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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.
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.
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.
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?