Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Really?" Thoughts on the Church's new statement on political parties

The LDS Church has long held tight to the idea that its a politically neutral organization, though, at least for me, this has always seemed like somewhat of a sham. Given the upcoming election season, I guess, it seems the Church has changed its tune a little this year. In a statement read over the pulpit last Sunday, the First Presidency urged people away from political inactivity and then stated the following: "Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties."

Wow! Did that say what I think it said? Or am I just reading too much into it? Personally, I'm not too optimistic about it. Besides providing an extra stone in the sling of the tens of Mormons who claim to be Democrats, I doubt it'll make any difference. Do Mormons really vote Republican because the Church "tells" them to, or do they vote that way because they are, for the most part, white and middle-class? But really, who cares about my opinion? What do you loyal bloggers think about the news?

5 Comments:

At 3/15/2006 07:08:00 AM,

Personally I think that the church has always done a good job at staying neutral. I think that the "subtile hints" to vote one way or another are mostly conceived by people who want the church to be in favor of one party rather than real attempts to influence how we vote. The church obviously has a clear position on some issues, but I don't think that this means the leaders want to get us to always vote for republicans. This statement is a good way to be even more clear that you should vote for who you think will do the best job, regardless of their political party, which is what I think the leaders of the church have been sayiing all along.

 
At 3/15/2006 11:11:00 AM,

Actually, the church isn't primarily middle class; that's a common misperception, but a misperception nonetheless. The majority within the church is poor or working class, even in the US (and especially in Utah)...

Region is clearly relevant to voting, as well. Something like a majority of US Mormons live in the Intermountain West, a region that is heavily Republican even among non-Mormons. (Wyoming, for example, isn't a particularly Mormon state, but it's a dramatically Republican one.)

So, here's a question that would help sort out the various influences. Do Mormons with graduate degrees who live in major cities on the East or West coasts vote Republican or Democrat? Demographically (aside from religion) such people would be strongly predicted to vote Democrat. (People with graduate degrees are the most Democratic segment in socioeconomic terms, and the large coastal cities are also overwhelmingly Democratic.) If they instead vote Republican, we would conclude that religion is the reason for their vote.

In my experience, highly educated coastal Mormons are more Republican than other, demographically similar groups -- but they are still Democrats by slight majority.

Note that political neutrality is something that the church would never even have considered during the 19th century. In that century, the church had its own political party in Utah and routinely issued instructions on how to vote. 

Posted by RoastedTomatoes

 
At 3/15/2006 12:27:00 PM,

RT,

I think the biggest factor to take into account is the married with children factor.

Married people with children vote republican, regareless of religion. And Mormons tend to marry and have children at above average rates...
 

Posted by Mark IV

 
At 3/15/2006 02:05:00 PM,

The big problem here is the knowledge that the events in the Book of Mormon in some way foreshadow what can be expected to take place in the United States in the last days. Ask yourself, what is most prevelant theme in the BOM? The conflict between the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Good and the Bad, the peaceful and the warmongers, those that eat grain and those who drink blood, etc. Obviously in the end, the distinction disappears, but up until that point the followers of God are on one side and not the other. I hate to say it, but in the minds of many people I know, this conflict is alive and well in the face of politics today. The economic issues have absolutely no bearing on them because they want to be on the side that sells itself as "the followers of God."

 
At 3/15/2006 03:28:00 PM,

RT,

So you would apply a combination of regional and education factors to predict whether a Mormon will be Republican or Democrat?

Regardless, I dont know that you can conclude that an East-coast Republican Mormon with a graduate degree is a Republican because of religion.

 

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