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Last November, I wrote a post entitled “The Democrat Party is Satan’s Plan?” and relayed an experience I had in Sunday School class with conservative members openly discussing politics and how they thought Democrats were following Satan.  Needless to say, the article created a stir among both Republican and Democrat Mormons and Christians alike.

One of my friends I’ve met through this blog, who happens to be a Mormon Democrat, emailed me personally about the article I wrote and wanted to have a Democrat point of view heard on the blog.  Although we differ in political views, we share many common religious views and as I’ve stated over and again, one of the purposes of this blog is to bring people together and closer to Christ regardless of our religious and/or political views.  Therefore, I decided to interview him via email responses since he is a Mormon Democrat and I am not.  Also, since today is President’s Day, I thought it would be good to share this.

Before I get into the interview questions, I’ll share a little bit of his background.

Background of my Mormon Democrat Friend

My friend lives in the Philedelphia area and is currently serving as the Stake Sunday School President.  He works as a regional manager and is successful in his field.  He and I have talked on occasion since we are in the same field of work and the conversations we’ve had have helped me.

He is married and has raised 4 children.  Three of whom have served full-time missions.  He has served throughout his life in the church accepting callings as Gospel Doctrine teacher, Young Men’s leader, Seminary instructor (similar to leading a bible study), and other callings.

He also serves his community and is currently the Judge of Elections in his town that is just outside of Philadelphia.

The reason why I share his background is because I think most Mormons (at least the ones in the West where I live) are Republican and assume that all Mormons share the same political view.  If we saw my friend actively working in his church callings and community service, you probably wouldn’t be able to distiguish if he were Republican or Democrat unless you engaged in a political conversation with him.  My hope is that this interview can open up some dialogue, tolerance, and understanding between Mormon Republicans and Democrats and that we can do a better job of working together respectfully in spite of our political differences.

The Interview

Initial response when asked if he would do an interview

 I’ll discuss them with you but I won’t get into a debate, argument or fight over them. One, that’s not me and two, my positions are constantly changing and evolving.  As I gain new understanding and light, my positions change and evolve.  This approach has served me well as it has allowed me to not just use the light and knowledge I’ve been blessed with to keep me on the right path but I’ve leverage the insight I’ve been given to deepen my understanding and see farther.  I will say though, that I leave open the possibility up front that my views are wrong and may need to be abandoned tomorrow.  Most of us make more bad decisions than we make right choices, are wrong more often than we’re right, myself, especially myself (!) included.

1.      How have you been able to “keep the faith” so to speak while being surrounded by conservative Mormons who oftentimes say things very derogatory about your views?

It’s been challenging at times.  I give as well as I get so I go easy on those who want to put me or my political party right up there with Satan.  I know they are wrong.  What else matters.  Fact is most members of the church haven’t thought deeply about their political positions as they relate to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are more Republican and conservative than they are Mormon and Christian.  I don’t see that changing anytime soon despite the very best efforts of the brethren to yank us back and get all of us to be more reasonable and patient with each other.

2.      How do you see your political affiliation lining up with your religious beliefs?

As Harry Reid said in a BYU devotional last year, “I’m a Democrat (and a liberal) because I am Mormon.”  That says it all.

I do take it a step further however.  I pay very close attention to everything the First Presidency says or does on every critical social and political issue of the day.  I’ve never met anyone that pays closer attention than I do.  I won’t bore you with details on how I stay so close but I do.  By following everything they say and do I am able to keep myself on a political straight and narrow.  While my conservative church friends wonder off the path and wallow in the Republican mud on their way to wherever, I’m quietly following the brethren’s footsteps trying as best I can to match them step for step.  Most conservatives would be amazed at the so called moderate to liberal positions the Brethren have taken and continue to take on gay rights, stem cell research, immigration, even abortion.  I just smile and go my way knowing I’m holding the same rod the Brethren are holding.

3.      What is your perspective on people of the same faith who are of a different political party?

They have as much right to be wrong as I do.

4.      Where do you think Christian and Mormon Democrats and Republicans can find common ground?

Simple answer; We should unite around the church’s three fold mission, to which “caring for the poor and needy” was added last year making it a four-fold mission.  Except it’s not called the mission of the church any more. Rather the handbook refers to the four functions as “divinely appointed responsibilities” Look it up in the Handbook of Instructions, I believe Chapter two, Section 2.2 to be precise.  If more of us, especially me, would stop pontificating about the evils of the federal welfare system ( and it is evil!) and actually use the inspiration and the guidance of the sprit, to which we so often pat ourselves on the back for possessing, and do something significant and substantial to help the poor and the needy, poverty would be reduced and Zion would be established a lot faster.

5.      You brought up an article from 1998 that mentioned one of the church General Authority’s stating that there should be more Mormon Democrats.  Why do you think they advocated this?

According to Elder Jensen, and I take him at his word since 1) he is a General Authority or was at the time of the interview anyway 2) the interview was conducted in the Church Office Building in SLC giving it an added emphasis and endorsement and 3) the interview was authorized directly by the Prophet and Quorum of the 12, he stated the brethren thought it wise the church not be perceived to be aligned with any one party, that there were times when the church would need the help of both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republican and that if 80 to 90 percent of the members are Republican, Democratic lawmakers would be less likely to come to church’s side in times of need.  Now doesn’t that make a lot of sense!   Don’t you just love the Prophet!  Wouldn’t it be cool if more of us paid attention to what he and the Q of the 12 said and did?  Just saying.

Conclusion

Although I don’t agree politically with everything my Mormon Democrat friend(s) believe, I think that it is good to try and understand their perspective.

This interview is just a first step, but an example of how we can open up and try to learn from others who may not have the same views that we have.  The main thing I learned from this interview was that my friend has a sincere desire to follow the Lord as well as the prophets.  Also, I definitely agree with his views that we should be more patient with each other since we are all fallible and imperfect.

If you are a Repbublican, what are your thoughts of this initial interview?  Are there other questions you would have asked?

If you are Democrat, does this represent your views or are there other things you would have discussed?

Why do you think Elder Jensen pointed out that we need more Mormon Democrats?

Finally, what other suggestions do you have on how we can not only tolerate each other, but love each other as Jesus would have us do?

Heavenly-MotherA couple weeks ago I wrote about women holding the priesthood.  The discussion turned from women holding the priesthood to a lively discussion on Heavenly Mother.  Some of my Evangelical pastor friends who have followed my blog for a few years were shocked and appalled to learn that Mormons were openly discussing this.  I think they kind of also felt a “bait and switch” because this is something they hadn’t heard of before in my writings, but more importantly isn’t mentioned in Mormon books they have such as: The Book of Mormon, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Doctrine and Covenants, etc.

The reaction of my friend reminded me of a similar experience I had while I was in Germany on a Mormon mission in the mid 1990s.  As a missionary, you always are worried about what a member might say when you bring a potential convert to church with you.  There are many strange things out there that prophets have done or said over the years that some members full heartedly believe.  You invite people to visit church with the hopes that someone doesn’t say something “crazy” and scare them off.

On this particular day, it wasn’t a Mormon church member that scared our potential convert off, but a song called “O My Father“.  Part of the song discusses that there is a Mother in Heaven.  When my German friend read that verse he looked like someone had punched him in the gut as he turned and looked at me with a questioning look.  Right after the service he ran out the door and we really never saw him again after that.

With this experience in mind, and the fact that the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother isn’t official LDS doctrine, I tried to explain that to my non-Mormon friends online.

Other LDS, or Mormon, friends who follow the blog jumped in and shared quite a few recent comments made by Mormon prophets and apostles who discuss us having Heavenly Parents.  Even with all of the educating of the doctrine of having a Heavenly Mother, I have the feeling my Evangelical friends are still very uneasy with the concept.

Why Evangelicals are Shocked

I think there is an underlying reason why Evangelicals are shocked to learn of Mormons discussing having a Heavenly Mother, and that is the way Mormons view our relationship to who God is vs. how Evangelicals view our relationship to God.

In the book “How Wide the Divide?”, Stephen Robinson states the following about how Mormons view God:

Since Latter-day Saints take seriously and literally the scriptural language about becoming the children of God (Rom 8:16), it makes sense to us that the children will grow up to be like their Father.  According to Scripture, God is the Fother of spirits (Heb 12:9).  We are his offspring (Acts 17:29), and offspring grow up to be what their parents are…(How Wide the Divide, pg 80)

The Evangelical point of view of man’s relationship to God is described by Craig Blomberg  in the same book as God being the “Creator” and man being the “creatures”.  Therefore, God is like the sculptor who sculpts a statue.  Although the statue is in the image of a human, the statue does not possess the traits of a human and is a completely different creature.

I believe that Mormons who feel we are the literal offspring of God have this in mind when they discuss having a Heavenly Mother.  A very good example of this is the song I mentioned previously, “O My Father”.  A portion of the song reads:

I had learned to call the Father, Through thy Spirit from on high,

But until the key of knowledge Was restored, I knew not why.

In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!

Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.

Conclusion

Mormons take the biblical scripture literally to mean that they are the offspring of God.  With that thought in mind, many Mormons assume that it is logical that God has a wife (Heavenly Mother) who conceived our spirits.  Evangelicals view man’s relationship with God much differently in the sense that God created us and formed us in His image, but we are not literal offspring of God.

If you are not a Mormon, what are your thoughts about the concept of a Heavenly Mother?

If you are a Mormon, why do you think there isn’t much discussion surrounding having a Heavenly Mother?  Do you consider the concept of having a Heavenly Mother to be speculation, or do you consider it to be an official doctrine?

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