A close friend of mine recently related an experience to me where her boss (who is Mormon) said to her, “I don’t understand how a member of the church who voted for a black Muslim could think they could worthily take the sacrament on Sunday.”
My friend chose not to challenge this comment. As an employee of this man, and as someone who holds a few left-leaning ideas herself, she perhaps wisely decided not to retort.
I have had similar experiences. For instance, I once got into a big argument with a former girlfriend about whether Mormons could conscientiously choose to be affiliated with the Democratic Party. I explained several reasons why Mormons should consider how Democratic priorities such as caring for the marginalized members of society, protecting the environment, and restricting gun ownership easily fall within a Mormon value system. She said she could never marry someone who voted for Obama, insinuated that I was a baby-killer, and broke up with me the next day.
(I know that sounds intense, but I am totally cool with the way that situation panned out.)
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a Political Party
A Mormon’s standing in the Church has nothing to do with their political affiliations. The only exception I can think of might be members of the Church who align themselves with white supremacists, as the Church denounced such beliefs in a statement following the recent events in Charlottesville:
“White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them. Church members who promote or pursue a ‘white culture’ or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church.”
(Here’s a link to the full statement if you’re interested: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-statement-charlottesville-virginia)
So, where is this hostility toward left-thinking Mormons coming from?
A little gem of a book called “When Mormons Doubt” by Jon Ogden aptly diagnoses the problem:
“The pursuit of order has brought a tendency to conflate faithful church membership with the Republican Party in the United States. This conflation of religious and political identity alienates Mormons who don’t identify with Republican ideals. It also causes conservative Mormons to support politicians whose ethics they wouldn’t otherwise support” (Ogden, 71).
The last sentence of that quote has never been more true than in the case of Donald Trump. There were a lot of Mormons begging for a Republican option besides Trump this last election, but who voted for him anyway because they felt constrained by their community or by their beliefs to vote Republican.
Paul’s Metaphor of the Body
The Mormon Church, and especially Mormon culture, are going to affect the political opinions of Mormons. I don’t think that can be helped. What can be helped is how Mormons of different political beliefs see each other. What I want is for conservative Mormons and liberal Mormons to realize that they need each other.
“But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:20-21).
We are all very different, yet we are all essential to the whole.
I’ll finish off with more food for thought from Jon Ogden’s book, “We might say that conservatives tend to be better at compromising for the sake of their communities while liberals tend to be better at pointing out flaws in their communities… Both are essential. Both have tradeoffs” (Ogden, 99).
So, what makes each essential, and what are the tradeoffs? Let me know what you think. You can comment here or on Facebook.
(Here’s a link to the book I quoted on Amazon. I highly recommend it. http://amzn.to/2i4JHCl)