The Salt Lake Tribune released an article a few days ago that suggests the possibility of the LDS Church moving away from politics, at least for now. They’ll probably lay low for a while and they get right back into the swing of things. But maybe, just maybe, all the bad PR is helping the Church reconsider political activism. Maybe. It gives me hope.
Logan Utah — the city that has been my home for 25+ years — has problems with air quality in the winter. City Council Chairman Herm Olsen suggested a possible solution: close down drive-thrus on “red air days“.
I’m not writing this post to discuss the air problem; I’d like to discuss another problem: it seems churches, despite publicly denouncing any influence over their members on political matters, have an increasingly active role in politics. Let me illustrate with one example from the air problem in Logan. One commenter on the Herald Journal article (linked above) said:
“Its strange this issue isn’t seen more from a moral perspective. Where is the church on this? Maybe they have weighted in on the subject but I haven’t seen it yet.”
So where is the Church on this issue? Probably silent (as they should be).
This comment, among other related comments I’ve heard and read, suggest that although the LDS Church (and other churches) is politically neutral there is an underlying culture in which you cannot think or act politically unless you have the support of your church. Why? I’m not really sure, but I have ideas, and I think Proposition 8 is a good illustration of the situation. The documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition relates the members of the LDS Church were invited to vote yes on Prop 8 and often invited by local leaders to make monetary contributions as based on their income and past tithes and offerings. It is also rumored that some members were disciplined if they did not contribute monetarily and if it was learned that they voted no on Prop 8.
Sometimes the Church comes out and makes statements, like it did with Prop 8, that members should support some political initiative. Sometimes the Church makes statements about its own stance on political issues. When members are invited to support an initiative, or when the Church makes public its stance on an issue, it seems members feel their salvation might be in jeopardy. And understandably so in situations in which someone in authority — someone who is putatively a judge on whether or not you are worthy to be with God in the next life — revokes “blessings” (e.g., temple recommend, membership in the Church) for not agreeing with church leaders on political issues.
Whatever the case, members of the LDS Church (and probably other churches as well) lean too heavily on the Church for political advice, and the LDS Church holds too much over the heads of its members if they disagree on political issues.