Comments about ‘Richard Davis: Being LDS does not limit one’s political persuasions’

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Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Buena Vista, VA

It is one thing to have different understandings of the role of government – how much should the government tax or spend, be involved or not involved in peoples’ lives etc. Reasonable people can disagree. Of course these different modes of government have consequences, and well intentioned liberal policies, which make their proponents “feel good” nearly always have unintended bad consequences. I could list dozens of actual examples. But I’d categorize these as “mistakes” rather than “sins,” using Elder Oaks’ paradigm. Conservative principles generally agree with what LDS know about man’s agency and accountability. Not that conservatives always get it right, nor are they perfect, but at least conservatism is more grounded in reality – what actually works and doesn’t work, using empirical evidence rather than utopian idealism.

But it is another thing to actively support a party that wholeheartedly encourages abortion on demand, gay marriage, removing God from public life, forcing employers to act against their conscience, and foisting incredible debt on our grandkids etc.

Amarillo , TX

"Where did this kind of thinking come from?" Professor Davis, I have some notions in this regard. Back in the mid-1970s while a student at BYU I distinctly recall the then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, being quoted in a newspaper interview that it would be very difficult for an active LDS to be a Democrat. Granted, he didn't announce that he was speaking as God's oracle at that moment but the message was clearly conveyed to many. I would have loved to see your article appear in the DN the following week.


Mr. Davis i would agree with much of what you say.

However, the LDS church gives the appearance, despite what leaders say over the pulpit, of an endorsement of the Republican party through the pages of Deseret News. Deseret News doesn't carry a single op-ed from the liberal side. Its coverage of the 2012 campaign and election was one-sided. Sometimes local church leaders and teachers can and do mix politics with what they teach, again giving the message to ward members that the Republican Party is the party for Mormons.

Additionally, you didn't mention liberal issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion. Many Mormon Republicans believe one can't liberal/Democrat and a church member in good standing because of these issues. But, one can hold different views and still be a Democrat, unlike the Republican Party where one becomes labelled a RINO and is then unable to get re-elected. The continual narrowing of the Republican Party will be its demise. Mixing religion and politics will turn many away from religion.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

An excellent article. We need to be sure that we always understand that absent direct statements from the First Presidency, our political opinions are our own.

Too often I see folks say things like "Elder X said this in (fill in favorite year before most of us were born), that issue is kind of similar to this one, so therefore the prophet would say this about that."


What I have seen is that the First Presidency have no hesitancy in speaking about tough issues and saying precisely what they want to say. We do not need to "look through a glass, darkly" when we have the full image given in the plain light of day. Here is what they have said:

"Latter-day Saints as citizens are to seek out and then uphold leaders who will act with integrity and are wise, good, and honest. Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties. . . . The Church affirms its neutrality regarding political parties, platforms, and candidates. The Church also affirms its constitutional right of expression on political and social issues."

We have been given the wonderful gift of agency. God expects us to use it wisely.


"Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history. We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires. Faith- based organizations will always be critical allies in meeting the challenges that face our nation and our world—from domestic and global poverty, to climate change and human trafficking. People of faith and religious organizations do amazing work in communities across this country and the world, and we believe in lifting up and valuing that good work, and finding ways to support it where possible....There is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution, and a full commitment to both principles is essential for the continued flourishing of both faith and country."
2012 Democratic Party Platform

West Jordan, UT

"No true Latter-day-Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction. These evil philosophies are incompatible with Mormonism, the true gospel of Jesus Christ."
Ezra Taft Benson

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@RG – “But it is another thing to actively support a party that wholeheartedly encourages abortion on demand, gay marriage, removing God from public life, forcing employers to act against their conscience, and foisting incredible debt on our grandkids etc.”

Abortion - I don’t know of anyone who “encourages” abortion. The real issue there is who gets to make that deeply personal decision.

Gay Marriage – I have yet to hear one ethical argument for not granting gay people the same rights as everyone else. All the arguments against it are purely “faith based” as if that somehow ends the discussion. Which of course leads to…

Removing God from public life – sorry, that was done at the founding (thank you wise men of the Enlightenment!) and one side has been upset, and trying to reassert it ever since.

Incredible Debt – You honestly believe the guilt on this is one sided? Do you not recall Reagan, Bush, Bush II? The last time we had a balanced budget was under a Democratic administration.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I have a friend who is both a liberal Democrat and a good Mormon. She lives in the Harvard/Yale area of SLC. I once asked her if her politics came into conflict with her religion. She said "no, almost everyone in my ward is a liberal Democrat."

If you look at demographic data for Harvard/Yale it is dominated by highly educated professionals, a core Democratic group. It seems that education and occupation may trump religious affiliation in choosing a political view.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

The Deseret News has taken lots of liberal stands. I learned about human rights from reading the Deseret News. They frequently write editorials about women being degraded as sex objects. In the 1960's there were X-rated movie theatres in Salt Lake and it was the Deseret News that would not advertise because they were demeaning to women. What about their recent views on immigration?

As marriage is a powerful tool for fighting poverty, their views on supporting traditional marriage is a liberal position because it fights poverty.

They don't take a dogmatic viewpoint so if some consider the dogmatic political view as the 'official' way that 'liberals' should think then, in that case, the Deseret News is not liberal, by that narrow definition in the same way that Mormons are not Christians by a narrow Evangelical 'official' definition.

Salt Lake City, UT

Democrats I know love to tell me that the party isn't defined by abortion, but they are the only ones supporting it, upholding it, giving it the time of day. I find it disturbing how Americans can cry out in collective pain and outrage over 20 children shot dead in a school shooting, but let an estimated 1.6 million abortions happen every year. There is an amazing lack of distinction between fetus and child. When they are very much both the same thing...a child. You wont find me supporting either party though. Both are full of people willing to compromise value for votes. So, really why does anyone support either party?

Buena Vista, VA

@Tyler D
Abortion: Obama voted to let victims of failed abortions die. Most dems support NOW and NARAL which are viciously proabortion; they really do “encourage” it.

Gay Marriage – Your point is mostly granted. Most good arguments against gay marriage are indeed faith based. But that certainly doesn’t make them wrong, and gay marriage remains immoral. While there are worse situations to grow up in, gay parenting is not ideal. Why would LDS (who are the topic of this article)encourage it?

Removing God from public life – This was NOT done at the founding. Rather, the free exercise of religion was protected. The founders would roll over in their graves to find that nativity scenes on public property are now prohibited. Read what the constitution actually says; “wall of separation” is not there.

Incredible debt - Yes the naughty GOP has run up plenty of debt, but Obama’s debt dwarfs former debts. (Plus, the stimulus $ was mostly wasted.) Speaking of budgets, which leader of which party has not fulfilled his obligation to pass one in nearly four years?

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

It is interesting that the author chose to ignore the hard core support for abortion on demand for anyone age 2 and older up to and through the 41st week of pregnancy, and for gay marriage that appear to be the twin pillars of liberalism.

Tyler D,
While liberals may not ENCOURAGE abortion on demand, you cannot deny they support it.

Gay marriage – RG not talk about whether or not there are ethical arguments for opposition to it, he said support for it is contrary to LDS doctrine. And gays have no fewer rights than anyone else: find someone of the opposite gender who is of age and not married, and they can marry them – the same rules apply to straights.

Removing God from public life – the founders did not do that, they specifically said NO laws could be made concerning the establishment of religion. That means none supporting it and NONE forbidding it. Jefferson wrote the Virginia statute specifically so the Baptists COULD have a place in public life.

And you really compare BO’s debt to Bush? BO accumulated more in 3.5 years than bush did in 8

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

Let's see...

Praticing Unorthodox marriages,
Abolish Slavery,
Women's Rights,
Universal Healthcare,
Increaed Social Reform Policies,
Immigration Funding,
Re-Distribution of Wealth,
United Order,
Stronger central Federal Government,

I'm Liberal BECAUSE I'm Mormon, not inspite of it!

Tyler D
Meridian, ID


Abortion – I’ll grant that what most Dems support is keeping this decision with the mother (and so by extension, the groups that support that) against the side who’s ultimate goal is to criminalize any termination of pregnancy one nanosecond after conception.

Gay Marriage – Thanks for granting my point. And I didn’t say faith based arguments were wrong… I just think people should be honest about it and not claim something is “immoral” when what they really mean is, “it goes against my religion.” Those are not synonymous unless you believe one cannot be moral unless one is religious. And I’m happy to have that debate…

God & Public life – sure, people can be as religious (or not) as they want to be in private or public. What they cannot do is dominate the public arena with their religion, at the objection of others who don’t share their views, and have that domination be sanctioned or protected by the government.
Debt – we agree… there’s blame on all sides.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@lost in DC – “And gays have no fewer rights than anyone else: find someone of the opposite gender who is of age and not married, and they can marry them...”

Really? That’s your “equal rights” argument? This is going to be hard to type with my jaw on the ground, but here goes…

First of all, equal rights does NOT mean everyone is ‘free’ to do what only one group says. Equal rights means (in this case) consenting adults, not harming anyone else either directly or indirectly, are free to live/do as THEY choose. You may think it is “yucky” (as I do) but that doesn’t give you (or me) dictatorial rights.

But back to your “logic” – so by your reasoning we should be free (assuming it was constitutional) to set up one religion and then say “everyone is ‘free’ to come to our church or not.”

Or we could establish a society where everything works only for right-handed people, and then say “everyone is ‘free’ to use these right-handed golf clubs… even you left-handed people.”

Durham, NC

As I read this, I was holding my breath in anticipation of some of the comments that would result from the regular crowd. And sure enough.... the same tried, and many time over proven wrong.

For example, the claim that most liberals support abortion. A recent Pew research showed that over 60 percent of democrats don't agree with abortion. On the other hand, nearly 40 percent of republicans do support abortion. What this simply shows is that there is no standard democrat - and that there is no standard republican. People are just more complex, have different life stories than the over simplified comments would lend one to believe.

Locally, two of the three stake presidents are Democrats. One represented the Church and the Democratic National convention in Charlotte.

People need to separate Ezra Taft Benson's political views with his spiritual calling. He was a man, with an opinion. No where will you find his comments in any doctrinal publications of the church. He was entitled to his opinion... but that is all it was.

I am glad to see comments like this, breaking the myth that you must be a card carrying NRA Republican to be a good LDS member.

Mark B
Eureka, CA

Should I believe the author, who takes the view that Mormons are pretty much like everyone else? Or should I believe the numbers, which tell a different story. One quarter Obama approval means up to three quarters DIS approval. Utah votes almost 3-1 for Romney over Obama, and in Utah County it's closer to 9-1. I guess I'll believe things are evened out when Joe Biden speaks at BYU graduation.

Terrie Bittner
Warminster, PA

The truth is that it is impossible to align entirely with either party and the church at the same time. None of the few political topics the Church has currently taken a stand on line up exactly to either party's platforms. Republicans allow no abortion--the Church allows exceptions. Immigration--you know the furor the Church created among both parties when they approved of the Utah compact. Even their stance on homosexuality doesn't line up to either party.

I decided eventually to be an independent because I see too many Mormons putting party before the gospel. When the church and the party disagree, they decide the prophet got one wrong. I don't ever want to be tempted to let a party become my religion, so I now study what the church says and, when it doesn't say, what it does, as in global warming. I follow the prophet, not a party leader.

George Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned that parties would destroy our nation someday. I agree.

Morgan Hill, CA

For what it's worth, the conservative, Republican "group think" which I have witnessed among Mormons is not any worse than the liberal Democratic group think which I previously encountered in the Unitarian church. "To each his own," as they say.

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

re: Lledrav

So, the church is going to withdraw from Venezuela, France, Bolivia, China, etc...?

re: Roland Kayser

Interesting. I'd bet there many professors who live in the H/Y area that work at certain nearby state run institution of higher learning.

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