~by Michelle

November 2 is Election Day in the United States, so we thought we’d address this question.

Q: Are all Mormons in the United States Republican and/or politically conservative?

A: No.

It’s probably safe to say that Mormons on the whole tend to fall on the conservative side of things, but you will find Mormons all along the political spectrum.

I think a good way to address this question is to first share a First Presidency letter that is entitled “Political Participation, Voting, and the Political Neutrality of the Church”

As citizens we have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy. Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future.

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.

Therefore, in this election year, we urge you to register to vote, to study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully, and then to vote for and actively support those you believe will most nearly carry out your ideas of good government.

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.

One of the fundamental principles of Mormonism is the principle of agency, or the notion of freedom to choose. The First Presidency letter notes that principles consistent with our Mormon beliefs can be found in various political parties. The implication to me is that there is no One Right Party or One Right Platform. Church members are able to sort through the issues and vote as they choose.

This letter also implies to me that differences of opinion are to be expected about political issues.

Thus, while many Mormons have chosen to be Republican, you will find Mormons who are Democrats, Mormons who are Constitutionalists, Mormons who are Independents, and Mormons who may affiliate with other political parties or persuasions. You may find some who split their votes across parties as well.

I have been a registered Republican for all of my voting years, but I’m not going to be voting a straight party ticket.  I’ve been joking with my husband that we should have signs from both the Republican and Democrat candidates for one of the races, as I think he’ll be voting differently than I will.

It’s part of the beauty of what it means to live in a “free country” where everyone has the right to have a voice through the vote. Even spouses can choose to vote differently!

This is not to say that there aren’t sometimes issues on which the Mormon Church as an institution takes a stand, such as with Proposition 8, which sought to maintain the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. But even then, there were Mormons who voted against the proposition. During that very charged time, Church leaders reminded those who supported the proposition to be respectful of those who had different opinions.

I liked this from Elder Quentin L. Cook from our last General Conference. He said:

[A]ll voices need to be heard in the public square. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced.

He also reminds LDS Church members that as people of faith,

we should not expect that because some of our views emanate from religious principles, they will automatically be accepted or given preferential status. But it is also clear such views and values are entitled to be reviewed on their merits.

I think Elder Cook’s counsel from the April General Conference is also relevant:

[W]e need to be civil in our discourse and respectful in our interactions. This is especially true when we disagree. … I invite each one of us individually to recognize that how we disagree is a real measure of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. It is appropriate to disagree, but it is not appropriate to be disagreeable. Violence and vandalism are not the answer to our disagreements. If we show love and respect even in adverse circumstances, we become more like Christ.

Again, I think his words acknowledge the reality that people won’t always see eye-to-eye on different issues, political or otherwise. In a sense, I think this is part of what it means to be human, and part of our challenge and opportunity to seek to learn to be kind and respectful, and maybe even to learn from others who may see things differently.