The Irony: Why Other Churches Have Endorsed Mitt Romney, But His Own Won’t

(politicizing)


Our family had dinner with some friends after church yesterday. One of my friends asked me what was said about ‘your guy’ during church services.

I wasn’t sure what she meant at first. And then I realized, “Oh. You mean Mitt Romney? Nope. I didn’t hear his name brought up even once during the four hours I was there.”

That surprised her. Considering it was two days before the election, I think it would surprise many not of my faith.

You see, other churches might tell their members to vote for a certain candidate–say, Mitt Romney. And many have. Religious Leaders down the street from me may publicly endorse Mitt, but ironically, his own church, my LDS/Mormon Church, won’t. Nor will its leaders. 

Why? Because the LDS church remains politically neutral.

Politically Neutral.

Period.

Lest, in our zealousness to have the first Mormon President, we Mormons forget that small little fact, our congregation received several letters this year from Church Headquarters reminding us that our faith remains politically neutral.

Officially, there is not and will not be any endorsement of candidates on either side of the aisle.

Period.

Not even when we have a former LDS Stake President (regional leader of around 7-12 congregations) running for President.

Now…

With that said…

The LDS Church strongly encourages their members to be active in the political process. We are asked from the pulpit to research candidates, both local and federal, and make our best informed decision. That is the case this year, as it has been every year. 

What does that mean?

Many Mormons will be voting for Mitt Romney tomorrow. In fact, I’m guessing that the majority of Mormons in America will be voting for Mitt Romney tomorrow. I’m one of them. While I might not have heard his name brought up in church yesterday, that doesn’t mean people weren’t discussing him. It was just done privately. Individually. Not over the pulpit. Officially.

Which also means there are Mormons who won’t be voting for Mitt Romney tomorrow. And that’s okay. I think. (Just kidding. That’s the Republican in me talking. The Mormon in me says it’s okay.)

In the same breath, I hope Mormons who are voting for Mitt are doing so because of his policies and political stances, not because of his religion. I think it’s safe to say Mitt Romney feels the same way, because to do so would, in a way, be violating his/our beliefs.

The LDS Church remains politically neutral.

Here is the official statement from the LDS Newsroom.

The Church does not:

  • Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.
  • Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes.
  • Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to. This policy applies whether or not a candidate for office is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

.

The Church does:

  • Encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections.
  • Expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.
  • Request candidates for office not to imply that their candidacy or platforms are endorsed by the Church.
  • Reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church.

It’s ironic. The first potential Mormon President will not be endorsed by his own church. I just hope people understand why.

.

To read more about LDS political neutrality, go here.

To read my articles on Yahoo! Voices discussing religion and politics, go here.

So…

What are your thoughts on the LDS Church’s stance on political neutrality? Are you for or against it? Should more churches remain politically neutral? If your church encourages you to vote for a certain candidate, do you listen? Comment here.

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Related Articles:

Be Careful Who Your Disdain Targets–Why Romney Would Be A Great President

Mormonism 101

Are Mormons Christians

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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

19 thoughts on “The Irony: Why Other Churches Have Endorsed Mitt Romney, But His Own Won’t”

  1. This was very well written and I’ve shared it lots of places just now. I hope others understand as well. Agency is such an important doctrine of the church and this is one of the places you can see it’s use. Thanks Rebecca!

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  2. Thank you for the lovely article! I teach Sunday School and keeping my politically minded class talking about charity and loving thy neighbor is hard then they want to talk politics. We were encouraged by the Branch President to study the issues and vote, but that’s as far as anyone goes, and I appreciate the fact that no one questions how I voted.

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    1. Haha. I’ve taught Sunday School before, so I completely understand. It’s always funny to see how we can be unified in doctrine, but so diversified on politics. I’m so glad the Church stays out of it, though. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  3. Very well done article, Rebecca! I think being politically neutral is important. Especially for a world-wide church. I love that I’m encouraged to research, pray, and vote for who I feel will best serve my community and country. Thanks for putting this together!

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    1. Can you imagine if the Church had to research all the candidates and positions in all the countries of the world. What a headache. I think it’s great, too, that we’re encouraged to do all the research and thinking. Speaking of which…I have more research to do today. There are several proposals I still don’t understand. In a way it would be easier to have someone telling me. :)

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  4. Great article. I love reading your well-organized thoughts on these subjects. I try hard not to be biased even with my kids, because there is nothing I hate worse than hearing children mimic their parents without understanding what they’re talking about. I like to talk to them about what each candidate is doing and then allow them to figure out for themselves what things they like and what they don’t like in different politicians.

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    1. Wow. That is impressive. I’m afraid I’m very biased when I talk politics. It’s hard for me to keep my opinions to myself, especially with my kids. I should do a better job at giving both sides of the story, since there always are two sides to every campaign–if not more. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  5. Excellent points. I’m mormon and I also didn’t hear anything about Romney yesterday at church. Those outside of our faith may not realize how strictly our leaders avoid and ensure that in our local churches avoid officially endorsing candidates. I read a recent blog post from someone who was concerned Romney would be getting political directives from President Hinckley. Probably not very likely for more than one reason :)

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  6. This is one of the things that I love about the LDS Church, and hence, one of the things that confused me the most about the recent ballot measure voting in California (and elsewhere). It seemed to me at the time that the Church was abandoning this precious policy of political hands-offishness, which is so incredibly unique and important, and I honestly felt saddened and confused by that entire episode.
    I live overseas right now, so of course there were no election directives given in sacrament meeting here, either… but it is honestly a great comfort to me that there are no endorsements from the pulpit back in the States, especially during such a rancorous political climate. Thanks for a great post!

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    1. Well, I think the difference is the Church remains politically neutral, but it isn’t morally neutral. In the case of California, the Church felt a moral obligation to take a stand. They have taken a stand on other issues. The quote from the LDS Newsroom (also above) states: “The Church does reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church.” Again, though, that stresses the non-partisan way of dealing with issues they feel strongly about.

      Like you, I also love that there are no public endorsements from the Church. Not only that, but no donations to either party. If there was, I’m sure the press would have had a hey-day with it these past two years (regardless of which party).

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  7. I know that the LDS Church puts out political neutrality statements every election season and that they truly mean it, but how many of its members do you think really believe that the Church is politically neutral. I have been a Democrat my entire life, and although I have never once discussed politics at church or campaigned for any candidate, I am rejected by many. I live the gospel to the best of my ability, pay my tithing, serve in a leadership position, treat people kindly, and attend the temple. Yet, there are people in my ward (I know this for a fact–not an assumption) who will not even speak to me. They literally avoid me at all costs. Why? Because I am Democrat and that does not go along with Church doctrine (according to them). I once made the mistake of putting up a Harry Reid sign in my yard. I am actually crying right now because of the way I, and my family, have been treated by members of the Church which I have loved and served in my entire life. Why do members not believe the First Presidency’s words that “Principles compatible with the gospel can be found in various political parties.” Many will say that this is the people –NOT the Church. I agree, but it is the people with whom I go to church every week. I do not feel accepted, included, or loved. No matter how strong of a testimony one has, they do not want to be where they are not accepted. I am afraid this goes on more than we would like to admit. Ironically, if my children talk politics in a pro-Democrat tone, I present the opposing argument–every time. They have learned to understand all viewpoints and to recognize the validity of each person’s position. Oh how I wish that members of the Church would give us the same respect.

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    1. Bless your sweet democratic heart! It sounds like a Utah ward. Good for you for standing up for yourself! Don’t ever change! Maybe you should remind a few people to take the mote out of their own eye.

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    2. My heart breaks for your comments. I’m so sorry you’ve been treated so poorly. Obviously people in your ward don’t understand some things.

      Maybe you could mention that President James E Faust was a proud democrat. Not only a proud democrat, but an active one. “Faust served in the House of Representatives for the 28th Utah State Legislature (1949) as a Democrat for Utah’s eighth district. He also served as chairman of the Utah State Democratic Party and helped manage a campaign for Senator Frank Moss.”–wikipedia Having family members who Democrats has shown me that there is a lot of good in the party. A lot of compassion, too, and desire to help those in the country who are truly suffering.

      There’s one more quick quote I found: On May 3, 1998, the Salt Lake Tribune reported the following interview with Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Jensen, at the time a member of the Church’s Public Affairs Committee, was “designated by church officials to respond to The Salt Lake Tribune’s request for an interview on the topic of partisan imbalance in Utah and among LDS members.”

      “Any notion that it is impossible to be a Democrat and a good Mormon is wrongheaded and should be “obliterated.” Elder Marlin K Jensen

      I don’t know if that helps, but hopefully after today all of this political bickering will die down anyway–at least I sincerely hope so.

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    3. Please move to my ward or neighborhood and you would be 100 percent loved & accepted as all members are no matter what race or political party you belong to. This is something that makes me so sad but they will pay the ultimate price.

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    1. Thanks for sharing! Interesting article. There are so many ways to view a candidate the their respective party. Obviously there is good in each candidate or our country wouldn’t be split down the middle. I don’t know anyone who would vote for an immoral jerk without respectable goals.

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  8. The church’s official position is that they do not endorse any one political candidate or any one political party. But does that mean that the church doesn’t take a stand on values that SHAPE political principles and philosophy and teach us those values and philosophies with the charge to then make the best decision in choosing candidates BASED ON those teachings?

    Elder H. Verlan Anderson said, “Those who favor socialism, government controls, government schools, licensing, etc. hope to convince the vast majority of the membership of the Church that neutrality means the prophets have no political principles. They hope to convince you that neutrality means your political principles are a separate part of your life and there is no need to turn to the prophets or their scriptures to obtain your political principles. Only if they can pull us away from our prophets and have us turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the prophets can they hope to get us to reject the prophets. These people hope to seduce us to believe in their works and to partake of their spoils and hence pull us away from our prophets. Unity with the Lord’s prophets by the membership of the Church is possible only if we unite with them and choose the prophets’ views.”

    When you consider the teachings of the church and the tremendous bearing they have on how we select political parties and candidates to vote for, whether it’s self-sufficiency or the emphasis on free agency or anything in between, are the teachings of the church really “politically neutral?”

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