After all the reading and reflecting on the recent “Mormons in America” study done by The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life, I wanted to add a little endnote to the Deseret News series we have highlighted here. Today I want to focus on the topic of Mormons and politics. As always, my thoughts are mine and should not be interpreted to represent any official Mormon anything.
When people wonder about Mormons and their political positions, I like to look at issues such as immigration to illustrate that it’s not so easy to just pin us all down under one label. Yes, if you speak in generalities, Mormons can often tend to fall on the “conservative” end of things (as the Pew survey reflected). But as a friend of mine recently noted, “I know so many women in particular, who when you talk with them and get a handle on their views, they are aligned with progressive ideals and policies, but would never ever consider themselves liberal in the American definition of the term. So much comes down to semantics and semiotics.” (I think this is often the case with men, too, but she happens to do a lot of work with women.)
What does it really mean to be a Mormon conservative? A Mormon liberal? (Or in the U.S….A Mormon Republican? A Mormon Democrat?) Talk to any group of Mormons who identify themselves with such labels and you will likely get some different answers (nevermind the fact that what is “conservative” or “liberal” could mean different things in different countries, maybe even different regions within a country).
On a related note, whenever the topic of Mormons and politics comes up, I am anxious to bring up what our church leaders say about politics and political parties, that “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties.”
In reality, there is no party or platform or political policy or presidential candidate that perfectly represents the full sum of what Mormon beliefs include. We as Mormons value the political process of people doing their homework and voting their consciences. And the results of and opinions throughout that process will vary, even among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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You can read more at the LDS Newsroom about the LDS Church’s position on political party neutrality and political involvement .