OPINION-EDITORIAL – Political diversity. It’s not something that is very common or popular in Southern Utah, and, for the most part, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS Church”) are no exception.
In anticipation of the critics of this article: Yes, I am fully aware that the LDS Church’s official policy formally insists that, “The Church does not: Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms,” (and, for what it’s worth, I am also a practicing LDS Church member without an axe to grind).
This official policy notwithstanding, at a local level, this political neutrality seems to be forgotten or even ignored because many presumably Republican or conservative LDS Church members often — not always — treat their fellow Democratic brothers and sisters with hostility and contempt. This is unfortunate and uncivil on so many different levels, both culturally and spiritually.
Why do I make this assertion? It is not something that I heard third- or fourth-hand through gossip, Facebook, or those ridiculous chain e-mails that everyone chuckles at but nobody believes. Rather, I have personally witnessed multiple snide and disrespectful remarks on several occasions while participating in church functions, and so have my close family members. I suppose that it is bittersweet to me because such inappropriate comments were not directed to me or my family members, but really, should such comments be directed at all? Obviously not. And, (again to the critics who may be prone to jump to conclusions), for the record, no, neither I nor my family members are Democrats.
Indeed, the highest-ranking member of the United States Senate, Harry Reid, (like him or hate him) is LDS, and he also happens to be a Democrat. In fact, Mr. Reid is on record as explaining that he is a Democrat because he is a Mormon; not in spite of being a Mormon.
Congressman Jim Matheson is a so-called “Blue Dog Democrat” in the U.S. House of Representatives and is also LDS. Many other LDS Church members either have served, or are currently serving, in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of government as Democrats at the local, state, and federal levels.
Aside from politicians, many well-known LDS General Authorities, such as Marlin K. Jensen, Steven E. Snow, Larry Echo Haw, and even the late James E. Faust, subscribe or subscribed to the Democratic party. In fact, Larry Echo Hawk, who headed up the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Obama Administration until this past April when he was called as a General Authority, delivered a stirring address on Saturday afternoon during the LDS Church’s Semi-Annual General Conference. His unique perspective was interesting and informative, particularly his candid pleadings to other Native Americans.
Even Dallin H. Oaks, (a speaker whom I enjoy, and who frequently speaks out about religious and social issues), worked as a law clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren at the United States Supreme Court in the 1950s. Conservatives generally criticize the Warren Court’s liberal-leaning decisions such as the famous “Miranda v. Arizona and Griswold v. Connecticut” (which formed the constitutional basis for abortion by recognizing a constitutional right to privacy), among others.
I am not suggesting that Dallin H. Oaks was then a Democrat and is now a Republican at all. Indeed, I have no idea which political party (if any) Dallin Oaks subscribes to. But what I am suggesting, in light of his more conservative speeches in recent years, is that it would appear that Dallin H. Oaks probably developed a good deal of wisdom from different points of view while working with Chief Justice Warren, which (among other things) surely helped him develop into the wise leader that he is today. This is a healthy example for anyone to follow.
What then is the point of this writing? Well, it is to simply demonstrate that there is common ground between the two major political parties and LDS Church doctrine, which is consistent with official LDS Church policy, yet sometimes inconsistent with local attitudes and behaviors. LDS Church members —including myself — and for that matter, everyone, can disagree with different ideas without being disagreeable or rude to one another. Hearing varying points of view is how knowledge is learned, wisdom is developed, and personal values are solidified; and, as a result, our lives, communities, and country will be better off because of it.
Submitted by: Trevor C. Sanders is a resident of Hurricane, Utah. He can be contacted with comments and critique at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letters to the Editor are published “as is” without any editing. Opinions stated are those of the writer and not representative of St. George News.