I am deeply troubled by the actions and attitudes of some our people with regard to politics. I encourage you to read John Fowles’ guest post at Millennial Star for further context. What follows is a post from a number of years ago that highlights President Grant’s message with regards to politics that I believe is timely (particularly the last quotes).
Perhaps not unlike our current Church President, Heber J. Grant was fond of telling stories in Church meetings. He told of the time when Eliza R. Snow blessed him at least five times in General Conference that I have found; and I have run across journal entries that described him telling the story at various stake conferences. It seems that he was also fond of a particular humorous story on politics and repeated it at General Conference at least four times that I have seen:
You know, I have contempt for politics, because, as I have said for many years, they are like the measles, if you will just take a little saffron tea and keep the measles on the surface, they will not hurt you, but if they set in on you they turn your hide yellow and make you cross-eyed. (Laughter.) (1)
This is not to say that President Grant did not appreciate difference in public policy. He was actively engaged in Utah and National politics (Prohibition!); however, I think there is no question that he valued the well thought-out and diverse opinions of others. What he apparently loathed was loss of agency, thought and civility to political parties:
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. (2)
Previously, he had stated:
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.” (3)
I am aware that the political climate today is different than that during the first half of the 20th century. However, the issues that President Grant raises in opposition to his contemporaries are equally applicable in the 21st century.
- Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1941, pg. 131.
- Ibid., pg. 144.
- Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1919, pg. 19.