The Omni-Political Kingdom of God

Why do the members of Christ tear one another? Why do we rise up against our own body in such madness? Have we forgotten that we are all members of one another?—Pope St. Clement of Rome

 

One of the first people I baptized on my mission was a communist. Guillermo was from Nicaragua and had supported the Sandinista government. When the United States started to fund the Contras, he fled here to avoid reprisals there.

The Ward Mission Leader, in whose home we taught Guillermo most of the discussions, was from Chile. He had been a supporter of Augusto Pinochet, the right-wing dictator who seized power and killed the country’s leftist president in 1973. I’m not sure why he came to the United States, but I always got the impression that it had something to do with politics.

It is likely that our small Spanish branch in Modesto, California, had more political diversity in a single home-teaching companionship than exists in the entire LDS population of the United States. But it was never a problem. People didn’t talk politics there, or at least, they didn’t talk about the politics of their nations of origin. They were all waiting to see whether or not Ronald Reagan would grant a blanket amnesty, which he—with a bi-partisan Congressional vote–did in 1986. Everybody liked that—the fascists and the communists alike.

I have been thinking a lot about this branch in the last few weeks, as I read one story stating that Mormons support Donald Trump more than any other religious group, and watched another Latter-day Saint in the Senate compare the same Donald Trump to Josef Stalin. What does it all mean?

Well, it means a lot of things—none of which, I would argue, have much to do with the Gospel or with the Kingdom of God. I suspect that this will not be a popular view with anyone. Throughout my life, I have heard many people say that good Mormons cannot be good Democrats. I disagree. Over the last year, I have heard nearly as many people say that one cannot be a good Latter-day Saint and support Donald Trump. I also disagree. If it matters at all, the Gospel must be bigger than the small spectrum of possibility represented by America’s political spectrum.

Look at all of the political systems that have existed in the world—monarchies, caliphates, empires, collectives, Republics, and so on. What are the chances that God has drawn a big bright line between a slightly-left-of-center party and a slightly-right-of-center-party that most human beings who have ever lived would find indistinguishable from each other? At the very least, this requires some extremely ethnocentric, American exceptionalist assumptions about the Kingdom (or, perhaps, the People’s Republic) of God.

In 2012, Thomas Griffith–who is both a Latter-day Saint and a federal judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals–gave a devotional presentation at BYU called “The Hard Work of Understanding the Constitution.” It is the best thing I have ever read in the BYU Alumni Magazine, and it has become my go-to source for thinking about what I call the Omni-Political Kingdom of God. In this talk, Judge Griffith says, among other very important things,

I distance myself from the foolish nonsense that to be a Latter-day Saint in the United States today requires or even tends toward a particular partisan affiliation. . . . . If your education at BYU hasn’t helped you see that such partisan talk is “rot,” then you have failed in your studies. And I’m not kidding.

None of this is to suggest that our political struggles are not important or that they should not be informed by our understanding of the Gospel. We are supposed to have strong feelings about such things, and we are supposed to do everything in our power to enact our beliefs in the public sphere. This is important, good, and proper. But Zion is something bigger than our politics can even imagine. And I am quite sure that anyone who can’t imagine actually being friends with somebody from another political party is going to have some really serious reservations about the Kingdom of God.

Comments

  1. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    There is one problem, though: if you don’t believe that someone has any business being a full citizen of your country based on their temporal characteristics–ethnicity, culture, language–how can you be with them in Zion?

    I would argue that while large majorities in both major US political parties are not exclusionary on that basis, there is a non-trivial faction in the US Republican Party that genuinely believes that they cannot live in the same country with more than relatively trivial numbers of persons not of their own ethnicity, culture, or language–and while not all Trump supporters fall into this camp, virtually everyone who falls into this camp is a Trump supporter. Moreover, this exclusionary tendency more than anything else is what animates Trump supporters; the Atlantic, among others, has published work conclusively demonstrating this.

    Do we want people in Zion who, in the halls of the Temple of the Lord, would call another Saint a n****r? Because I’m pretty sure the people who would do so don’t actually want anyone with black skin in Zion.

  2. It’s rare that I disagree with you, Michael, but I disagree with you here. You seem to be implying that our political choices have no spiritual consequences, but they absolutely do. The examples you provide demonstrate the ability of people to reach out and be fellow Saints despite those choices – but this does not erase the import of those choices. Yes, Zion is bigger than our politics, but when we elect people who are opposed to Zion, our politics can definitely matter. Just ask the Mormon Dreamers.

  3. >Over the last year, I have heard nearly as many people say that one cannot be a good Latter-day Saint and support Donald Trump. I also disagree.

    This is awkward: https://twitter.com/ByCommonConsent/status/951336420362264576

  4. Steve, I guess that I have spent so long listening to Mormon Republicans say that someone can’t be a good person and a Democrat because abortion, that I react negatively to my own side using the same reasoning and making almost all of the same mistakes: oversimplifying, reducing complicated decisions to inflammatory paraphrases of hot-button issues, ignoring the fact that everybody compromises a lot in a two-party system, that democracy is a messy process, and that our political spectrum is extremely narrow in any meaningful global sense.

    Yes, people’s political beliefs can have spiritual consequences, but it is not my job to decide what those are for other people, any more than it is their job to decide it for me. I have plenty of problems with Donald Trump and with the modern Republican party, and I have written about those problems extensively. I just don’t imagine that God is as sure of things as I am or that I am exempted from my baptismal covenants when it comes to Trump voters.

  5. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    The OP’s argument also contradicts the notion of the principles enshrined in the US Constitution–a deeply flawed document, to be sure, but in no way rotten to the core–being divinely inspired. Those principles are what have been adopted by every free society on earth, in varying but fundamentally similar ways.

  6. Wilhelm, we at BCC don’t always agree on things. That is OK too. We aren’t supposed to always agree on things. Wouldn’t life be boring if we did?

  7. Sure, and as a statement of individual responsibility I agree with you, that my hand of fellowship must be extended regardless of political affiliation.

    However, another part of our duty is to decry evil when we see it, and succor those among us most in need of aid. Some of us have the luxury of seeing past politics because we are largely immune from the consequences of political platforms. I think God most definitely cares about what we do with that luxury.

  8. Michael Austin, when did you serve in Modesto?

  9. Will you at least acknowledge that “seeing past politics” (something I have never done and can document quite extensively that I have taken very seriously) is not the same thing as “insisting that anybody who disagrees with me on political issues is an evil person or an inadequate saint” (something that I try never to do and try to actively resist when I see anybody on any side doing it.)

    Writing people off as evil is too easy. It does not require us to engage politically in any meaningful way. But it also makes us unable to persuade anybody of the rightness of our view. I am not entirely sure that we have a spiritual responsibility to call out evil in people. I am convinced that we have a moral, ethical, spiritual, and political responsibility to engage with people we think are wrong–especially in ways that have spiritual consequences–in ways that are actually capable of changing minds. Labeling someone evil is not one of those ways.

  10. Unknown: I was there in the summer of 1986.

  11. Heptaparaparshinokh, I do not believe that the US Constitution was inspired by God in any way beyond the very general way that everything worthwhile is, ultimately, inspired by God. It is a product of the Enlightenment with all of the blindnesses and insights of that movement. It was a wretched betrayal of the humanity of millions of slaves. But it was also a far-sighted document that allowed for change and understood many important things about human nature and the origins of both democracy and tyranny. I respect it deeply, but I do not worship it.

  12. Steve, I read Michael as suggesting that the gospel duties to decry evil and succor others (and all other gospel principles) should transcend — and not be dependent on — party affiliation, earthly political philosophy and day-to-day political skirmishes. One does not need to support Hillary Clinton to care about the poor; one does not need to support Donald Trump to care about religious freedom. Indeed, I think the Brethren would like us to view these issues apart from any political platform. For example, here is Elder D. Todd Christofferson on religious freedom:

    “As you speak out, refrain from casting your views on religious freedom as a matter of party politics. Support for the right of free exercise of religion must transcend the political skirmishes of the moment. Many good men and women of all political persuasions now work together to bolster this right. It belongs to all Americans, all should work for its preservation, and none should be made to feel that political affiliations are an impediment to doing so.”

    https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/elder-christofferson-transcript-nyldspa-annual-banquet-november-2017

  13. Yeah, I can see where 3/5th’s is inspired.

  14. Unknown, yes. Like I said, the personal obligation to be Christ like is clear.

  15. jaxjensen says:

    There some here who seem who think that being someone who “genuinely believes that they cannot live in the same country with more than relatively trivial numbers of persons not of their own ethnicity, culture, or language” is a terrible and unconscionable thing, but they also can’t see the rampant hypocrisy in apparently “genuinely believ[ing] that they cannot live in the same country with… persons not of their own [political understanding].” They think this latter line of thought is normal and laudable.

  16. Eric Facer says:

    Michael, I share your sentiments. While I did not vote for Trump and believe he has debased our political discourse and advanced many harmful policies, we err when we write off, and make no effort to understand, those who support him. After you read books such as “Hillbilly Ellegy” and “White Trash,” you begin to grasp the frustration and pain experienced for decades by a large segment of the American public—citizens who saw, and still see, Trump as a potential solution. They are not deplorables and we become the very thing we loathe when we treat them as such.

  17. Eric, I couldn’t agree more. In February of 2016–ten months before the election, I wrote a post on my IVN blog that said exactly this, and, in the uncharitable spirit of “I told you so,” I stand by every word:

    Trump shaming is not working. It is backfiring badly because the bulk of Trump’s supporters have been on the receiving end of these kinds of sneering, sarcastic, superior comments for much of their lives. When liberals (and in culture-war terms, this includes Democrats, media outlets, and establishment Republicans) make sneering and disparaging remarks about Donald Trump, the people in his core audience feel even more affinity with him; the same liberals have been making disparaging remarks about them for years.

    Shame and sarcasm are not going to defeat Trump because shame and sarcasm created him. Those who do not want to see a Trump presidency (and I include myself in this number) need to change tactics quickly. Mockery and derision have been complete failures.

    https://ivn.us/2016/02/10/dear-liberal-friends-trump-shaming-isnt-working-stop/

  18. When I got married, I was a Democrat and my husband was a Republican. But we never had an argument about politics. We had far more important things to argue about.

    I have some friends (on the right and the left) whose politics offend me, frankly, but all this means is that I don’t follow them on Facebook. This allows me to think of them in the context that I really know them, as people who have good qualities and challenges and all the things that make up real life.

  19. I think the majority of the members of the church who voted for Trump did so mainly because their chosen media protected them from knowing much about Trump’s true character and/or because they are so anti-Democrat that they’ll vote Republican no matter what. For the majority, it’s not a matter of a reaction to shaming. It’s the long-held belief of the superiority of the Republican party, and the belief that the church is a Republican church. Even with Trump as president, I still hear nonsense in church meetings along the lines of “Republicans good Democrats bad.” They honestly believe that’s the church’s position.

    There are a few self-described “deplorables” in my ultra-conservative ward. Some of them hold leadership positions. But they’re the exception. This is Mormon country, not Hillbilly country, the deplorables notwithstanding. I don’t know if shaming works or not. Perhaps a better strategy is to tell stories about people who are significantly harmed by Trump’s policies–with a focus on RMs, families, etc. That won’t help change the minds of deplorables, but it might soften the hearts of others who voted for Trump.

  20. Michael wrote: “If it matters at all, the Gospel must be bigger than the small spectrum of possibility represented by America’s political spectrum.”

    I think that’s right, but it’s incomplete: If it matters at all, the Gospel must also make a difference within the small spectrum of possibility represented by America’s political spectrum. We are judged based on what we do in the circumstances in which we actually live. In terms of political action, there are things we can accomplish and people we can help—or not—within the system as it actually exists.

    The enemies that Jesus told us to love are sometimes our (political) enemies within the church. If the bottom line of the OP is that we must treat our political disagreements with civility, then I agree. On the other hand, if the message is that politics is by nature subordinate to the cause of Zion, then I can’t agree. I’m inclined to believe that we will achieve Zion through the operation of politics, not in spite of it.

  21. Trump shaming is not working….Mockery and derision have been complete failures.

    In the context of attempting to persuade the Republican primary electorate, Michael, this advice was proved completely prescient. However, in regards to the larger and more immediate context of stymieing Trump’s agenda, energizing the opposition to him, and thus preventing his re-election, the accuracy of this nearly two-year old advice has not yet, I think, been conclusively demonstrated.

  22. jaxjensen,

    I can live in a country with people who disagree with me on any number of issues. I don’t want to live in a country with people who believe that the United States should be defined as a white Christian (preferably Protestant) nation. If you don’t think that this is what animates the core of Trump’s support, you really need someone to fix your craniorectal inversion.

  23. So you agree with the slavers that slaves should have been counted as proportionally with non slaves for purposes of representatation? You agree with them that the South should have had more representatives in Congress?

    Personally, I don’t believe that any non free person should be counted for Congressional representation. So instead of 3/5, it should be 0/5 because their lack of freedom means that their alleged representation would be a sham.

    So if the Constitution said that slaves can not be counted when determining representatation in Congress, you’d be even more outraged? Your so you’re a little happy with 3/5 comparatively, but would really prefer that slave holders got maximum Congressional representation benefits?

  24. For a while I was disappointed in my fellow Mormons who supported Trump in word and deed, feeling that he embodied the antithesis of the family values for which Mormons go to the mat, but then I read an article that suggested Trump’s toxic masculinity is simply the time-honored patriarchy we know and love minus the mask of chivalry. As a result I’ve taken the arrow of hypocrisy out of my quiver.

  25. What are the chances that God has drawn a big bright line between a slightly-left-of-center party and a slightly-right-of-center-party that most human beings who have ever lived would find indistinguishable from each other? At the very least, this requires some extremely ethnocentric, American exceptionalist assumptions about the Kingdom (or, perhaps, the People’s Republic) of God

    Slim to none, which is one reason those at the helm of the Old Ship Zion ought to take the ethnocentric, American exceptionalist assumptions about the Kingdom that have been baked into the church from its very origins under consideration.

  26. What the crap was that comment about slave holders??

  27. Eric Russell says:

    Coincidentally, I think Thomas Griffith’s comments last Friday at the J. Reuben Clark law society fireside (which can be seen at jrcls.brightcovegallery.com) were a great addition to this topic. He addressed this idea of taking a Mormon approach to politics – an approach that isn’t drawn on particular partisan lines – but on ideals of unity, compromise, fairness and goodness.

    It’s worth noting that even as he was advocating for non-partisanship, he is also clearly advocating for bringing our values into the political sphere. And I think he’s clear as to what that means in the context of the current administration. (Incidentally, I talked to Brother Griffith, who is in my ward, about this speech on Sunday. He said it was well received by the members of the twelve who were in attendance.)

  28. an approach that isn’t drawn on particular partisan lines…it was well received by the members of the twelve

    Perhaps in part because the notion that one is a moderate non-partisan is as American as apple pie.

  29. Left Field says:

    For a time when I was a teenager, we had a wonderful home teacher. He came faithfully every month, we had great discussions about the gospel and other subjects. Never brought up politics. It was only some years later that I learned that he was a communist, and had been head of the party in Utah.

  30. I’ll second what Steve Evans said.

  31. Mike, great post. I’m conflicted on it. I want to agree, and before the rise of Trumpism, I probably would have agreed without any hesitation. But I think the current GOP leadership goes beyond good faith disagreement about politics into the realm of open racism, nativism, and misogyny. I think it’s a unique evil, not just different political ideas. But I’m also aware that every generation thinks that about the problems it faces, and I think it’s important not to be so self-important.

    Of course, saying that the current GOP stands for evils I can’t blink at is different from saying that I’ll have no fellowship with republicans. I deal with many very conservative members of the church all the time in my church responsibilities and we manage to get on, see each other as friends, and do the work of the kingdom. I’m not comfortable with the idea of a strict separation between politics and the gospel—the notion that a person’s politics have no bearing on his spiritual standing. That kind of falsely disjointed thinking allows us to justify all kinds of evil. But I believe that we have to beware of the temptation to see another person’s political sin as a mote in their eye that’s more urgent than our own sins, political or otherwise. And I believe that we have to be able to see individuals as individuals and not reduce them to their politics.

    Like I said, I’m conflicted, but it’s a thought-provoking post.

  32. jaxjensen says:

    APM,

    I don’t like Trump, didn’t vote for him, and generally think he is a horrific human. I wasn’t defending him. I was trying to point out the “craniorectal inversion”-ness of saying that those who discriminate based on race/religion (Trump supporters if you will) are evil, can’t be tolerated, and need to be limited within our society. All that does is exchange race/religion for political thought. I think that discriminating against someone for political thought is just as evil, not to be tolerated, and should be as limited in our society as discriminating against race/religion ought to be. Essentially speaker of such a message is saying, “Discrimination based upon what I think is important is alright, but discrimination based upon what you find important is wrong.” While I didn’t and won’t vote for Trump, I don’t think supporting him makes you worthy of scorn, derision, or expulsion from society. A basis for anger/hatred/spite for political choices seems as misguided to me as anger/hatred/spite because of religious choices.

  33. jaxjensen says:

    APM, so haven give this more thought, I might even disagree with myself. There ARE religious rites/practices/beliefs that I think make one worthy of expulsion from our society and there ARE political rites/practices/beliefs that do the same. They didn’t come to mind initially, but as I started to think about more extreme (violent/destructive) practices then I began to think of that last sentence as wrong.

    I don’t think the core of Trump supporters fit this category, nor do I think the core of “resistance” does. I do see hate from the Trump camp toward many, but I see at least as much hate toward the Trump camp. Ugly, vile hatred everywhere I look. I don’t think either is justified. “What are the chances that God has drawn a big bright line between a slightly-left-of-center party and a slightly-right-of-center-party that most human beings who have ever lived would find indistinguishable from each other?” This is a great way to put it… the difference in their actual beliefs of the two sides is comparatively minor, but the level of passion with which they hate each other is astoundingly out of proportion.

    In our current political environment, using vile hateful speech to ridicule the vile hateful speech of your political opponents is hypocritical to me. That was the point of my original post.

  34. An Old Bish says:

    Kinda late in life I was called last year to serve as bishop of a family ward in southern California. To my surprise, I’ve discovered that most of the YM in my ward have political views at or perhaps even further to the right (if that’s possible) of those who voted for President Trump (even though their parents are either traditional Republicans or Democrats).

    These YM appear to have secured most of their views from right-wing and alt-right internet sites. They know I’m a moderate Democrat, and we respectively exchange our political views outside of church during Saturday service activities or while enjoying informal meals together. They’ve expressed appreciation for my willingness to listen and not convey outraged judgment (something their parents have a hard time resisting).

    As indicated by some of the comments regarding Mr. Austin’s post, I question whether I should express more shock and dismay to them regarding some of their views, but I feel constrained not to; I do try to moderate their views as part of our respectful conversations. As Mr. Trump might say, we’ll see how it all turns out.

  35. Aarp – I think you were responding to Greg J”s sarcastic comment as if it were a heartfelt belief.(it’s hard to assume the motivations of two different people, moreso when it’s a tangent to the post.) The 3/5 compromise was a way to get through the impasse that was keeping the Constitution from being ratified, so one could see that the compromise itself was inspired to keep the whole from failing. Personally, I’d have let the Southern States go and annex them later than give such an appeasement, but I wasn’t there.

    Anyway – to the post —

    Brilliant, all in all. I especially appreciated the link to the devotional talk; it’s now got a place in my list of favorites that I’ll come back to periodically. I do wish we could get back to more talking about our views rather than throwing memes about what we think of the “other side” and what we think they are doing. Maybe we just need to get better at making thought-provoking memes.

  36. Most LDS support for Trump in my view comes from the typical things that conservatives like. AKA Tax cuts, judges, trimming the fed gov, and cultural issues. One understated thing is how upset conservatives are about college campus. Its really deeper than Trump. Its the age old right vs left battles.

  37. I would suggest that Mormon Republicans have a choice to make regarding their continued affiliation with a party that has gone off the deep end. The GOP has become the Party of Trump. Like it or not, it is a fact. Look at how the Republican senators and representatives excuse his unacceptable words and actions. Look at how they are attacking Robert Mueller (who is a Republican whom everyone on both sides praised for his integrity at the outset). Look at how Republicans are eager to lie in order to cover for Trump’s lies. The GOP is not the party you Republicans belonged to just ten years ago. Yes, it was headed in this direction, but it was not what it has become. But, regardless of your loyalty, it has become the Party of Trump. And it is not going back to what it was. Look at what happens to a Republican who dares speak the truth about Trump. Jeff Flake was rebuked by the chair of the GOP (Ronna ROMNEY McDaniel) for telling the truth. But it’s not just the outrages by Trump that should be problematic to Mormon Republicans. What do you do about the party’s priorities?The GOP has become the party of stupidity. Expertise is not valued by the Republican Party, and I’m not just talking about the GOP’s anti-science stance on climate change. On economics, tax policy, guns, pollution, education, and a host of other issues, if you are an expert, the GOP brands you “elite,” which has become the right-wing’s new pejorative. The recent tax “reform” legislation did nothing really to simplify the tax code or help the middle class. What it did was to create a way to funnel more money to the wealthy, which will increase the debt by $1.5 trillion, which will have to be paid back by guess who? Your kids and mine. The endless efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare revealed that the GOP never really had a plan for “replace” and never wanted one. Their idea of fixing health care is to remove insurance from over 20 million Americans and leave countless others vulnerable to bankruptcy. They never really wanted to make sure America joined the rest of the civilized world in providing health care for all citizens. They’re fine if thousands die because of their devotion to the almighty market. Am I being too tough on the GOP? No. All you have to do is look at their priorities to see what sort of America they want. My question is, when will Mormons wake up and see what sorts of policies they are supporting? Most Mormons can’t see past abortion and same-sex marriage. So they continue to vote against their own interests and against the well-being of our country.

  38. Old Bish. If the ym you are talking about are white they feel that way because of the far left feeling in high schools these days. It feels oppressive to white teenaged males. I hear this all the time at home with 4 teenaged boys and from their peers.

  39. My teen daughter has reported that several of the YM in our ward are alt-right as well. If these boys are feeling repressed in some way, that feeling is just that. These same kids are also the top of the school in grades, sports, money, and popularity. We are also in California, living in a place that is high percentage Hispanic.

  40. Bbell, I won’t question your boys’ experience, but as a general matter, I believe it is wrong–both empirically incorrect, and also morally culpable–to blame the recent rise of “alt-right” racism and nativism on some ill-defined notion of far-left feeling.

  41. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Bbell: those who have long enjoyed privilege tend to view its revocation as oppression. Until white men start getting pulled over regularly for no reason and beaten/shot by black and brown cops for talking back to them, any notion of “oppression” is absolutely ludicrous.

    Also, any LDS young man who flirts with the alt-right should, after a brief but vigorous beating about the neck and shoulders, be forced to watch footage of liberated concentration camps (perhaps A Clockwork Orange-style with his eyes held open) to understand the ideology he’s playing with. Any young man, really, but especially one who ostensibly has covenanted to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

    JKC: the connection between feelings of sexual entitlement and enrollment in far-right movements is pretty solidly empirically established. Scratch a tiki torch Nazi and you’ll find a horny young misogynist who probably spends 10 hours a week looking at porn. By the same token, Islamic State uses promises of sex slaves to recruit foot soldiers from across Europe and the Middle East. There’s a reason that computer gaming communities are ground zero for the spread of far-right ideology: these dudes are mostly horny young losers who don’t know how to talk to women and thus can’t get laid. (Having been something of a gamer and a geek in the late ’90s and early ’00s, I know whereof I speak.)

  42. I wonder if alt-right sympathies are more common among the YM than the general population? As someone with a boy to raise, protecting him from this kind of bad influence is one of my biggest concerns…

  43. your food allergy is fake says:

    Perhaps “oppression” isn’t quite what they’re feeling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a certain defensiveness could develop in these young white males whose history and social studies classes focus on a narrative, to some extent probably correctly but perhaps overemphasized in other cases, of past and current oppression by whites and males. I’m not suggesting the development of such a sentiment is justified, but these boys need also to be taught to deal with it productively.

  44. it's a series of tubes says:

    The recent tax “reform” legislation did nothing really to simplify the tax code or help the middle class.

    bzzzt

    Middle class person with kids here. The based on the estimation tools provided by several major media outlets, the reform will help my family. A LOT.

    bzzzzt

    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  45. JaxJensen
    “I think that discriminating against someone for political thought is just as evil, not to be tolerated, and should be as limited in our society as discriminating against race/religion ought to be.”

    Do you really believe this? Surely a person’s political beliefs reflect on the content of their character in a way that immutable characteristics do not. Or do you think something like KKK membership (based on a racist political ideology) is morally neutral?

  46. I doubt there are very few LDS teens that are truly Alt Right. There is a lot of conflating regular conservative type political beliefs with the real alt right who are a bunch of Neo Nazis. Its really more like a smear. Like calling a union supporter a communist.

    Back to the post at hand. The trump LDS approvsl rating is due to party politics and the left right political divide

  47. Bridgette… you quoted me from one post, but I had corrected myself in the very next post… read them both and get back to me.

  48. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Bbell,

    Part of the problem we’re dealing with here is the boundaries have been made very, very fuzzy. There’s a reason that Tom Cotton was willing to make himself look ridiculous by insisting that Trump said “s***house” rather than “s***hole”: he knows that the latter word is one that is commonly used by alt-righters to refer to pretty much any country outside of the US, Europe, and East Asia. It is as important in alt-right discourse as “cuck” or “SJW.”

    And where might Trump have heard this particular word used in this context? Perhaps on the lips of Steves Bannon and Miller, both of whom are well-documented white supremacists. (One wonders if Bannon’s hatred of East and South Asians comes from having his Mercedes rear-ended by a rich Persian or Korean kid in the parking lot of South Coast Plaza.)

    This is THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA using alt-right jargon. You cannot call him a fringe figure. You think that doesn’t trickle down?

  49. “Bbell: those who have long enjoyed privilege tend to view its revocation as oppression.”

    I suppose there’s a danger that we’re describing different things, but I actually see this attitude as emblematic of the left’s “privilege,” to borrow your term. There’s a lot of college campuses where the thought process is that of course all the professors and administrators are Democrats, because that’s the only moral and logical choice a rational, empathetic person can be. So there’s no need to revisit or challenge that political homogeneity, because the correctness was self-evident—even if it bears no resemblance to the ideological diversity in the country as a whole. As a right-centrist in a largely leftist grad school (years ago), I was amazed at just how apodictic this conclusion seemed to everyone around me.

  50. Jack Hughes says:

    I like the idea of the Kingdom of God transcending partisan politics and labels, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine with the current political involvement being undertaken by the One True Church. Instead of opposing Trump or even remaining neutral, they send our premier choir to sing for him and symbolically give his presidency an LDS stamp of approval. Then they bring him to tour the church welfare facilities, licking his boots all the while. Instead of taking meaningful stances on relevant issues, our leaders instead choose to expend their time and energy fighting a “religious freedom” culture war against imaginary enemies, while continuing to entrench our hurtful exclusive policies. This selective appeasement approach doesn’t sit well with me, especially coming from a church that claims exclusive authority, but also taught me to stand for truth and righteousness. It feels like we are moving further away from Zion in that regard.

  51. Heptaparaparshinokh, replies inline:

    Hept: those who have long enjoyed privilege tend to view its revocation as oppression.

    Me: Evidence please? My impression is that you are confusing “revocation as oppression” with “punitive quotas to enforce affirmative action is oppression”. No we can all debate whether or not various quotas, etc. are fair to correct an imbalance. But a punitive quota is substantively different than mere revocation of whatever rules against equal treatment in the first place.

    Hept: Until white men start getting pulled over regularly for no reason and beaten/shot by black and brown cops for talking back to them, any notion of “oppression” is absolutely ludicrous.

    Me: Google “las vegas ccw shot by police costco”. There’s plenty more, but that’s a far one back that comes to mind to show it’s been happening for years on both sides. The problem isn’t black and white. The problem is excessive force by a militarized police that changed it’s motto from “protect and serve” to simply “enforce my command”. The extent that black people have these tragedies happen to them probably mirrors the extent to which black participation in crime is generally higher. Mistakes get made among whites too. Any push back on this point, and you need to cite statistics showing that blacks do not commit a disproportionate share of crime relative to their population size. Blaming whites for locking up blacks will not be accepted as evidence, because that’s just more ad hominem that doesn’t acknowledge that cities like Baltimore are majority “minority” police. (that oxymoron should cause some reflection)

    Hept: Also, any LDS young man who flirts with the alt-right should, after a brief but vigorous beating about the neck and shoulders, be forced to …

    Me: Here’s where the little totalitarian in your political philosophy comes out. Suggesting physical violence, incarceration, enforced virtue, and reeducation. Your sentiment might give you the feeling that you can puff up your chest in aggrandizement, but I doubt you’re such a hero when someone simple would stand up to you and defend the views of those they disagree with. Leave the threats of physical violence at home before you step into the marketplace of ideas. Because you’d clearly lose at the former, and I’m so far not impressed with your performance in the latter.

    Hept: the connection between feelings of sexual entitlement and enrollment in far-right movements is pretty solidly empirically established….

    Me: Citation please? I suppose Ansari, Weinstein, Woody Allen, Spacey, Clinton, et. al. have absolutely no feelings of sexual entitlement. I don’t defend Trump (he’s not so much conservative or liberal, but just an entitled person playing whatever part he needs for power), and I don’t suggest there aren’t conservatives or alt or far right with sexual issues. But my feeling is sexual immorality knows no political bounds. It’s back on you to demonstrate that the left is sexually virtuous and respectful while the right is a bunch of misogynists (I’m not sure how you’d qualify those left wing names I mentioned as anything by misogynists).

    Hept: Scratch a tiki torch Nazi and you’ll find a horny young misogynist who probably spends 10 hours a week looking at porn.

    Me: Google H. R. 901 from 2015-2016 and you’ll find a bill introduced to combat the issue of government workers watching massive amounts of porn on taxpayer time. The vast majority of government workers. Federal workers donated 84% and 95% against Romeny and Trump respectively, so you can assume that most of them are not pro Republican.

    Hept: these dudes are mostly horny young losers who don’t know how to talk to women and thus can’t get laid. (Having been something of a gamer and a geek in the late ’90s and early ’00s, I know whereof I speak.)

    Me: Ya, sounds about right. From the horse mouth…

  52. nobody, really says:

    >Also, any LDS young man who flirts with the alt-right should, after a brief but vigorous beating about the neck and shoulders, be forced to watch footage of liberated concentration camps (perhaps A Clockwork Orange-style with his eyes held open) to understand the ideology he’s playing with.

    Hepta, I point out that once again, you are advocating physical violence against people with whom you do not agree. The tactic, again, is to define “them” and then use that definition to justify violence in pursuit of conformity to your views. And I would also point out that “A Clockwork Orange” dealt with the themes of removing agency from people.

  53. Sidebottom says:

    Of course, the one consistent policy in U.S. politics that transcends party is indiscriminately bombing other countries. We don’t even pretend it’s about self-defense anymore. For all of the morality talk and ‘spiritual consequences’ of our political affiliations, we’re all complicit in this and we don’t talk about it nearly enough,

  54. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    I will not apologize for advocating for punching Nazis. Nobody else, not even jihadists who at least can point to a universalist religion–however horribly they misinterpret its teachings. (And, as Sidebottom notes, we seem to have no problem in this country with launching Hellfire missiles from drones into the houses of people, the lives of their innocent family members and any bystanders be damned, on the suspicion of their involvement in jihadist movements.)

    Nazis, though? You’re talking about people who went into this with eyes open as to the gravity of the evil that they have embraced, and actively seek out violent confrontation with anyone they believe to be acting against their plans for domination of the societies where they live. There are even peaceful Communists (although they generally don’t tend to get very far), but there are no peaceful Nazis. Ordinary registered Democrats and Republicans don’t form paramilitary groups to advocate for national health care or cuts in the capital gains tax, and they don’t march by synagogues with torches.

    BTW, D.Park, may I remind you what state leads in pornography consumption, year in, year out? I’ll give you a hint: it’s one of the ones with straight borders.

  55. nobody, really says:

    Hepta, I think we’re all happy to let you punch Nazis. If Stephen Hawking ever comes up with a time machine that will allow you to safely travel to late 1930s Germany/Austria and return in one piece, I’ll buy you a ticket and toss streamers into the air at the dock.

    The alarming trend I see on the left is that they get to define anyone they want as “Them”. Republican voters, NRA members, families with eight kids, business majors, anybody. Stretch the definition of “Nazi”, “Them”, “Bad Guys” to fit anyone they want to pummel, and then pummel away. And “Alt-Right” generally means “Anybody more conservative than me.”

  56. Aussie Mormon says:

    Nick Giannopoulos once said “Look, we just want to own this word now. We are sick of being called wogs, so if you are going to call us wogs, we are going to be wogs and this is who we are.”

    How much of those that are accused of being alt-right or supporting the alt-right actually started out centrist or your standard conservatives that just got sick of being attacked by the extreme-left for their beliefs/behaviour or skin colour/socioeconomic situation, and decided to push back.

  57. Wondering says:

    But Aussie, the problem is not that they’re being attacked, but that they’re being told that they’re being attacked.

  58. Aussie Mormon says:

    It’s pretty easy to think that you are being abused (rather than told you are being attacked) when you are verbally abused, or your property is vandalised because purely you hold a conservative view on what marriage is.

    It’s pretty easy to feel like all men are being portrayed as sexual deviants when certain groups constantly say how they’ll cross a road, or pretend to be on the phone with someone whenever they are walking alone and a male walks towards them.

    It’s pretty easy to feel like the left is against you when they say your opinion on abortion law doesn’t matter because you are male.

    Yes, I know with the first case the same thing also happens in the opposite direction.
    Yes, I know with the second case that they aren’t calling all men sexual deviants.
    Yes, I know only some extremists are anti-male.

    Whether or not I know those things, it doesn’t mean a testosterone fuelled 16year old conservative male that posts on social media about his beliefs about marriage, abortion, or things related to #metoo is just going to turn the other cheek when someone on the left calls him homophobic, misogynistic, or that his opinion doesn’t matter.
    On the Internet where you are not going to be eaten by a Sabre-tooth cat, the fight option in fight-or-flight can be a lot more appealing.
    And thin brush stokes can very easily become large brush strokes, especially when both sides dig their heels in.

  59. Aussie Mormon says:

    The only difference between my examples and how young Muslim males get radicalised, is that in my example they are reading the comments that other people make themselves, whereas radicalised muslims are fed information to exploit the same response.
    Ultimately in both cases, the response is akin to “this group of people are doing the wrong thing, I am being attacked for doing the right thing, this is a cause that can help me correct that.”

  60. it's a series of tubes says:

    BTW, D.Park, may I remind you what state leads in pornography consumption, year in, year out? I’ll give you a hint: it’s one of the ones with straight borders.

    Hepta, I know you’re not one to be particularly concerned with the facts, but this statement is, as they say, not even wrong.

    I won’t post the link here, but the largest tube site provides pretty detailed statistical information on their internet traffic. You can find it easily if you Google it. You may have seen their recent post regarding traffic patterns after the Hawaii ballistic missile warning kerfluffle.

    Take a look at their analysis entitled “Red vs Blue US States”. Utah isn’t lowest, but it is near the bottom – 40th.

    There’s also a fairly detailed FairMormon article on this point.

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