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2 Dems, 2 Republicans explain how Mormon teachings fit their politics
Lee Davidson ("The Salt Lake Tribune," January 11, 2012)

Orem, USA - Four LDS politicians appeared on stage Wednesday to explain how their religious views mesh nicely with their party’s political stands. Two happen to be Republicans, and two are Democrats.

They argued Wednesday that it is possible to be not only a faithful Mormon and a Democrat, or Republican, but also pro-choice or pro-life on abortion or opposites on immigration policy, gay marriage and other issues.

“Here we are: four of us with similar religious views. Yet I see my views on the Democratic side and the values we espouse as being so aligned with my religious views. And they see the same thing, where I may see some of their views as somewhat mean-spirited,” Rep. Carol Moss, D-Holladay, said Wednesday at a discussion on LDS values and political partisanship at Utah Valley University.

She appeared with Sens. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, and Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, and former Rep. Holly Richardson, R-Pleasant Grove, at the event sponsored by the Alliance for a Better UTAH Education Fund.

Quin Monson, a political science professor at Brigham Young University, appeared with them, and noted LDS Democrats and LDS Republicans seem to stress different parts of their mutual religion. For example, Democrats focus on LDS teachings about helping the needy to justify government aid, while Republicans stress teachings on self-reliance to fight giving too much assistance.

“We have four very intelligent people up here, also very religious, all LDS who are expressing very different political views,” he said. “It’s clear to me that if you take a political ideology in pure form, conservatism or liberalism, neither one is going to be perfectly consistent with the teachings and theology of the LDS Church, and [it is possible to] find reasons to justify or reject both.”

Still, a recent national poll by Trinity College found Mormons nationally are Republican by a 4-1 margin, and by a 9-1 margin in Utah. Monson said that likely is because Mormon views on social issues more often align with Republicans.

But Moss said, for example, that she feels a faithful Mormon could be pro-choice on abortion because of LDS views about protecting individual rights against government interference — and noted the church itself officially opposes abortion except in the case of rape, incest or when the life or health of the mother is threatened — situations when it allows choice.

Richardson said, however, that she feels “killing an unborn baby is killing an unborn baby,” and believes life begins at conception — and that LDS teachings about protecting life fit well with such beliefs.

Monson said Mormons also sometimes differentiate between what they would do as individuals and what they believe public policy should allow. For example, he said while some may not believe in having an abortion themselves, they may believe that public policy should allow individual choice.

All four politicians said religious reasons are key to why they chose their differing parties.

“I am a Democrat not in spite of my LDS faith but because of my LDS faith,” McAdams said, adding its views about the importance of education and helping others are central to his choice.

Similarly, Stephenson said his LDS beliefs about being free to choose and about self-reliance led him to Republican free-market views, while in Democrats’ “bleeding-heart liberalism, they want to take care of people rather than enabling people to suffer the consequences of their actions.”

The four politicians all said they are happy their church contains people from across the political spectrum — and called for their fellow Mormons to be tolerant of all political views.

“I do not go out and testify that the Republican Party is the be-all, end-all. I will testify to that degree about the LDS Church because I believe that strongly in my faith,” Richardson said. “But the Republican Party is a vehicle for me to try to work towards values that I have, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people of other parties who aren’t equally as active and equally as ardent in their views.”


Related Sections | Elections | Mormon/LDS