Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Religion And Politics 2

The LDS Church has always maintained its political neutrality. The problem doesn't really lie with The Church. I believe The Church is victimized by opportunistic politicians and also employees who do not understand the consequences of their actions. For example: Craig Foster who organized the Davis Co. GOP golf tourney by using his email address fostercl@ldschurch.org or Those at BYU who used their positions to rally for Governor Romney. I think it's absolutely appropriate for The Church to say to Mr. Mac, "look, you can be Pres. of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or you can be on Senator Orrin Hatch's campaign payroll, but you can't do both". It's clear that The Chuch cannot rely on the scruples of politicians or the judgement of its employees. They need hard policy to put distance between themselves and politicians.


Blogger pramahaphil said...


Now what is the deal with Mr Mac? I've been in cave for the past few weeks.

10/31/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger brett said...


Here's the Tribune article about it. Pete Ashdown is hosting it because it is no longer available for free on the Trib website.

10/31/2006 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

Well said, Ethan.

As an active member of the LDS Church, and an active (moderate) Republican, I was disgusted by a neighborhood meeting I attended where the candidate's power point presentation had a picture of, and quotes by, President Hinkley, and also rampantly quoted the D&C.

Let's all speak out when we see this kind of crap, instead of writing it off as business as usual, because it's wrong.

10/31/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Lars Larson said...

Dear Ethan, Thank you for clarifying your position. I feel a lot better about your second effort, but I still do not completely agree with you.

Please remember that Joseph Smith was both the mayor of Nauvoo and a presidential candidate at the time of his murder. And, his successor, Brigham Young, was the territorial governor of Utah. Both had plenty to say about policy, politics, and politicians. For a generation of Mormons, these righteous men were quite literally the political "powers that be."

Thus, to say that "the LDS Church has always maintained its political neutrality" simply is not accurate. Official political neutrality appears to be a wise, but a more recently adopted policy for the Church. The fact is that we are living at the historical apex of the Church's political neutrality.

But, what if it were otherwise?

Is it wrong, based upon religious principles, for the Church to be involved in politics? No, absolutely not. Nothing in our scriptures or doctrine would compel one to believe that.

Well, then, is it wrong based upon Constitutional principles? No, again. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to a Baptist minister, explained that the policy of separating Church and State was a one way street--in short, the government couldn't mess with churches, but churches could mess with the government.

Now, the idea is being introduced here that the LDS Church should go beyond its official, institutional neutrality and actually strip some of its higher profile members of their individual political rights. I do not agree with that.

Mac Christensen is a volunteer for the Tabernacle Choir. He sells suits for a living. We have all seen his commercials. They are actually more offensive and public than anything he has ever done politically. (That was joke) He has every right in the world to serve his community in whatever political cause he considers to be worthy.

Mr. Mac is not the one running around saying, "Hey, I am the president of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, vote for Orrin Hatch!" Rather, he has worked quietly behind the scenes in support of someone whom he considers to be a righteous man and a good statesman. Okay, you do not agree with him, but does that mean you have to vilify him or strip him of his rights of citizenship?

No, I suspect that you are a better man than that, Ethan. Your employer, KSL, lets you do your "most feared blogger" thing on the side. Why do you now think that what's good for the goose is no longer good for the gander? Is it because religious people deserve fewer rights that their secular neighbors? Does a person really deserve to be punished for volunteering in their Church?

Neither Hatch, Leavitt, Huntsman, Romney, nor Ethan Millard has hid his religious affiliation or political leanings. Should any of them have done so? Do we really want public figures concealing their religion, their values, or their true agenda? Isn’t it best that we know these things?

Come on liberals, I thought I could count on you, of all people, to be opposed to censorship! Why the curious double standard being shown here now? Repent, vote Republican, or be damned! (That was a joke too.)

10/31/2006 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Lars Larson said...

Natalie, I believe it is wrong for someone to imply that the Church endorses their candidacy. However, I do not believe that it is wrong for someone to honestly reveal their religious beliefs and values.

I strenously oppose the trend in modern society to drive religious discourse into the shadows. I want people to feel free to speak about religion in everyday discourse--at work, at home, at play.

As far as I am concerned, bring it on! I'm not affraid of hearing religious expressions. I love to hear other people talk about their beliefs, and I often enjoy speaking freely about my own.

Now, whether or not this neighbor of yours did anything wrong, I don't know for sure. I wasn't there. But, it would appear to me that he was well within his rights--he may have been foolish, but he does not appear to have done anything wrong.

10/31/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Lars Larson said...

Sorry about the typos, I am trying to type too fast without proof-reading.

10/31/2006 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger pramahaphil said...

Thanks Lars for clarifying the Mr Mac thing.

10/31/2006 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Lars Larson said...

You are very welcome pramahaphil, I hope I actually did clarify something. My usual pattern is to complicate things before I get around to simplifying. By then, most people have lost interest!

11/01/2006 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Ridgway, Salt Lake City said...

"Mitt Romney is the consummate leader with a rare combination of talent, sincerity, integrity, and charisma. In a world where 'spin' is too often king, he is the real deal. What he did with Salt Lake City's Olympic Games is the stuff of which legends are made."
--Sheri Dew, Deseret Book Company President & CEO

Would someone please tell me what Sherri Dew is doing making comments like this about Mitt Romney and allowing them to be posted/hosted on the UtahnsForMitt.com web site while concurrently serving as the president of the company that prints the LDS Church's hymnbooks, it's quadruple combinations of the scriptures, and the missionary versions of the Book of Mormon?
It's one thing to like someone personally and state for the record that you're impressed. But allowing the tag line that you are the president and CEO of Deseret Book to be displayed on a site whose sole purpose is to get Romney elected president? I wrote about it on my blog in July. I would have thought that with all of the Boston Globe coverage, someone would have scrubbed the quote by now. But amazingly, it remains. Of course, that quote is nothing compared to the problematic revelations that the emails made available to the Boston Globe bring to light.

11/03/2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Don Seamons said...

FYI, Mike, the LDS Church has a publishing arm that is separate from Deseret Book. Deseret Book does not print its hymn books or its scriptures or anything else that is officially the Church's property. Every Deseret Book volume that deals with church doctrine contains a disclaimer that the views expressed are the authors and not the church's.

But there is a perception--true or not--that you share with many others that Deseret Book is just a house organ for the Church. Plus, she was part of the Church's hierarchy for five years (as a member of the Church's Relief Society presidency) and is well-connected with its leaders. For appearance's sake, I think that Sheri Dew should either request that her title be removed from the testimonial you reference, or should have it removed altogether.

11/03/2006 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/04/2006 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Mike, Both Sheri Dew and Mac Christensen are citizens of the United States of America. They have every right in the world to do what they are doing. God bless them for caring enough to get involved. Most people in this country would rather watch people eat bugs on reality television than actually get involved in a noble cause. It's sad that the heroes are the ones who get criticized.

Deseret Book is a private, for-profit, tax-paying company. Sheri Dew is a private, tax-paying citizen. She does not need to get permission from the "dissenters" in our midst to serve her community as she sees fit. She is brilliant, articulate, and honorable. Many of us hope that she will eventually run for public office herself.

Prophets of God, from Enoch to Abraham, from Samuel to Jeremiah, from Nephi to Mormon, from Joseph Smith to Ezra Taft Bension have gotten involved in politics. There is nothing wrong with it. There is, however, something wrong with baseless fault finding, and bearing false witness.

God help us from the blind and traitorous among us. Joseph Smith was murdered because of such, and so will be our children unless we protect them. May God have mercy on us all.

11/04/2006 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Staheli said...

I agree that we shouldn't use LDS-Church affiliated e-mail addresses to engage in anything that is political. I work for BYU, but I use my GMail address to even send letters to the editor of the local newspapers.

Mr. Mac should be able to help Hatch in any way he wants (although I would like to convince him to vote for Scott Bradley instead ;-) ) as long as he does not imply church endorsement or affiliation. If people happen to know that he works in some capacity for the church, that's their personal issue to overcome.

11/04/2006 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Thanks Frank, What do you do in the service?

11/06/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Don, Thanks for your comments too. I too have wondered whether or not Sheri Dew should remove the Deseret Book CEO reference or not. For me, the issue is not whether such a reference might imply Church endorsement. It obviously does not.

For me, the question had to do with whether or not corporate heads, in general, have the freedom to use their titles while endorsing candidates. I imagine that it varies with each company. So, I am still not sure what is best about that. Maybe, when in doubt, it is best to remove it.

But, she should feel free to endorse Mitt Romney if she so chooses. She is a respected private citizen, free to serve her community as she sees fit.

11/06/2006 06:24:00 PM  

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