey-days of Communism, these countries were usually called “2nd World”.

  81. Ronan emailed me to inquire about (or to let me know that the blog was inquiring about) MESJ’s stance on same-sex marriage. As an organization, MESJ does not take positions on political issues that oppose positions taken by the Church. That precludes MESJ taking a stance in favor of same-sex marriage (though individuals in the organization display a range of views on that subject).

    MESJ did adopt a resolution on gay rights a couple of years ago, which can be found at our website. We’ve never done any activism around that particular issue–our energies have been directed elsewhere–but people often ask about our position on it, since it serves as a litmus test of where we stand politically and religiously. I sense that some in the organization are not altogether happy with the resolution, so it may get revisited in the future. But for the time being, this is the organization’s position on questions of gay rights. You can read the resolution at http://www.gomakecontact.com/mesj/resolutions/resolutions-folder/gayrights.html

    I’m sorry that hear that efforts to create a DC chapter of MESJ didn’t garner as enthusiastic or substantial a response as hoped. I would point out, though, that it only takes four people to start a MESJ chapter according to the bylaws. There’s nothing wrong with starting small. The goal is to build a network of individuals who support one another in their efforts to use their time, talents, and means to be “anxiously engaged” on behalf of justice, equality, and peace. That doesn’t take a lot of people (“where two or three are gathered in my name…”), though obviously a larger group has capacities for civic engagement, and a measure of stability, that a smaller group doesn’t. Work with what you have, pray for guidance, and trust the Spirit to bring your efforts to good fruit.

    To learn more about creating a chapter, consult the MESJ bylaws at http://www.gomakecontact.com/mesj/about-us/bylaws.html

    To see what other chapters have been doing, visit MESJ’s news archive at http://www.gomakecontact.com/mesj/news-archive/news2005.html

  82. Thanks John-Charles.

    I think some of the confusion lies in what you mean by “civil rights.” Some people here think it is a euphemism for “gay marriage.” Can you clarify?

  83. Many people argue that there are serious measurement error problems when trying to compare infant mortality statistics accross countries. For example, according to this CBO website, “very premature births are more likely to be included in birth and mortality statistics in the United States than in several other industrialized countries that have lower infant mortality rates.” Here’s a more recent study with a similar finding. From the abstract:

    The huge disparities in the ratio of fetal to infant deaths <750 g and in the proportion of live births <750 g among these developed countries probably result from differences in birth and death registration practices.

    I’m no expert myself, but I can tell you I’m not planning on taking my wife to Cuba when she is ready to give birth.

  84. fmhLisa,

    Wait a minute. I thought you hearted _me_! Are you practicing blog-hearting-polyandry now?

    Oh, how fickle are the ways of blog-hearting!

  85. #83

    Then you are very ignorant about Cuba’s health care system. It is very good, universal, and has been widely hailed as one of Castro’s (few) successes of his socialist revolution. There is little doubt that your baby and wife would be just as well off there as in most places in the U.S.

  86. Howie and ed,

    This is all a false dichotomy anyway. Of course ed’s kid would have a safe passage into mortality at an American hospital: ed is a nice middle-class boy with good health insurance, I’m sure. His wife and child would have excellent care, the best money can buy.

    The issue is whether a dirt poor American would be better-off within the American or Cuban health systems. I have no idea, but that’s the issue.

  87. John Mansfield says:

    Roasted Tomatoes,

    After reading your comment #78, I wondered how you feel about independence of conscious when the shoe is on the other foot. Take the Great Basin MX system that Carter and Reagan wanted. The First Presidency officially opposed that system and deplored nuclear arsenals in general. Would you have admired the courage of a Latter-day Saint who, despite Spencer Kimball’s specific leadership in oppostion, felt that the MX was what America and the world needed and acted in its support? I suspect that for most of us, myself included, independence of conscious seems more admirable and courageous when we agree with the cause it is supporting. When we oppose the cause then independence looks to us more like “stiffneckedness.”

    (I am making an assumption here that you would have cheered the 1981 First Presidency statement.)

  88. Ronan,

    The Cuba birth thing is, as you point out, a red herring. But the far bigger red herring is the one Ed pointed out. We, in the U.S., report numbers differently, in a way that is going to give us a higher number. Thus, to mix metaphors; the red herring is comparing apples and oranges.

  89. As for MESJ,

    I am for “justice, equality, and peace” also, as long as the price is not too high and they mean what I think they do. And that is where it gets, not disingenuous, but a little slippery. Does my belief in equality justify me robbing a rich guy and giving his money to others (or me if I am poor)? Most of us agree that it does not. But when we get to redistribution through taxation it becomes more difficult to figure out where to draw the line in terms of what is good public policy and what is unjust expropriation.

    MESJ seems to largely be composed of people on one side of this question. That’s fine, but then the uifying factor is not so much a love of justice as it is a shared view about the relation of personal property to the law.

    But perhaps that is not the case and our friend at MESJ will assure me that there is no such correlation across its membership. Whatever the case, I think its great to personally or financially engage in humanitarian aid, when focused carefully on ways that are likely to help people long term. So inasmuch as MESJ is about that, I’m glad to have them around.

  90. For the record, I’m not a defender of the American health insurance system. It seems like it should be able to be improved in lots of ways. The fact that the US spends so much more on health care without generally getting better health outcomes is something to take seriously.

    Still, I’m always amused how lefty types are so eager to praise Cuba. For lots of people its as if health insurance for the poorest is the only thing they care about, and they seem willing to throw out everyting else in pursuit of that goal.
    And I’m not even convinced that their health care is all that great, although I assume that they do a better job than we do at providing access for the poorest.

  91. Last Lemming says:

    With that in mind, what do you make of this? There are all kinds of plausible explanations why the states with more conservative voters appear to give more as a percentage of their income than the states with voters who tend to vote leftward.

    The measure of generosity cited is kind of squirrelly. They are comparing the average charitable contribution of itemizers with the average AGI of all filers. A better measure would be to compare the average contribution of filers to the average AGI of filers. I don’t have time to do that right now, so I did a different squirrely calculation: dividing total charitable contributions of itemizers by total AGI by state. That changed the ranking considerably. Two blue states moved into the top ten (Maryland and New York) and the bottom ten contains five red states instead of just one. Utah, incidentally, runs away from the pack under this measure.

    A more important point is the definition of “generosity.” How generous am I being by paying tithing to a church that rewards me by giving me a temple recommend, a place to play basketball on Wednesday night, and reduced tuition for my college student?

  92. Last Lemming says:

    A better measure would be to compare the average contribution of filers to the average AGI of filers.

    I don’t even have time to describe it right, mush less calculate it. I meant itemizers, not filers.

  93. Robert Durtschi says:

    I noticed La Sawn Barber has a similar thread going: http://lashawnbarber.com/archives/2004/10/25/christian/

    a quote of a quote:
    “For the Christian who believes that unfeigned faith in Christ should correspond with Jesus’ high view of scripture, it is…now…impossible to believe in God and be an adherent to postmodern liberalism….

    The Democratic Party’s liberalism has degenerated over the last 40-50 years in regard to its view of Christianity and Christian rights. This party, which formerly embraced and protected our nation’s great Christian heritage and teachings, no longer does so. Thus, today the Christian is between a rock and a hard place: he can either be a Christian or a liberal, but he cannot be both.”

    Bob

  94. Frank,

    No doubt the good people at MESJ are giddy with excitement at your endorsement.

  95. Athena, Davis Bell: (#13 & #26)

    We’d love to have you come out to the New York MESJ meetings — We have about 15-20 people attending each time, and a mailing list of about 30 people. Contact me at mrshirts-removesthispamprotection@gmail.com to get more info. I’m Michael Shirts in the Manhattan 8th ward, so one or both of you already know me :)

    In general, I’ve found a lot more liberal/progressive Mormons in New York than anywhere else I’ve been in the last 10 years (Bay area, Boston), so if you’re feeling politically lonely in NYC, drop me a line and I’ll get you meeting people :)

    Re: JWL #46

    Yes, we are focusing primarily on economic as opposed to political issues, because as the coordinator I think that’s the way we can most enthusiastically work together on social equality issues. We’re not opposed to political work per se, but only if it’s what we as a chapter can enthusiastically get behind in a consensus manner. Also, I think that political issues can get bogged down pretty easily, whereas economic issues can usually make an end around and bypass all the morass that political issues get stuck in.

  96. John #87, yes, I would admire the courage of a person who stood against the First Presidency on a political issue where I stood with the First Presidency. In fact, I do admire the courage of such people: the folks who sincerely believe that the federal government is evil and refuse to pay income taxes, the adults who voluntarily enter into polygamy because they believe it’s necessary to enter the Celestial Kingdom, etc. These people have real courage and are an amazing part of our community. On the substance, I think they’re nuts, but that’s actually a different point.

    My general stance is that I’m uncomfortable when the church acts politically. The church, of course, tries to hedge this discomfort by distinguishing between “political” and “moral” issues. Unfortunately, the distinction as they use it doesn’t really work. There aren’t any important political issues that aren’t also moral, and whenever moral questions are to be decided by law or government policy they become political. Even when the church takes my side in a political debate, then, I would probably prefer that it take no side… You know, “teach us correct principles and let us govern ourselves…”

  97. My Two Bits-

    For me, the difference between a “good” Mormon liberal and a “good” Mormon conservative has to do, -not- with beliving what is right, but what the role of government is in organizing society. I don’t think that making -wrong- things -illegal- is always in the best interest in society. It paralyzes goverment so that it can’t get most of its real functions done (e.g. the current situation). Also, belive that government, when operating correctly, can make a better use of resources than we can individually. Hence, to the left of center. I could go on for a lot longer on this . . .

    I’d probably call myself a radial moderate progressive. Although this may seem contradictory, I’d say it well characterizes someone who thinks we need to work towards a more consensus, moderate, responsive, democratic, open political system, AND WE NEED TO DO IT RIGHT NOW, @#$!^% IT!.

  98. How can a country that can barely feed and clothe itself have great healthcare? Personally I think that a dictatorship can put out whatever stats they want because they control access to the actual information. Its all propoganda….

  99. By the way, after reading the Bork article, I sure am glad this guy didn’t get on the Supreme Court. He may be smart, and he may be right in many things, but he’s about a far from a judicial temperment as you can get. If you insist on demonizing people who disagree with you, and generalize almost everything, I don’t want you in a position where your ideas are not subject to any effective review.

  100. “Affirms its commitment to equal civil rights for all people.”

    This would imply that they support gay marriage, being that marriage is now being considered a civil right and homosexuals would obviously be included in the group ‘all people.’

    Is it not possible to support “equal civil rights for all people” (gay marriage) outside of the Church while affirming that the Church, holding higher standards, should never be expected to promote such a thing inside the Church?

    I’m all for preaching righteousness and obedience to the commandments of God by means of persuasion alone, but I’m certainly against legislating said obedience over a group of people that, at the present time, have no intention of making certain covenants with God.

    If obedience to such commandments and covenants on a voluntary basis really does bring blessings and joy into one’s life that are not available to those who do not commit to obey them, and the current members of the Church are capable of showing to non-members the advantages and blessings that come with making a spiritual commitment, then I figure the Church, being a refuge from the world, has nothing to fear from the supposed competition that the non-Gospel-oriented lifestyles offer.

    I can only understand a desire to legislate righteousness if members of the Church believe that in a fair and honest comparison between a Latter-day Saint lifestyle and a non-LDS lifestyle they’ll inevitably end up holding the short end of the stick.

    God certainly didn’t seem to be afraid of competing schools of thought when He acted to protect the agency of man in the pre-mortal existence. If we have come to believe that non-members of the Church can only come to see the value of a Gospel-centered lifestyle by means of compulsion through legislation, then the battle truly is lost.

  101. “Is it not possible to support “equal civil rights for all people” (gay marriage) outside of the Church while affirming that the Church, holding higher standards, should never be expected to promote such a thing inside the Church?”

    It is not so easy for me to separate my religious belief from the political decisions I make. Perhaps you can, but I cannot. I agree with the teachings of the Church, and since many of those teachings are reflective of social issues that are decided politically, I cannot in good conscience support a politician or political party (or organization) that supports an issue opposite of the teaching of the Church.

    It doesn’t make much sense to me to push for a issue during the week and then attending and being active in a Church which disagrees on that very issue. As they say, you can’t serve two masters. If you choose to champion social issues which, if implemented, go against the teachings or hurt the standing of the Church, you should not be a member of the Church. Harsh, I know, but that is how I feel.

    The fact of the matter is this group which uses the nickname of my (I assume yours as well) religion as part of their name. This leads me to believe that I, as a faithful member of that Church, could belong to this organization and not find anything within it that disagrees with the teachings of the Church. I believe that the negative ‘flak’ the group would have gotten by supporting “gay marriage” led to frankly a mealy mouthed and disingenious stance. Besides mischaracterizing statements from General Authorities.

    As reported in the July 8, 2004 issue of Deseret News, the First Presidency issued the following:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman.”

    There ya go.

  102. antiprude says:

    You orthodox Mormon libs don’t get it. The political left dominated the USA from FDR until 1994; it is orthodoxy! Just look at the politics of your late favorite GA wannabe, Nibley. The neocon movement was built by unorthodox iconoclasts disenchanted w/ the left. Even today, with the center-right controlling virtually all branches of the USA Federal gov’t, virtually all the new ideas continue to come from the right while the American left keeps using the old New Deal orthodox playbook (that doesn’t play). Tony Blair could teach you American lefties a lot about keep up w/ the times. You’re an anachronism.

    But to be fair, today America has two parties of big gov’t; they just differ on the agenda for that big gov’t.

    My beef w/ libs preaching their version of “moral values”? – 1) American liberalism was never about helping the poor, it was about power and maintaining power. Remember the New Deal “tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend, elect, elect, elect”? 2) By collectivizing and enforcing our obligation to the less fortunate you turn what should be generosity into organized theft. It’s easy to spend other’s money on what you think it should be spent on. In a nut shell: hey Kennedy, if you care so much for the poor, give away your estate and live off your Senate salary before you reach into my back pocket you fat drunk rich liberal prick.

    This site is so pathetically orthodox. I’m surprised I haven’t been banned from here yet like all the other straight talkers before me.

  103. Then you are very ignorant about Cuba’s health care system. It is very good, universal, and has been widely hailed as one of Castro’s (few) successes of his socialist revolution. There is little doubt that your baby and wife would be just as well off there as in most places in the U.S.

    Loran:

    No, I’m sorry, but it is thou who art ignorant of the Cuban health care system. If you are an important member of the Cuban Communist party, an important functionary, a pampered intellectual, or an American with American dollars, the health care system in Cuba is superb.

    If you are a typical Cuban citizen, the health care system is at a Third World level and is a hellhole of scarcity, rationing, unsanitary, decrepit infrastructure, and grossly inferior treatment. The myth of Cuba’s universal health care system is precisly that, and has been discredited by numerous Cuban’s who have escaped that country to tell about and document the tale.

    There is free universal health care in Amerian maximum security prisons as well, and of a far higher standard for the average murderer or rapist than for the average inmate of Fidel’s maximum security prison. Excuse me, but there are no successes whatever that have been derived from any socialist revolution anywhere in the history of the planet that we know of, not the least of which is Fidel Castro’s island gulag.

    Socialism there led to economic disaster, destitution, poverty, and the utter absense of political, social, or economic liberty in Cuba just as it has led to these things wherever it has been attempted.

    Cuba’s health care system is two tiered: one system for the ruling class, and one for the masses.

    Loran

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