When in doubt, stick to polite topics, like weather

In the last several months I’ve been to three (maybe four?) meetings of my local chapter of Feminist Mormon Housewives. I think these events are technically called Bloggersnackers, but I don’t like using that word because it makes me feel silly. It’s the same reason I don’t order the Rutti Tutti Fresh and Fruity breakfast at IHOP. I don’t have a lot of dignity left these days, but what little there is I intend to keep for as long as I can. Anyway. I’ve gone to these meetings because I’m interested in meeting other Mormon feminists. Or feminist Mormons. Whatever we are. I confess it feels kind of weird to say “we,” since I haven’t used the F-word to describe myself for several years. No offense to it. I just find it simpler to be what I am and let other people call it what they want than to try to justify my own label to people who may have very different ideas (than I) about what feminism (necessarily) entails. But that’s another story. I guess if you belong to a Facebook group called Feminist Mormon Housewives, you have started calling yourself a feminist again. So “we” it is.

Every time we introduce ourselves and often give our feminist histories. Were you always a feminist? Did you have a feminist awakening? That sort of thing. I don’t have a good story, except that my mother was calling me a women’s libber when I was seven years old, so I guess that should establish my bona fides. Other people have more interesting stories, but one common thread is the point where one realizes that one is a Democrat, or when one “comes out” as a Democrat. I understand that this is a big deal. I was a Mormon Democrat before the Bloggernacle was invented, so I know how lonely it can be. I know how crazy-making it is to sit in sacrament meeting and hear people bear their testimonies of how the last days are surely upon us because a Democrat is in the White House. Believe me, I’ve been there. And I lived through it without a support group while going to college in the south, so I might deserve some kind of certificate. Or at least a cookie.

Of course, I stopped being a Democrat a little over thirteen years ago. And now, in a room full of Mormon feminists or feminist Mormons, I am guaranteed to be the only Republican. I’m not complaining. I enjoy the attention. Or at least I enjoy when someone’s in the middle of telling how much they dislike Mitt Romney and/or Paul Ryan and turn to me and say, “No offense.” Well, none taken. As it happens, I like both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but it doesn’t offend me if you don’t. I was a Mormon Democrat in the south. And now I blog at the ultra-liberal BCC! Trust me, I can handle myself.

It is interesting, though, how people tend to connect their political liberalism to their religious liberalism/feminism. Well, I guess it seems natural enough. Perhaps I should find it more interesting that I feel no disconnect between my political conservatism and my religious liberalism/feminism. Maybe other people should find me more interesting. I was born and raised in the church, but I was not particularly religious until after I’d finished college. Becoming more religious did not coincide with becoming a Republican. I was still a very committed Democrat when I became a very committed Mormon. Before this time, I had a great deal of angst over belonging to such a conservative faith community, but once I had a strong testimony, I felt no angst at all. I believed everything could be reconciled even if I couldn’t reconcile it all right now. What mattered was having faith in Christ and serving others. Politics was politics and church was church. I still feel that way.

Becoming a Republican had nothing to do with religion. It’s not like I became convinced that God was on the other side or anything weird like that. I don’t think God is particularly invested in elections; I’m sure He has bigger fish to fry. I care very much about elections, of course. Unlike God, I have to live here. But I don’t connect my religious beliefs to my political beliefs. I don’t think my core values have especially changed over time. My understanding of how the world works has changed considerably, but I’m not less committed to liberty and justice and all that stuff. I just have a different perspective on government than I used to.

Mormon Democrats often say that they’re Democrats because they’re Mormon, or, you know, that their Mormon faith makes them naturally inclined to be Democrats—which makes perfect sense, if you think about it. Really, all Democrats should be Mormons. What other institution sanctifies bureaucracy to the extent we do? It’s we limited-government conservatives who should feel out of place here. And I suppose, if I’m going to be honest, that as I’ve gotten more squeamish about the government micro-managing my life, I’ve gotten more uncomfortable with the church micro-managing my life, too. Coincidence? Probably. But maybe not. Who knows? To be sure, if my life must be micro-managed, I prefer the church do it. At least my membership here is voluntary. Also, I trust the church more than I trust the government. But I trust it while maintaining a healthy skepticism of it. At least I think it’s healthy. It’s helped me stay sane while I navigated the crises of my faith. When I gave myself permission to believe that the church could be both seriously good and seriously flawed, I found Mormonism much less burdensome and much more rewarding.

But that’s just me.

As much as I’d like fewer people to be Democrats in general, I would prefer more Democrats in the church so people will stop assuming that everyone feels the same way about political issues and start appreciating how rude it is to politicize a testimony, sacrament meeting talk or Sunday School lesson. Then Mormon Democrats would feel less alienated in their church communities and they wouldn’t feel the need to exercise unrighteous dominion over the Bloggernacle. (I’m teasing you all. Lighten up.) On a more serious note, I wish that we could make our churches politics-free zones (much more useful than gun-free zones), because as much as we care–and ought to care–about how the government is run, the church is not for the building up of good government but for the building up of the Kingdom of God, which knows no politics or national boundaries. When Jesus comes back, there’s not going to be an election. His reign will be perfectly just and unlike any government the earth has known. I mean, I hope so. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much to look forward to.

In the meantime, we live in a fallen world; we do the best we can to be responsible citizens, but when we meet together as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should practice transcending citizenship. And please note that whether you’re a rabid Glenn Beck fan or one of those pansy NPR types, I don’t mean any offense.

Comments

  1. “And please note that whether you’re a rabid Glenn Beck fan or one of those pansy NPR types, I don’t mean any offense.”

    Yes. Thank you.

  2. I love the unsuspected point of view among an assuming crowd. I’m naturally drawn to that set up and I’m not sure why. In this case… It shows two other things that I like. Confidence and character. I also like the evolution of your positions. It shows considerate and thoughtful movement based on internalized perspectives. That seems like really rational or something. Oh and one more thing that I like here… the dignity of not calling your get together a bloggersnacker. I guess it would have been easier if there were like buttons for all of the above. But you wrote it all out so nicely, so a written compliment is more fitting than upright thumb clicks.

  3. I like this post. I’m not particularly shy about my politics online where social rules are all weird (although I try really hard not to pick fights on Facebook), but in real life when I’m in mixed or uncertain company I keep my danged pinko mouth shut, thank you very much. If people start talking politics I deflect with broad and self-deprecating jokes, and it drives me nuts when people inject partisan politics into otherwise pleasant conversations. The church being what it is, that generally means lots of right-wing platitudes, and maybe it’s my broad disagreement with those that heightens my awareness of and discomfort with such casual politicking. Cue someone saying: Rawr you wouldn’t be annoyed if people started spouting left-wing platitudes in Sunday school, hypocrite! And maybe that’s true, but having come of age on the I-15 corridor that’s simply not how things are. I can only hope I’d be considerate and tactful in situations where left-wing views generally prevail.

  4. Chris Kimball says:

    I know you’d like a “brothers and sisters in Christ, transcendent citizenship” church, and probably blog responses as well. So I hesitate to cast stones. But here goes . . . Start with the observation that (in my humble opinion, not meaning to be disagreeable, we’re all being nice here . . .) it feels like you slam Mormon Democrats right in the middle of a “no offense” article (“all Democrats should be Mormons. What other institution sanctifies bureaucracy to the extent we do?” comes across as a politically charged misrepresentation of Mormons AND Democrats). More broadly, there’s the problem that, like it or not, “Republican” is not the same thing as “limited-government conservative”. Granted, Republican might be the obvious party choice–out of two–for a limited-government conservative, but the Republican brand (more so than Democrat, I believe) has come to have a strong religious flavor, shading from “right” into “righteous” and making the separation I/you/we would like increasingly difficult. But in the end, the break-the-back straw for me personally is the lies told on both political sides. Not long ago, in the middle of a “testimony” that was in fact a pean to a particular candidate (during which I managed to sit on my hands and think peaceful, even transcendent, thoughts–seriously), there was a demonstrably false statement. The speaker was probably just repeating something someone else said. There was probably no malicious intent. But my involuntary physical reaction gave me only two avenues of response, to stand up and say “no” or to walk out. This last is just me, but it is a problem.

  5. Although RJ can take care of herself, I would suggest that we nip all talk of whether the Dems or the Republicans are better represented in Mormon Doctrine right now. Because it ain’t relevant to the opening post (not even a little bit).

  6. Rebecca,
    I also find it strange to meet Libertarians who are also enthusiastic about the Church as an institution. Honestly, my skepticism toward the church hierarchy is a direct result of my independent American DNA. Protestantism is actually a much better fit for the kind of society the Founders envisioned.

  7. The pervasiveness of politics in church is obvious when the bishop has no problem playing a Glenn Beck video (albeit a fairly non-political one) in a joint RS/Priesthood meeting. Got to love small-town Mormon Corridor. Yuck.

    As far as being a Democrat because I’m a Mormon, I can honestly say that without my mission in Europe and my time at BYU, I would still be a Republican. So I can safely and accurately say that I’m a Democrat because I’m Mormon.

    And I’ve worked government jobs, but the most bureaucracy I’ve ever seen came from my mission president–a former leader in Utah’s GOP. It was also there that I learned one of the biggest truths of a bureaucracy–flatter your bosses enough and you’ll get a promotion, no matter how lousy you are at your job. Republicans love bureaucracy too.

  8. Lamplighter says:

    I vote for making our “churches politics -free zone.” I have changed pews, before sacrament begins, because I didn’t care for the political conversations around me. Some people feel very strongly and that is fine, it just doesn’t foster a feeling of spirituality for me. There is no place for political discussions at church.

  9. wreddyornot says:

    Ahhh, the tics of pols. The sun’s peeking out. And when’d you say that catastrophe’s suppose to happen? Or did it already? Excuse me, I need a nap.

  10. some things never change…

    4 Ne 1:17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.

    Wish we could get away from all the ‘ites’ in our world… democrat-ites, republican-ites… and on and on..

  11. What exactly should we be talking about in Sunday School?

  12. I wonder if the more fundamental principle at work is not religion or politics, but teleology. All humans need purpose in their life,but some are driven to find it, others to create it.

    The “find purpose” crowd tend to be, all things being equal, more religious, more conservative, more groupist, more compulsive. When they switch allegiances (as the OP has done), they tend to believe that the new was the real thing all along. “Finders” rejoice in arrival, take comfort in the answer. They have a destiny and demand the liberty to achieve it. God helps those who help themselves.

    The “create purpose” individuals are by nature more experimental, more progressive, more individualist, more impulsive. We do not “switch allegiances”, we just change their mind. Often. We hope to learn something new. “Creators” anticipate the departure, are haunted by the question. We take the road less traveled, seek justice for all, and wish that wishing made it so. There but for the grace of God go I.

    A favorable birth lottery has given me a great life and opportunites, my parents have given me the gift of wisdom not to waste them but also the gift of modesty in realizing how little I had to do with having it. If I were Mormon, I would be a Democrat. But I don’t blame Mormon Republicans: their teleological orientation is as preprogrammed as my own.

  13. Thanks for this post Rebecca. One of the most frustrating things for me about being a member of the Church is the bureaucracy that prevents anything from ever changing despite all the reason, logic, evidence etc. that builds and builds until FINALLY something has to give and a change is made. I had never really considered that this was something the church has in common with Democrats and big government, but more with staunch conservatism.

  14. I have recently been buried in an intensive study of the Church during WWI. It’s been fascinating to watch the same scriptures — sometimes used by the very same people — used to support opposing viewpoints. In 1914, the war was the fulfillment of the 1832 prophecy about war being poured out on all nations, and weren’t we (the US) blessed by being able to stay out of it? Because he that lives by the sword shall die by the sword, so we don’t want to lift the sword. By 1917, the war was the fulfillment of the 1832 prophecy about war being poured out on all nations including the US, and weren’t we (the US) blessed by being able to fulfill our destiny in defeating evil governments? Because the Kaiser lives by the sword, and it’s our duty to make sure he dies by the sword, doncha know.

    I’m convinced now, if I wasn’t before, that most of us choose our politics first, and only then look for religious justification. And, as this example shows, we’re experts at making our religion suit our politics. Which is another very good reason to talk about the weather in church settings, because refuting someone’s political logic almost necessarily means attacking their [current] religious assumptions.

  15. Casey (3) – I’m pretty sure as long as you say “no offense,” everything’s cool.

    Chris Kimball (4) – I’m sorry that my sense of humor isn’t funny to you. I can’t be all things to all people. And that’s okay. With me, anyway.

    Joshua B. (11) – I’m not even convinced we should have Sunday School.

    Romni (13) – It’s both, actually.

    Ardis (14) – That is a delightfully apt anecdote.

  16. Chris Kimball says:

    #15 You say “sense of humor” (and I suppose your response to Romni (13) is also humorous). But I hear a politically charged statement. It makes the point that there is virtually nothing one can say about politics that will not raise somebody’s hackles. You can’t even do it in a very well written and I-agree-with-mostly OP that’s about not giving offense.
    As with your title, I think the only way is to stick with the weather. (Or does even the weather take us to global warming and carbon taxes!?)

  17. Chris (16) – I didn’t actually think it was about not giving offense. But I’ve been wrong about my own posts before. You’re right, though–there probably are no safe topics anymore.

    Incidentally, when in doubt, you can almost always assume that I’m being facetious, but my response to Romni was 100% serious.

    Also, as a general comment to everyone: No one has to explain to me the differences and similarities between Democrats and Republicans. I’ve been both. I already know.

  18. Great Post, Rebecca. Nothing much to add, but yeah, I don’t think God much cares about politics–and I too hate using religion to support either side.

  19. When politics are outlawed in churches, only outlaws will talk politics!

    Actually, there might be a sad truth to that statement… now the only people who talk politics in church are those who are the conversational equivalent of an outlaw. While the rest of us law abiding church goers bite our tongues, roll our eyes, and try to be tactful as we avoid discussing politics.

    The Democrats in church who feel “stifled” by overbearing Republicans (Conservatives) shouldn’t feel we’re all that way. I roll my eyes with the Left of ‘em whenever it comes up.

  20. or any side.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    Wait…we have a Republican Perma? GET THE PITCHFORKS!

  22. #15: that makes 2 of us.
    And if I can just point out the elephant in the room (14), it’s amazing how people’s opinions (and the weather) can change.

  23. This is why I only talk about math at church. Do you have any idea how many good mathematical metaphors there are for Mormon theolohy?! And sexual ones too, but only after the math talk has blunted their attentiveness.

  24. Wheat Woman says:

    BCC is ultra liberal?

  25. Some are born feminists, some achieve feminism, and some have feminism thrust upon ‘em. I’m in the final category. And I prefer to think of myself as an NPR orchid: exotic, found only in fertile ground, able to be self-sustaining under only the breath of moisture.

  26. I agree – talk about the weather in polite company. But, I disagree with the notion that the building up of the Kingdom of God should be divorced from politics/current events. Compartmentalizing my faith, my deepest feelings on moral issues, doesn’t work so well for me anymore. I used to cringe, but now I love hearing that Episcopalians favor gay rights, or that Catholics take a position against stem cell research, etc. We live in the here and now, in a physical world, and we are all the body politic. Why shouldn’t our doctrine reflect that?

  27. Brian (23) – You know that’s right.

    MBY (25) – I think of myself as a right-wing talk-radio thistle: prickly and impossible to kill.

  28. Hunter (26) – Well, I don’t compartmentalize my deepest feelings on moral issues. I never have. And considering the limitations of a church that Christ may well be the head of but humans tend to muck up anyway, I prefer that it not take specific political positions. Political issues are rarely as straightforward as moral principles.

  29. “No offense” and, as I learned from Dilbert, “With all due respect” let you say pretty much anything with impunity.
    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1997-10-28/

  30. Yeah, Rebecca, you are right that political issues are rarely straightforward. I think we’d both agree that that means sometimes we, and yes, the Church, may get it wrong on some things. I’m OK with that.

  31. See, I’m okay with *me* getting it wrong on some things. I’m less okay with the church getting it wrong when they’re implying it’s God’s position.

  32. Just for anyone who doesn’t already know, madhousewife and I are the same person. (Stupid WordPress.)

  33. “I haven’t used the F-word to describe myself for several years.”

    Neither have I. I like the F-word in some contexts, but I find it of limited use as a descriptive tool.

    “Really, all Democrats should be Mormons. What other institution sanctifies bureaucracy to the extent we do?”

    That’s just priceless.

    “As much as I’d like fewer people to be Democrats in general, I would prefer more Democrats in the church so people will stop assuming that everyone feels the same way about political issues and start appreciating how rude it is to politicize a testimony, sacrament meeting talk or Sunday School lesson.”

    Amen sister!

    I actually prefer that people just go ahead and talk about whatever they feel like in whatever situation they are in, except from the pulpit, or teaching a lesson because there you are representing something other than just your own viewpoint. But otherwise, I really find most conversation pretty boring so, you know, if you want to talk politics, I say bring it. At least I won’t be bored and I will get to know you a little bit.

    I was just with friends tonight and, because this is the Wasatch Front, most of my friends are fairly conservative, and one I love and respect went on a rant about “the homos” and how they are pushing their agenda on us poor heterosexuals who are just trying to raise our children..etc. etc. etc… It was horrifying in some ways, but I felt more sorry for him than anything, that he has so little charity toward his brothers and sisters who happen to be different in this one way. But I have faith in him that he will eventually come around. I think having faith and taking the long view solves most problems in life.

    I think we should be married Rebecca J. If you’re not otherwise committed, you know, call me maybe.

  34. But, Rebecca, I would love to know, maybe not on this post, how you can be a feminist and a Republican. I have the same struggle figuring out how a gay person can be a Republican. In both cases liberalism seems pretty much in the DNA as you indicated in the OP, ie, most, that is [all - 1], feminists are liberal. You are different. How is that?

  35. I am sorry, maybe I mischaracterized you as a feminist.

  36. Rebecca, I loved your humor in this. Dry humor just doesn’t translate well to people who are accustomed to being offended on the internet.

  37. Now that I’m wearing these new blue tinted glasses, I can sure see that everything is blue. I suppose some people will think this makes me a blueist, and though I’d rather not wear labels, it is true that I talk a lot more about blue than I used to. Some people would rather that I not talk about blue so much. Well, forgive me for calling em like I see em.

  38. Yeah, I always stick to polite topics like weath. For instance, global warming.

  39. Rebecca, I’m with SilverRain.

    “I’m pretty sure as long as you say ‘no offense,’ everything’s cool.”

    Love this.

  40. “I’m convinced now, if I wasn’t before, that most of us choose our politics first, and only then look for religious justification. And, as this example shows, we’re experts at making our religion suit our politics. Which is another very good reason to talk about the weather in church settings, because refuting someone’s political logic almost necessarily means attacking their [current] religious assumptions.”

    Very insightful. Ive long felt that way as well.

  41. Weather, check. What about maxi pad cross-sections? ;-)

  42. Ardis,

    I’m convinced now, if I wasn’t before, that most of us choose our politics first, and only then look for religious justification. And, as this example shows, we’re experts at making our religion suit our politics. Which is another very good reason to talk about the weather in church settings, because refuting someone’s political logic almost necessarily means attacking their [current] religious assumptions.

    I agree completely.

  43. No offense intended. After closer reading I see there is a difference between a political and a theological feminist. I had not understood this previously. Thanks for pointing this out.

  44. if you want to talk politics, I say bring it. At least I won’t be bored and I will get to know you a little bit.

    You make a good point, MCQ. My daughter is the type who can’t help expressing herself about any issue she feels strongly about. I’m sure she offends some people, but at least no one is bored.

    RW – No offense taken! As I said earlier, people can have very different ideas about what feminism *necessarily* entails, which is why so many women struggle with the label. The most common (so far as I’ve been able to tell) attitude among feminists is that if you believe men and women are equal, then you must be a feminist, and since you must be a feminist, naturally you must therefore believe a, b, c, d, e, f, g, etc. Many women believe men and women are equal but don’t believe a, b, c, d, e, f, g–or maybe only believe a, e, f and also believe some other stuff that is incompatible with b, c, g and think, “Well, I guess I must not be a feminist.” Whether they are or not depends entirely on which feminist expert is judging their fitness for the uniform. This discussion is probably above this post’s pay grade. It does seem natural that gay people would gravitate toward the Democratic party, given the Republican party’s current position on marriage–but as I always say, gay people have to live in this economy too. [shrug]

    Thomas Parkin (37) – I feel like you really get me.

    Cynthia (41) – At least MCQ won’t be bored.

  45. Hardly you in particular, Rebecca. It’s everybody. We take a principle or two – freedom, service, love, whatever floats our particular boat – and then we see everything through the filter of whatever principle we’ve chosen.

    You’re dead wrong about conservatives and the economy, though.

  46. I apply it most closely at this moment to the question of whether or not I’m a feminist. On reflection, I agree with a solid eighty percent of feminist observations and a solid majority of their prescriptions. But I note that their principles focus them in such a way that some things remain unseen and hence without value for them. These things even become offensive, perhaps because these things lay outside their sight and hence press on sight. I don’t mean to say much the subject. Only that my personal project is to avoid such traps in so far as I’m able. I’m not a feminist because I refuse those eyeglasses. Though I fully intend to listen closely to feminists to glean as much good perspective as I’m able. (And in fact I mean to remain a friend to feminists, if they’ll have me. I think I remain a natural ally)

  47. “It does seem natural that gay people would gravitate toward the Democratic party, given the Republican party’s current position on marriage–but as I always say, gay people have to live in this economy too.”

    And I suppose the indignity of having to sit at the back of the bus is mitigated by installing plush recliners.

    I have long marveled at the Republican propensity to balance political and economic rights. I personally can’t imagine how anyone with the very basics of economic security (and that includes everyone with internet access like us) would ever sacrifice equality (in marriage or anything else of fundamental worth) for a gilded cage. Count me out of this false equivalence you appear to be advocating.

  48. Good thoughts, as usual.

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of labels, because they never seem to fit very well. I’m a “feminist” by nearly every definition I’ve heard, but most feminists wouldn’t consider me to be one because I don’t fit in very well with the way feminists actually think and talk and act compared with the theory.

    I agree with what Republicans believe, but often not with the way the Republican party acts. I agree with a lot of what the Democrats say they believe, but usually not with the way they go about things.

    I guess I’m mostly conservative but not Conservative, and rather liberal but not Liberal.

    I canI relate to the doctrine, but have problems with the culture.

  49. Joshua B.
    That’s really interesting. It seems to me a lot of people have shifting political values over time though. Peoples experiences and activities shape their brains just like our brains shape our behavior to some degree. So I’m not sure it’s all hardwired. Thanks for the link.

  50. I’ve been to a few of these feminist “bloggersnackers” with Rebecca. She always acts like a nice and polite Republican that loves talking about the weather. I can vouch for her! :)

  51. Dear Rebecca J )who I have never met but refer to as my “friend” when talking to others),

    I am wondering if you would consider publishing a book of all your BCC posts. I would love one for my coffee table (but would settle for an e-book if that was all available.)

    Thank you,

    JRW

  52. NPR RULES AND IF YOU SAY OTHERWISE I WILL FIGHT YOU

  53. Rachel E O says:

    I’m late to the party, alas. Been a busy week at work. But I’m jumping in anyway.

    I go back and forth on Ardis’ observation that people choose their politics and then make their religion fit it. I agree to the extent that it is a satisfying way for me to explain how certain people within my same religious tradition can use Mormonism to justify what I perceive, through as objective of a lens as I can possibly conjure, to be some of the most anti-Christian political positions imaginable. That sort of infuriating dissonance can surely only be explained by the fact that these people are putting the cart of their politics before the horse of their religion, no?

    In reality, I think it’s probably more complicated than that. Does politics really do more to shape a person’s worldview than religion? Especially an active Mormon’s? I would think that most Mormons are exposed to politics much later, less intensely, and less frequently than they are exposed to their religion. My family and upbringing was quite political by most standards, but there can really be no contest between political and religious influences when it comes to which I was more thoroughly exposed to from an early age.

    Rather, it seems more plausible to me that each individual’s life experiences, sociocultural environments, authority figure influences, even genetic and psychobiological characteristics, etc., shape them into adopting a certain way of seeing the world writ large–a weltanschauung, if you will–and then they fit both their politics and religion into it. But I would go even further to hypothesize that “religion”–if you mean cultural lived religion and not high theology–is more on the causal side and politics is more on the effect side in this process. From what little I remember in a college course unit on presidential (i.e. U.S. president) psychology, political worldviews are usually something that develop and solidify later in life — on average in the 20s. Moral psychologies and ways of understanding people and the world, on the other hand, develop at an earlier age. And it seems that cultural lived religion would play a big role in that precedent development. So by extension, it seems plausible that people develop certain moral psychologies and methods of cognition early on in life, shaped in part in some cases by religious upbringings, that will in turn eventually bias or predispose them toward a certain political worldview.

    And back to the LDS context, I think this does raise the question of not necessarily whether Mormon doctrine per se makes people conservative (I actually agree, despite being a little-c conservative, that much of LDS doctrine is quite theologically if not politically liberal) — but of whether lived Mormonism as it is experienced in much of the Mormon world shape’s people’s politics in a conservative direction. I know that concept is anathema to liberal-leaning Mormons; it goes back to the oft-stated Mormon Democrat belief that Rebecca J cited in the OP: “I’m a Democrat because I’m a Mormon.” But I think it’s a valid question, and a valid hypothesis.

  54. I used to be an orchid like Margaret but NPR made me a pansy. A pansy who would nonetheless jump the shark to fight BHodges.

  55. “I would think that most Mormons are exposed to politics much later, less intensely, and less frequently than they are exposed to their religion. My family and upbringing was quite political by most standards, but there can really be no contest between political and religious influences when it comes to which I was more thoroughly exposed to from an early age.”

    I sort of agree, Rachel, but I also suspect the separation among domains itself occurs relatively late. What we’re exposed to as children generally doesn’t come labeled as politics or as religion. Particularly if you grow up in the Mormon corridor, as I did, sometimes hearing prophets quoted in the public schools and political references over the pulpit, it can take a long time to figure out where the lines of demarcation are. I don’t see how we can separate religious and political influences in children’s lives when the children themselves generally can’t make the separation. I don’t think they get religion first and politics later; they just get a worldview consisting of all of it.

  56. The clouds outside my windown are looking pretty darn communal.

    Tomorrow is mostly sunny with scattered Georgism.

  57. Rachel E O says:

    Absolutely ZD Eve. And I guess that was sort of the point I was trying to make. I think my comment ended up straying too much in the direction of trying to draw a causal relationship as follows: religion > worldview > politics. When the point I set out to make was that authority figures/biology/experiences (including religious experiences and environments) > worldview > “politics” AND “religion” (The quotation marks referring to how politics and religion end up being understood, articulated, and practiced in adult life.)

    But your point that politics cannot be extricated from the “religious experiences” of youth is very true. I grew up in an ubermajority-LDS rural community along the Mormon corridor, and I certainly know of what you speak. But I guess for me those political views were always articulated in religious terms, and not just instrumentally, but fundamentally. We were a peculiar people, and while we were certainly a conservative people (judged mostly in terms of the Democratic Party’s positions on abortion and “anti-work” or compulsory redistributive policies), all of the partisan institutions and philosophies of men (including the GOP and political conservatism) that wield power in our country will pass away when Christ returns and the Kingdom of God is established on the earth, and we will be left with the Church as the administrative structure of that Kingdom of God. That is genuinely the religious/political mythology I was raised with. Yeah, occasionally, there were references to overtly conservative ideology or platforms in church meetings. But the vast majority of the political references in church that I remember from my youth were eschatological in nature.

    As a result, most conservative people I know in southeast Idaho would far and away place loyalty to the Church above the Republican Party or political conservatism any day. Certainly, I can think of examples to the contrary — and I understand that there are plenty of Utah Republicans who are openly disgruntled with the Church’s positions on immigration, etc. But most of the conservative Mormons I know, especially those who don’t think about politics every day (i.e. most of them), if the prophet advocated for ObamaCare or gun control over the pulpit (“over the pulpit” being important — because most Mormons don’t pay attention to Church newsroom releases or news articles about LDS church positions on immigration, etc.), would accept it. Maybe I overestimate this likelihood — maybe I’m drawing a hasty generalization from my own family and friends, who are generally relatively moderate/pragmatic conservatives — but I think maybe (?) LDS liberals underestimate it.

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