Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mormon Democrats I know

Stereotypes about Mormons and politics are easy and fun. And there is ample evidence to support them. However, the problem with stereotypes are that they ignore a small but significant part of the population which does not fit the stereotype.

In an effort to debunk the "all Mormons are Republicans" stereotype, I thought I'd list off a few staunch Mormon Democrats that I know well. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent :)

A Bishop. I served as his counselor. He is one of the most significant influences on my church service life.

A Stake Young Women's President. She's doing great.

A Ward Clerk. Formerly one of the best Scoutmaster's I know.

Another Bishop.

A few BYU faculty.

A counselor in a Relief Society Presidency.

A Stake President.

I continue to be a Republican. There may be other Democrats lurking about as well, but, oddly enough, politics rarely come up at Church.


Anthony Barney said...

I also know a couple democrats that are reasonably righteous people. There are just a couple things I cannot wrap my mind around though:

How is it possible for a mormon to align oneself with a political organization which has some core platform stances that so utterly fly in the face of our LDS beliefs? Abortion, Social Programs, Public Prayer, the very acknowledgment of God in our society through our currency, pledge of allegiance, are just some basic examples. It is not possible to say "I am Mormon, but I don't believe in modern prophets or the law of tithing." I propose then that it is also impossible to say "I am democrat but I believe abortion is wrong and that government funded social programs should be kept to a minimum."

Mike Jones said...

Good point. I have asked a few of my LDS Democrat friends where they are on abortion etc. And they are pretty much where Republicans are. In general, I don't know how that would work.

I did read the the Democratic Party Platform for Utah. It includes the right to bear arms and makes no mention of the a-word (abortion that is). Homosexual, gay and lesbian all fail to appear in the platform as well.

As the Christian Conservative Right takes more and more control of the national republican party, I think we'll see Mormons increasingly marginalized at the national level in the Republican Party as well. For example, most Mormons agree that abortion in the case of "rape, incest or the health of the mother" are ok. I doubt the Christian Far Right will.

Reach Upward said...

I disagree with Anthony that membership in the LDS Church is akin to political party membership. The LDS Church is a theological organization where policy is directed from the top of the heirarchy (which Mormons believe is God) on down. Political parties are conglomerations of people with diverse views and opinions that agree on enough ideals to combine their political strength with the hope of obtaining a desired political outcome.

The ability of LDS Church members to influence church doctrine is limited. But the ability of members of political parties to influence party platform (doctrine) is substantial. Mormon Democrats don't have to buy everything in the national party platform to be a member of the party, as long as there are other significant platform issues with which they do agree. Also, they can offer a voice of reason within the party. If they are able to band together with enough party members, they can influence the party platform for the better.

I think most Mormon Democrats would also be quick to point out GOP stances that they find at variance with the gospel. I am not a Democrat, but I think Mormons that can't understand how you can be Mormon and Democrat haven't opened their minds to the other side of the issue.

Anonymous said...

"Reasonably righteous?"



Anthony Barney said...

"Reasonably righteous" means I make no judgement on their actual righteousness, but they come to church, do good for others, and are knowledgeable about the gospel, so they at least have the appearance of being good people. Mike does make a great point that sort of ties in with Reach Upward: the Christian Conservative Right has a stance on abortion that simply does not align with what we accept as truth from the prophets (i.e. pregnancies that result from coercion may be aborted). Nevertheless, I and the Christian Conservative Right call the republicans our political party and we each only get one vote. So it is not there yet, but there may be a time when in fact, the republican party holds a view that we as mormons do not condone. As for opening my mind to the "other side", isn't that what I'm doing? I have essentially made an open invitation for anyone with an opinion to make themselves known and be read. So, I issue the challenge: present three examples of generally held republican platform stances that do not align with mormon beliefs. And I do this, not as a hostile challenge, but as an opportunity to open my mind even more. I'll even tell you where I am headed with this: Reach Upward claims that we align ourselves with a political party because we perceive it as having the most in common with our own system of beliefs. I mentioned 4 mis-alignments between democrats and mormons, Mike mentioned two more. If someone can show me that the republicans are equally mis-aligned with our beliefs, then I will find it much easier to understand why some mormons feel that the democrats are more closely aligned to their beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Abortion is used as a tool for power. If the Republicans really wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade they would have.

Utah Democrats are about good, transparent government. Abortion is a Republican issue and let's remember who put Roe.v. Wade into law. It was the Supreme Court, not politicos.

Emily said...

Anthony -

Your thinking is awfully black and white. I know Gay Republicans, Republican Atheists, and Republicans who call themselves pro-life.

I also know lots and lots and lots of fiscally conservative Democrats and a bunch of Republicans who have ballooned our national debt.

The propogation of political stereotypes is ruining our nation and our great state because, especially in Utah, it creates a lack of diversity regarding political ideas, and it keeps society stagnant, not allowing for creative problem solving... For example, many LDS Democrats that I know have great solutions to solving the abortion problem, but people won't take 10 minutes to find out what those ideas are are because they're already convinced that they just can't agree with a Democrat, no matter what. And so, they never hear 3/4 of the debate because no way no how can a Democrat have a good idea.

Further, as an LDS Democrat, I take personal offense to the idea that the LDS Democrats you know appear to be "reasonably righteous."

People all over the political spectrum go through the "righteous motions" and put on their Sunday faces, "so they at least have the appearance of being good people." But I get the feeling that you don't trust the Democrats are as righteous as they appear to be.

Do you really think that LDS Republicans are more righteous than LDS Democrats? Tell that to James Faust, who is a registered Democrat, who even calls himself a Liberal. So, what do you do with that? Is President Faust just "reasonably righteous?"

And that, right there, sums up how ridiculous the whole "Can a Democrat be a good Mormon" argument is.

Mike Jones said...


You all are reading too much into Tony's "reasonably righteous" phrase. Tony's not a divisive guy. He's pretty normal.*

Don't get sidetracked on the "reasonably righteous" thing. It would be great if you all could list some positions in the Republican Platform that you, as good Mormon Democrats, don't agree with. I don't think Tony was trying to pick a fight. It's a sincere question. I have some ideas of what your objections might be, but I'd love to hear it from you all.

The best thing I've learned from Tony over the years we've known each other is the following maxim:

"3 words to live by: it just doesn't matter that much"

* Mostly normal. Walking across fire barefoot didn't work out and neither did drinking a jar of pickle juice. But we were younger then and willing to take more risks. "Tell a story about a horse day" and "duct tape week" were rousing successes in our BYU apartment complex.

Anthony Barney said...

Thanks for the defense Mike, I agree with Mike that a lot of people are putting way too much meaning in "reasonably righteous". I consider myself "reasonably righteous", meaning in addition to just doing the things everyone sees, I also try to do my best every day to be truly righteous (not always successfully), and I therefore make a broad sweeping assumption that people behaving as I do are involved in that same struggle, and from that, they must also be "reasonably righteous". So if you are offended by that grouping, then you are only strengthening one of the other stereotypes about democrats, which is that they are overly sensitive and get their feelings hurt over things that truly have no importance.

I am also disappointed, that instead of accepting my challenge to procure examples of divergence between mormonism and the republican platform, some of you chose to attack my semantics, my personal beliefs, and offer up irrelevant shortcomings of the entire political system.

Further, I am re-reading what I wrote, and I just can't seem to find where I said that democrats cannot be good mormons. But I did ask the question: HOW can a mormon, believing what the prophets have said, align themselves to a political organization which openly opposes many of our LDS beliefs? I am truly interested in the answer to that question. Emily brought up James Faust, how about some quotes from James Faust that will add light to this issue?

dawnawanna said...

I suppose my reasons for being a Democrat rather than a Republican are related more to generalizations than specific tenants of either platform.

I think that we have a responsibilty to care for the environment, in general the Republicans seem to care for the environment when it doesn't affect industry or oil production.

I prefer a health care system that is more accessible to people with limited financial resources, that doesn't seem to be a priority for the Republicans.

I actually don't think welfare programs are a bad idea, perhaps they need some improvement but they are a necessity. The LDS church has an enormous welfare program, so I don't understand why Mormons are so opposed to government welfare programs. I have found that Mormons don't like the government welfare programs until they have to use them.

I think that workplace safety is important (probably because my husband is one of those OSHA guys). Republicans could care less about workplace safety and the budget gets cut every time the Republicans are in office.

Pesonally I don't care which party anyone belongs too, I would just prefer that people actually look at the candidate and know what they are voting for. Not all Republicans are good and not all democrats are bad.

Allie said...

It is not possible to say "I am Mormon, but I don't believe in modern prophets or the law of tithing." I propose then that it is also impossible to say "I am democrat but I believe abortion is wrong and that government funded social programs should be kept to a minimum."

Religion and politics can't be compared like that, because religions generally have a set core of beliefs that all other beliefs within that religion hinge on.

Politics on the other hand, do not. I can be a democrat and LDS, because there is no political party that is going to meet all of my political views. I have to pick the one that most closely represents me, and that is, for now, the democratic party.

As for keeping government funded social programs to a minimum, is that what you really meant, or was that a typo? I think one of the roles of government should be to take care of the people. People who feel safe, and have decent health care and educational opportunities make a healthy, well functioning society.

Are we supposed to base our response to your challenge on the national republican platform? If so, I'll have to go do some research.


WP said...

I am interested in the ongoing dialogue and hope we can keep it ongoing without rancor. Let me say I was born both a Democrat as well as a Mormon. I served as an LDS Bishop for 5 1/2 years in Centerville. I currently work as a Bountiful Temple ordinance worker. My wife and I are learning Spanish so we can fulfill a goal we have to serve a mission or missions in Latin America.

I do not believe in abortion any farther than is outlined in the LDS General Handbook of Instructions, but I also believe in agency and choice. Afterall, there was a war in heaven over that and other matters. Most Mormons conveniently have forgotten that Bush senior nearly changed the R national party platform to include or allow abortion in his first successful run for president. This sole issue cannot be the determining factor for one's political choice. The hands of the Bush administration are bloody. 600,000 Iraqis have died and no one is feeling guilty about it in the R party that I know of. Saddam is credited with 200 to 400,000. Those who have supported this war and continue in Utah to 'support our troops' and president have some share of responsibility for this blood.

I do believe in the 'social programs' of the Democratic Party just as well as President Faust. He is a 'liberal' and has personally stated such, especially as it relates to compassion and charity toward others. I agree with Elder Marlin Jensen, that it is important, we as a Church need to be involved with both political parties. I have his interview with the Tribune and also the notes of Elder Maxwell of the Twelve who guided his actons as part of Brother Maxwell's assignment in the Quorum of the Twelve.

I find a number of reasons and ways in which it would be difficult to be both a good Mormon and a Republican. I am working on a post on that very topic.

Ben said...

I would submit that it's harder to be a righteous Republican than a righteous Democrat. While Republicans are good about tithing "mint and rue and all manner of herbs," they "pass over judgment and the love of God." Republicans seek to consolidate wealth in the hands of the few, to be aggressive in making war. Surely this is more antithetical to principles of the gospel than allowing people to make their own decisions about their personal morality.

Gerald said...

As a Canadian reading these comments from Canada, and with only a fair knowledge of US politics, I find it interesting that so many think a Mormon must default have republican-style ideas. Where in the Church are we told to be against publicly-funded social programs? (A very Canadian question, I know.) I do agree with the stance on such things as abortion and gay marriage, but many other "right-wing" stances of the republicans go against what I believe. I describe myself as socially and economically left-wing and morally right-wing. (Maybe that's my Canadianism too.) I think that it would be almost impossible for anyone to find a political party that exactly matches their own position on everything. We have to decide which best suits us and go with that. Just the thoughts of a fellow "reasonably righteous" Mormon from North of the Border. Happy New Year.

Cali Mormon said...

actually, to be mormon you need to adopt and tolerate a pro-choice stance with respect to abortion... the choice needs to be available in certain cases. Republican party is generally a group that embraces intolerance, WAR, and racism . . . things that most Mormons should try to avoid.

Lydia said...

Ironically, the party of choice for members of the Church in the 1800's was the Democratic Party because they'd been persecuted by the Republican Party.
I am a mother of five, grandmother of seven, active in the church, a full-tithe payer, and I have a current temple recommend.
From my perspective, the Democratic Party cares about the poor (as the Savior does), is against pre-emptive strikes (the Book of Mormon says God will not be with countries that attack others first), and cares for union workers and people of all economic levels (the scriptures teach that we shouldn't oppress the hireling in his wage). I am against abortion, except in case of rape or the mother's health.
In a way, being a Democrat is closer to living the Law of Consecration because we CAN GIVE and it doesn't bother us. As far as fiscal responsibility, Pres. Clinton left us with hundreds of billions of dollars when he left office. Our Republican president has squandered that through fiscal wastefulness so that we're now in the red to the tune of TRILLIONS of dollars. And Mormons voted for him?! What happened to the idea of being careful with spending?
From where I sit, most Republican politicians (Gingrich, Doolittle, Cheney, Bush, etc.) are not only corrupt, they are all about increasing the wealth of the top 10% of wage earners. Amazingly, that is exactly what has happened under the current administration.
In addition, most Republicans are so blind they can't see that we should not have attacked Iraq. This war had nothing to do with 9/11. The 9/11 terrorists were mainly from Saudi Arabia. Yet the Bush Administration has come up with several excuses as to why we're fighting in Iraq. Open your eyes, folks!
If I hear one more Republican saying in a sacrament meeting prayer about being thankful for the troops protecting OUR FREEDOM by fighting in Iraq, I think I will gag. Those poor kids are over there dying, but it has nothing to do with our freedom.
Here's something very funny: Republican Mormons will vote for any Republican, but the conservative Christian coalition would NEVER vote for a member of the LDS Church. The Republican Party has no respect for LDS beliefs. (Think Mike Huckabee.)
I also wish my Republican Mormon friends would stop sending me e-mails about how corrupt Sen. Harry Reid is. He is an great example of the LDS Church, and people who send such e-mails are guilty of gossip and backbiting. (See your Bible Dictionary for what it says about this.) There is no proof of any wrongdoing on Sen. Reid's part.
I have many LDS friends who are also Democrats. They all have BA Degrees and are thinking people...with temple recommends!

Anonymous said...

Emily expressed many LDS Democrats' view beautifully! And the fact that President Faust was a Democrat shows very clearly that Democrats can be good Mormons. The same can be said for Sen. Harry Reid.
What I find very startling is that we LDS Democrats are being attacked (yes, you heard it right) by our own brothers and sisters in the gospel.
Can you guess what the Savior would say?

Lydia said...

How funny that Anthony said he knows "a couple democrats that are reasonably righteous people." Ha! Ha! Doesn't he know that Boyd K. Packer is a Democrat?

So were James Faust, B.H. Roberts, Hugh B. Brown, and many other fine members of the Church. It's really sad that Mormon Democrats are attacked like this. (Think Sen. Reid).

In fact, Hugh B. Brown said, "A Mormon can be a Democrat or a Socialist and still be a good church member."

Many people feel that the Democratic Party is more concerned about the issues the Savior was concerned about, such as helping the poor.

You should check out Todd Compton's excellent site about the spiritual roots of the Democratic Party.

Mike said...

being pro-choice is not the same as being pro-abortion. instead of making abortion illegal and all that goes along with it, we should focus our resources on making the alternatives more attractive. we can spend our tax dollar on law and order, or we can put it towards programs that actally help the women who feel they don't have a choice. that's not being pro-abortion.

Mike said...

other good reasons to be a mormon and a democrat


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised this post was written in 2007. I think it's understandable that many Mormons wouldn't feel comfortable within the Democratic party, but the contemporary Republican party (at least nationally) represents values Mormons hold dear about as well as Lindsey Lohan represents sobriety.

Barbaralba said...

I am a Democrat and I have an absolute testimony that Thomas S Monson is the only True Prophet of GOD! How about that? Is it too definite? --- Anyway, as I understand it, was it not Lucifer who later became Satan who proposed that he would force all of us to do what was RIGHT? Of course, now he propses evil. But then that was his plan to force, perhaps by law or some other way, to always do what was right. We all need the freedom to choose the right, and we cannot without the prsent choice of evil. I am very grateful for repentance in my own case.

polaramerica said...

Great Commentary on Mormon democrats:

KJ said...

To help some of you answer a few of the questions such as Prayer in school read D&C 134. It may take a couple tries but you will get it. You must not agree with EVERY thing that your party stands up for do you? I don't believe in abortion, that is why I was sad that so many years ago the REPUBLICAN Judges ruled for it in RvW. It seems to me that the Republicans campaign on the issue but do nothing about it! The have been in rule the HUGE majority of the time since it was made legal.

David said...

Just for the record, Abortion is NOT a moral issue. It is an issue of timing. I know of no one who wants to kill a baby, but all pro-choice friends I know have different definitions of when a baby is a baby. Until science can with absolute certainty say when a baby is a baby, then it will turn into a moral issue.

Practically, the issue has largely been resolved politically. I don't see a whole lot of changes to this issue in the future. It is a dead issue in many ways.

However, treating God's creation in an ill fashion IS a moral issue, and so the environment should be on every Mormon's list of things to advocate. The Republican stance has traditionally been one of ruining the environment for short term economic gain. To me, THIS is immoral.

Other moral issues that have been discussed above such as helping the poor and unfortunate have always been Christ-like attributes in which the Republican party has a poor track record.

Gay Marriage is akin to many other choices such as being unfaithful to one's spouse. Fornication or adultery are not against the law. They are just bad ideas. In this matter, I defer to moral choice and agency.

Gun control has no religious stance either way, so it is a non-religious issue and one based on personal interpretation of the Constitution. I see the words "well regulated" for example, and this informs me that gun ownership should be well regulated (my personal view is that they should be like cars and other dangerous things: available to people who are trained and who have a license for their use).

I am a Democrat and a very active Mormon. I an a Democrat BECAUSE I am Mormon. I feel the Democratic Party is more akin to the teachings of Christ than the Republican party.

Tricia Valene said...

There is a new group on Facebook: Mormon Democrats. It has gone from a handful of members to 89 in just two weeks. It's a closed group so that people are insured their privacy. If you go to the page you can ask to be approved as a member. It's a GREAT group of people swapping ideas about the gospel and politics and giving each other a lot of support & hope.