Partisan Politics, Mormons, and the First Law of Holes

Political socialization is described as the process by which people acquire their political beliefs, and there are people who have made the study of this process the focus of their lives’ work.  Their research shows that, for a very high percentage of us, our political beliefs are predictable based on a combination of factors such as the political orientation of our parents, the schools we attended and the subjects we studied, and whether we have personally experienced events like long-term unemployment, long-term poverty, or a depression.

 None of that is news, really, and much of it seems to be intuitively obvious.  But often our behavior indicates that we haven’t thought through the implications.  We often flatter ourselves by assuming our political opinions are the result of thorough study of the issues and careful and rational reflection.  However, if the people who study political socialization are correct, we often vote the way we do for non-rational reasons, e.g. because we are either following or rebelling against our parents’ example.  To the extent that our voting preferences can be predicted by a social scientist who has knowledge of a few details of our families of origin, isn’t it correct to think that those preferences are simply comparable to accidents of birth?  I believe we are forced to agree, a little sheepishly perhaps, that they are.  Our views are much less rational than we are comfortable admitting, and many of the arguments we employ with so much vehemence amount to nothing more than post hoc justifications of foregone conclusions. 

If that is the case, the way we often handle our political differences leaves us with a lot to be ashamed of.  Does it make sense to argue with someone for having brown eyes, being 5’11” tall, or for having been born in Tallahassee?  It behooves us to remember that, if a few circumstances that are out of our control were different, our attitudes would also probably be different.  We commit the sin of pride when we attribute our opinions to what we like to think is either our superior intelligence or our superior virtue.  And we make ourselves into ridiculous and pompous fools when we say or imply that opposing opinions are the result of bad thinking or bad character.  It is an exhilarating and liberating experience to be around someone who is unquestionably smarter and morally superior to oneself, and who sees the world differently, and more of us need to have that experience more frequently.  But when we have that chance, we often just choose to suck our thumbs and defend our grubby little turf.   

That sort of behavior might be the order of the day in the world at large, but it is distressing to me to see it among my brothers and sisters in the church.  In the Autumn, 1974 issue of BYU Studies, Hugh Nibley published an essay called Beyond Politics, which contains this paragraph:

Nothing is easier than to identify one’s own favorite political, economic, historical, and moral convictions with the gospel. That gives one a neat, convenient, but altogether too easy advantage over one’s fellows. If my ideas are the true ones–and I certainly will not entertain them if I suspect for a moment that they are false!–then, all truth being one, they are also the gospel, and to oppose them is to play the role of Satan.  This is simply insisting that our way is God’s way and therefore, the only way. It is the height of impertinence.

When we invite the TV and radio screamers and partisan knuckleheads into the body of Christ, we have cheapened our faith and demeaned ourselves.  I see very little evidence that we can discuss politics in a way that doesn’t degrade one another, and so I think it is time to apply the first law of holes.  When you’re in one, quit digging.  It is stupid and dumb to allow political labels to create divisions.  Let’s quit it, shall we?


  1. I guess that makes sense. I am wondering if there has not an assumption crept into your headline that partisan politics is a bad thing.

    Partisan politics certainly has a negative connotation but on the other hand, in a democracy of three hundred million individuals, interests have to be aggregated somewhere. Parties serve that important function.

    Therefore neither parties nor partisanship cannot be entirely bad. Unless we want to give up on democracy altogether, we have to put up with political alliances.

  2. From my experience, what you describe is true for most people. I do think though, that a few can break out on an intellectual basis. It is a difficult road to trod, requiring one to put the quest for truth over loyalty to community. For most people, it is much more comfortable to respond to issues based on how they’ve seen their peers respond (whether it be parents or friends or what have you). There are not a lot of people that like to study intellectually challenging ideas from difficult books and such.

    I would also opine that, this is true not just for politics, but attitudes and positions on religion, authority, education, employment, and on and on. Most go with what their environment shaped them as. A few try to break out on their own path based on thorough inquiry. But they, from my experience, are a minority. And we cannot be surprised when we return from the light to Plato’s cave, that people are hostile to our ideas. It is best to deliberate with those whose hearts are ready and whose minds are open.

  3. I agree, Hellmut. I object not to the practice of politics, but to the introduction of partisanship into the church. And I wouldn’t mind that so much if we know how to do it in productive ways. Since we don’t, I propose a timeout.

  4. Given that “politics” defines the social intercourse laws and “religion” defines the social intercourse morals, we had better stay involved in politics else religion based actions become illegal.

  5. Name (required) says:

    According to memory, CS Lewis in Mere Christianity said something like, “There were times as an atheist when Christianity looked terribly probable and there have been times as a Christian when Christianity looked quite improbable.”

    This, I think, is the mark of an open mind. How do we know that we are basing our political (or religious) views on rational ideas? Answer: If we look at the other side of the political (or religious) spectrum and occasionally realize that those other guys just might be right.

  6. Well said.

    I am in the vast minority as a mormon democrat. I usually avoid political discussions at all costs with church members, unless we are very, very good friends. Over 90% of our close friends are also Republican, mormon or no, and so, I have to be very tolerant of those beliefs. (Even though I strongly disagree with most of their opinions on various political topics).

    But I find it’s much more interesting, and useful to really try to understand their positions and to listen carefully when the chance presents itself. I will defend my positions if needed but I absolutely refuse to get into arguments about such things with people I genuinely like.

    Besides, I think we are all more alike than we are different, and I wish we would all keep that in mind more often. At the end of the day, we really want many of the same things, we just disagree on how to accomplish that goal.

    I must say that in my opinion, mormon democrats are much more likely to be careful to tread lightly with political topics than mormon republicans.

    My husband is a partner at a law firm where there are 4 other mormon partners. 3 Democrats, 2 Republicans. Recent law school grads from BYU often make the mistake of discussing politics from a republican bias and often loose the job for that reason. I often think mormon republicans could try a little harder to be more cognisant of the idea that not EVERY mormon is a republican. But it’s understandable I suppose.

    My parents have always blamed my liberal tendencies on attending BYU. I find this very laughable, but it’s an amusing anecdote to tell my friends.

  7. The older I get, the more I find myself mixing and matching my partisanship, therefore I resent being held to any one party.

    #5– Your thoughts remind me of a favorite quote, an observation made of Lord Salisbury: “He sees both sides to any issue; the penalty of a thoughtful man.”

    Look, I just want to be inspired, but the din of partisanship only discourages me.

  8. MarkinPNW says:

    #7- I am reminded of the quote variously attributted either to Winston Churchill or George Orwell, “If you are not a liberal at 20, you don’t have a heart, if you’re not a conservative at 40, you don’t have common sense.” I’ve been variously liberal Democrat, conservative Republican, and now being well beyond 40, I find my views an eclectic combination from several branches of political philosophy, primarily libertarian, with some conservatism, some “socialism”, and in line with the OP’s Nibley quote, even some “Gospel centered” constitutionalism (D&C98:4-8 and D&C101:77-80) thrown in to make me “impertinently” “more correct” than the rest of you. Maybe it is “impertinence” that I am increasingly disgusted with the corruption of both major parties; with both Reid and Hatch, with both the Clintons and the Bush’s. I even think that ETB’s infamous rants might have a lot of truth to them, if applied to BOTH parties! Well, there you have it, if anyone disagrees with me, you must be the spawn of …. (oh well, my skill at sarcasm and smilies through the internet being probably non-existent, I just better quit).

  9. Peter LLC says:

    I agree that church is not the place to behave as though God likes my political views better than others.

    However, I believe you are giving the concept of rationality short shrift if you limit the concept to a logical argument, as you seem do to with your refernce to “post hoc justifications of foregone conclusions,” or if you are referring to decisions that are influenced by norms, feelings or other “non-objective” criteria as irrational.

    also, your conclusion that voting patterns are accidents of birth like height or eye color is quite radical and, I believe, unsupportable. I imagine that the difficulty in getting Americans to think objectively about government programs with “social” in the description, for example, is due in part to their political socialization that pre-determines how the long the pole must be to touch a particular issue. Put those red-blooded babies in a European hospital and of course they will grow up expecting to donate most of their paycheck to suppport the common good, even if their eye color remains the same. So sure, nuture matters, but nature?

  10. “If you are not a liberal at 20, you don’t have a heart, if you’re not a conservative at 40, you don’t have common sense.”

    I recently heard a new (and, I think, better) spin on this, one that fits this post nicely:

    A neocon is a liberal that got mugged.
    A neoliberal is a conservative that got sick.

  11. Peter LLC,

    I freely admit that I am giving rationality short shrift here, but that is because I see so little rationality in the way that we currently conduct our political discourse. As for allowing norms or feelings to carry weight in our discussion, well, I just don’t think it works. How do you imagine someone would be treated if he said the he felt WIC should be done away with tomorrow, and offered no other evidence for his argument?

    . . .your conclusion . . . is quite radical and, I believe, unsupportable.

    Peter, how could you make such an outrageous and inflammatory claim? Obviously you need to repent. It is clear that if you really loved Jesus, you would agree with me. /smiley here/

    Actually, I think you made the argument very concisely with the hospital comparison, and the reference to eye color or height was to show that, wherever we fall on the left-right continuum, it is nothing to be proud of in itself.

  12. Yesterday at T&S there was a post asking for scriptual justification of being a Mormon and a Democrat titled “Helping out Harry Reid.” The premise of that post, in my opinion, was that we should try to justify our political beliefs with scriptural evidence. While I believe that our religious beliefs should inform our political beliefs, I also believe that we jeopardize our community relations in the church – brotherhood and sisterhood – when we try to justify or defend our politics with religious concepts. To suggest that my politics are ordained of God and your are not is a blasphemous idea in my opinion and I think Mark’s post is saying simply that.

  13. Helmut says it best in #1:

    Unless we want to give up on democracy altogether, we have to put up with political alliances.

    It’s nice and dandy to be “one” and not divisive, but alas, this is how it is in democracies. It is the nature of democracies. Opposing parties. Parties in opposition one to another. It is impossible to stop such divisions in a democracy. Heck, even in our own country, our Founding Fathers were quite divisive, even to treasonous points. Such as Thomas Jefferson working with the French to undermine John Adams when Jefferson was Adams’ own Vice President! In 1800, this country nearly came to blows over divisive politics. The Civil War dealt with divisive politics.

    And divisive politics cannot be avoided, even in our church. We have, unfortunately, had church leaders get into divisive politics, from the pulpit, from general conference, say things which were quite divisive politically. How can you ask that in church we avoid divisive politics when our own church leaders have done so themselves?

  14. Dan,

    Let me make it clear, once more, that I have nothing against bare knuckle partisan politics. I agree with you and Hellmut that it is a necessary part of life. I’m glad there are people who want to pursue that line of work, just as I am glad that there are people who clean out the grease traps at Burger King and who work for RotoRooter.

    I think the church should be above politics, and consequently take strong exception to partisanship in the church, whether it is committed by a general authority or anybody else. It is appalling that Senator Reid is asked how it is possible to be a Mormon and a democrat. Shame on all of us for allowing the problem to get to this point. But if we want to justify the further politicization of the church because of that, I think we are just making the hole deeper.

  15. Mark,

    I too wish our religion was not politicized. And maybe you’re right that the answer is to let bygones be bygones and go back to how it should be where our religion is, or should be, above politics.

  16. Mark,

    Great post. I’ve been involved in a couple of these discussions online here and at T&S recently, and I’m reflecting on the dialog a lot. I’m the only member of my family that has openly declared affiliation with the Democratic party on a regular basis (since about 1980). I’ve wondered why my political beliefs are different than my two older brothers, and have come to the conclusion that although some of it might be rebellion against my parents much more conservative beliefs, graduating from high school in 1969 and attending college during the pinnacle of debate over the Vietnam war colored my experiences in a way that it did not for my siblings.

    But as to divisive discussions, I have learned over the years that it’s fun to kind of poke my republican friends at church about my moderate to liberal leanings, just to let them know there really are Mormon Democrats. But I really try, and have pretty much succeeded, in limiting it to that level of discussion. I recognize that my political views can be informed by my faith, but that ultimately, as President Faust noted, in the long run, it won’t really be as important as the gospel.

    Ed Firmage hit the nail on the head when he wrote in his book 1980’s book, “Paul and the Expansion of the Church Today” that to link the timeless and eternal truths of the gospel with the cultural and political trends of our particular time is pointless, as they are institutions of men that have in them the seeds of their own obsolescence.

    The place for partisan discussions is secular, and if I start to get wound up, it’s because even though I recognize the limitations of my political beliefs, so many others are so sure of the eternal and doctrinal nature of their philosophies. (Oh the irony!)

    My wife, who is moderate to conservative, often votes differently than I do. In at least one of the recent presidential elections, if not more, I’ve found that my wife, my adult children, and I have ended up voting for three different presidential candidates. I’ve forgiven them all except for the Nader votes in 2000! :)

  17. Better be carefull, kevinf. We’ll banish you to the other side of the lake!

  18. Adam Greenwood says:

    Does it make sense to criticize someone for being born in Tallahassee?

    Social science has not shown that people’s political opinions are completely immune to reason and logic. They are heavily influenced by other factors, but they aren’t entirely so. Argument isn’t useless.

    Speaking of argument, I think the argument in this post is deeply incoherent. Either you think that people’s political views and political actions are determined by their background or they don’t. It makes no sense to try to persuade people to stop acting the way they do politically on the grouns that telling people to change their political actions is fruitless.

  19. KyleM,

    It’s no fun living where everyone thinks the same way you do! But you know, the Eastside is trending more democratic in recent elections. I may have to move deeper into Redmond or out to the Plateau to continue to be in the minority!

  20. Adam Greenwood says:

    Also, I find it pretty ironic to cite Nibley as an authority for not mixing political views with the gospel.

  21. Adam Greenwood says:

    It is a difficult road to trod, requiring us to put the quest for truth over loyalty to the community

    These are not necessarily opposed values, and if they are, its not clear that the “quest for truth” should always triumph.

  22. BTW, Mark, after the last two discussions about Senator Reid here and at T&S, I’m just beginning to see the dimensions of the hole. The huge attachment I feel for my shovel is just not natural. Or perhaps “natural” in the sense of the “natural man”. If I could just get the other guy to drop his shovel first…..

  23. Adam, put down your shovel, and I’ll put down mine. You first.

    Hellmut, I agree with your # 1 about parties serving a useful function in a secular society. Mark is saying that the gospel ideally should be a politics-free zone. I agree. I just get tired of the “one true party” syndrome, because there isn’t one, in gospel terms.

  24. I know that in the past, I have been guilty of the folly decried by Bro. Nibley above. I will probably be guilty of it again in the future. Unfortunately, for those of us who take politics seriously and who also take the Gospel and our Mormon identity, there is a near-inevitability about conflating the two.

    If we are honest, we have to admit that fault here lies on both (all) sides. Conservative members of the Church often have too-thick skulls and cannot understand that not all good members of the Church are conservative/Republican and that they should not be. They take too little caution with their words and their pride about how liberals in the Church must be secretly wicked, inactive, unfaithful, etc. Liberal members of the Church often have too-thin skins and immediately jump to their own defense, often taking up the sword of Gospel principles in haste. It too smacks of arrogance to suggest that if conservative members really understood the Gospel/were smarter/etc., they would be liberals.

    The point is, there is enough in politics, and enough of the Gospel, that individuals can focus on different parts of them and come to different conclusions. My only beef is with those conservatives/Republicans (which is NOT to say ALL, either inside or outside the Church) who hold their beliefs out of selfishness or a lack of concern for others. I cannot imagine that this is a truly Gospel-centered principle.

  25. Lamonte,

    “The premise of that post, in my opinion, was that we should try to justify our political beliefs with scriptural evidence.”

    I am inclined to think that if possible, we should try to _form_ (rather than justify) our political beliefs based on scripture whereever possible.

    Recall that Hugh Nibley tried to do this all the time, and it has been done repeatedly by many prominent general authorities, and, as I recall specifically advocated by some of them. In fact, we have a section of the Doctrine and Covenants specifically dedicated to thinking about political issues. Not to mention a ton of stuff in the Book of Mormon.

    Though I fully agree that people should be wary about attributing their political views to God and that one’s views can be too much a victim of one’s life experiences.

    By the way, I ended up writing that post after seeing a (still present) bcc sidebar link to the quote about being Democrat because he was Mormon.

  26. Adam, incoherence is my middle name, and it is heartening to see that you, of all people, recognize it. I agree with you that attempts at argument are not useless, but I think they usually are. And I’m not arguing that we stop those arguments, just that we stop them in church settings.

    I’m saying (for the third time now) that political discussion is necessary, just as blowing our noses and using the toilet is necessary. But we don’t bring those topics up in church.

    As far as your objection to citing Nibley, fair enough. Read the latest statement from the First Presidency on political neutrality if you like.

  27. Steve Evans says:

    I find it genuinely odd that people would argue over Mark’s post. His message seems to simply be one of “let’s all get along, and not let partisan politics be a divider of the Saints.” Is that really a controversial thing? Are these right/left divides so dear that we bristle at even the thought of laying them down? It’s bizarre to me.

  28. “And I’m not arguing that we stop those arguments, just that we stop them in church settings.”

    Do you consider this blog a Church setting?

    “His message seems to simply be one of “let’s all get along, and not let partisan politics be a divider of the Saints.” ”

    I thought his message was that we should not talk about politics in “Church settings”. I think that is different.

  29. One other important thing I learned along the way is that there really are two sides to every issue. In high school I was on the debate squad, and it earned me a college scholarship, where I continued that for a year or two. I found that I could really argue passionately and convincingly either side of the same issue at a moments notice.

    I’m more than willing to recognize that the opposing viewpoints are not without merit, and that mine are not always more correct. I am not, nor have I ever been, a straight party line voter.

    Mark is saying, especially as we head deeper into the presidential campaign that began a year ago, and is endless in it’s nature, that we don’t beat ourselves up as members of the church. That is especially significant because of Romney’s presence in the field as a viable candidate (at least for now). The point is not to denigrate a fellow saint for their political choices, any more than to question their choice of toilet paper (to extend Mark’s current metaphor for politics).

    Now where did I put my shovel.

  30. Frank,

    Thanks for asking questions that help me refine the points I want to make.

    To answer your questions:

    1)No, I don’t think blogs are church settings, but I think much of the behavior we see on blogs slops over into face to face encounters at church, so we still ought to be careful.

    2)I should have made a clearer distinction between politics and partisanship. I think the way we almost instinctively react to political labels is not productive. Political labels can function as a heuristic device to provide shortcuts in the way we process our thoughts, but they have now become mostly a susbtitute for thinking, imo. I didn’t think there was anything at all wrong with the way you approached your topic yesterday on the thread you posted. I appreciated the way you focused the comments. But the fact that you difined the topic narrowly and made the effort to focus the comments and then cut if off after a while indicate to me that you also thought there was a real possibility that the conversation might go off the cliff. Am I right?

  31. I would like to second the proposition that Frank is a blasphemer.

  32. As one who played in the threadjack, I think Frank was right to cut it off. We were way off topic, and not really having any productive dialog at that point. Frank was specific in his requests, and some of us brought in our metaphorical backhoes to dig our holes deeper.

    One should not preach politics from the pulpit, or during fast & testimony meeting, or in Gospel Doctrine, or PH/RS meetings. How does one respond to a situation where someone goes off the track in a setting like that? That’s where this can get tricky. If I advocate for universal health care in a gospel doctrine class, or someone uses a PH lesson as a springboard for advocating our votes for Mitt Romney, we’re clearly out of line. Is it appropriate for someone as a class member to raise a flag, without furthering the problem? Or should we defer to the SS President/RS President, and bring it up privately with them?

  33. Steve Evans says:

    Frank, should it matter whether the Saints are divided in Church settings, or elsewhere? It seems to me that the context doesn’t matter — at least in terms of being one with each other and with Christ. But I appreciate your desire to argue.

  34. kevinf, in regards to your question in #32, this is an occurrence we do get in our PH meetings from time to time. One of our brethren, a retired army intelligence officer and major hawk, uses “clever” ways to inject his political doctrines in the discussions. Thankfully, our HPGL is a peacemaker and de-fuses the issue by changing the subject, usually with a gospel-related question. He’s so deft at it that it doesn’t come off as an offense, and the rest of us gratefully follow his lead. I guess what I’m saying is, the best way to address such an encounter is to leave it alone– and hopefully the auxiliary leader is strong enough to shepherd the group.

  35. Frank #25 – Your response reinforces the reason I erased my first and only attempt to your post yesterday at T&S. A friend of mine who knows my Democratic pedigree wrote to asked me why I hadn’t commented on your post. I explained that I am not a scriptural scholar or even a novice and felt my comment would not fit with the others in your post. I’m sure you are right in your assertion that the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Convenants contains reference to political issues but I am not aware of the specific passages and I’m a little too lazy to search for them during an afternoon blog (when I should working). My experience as a confessed Democrat is that even people in the church who have known me for years automatically change their opinion of my character when they come to understand my political leanings. Likewise, when my conservatives friends begin to explain their political philosophies I sometimes have second thoughts about my opinion of them as well. That is why I think we should avoid linking politics to religion when our religion does so much to bring us together. I guess I get caught up in the rhetoric of the politicians (and the blogs) more than I should. I wasn’t being critical of your blog at T&S but just felt it promoted something I would prefer not to do.

    Ronan #31 – Stop being a troublemaker! ;-)

  36. David T,

    Thanks. I was wondering how others have handled it. I’m afraid it happens all too often, and the situations are always delicate to avoid offending.

    I have most recently tried to ignore it, but one one recent occasion with a retired Naval Intelligence officer (small world!) felt that it was egregious enough that it required a response, so I went to the HPGL after the meeting, and just asked him a couple of questions. He’s a retired naval fighter pilot, but he was also of the opinion that the instructor that day was out of line, and took it up privately with him later.

    But most often, other than maybe making a small, self-deprecating joke about it, I try to ignore it.

  37. Mark, how would you feel if Martin Luther King Jr. had been a Mormon? Conceivably, the civil rights movement might not have succeeded had it not been for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

    I agree with you that there is something wrong about the Mormon kind of mingling politics and religion. Insofar as there are beneficial cases of mingling politics and religion, it seems to me that we need to dig a little deeper to identify the error precisely.

  38. Mark, thanks for the response. The invested wisdom of T&S (such as it is) is that unless a thread is going somewhere it should probably retire after 100 or so comments. I could not reasonably claim that the thread was going anywhere, so I let it go. I know that can be frustrating to any who were hoping to comment, and I really liked a lot of the comments (especially the ones that so clearly worked to answer the question). But I fully recognize that contention in politics is a live concern. Broad political posts seem to me to be very hard to make productive (which I think is what you were alluding to in your post). I try to stick with narrower ones.

    It was also interesting to see people who, as is our want, read into my request an argument that was not there, or a claim on my part that I was not making. But it isn’t the first time. I should probably learn to add a paragraph of caveats to the end of each post about what it isn’t saying.

    Lamonte, Certainly if it makes you contentious you should avoid it like the plague (and maybe I should avoid tempting you :). I really was just interested in hearing the evidence from the scriptures that people use to justify welfare payments.

    Steve, Maybe you could make “division among the Saints” that the next subject of your Friday Firestorm (after perhaps renaming it the Friday Get-A-Long Pony Party)

    Ronan, I wrote a post a while ago entitled the Blasphemy of Truth. Nothing a heretic like you would be interested in, but still.

  39. Also, I should add that I really dislike raw politics in Church. I don’t particularly care whether it is right or left wing (and I’ve gotten to see my share of both) and I much prefer to leave it out. Not that I have any problem with the Church asking us to support moral issues in our votes, I just don’t like the (thankfully rare) random partisanship of members.

    I feel that way with the understanding that there are other places where we can talk about ideas that are interesting and relevant to living our faith, but not quite right in Sunday School.

  40. Steve Evans says:

    Frank, my hypocrisy is plain for all to see.

  41. Adam Greenwood says:

    Mark IV,
    I agree wholeheartedly with #36, including the part about me being the last person one would expect to recognize incoherence.

  42. Adam Greenwood,

    your, comment # 41 is incoherent. Did you mean to reference comment # 26, rather than # 36?

  43. There is a brother in our ward who can’t understand how any good Mormon could be a Democrat – and, therefore, can’t understand how one of the former councilors in our bishopric could be a Democrat, since he obviously is a wonderful Mormon. He also can’t understand how inconsistent his paradigm is – which is the point, imo, about keeping partisan politics out of discussions at Church.

    One the other hand, there are at least two very vocal Democrats in our ward who constantly interject partisan comments into class discussions. In almost all cases, I just smile and nod and “Hmmm” my way around it – except for those times when a statement is made as if it was Church doctrine when it isn’t. In those cases, my position dictates I address it openly – and, hopefully, with the Spirit. Usually, that means a simple, “I can understand what Bro. X is saying, but this is an area where each member has his or her own opinion – and there isn’t any specific Church doctrine.”

    Political issues overlap naturally, and I have no problem with that; partisanship doesn’t have to overlap.

  44. Ray’s and others’ comments remind me why I still live and attend church in Brooklyn. Unlike the churches described in somebody’s recent post, we don’t have grounds with ball fields and volleyball courts around our buildings and we don’t have basketball courts or cultural halls or stages or cars to drive there in or parking lots to park the cars in, and the kitchens are about the size of my shower at home.

    But, nobody ever talks about politics in the branches in our district. Nobody ever suggests that his or her politics are inspired or required by God or that someone whose politics are different are inconsistent with the truth that God has revealed.

    And, we don’t even sing patriotic songs in our district. We’re with John Taylor on that one: “The Kingdom of God or Nothing!” Besides, what would we sing? “Mexicanos, al grito de guerra”? or “Quisqueyanos valientes” or maybe “Forged From the Love of Liberty”? and then “Jamaica, Land We Love”. (I suspect the Jamaica Ward next door in Queens could sing this last one.)

  45. Adam Greenwood says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with #42, including the part about getting the number wrong.

  46. the reluctant nihilist says:

    it never ceases to amaze me that intelligent people (whatever religious affiliation) can think that HOW they believe politically can influence anything going on in the world.

    Yes, that is cynical–

    but we rant, and we discuss, and we argue, and does anything change?

    I see this in LDS partisans all the time, whatever their beliefs. While not being partisan myself, at least Democrats have the moxie to challenge the “all good Mormons are Republicans” assumption.

    I see Democrats and Republicans as opposing high school athletic teams.

    What happens in the game won’t matter much in 20 years or less–

    REAL LIFE is happening outside of those parties–

    decisions are being made outside the parties, and the joke is on those who think it matters–

    AND . . . while we need to have a place to express our beliefs, WHO believes “all Republican” or “all Democrat”–

    I hear “pro-life Democrat” or “pro-choice Republican”, and I shake my head at the absurdity of it all–

    I’m glad there is a place to discuss it; I really appreciate the comments here–

    but do any of you really believe that it matters?

    I think politics are a game to keep us from thinking about what is really going on.

    If we thought too hard about it . . . we couldn’t cope–


  1. […] Brown, over at By Common Consent, seems to have gone through a similar range of feelings I did. Thanks to Brown for finding this gem […]

  2. […] Mark Brown would probably like George Orwell’s aphorism: “To see what is in front of our nose, requires a constant struggle.” In the wake of Harry Reid’s speech at BYU, ‘naclers have been struggling with the role of politics in our religion. […]

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