Logan and I recently had an interesting discussion in which, among other things, we discussed how the Church influences its members’ political activity.
Now, I’m really not that politically active and/or savvy. So please forgive if I step on toes / misspeak. I, for one, tend to lean toward the Libertarian way of thinking (though that’s mostly in theory and less in practice; I’m not a member of any party at this point). Mostly I’m just complacent when it comes to politics. Though this is my own fault, I don’t think my affiliation with the Church helps the situation and here’s why:
The Church does not officially endorse any political party, of course. How can it? Especially with the added complications associated with political lines being vastly different across borders. We are an international church. Other than the occasional ambiguous conference talk of “be involved,” we don’t get much direction within this realm. Thus, how important can it be? This is just one stance.
Another stance is that since the Church is “conservative” and the majority of Mormons within Utah are Republican, there is somewhat of an unofficial preference for this party (and all parties like unto it for those of you outside of the U.S., even though that can be more confusing than helpful). This stance can seem somewhat silly (as can the other stance). But, I promise, I’ve seen many a member here in Utah use their Church to directly back their political choices. Thus, political involvement is very important.
So this sets the stage for my dilemma. What we have here, I think, is a false dichotomy: Either politics have little importance in the grand scheme of things or they’re very important but only if you’re on the right team. Surely there must be another answer.
The Church, from what I’ve seen, can spread this sense of moral absolutes that bleeds into everything we do, including politics. This, in turn, can establish a subconscious mentality to seek out the “only true and living political party.”
But then, some might say that if there were an ultimate right way to participate in politics, the Church would have told us by now. This, of course, can spread a sense of inconsequentiality, which in turn breeds complacency. Why should I bother with understanding something that is neither absolutely right nor absolutely wrong and/or not endorsed by my leaders? I’d just as soon fill my time with prayer and scripture study instead.
So where am I going with this, you might ask? Well, for one, I was trying to blame my political complacency on something other than myself. And for another, I’m looking to understand how and why I should become more active in politics.