No Politics in Church!

Have you ever been in a Church meeting where someone, a speaker in sacrament meeting, or a teacher or student in Sunday School, Priesthood, or Relief Society, makes a blatant political statement? Perhaps it was only a facetious but degrading comment about a particular Obama Administration policy. If it occurred a few years ago, it may have been a statement of support for President Bush or the Iraq war. Too often, I’ve heard people make political comments in Church meetings, usually denigrating Democratic politicians and policies while supporting Republican politicians and policies. I have even heard people make disparaging comments in Church meetings about Church members who happen to be Democrats. Political statements, regardless of whether they are conservative, liberal, or moderate, do not belong in our sacred Church meetings.  It is incredibly inappropriate and unchristian to denigrate someone because of their political beliefs, particularly while attending a Christian church! Numerous statements from the First Presidency and other General Authorities have made it clear that our church meetings are for discussing sacred gospel topics and not for politics (If you want to read more about the Church’s stance of political neutrality, click here).

Yet I suspect political comments are made on a routine basis in many wards across the United States, particularly in Utah and in the Mountain West. I recall an occasion when I was sitting in a Sunday School class during my freshman year at BYU where someone in the class, who knew I was a Democrat, brought up that fact during the lesson out of the blue and belittled me in front of the whole class. I was shocked that anyone would feel it was appropriate to bring up politics in a Church meeting, let alone disparage a fellow member. Furthermore, I was dismayed to see that a number of the other class members were in agreement with the guy who belittled me. One girl even went as far as to ask what I was doing at BYU and if I even believed in the Church’s teachings. This all occurred as the instructor stood idly by.

While attending a gospel doctrine class in Hawaii a few years ago, the instructor, a returned mission president, started off an Old Testament lesson about following righteous leaders by expressing his anger at those who criticized President Bush and his policies. For several minutes he lamented the critical media coverage of the President and pointed out that the same thing happened to previous Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He asserted that we, as faithful members, must support President Bush and that it was inappropriate for us to criticize or complain about him.

On another occasion some years ago a woman took the stand during a fast and testimony meeting and testified that she knew what our country was doing in Iraq was right, as it was providing the Iraqis with freedom and the opportunity to hear the gospel. I wonder what an investigator would have thought who was attending that ward on that particular Sunday. What if they happened to not support the Iraq War, as most Americans did not at the time? They probably would not have felt comfortable in that ward. I know I didn’t.

I know many other people who have had similar experiences. What should you do when something like that happens in your ward? I believe we should all be advocates for greater spirituality at our sacred church meetings. That means participating, being reverent, being prepared by having read the class material in advance; but it also means that when there are significant deviations from gospel topics to issues as contentious and controversial as politics, we should speak up.

Here are my recommendations on what to do to counter the inappropriate political commentary that unfortunately seems to almost be routine in some wards:

If it occurs during in a talk or testimony given during sacrament meeting:

In this case, it is obviously improper to interrupt the speaker and comment on the unbecoming nature of political commentary. I recommend speaking with the individual in private and expressing concern about the political remarks. Alternatively, you could send the person a letter. If you do not feel comfortable with directly confronting someone about such remarks, then it is best to talk to the bishop about it and make sure he is aware of the comments and your serious concerns about their effect on the spiritual quality of the meeting. A bishop should know about the Church’s stance of political neutrality and should understand that political comments are inappropriate for church meetings; he should be sympathetic to your concerns. If he doesn’t seem to be aware, you could always say something like, “as you may know, the Church has recently made statements reaffirming its political neutrality and emphasizing that it does not support any specific political parties or politicians.” If he isn’t sympathetic, then talk (or write) to the stake president.

If it occurs during a Sunday School, Priesthood, or Relief Society meeting:

Depending on your personality, the severity of the political comments (meaning how far they deviated from a gospel topic), and who made them, you could raise your hand and politely express your concern about the political comments and request that class members refrain from expressing political views during a meeting where you really wanted to learn about the gospel and feel the Spirit. Point out that politics, by its very nature, is divisive and often contentious and detracts from the Spirit. If the comment was made by a class member and not the instructor, this is probably the best way of handling the situation, if it is done kindly and with love and respect, because it will raise everyone’s awareness of inappropriate political comments. Alternatively, you could wait until class is over and speak with the individual in private to express your concerns. You should also probably speak with the quorum, Relief Society, or Sunday School president if the political comments are a regular occurrence.

When I attended that Sunday School class in Hawaii some years ago where the instructor spent several minutes at the beginning of his lesson to complain about those who were critical of President Bush and assert our duty to support Bush, I opted to write him a letter later that week and mail it to his house. I am generally non-confrontational and somewhat shy so I really didn’t want to make a scene by challenging the instructor on his expression of political views. I also forwarded a copy of the letter to the bishop.

I like to think of this as spiritual activism- actively demanding that our meetings be more spiritual and gospel-focused. However, any actions taken, whether they entail directly confronting someone either in person or via a letter, or speaking with the bishop or stake president, should be done with respect, humility, and in the spirit of Doctrine of Covenants 121:41-43:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile- reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.

Also, be aware of the few political topics where the Church has actually taken a position, such as gay marriage. I recommend going to the LDS.org and looking at the political topics on the Newsroom page. The Church has statements on abortion (see my old post, which described the difference between the Church’s moral and political stances on abortion), capital punishment, euthanasia and prolonging life, embryonic stem-cell research, immigration, polygamy, same-gender attraction, and traditional marriage. In most of these statements, the Church indicates that it is politically neutral.

Write to a General Authority

Finally, one thing I also suggest you consider doing is to write a letter to a general authority, perhaps someone who you think would be sympathetic to this issue. As I’ve studied general conference talks over the years, I’ve noticed some general authorities have called for civility in public discourse, expressed a need for tolerance of differing political viewpoints, etc., and may be receptive to a letter expressing concern about politics in church meetings. Writing a letter to a general authority where you describe your experiences (particularly if you are a Democrat) in dealing with bias and outright hostility from other members because of your political beliefs, and sharing some specific examples, can help raise awareness with leaders who have the ability to make a broad impact. I wrote a couple of letters several years ago, one to an apostle and one to a member of the Seventy. I received a very thoughtful response from the Seventy (but didn’t hear back from the apostle). You won’t necessarily get a response as general authorities are very busy, but at least you’ll be making them aware of the issue.

The Seventy who replied to my letter noted that he thought it was “regrettable that we don’t have greater political diversity in the Church and that there are so many members who are seemingly so intolerant of the political positions of others.” He also added, “I know your concern is shared by many in the leadership of the Church and I’m hopeful in time some measure of course correction will be achieved.”

I certainly appreciated hearing those words. I would love to see a statement like that made during general conference. Perhaps if more members share their experiences and concerns with general authorities, someone will address the issue more directly. Ultimately, I believe that it will take some more direct pronouncements from Church leaders to really change this ugly part of LDS culture. By actively trying to change the culture of our wards, where we politely advocate that people refrain from bringing up politics during church meetings, and by raising awareness of the issue with local and general authorities, we can help affect the needed cultural change.

If you choose to write a letter to a general authority, here is the address to send it to:

Name of Apostle or Seventy
47 East South Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150

49 Replies to “No Politics in Church!”

  1. I really appreciate your blog post. Coming from a small branch with some real outspoken Republicans, I get angry when politics is breached, the spirit immediately flees, and I want to run away and exit the building altogether…

    Part of me would like to give them a verbal confrontation defending my views, but I know that wouldn't be helpful, and sometimes I feel sorry for the person that they are so full of pride, as to not realize their mistake. I know that political talk in church is bad, I've been the victim of having my views walked all over…

    So I know better than to repeat the offense and disenfranchise others… Even though I would love nothing more than to stand up for my political beliefs, as I would defend my Mormon ones as well.

    I'm thankful that I am not the only person out there that feels this way, and I really enjoyed your blog post on the subject.

    1. Wow! I thought I was the only one this happened to. I used to actually stop going to church after all the comments about these things. I live in a very red county in a blue state. I actually went inactive. I have gone back to church and am trying to stay active. I refuse to let these political and temporal issues interfere with my faith and the spiritual development.

    2. Your not alone. Many of us have been feeling the same way all our lives. It is tempting to defend one’s believes. But church is not the right place. Church is a place to gather&worship.It’s a place for togetherness,not separation.People go to a church or another for a reason,they have the same or similar religious believes. If the political believes are different,definitely church is not the right place to argue about that. In the words of Jesus himself:’ Leave to Rome what is of Rome and to God what is of God.’ I never herd a better statement of separation of church and state.Not even from our Founding Fathers who wrote a Constitution that separate church from state.The Bible says: ‘ Rejoice and gather together in my name.’ The Bible doesn’t say:’ Spend thine time in church,fighting about politics.’

      1. Lily, I understand your feelings, but I think you have mis-characterized the Founders, as well as the Constitution. Far from your idea separation of Church and state, many of the leaders of the War for Independence (Revolutionary War) were, in fact ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of them preached to their congregations the need to stand up and oppose acts of the British Government which violated their rights. At least one wore, under his vestments, his uniform as a colonel in the Continental Army, and after preaching a sermon, removed the vestments and recruited men from his congregation to join the in the cause. I can provide sources to read if you like.

        Often, during their most trying times, the Colonists met IN their churches to discuss the political problems they were facing, and to ask God to intervene with their tyrannical government. The citizens of Boston meet in the Old South Church to ask God to stop a French fleet of warships enroute to bombard and burn their city and other coastal cities on the east coast. A miracle was performed in that very day by the Lord, who heard their prayers. In fact, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about it, “The Ballad of the French Fleet”.

        Also, On MARCH 23, 1775, Patrick Henry spoke to the Second Virginia Convention, which was meeting in Richmond’s St. John’s Church due to British hostilities. There he outlined in detail the acts of abuse by the King. And ended with his immortal declaration, “Give me Liberty,or Give me Death!” Nobody went home or complained that he was talking about politics in church.

        Our founding documents, the Declaration, and the Constitution, were and are both based religious principles. Christianity was so much the foundation of the Constitution, the Framers excepted the Sabbath from days to be counted in the time allowed for a presidential veto.

        “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a law, in like Manner as if he had signed it . . ” (Article 1 Section 7) And they signed it “in the year of our Lord”. Further, Christian church services were held regularly in the US Capitol during the administration of Thoma Jefferson.

        So what about today? The Founders wrote the Constitution under the direct inspiration of God, and He has told us to “befriend” it. (See the passages in the Doctrine and Covenants) Every modern day Prophet has urged us to defend, protect,and preserve the US Constitution. It has been praised as a “heavenly banner) from the pulpit in General Conference. So why can’t we talk about it, and threats to it, in our ward meetings? Here’s just one quote from literally hundreds that are easily located that should give us the clear understanding that it’s OK to talk about it in Church:

        Other than being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States. If members of the Melchizedek Priesthood allow the U.S. Constitution to be destroyed, they not only forfeit their rights to the Priesthood, but to a place in this highest degree of glory as well. (David O. McKay, The Instructor, Feb. 1956, p. 34).

        Certainly today, our rights and freedoms are being threatened and violated regularly. Should we not discuss our duty to defend them, even in church, so the mission of the Church can go forward?

  2. I've been very fortunate in this regard. I live in a ward in the West which, probably by definition, is mostly Republican. But politics is almost never brought up in Church. A woman did ask my wife to read "The Source of Obama's Rage" (Funny, I've never even seen the guy perturbed.) My wife said that I wouldn't appreciate seeing that book in my home. The only other incident was a guy attacking me for having a bumper sticker on my car for the Democratic candidate for governor. (We won!) That was at a baptism. I finally just walked out.

    But other than that, it is very rare and I've never heard it in a talk or a lesson.

    But I don't live in Utah.

    Nice blog by the way

  3. "Unknown"- thank you for reading the blog and taking the time to comment. I'm glad to hear that politics do not come up very often in your ward. I've lived overseas in the past few years so I've also been very fortunate in not having to deal with politics in church.

  4. This blog is also pertinent and applicable to other Christian churches. As a Catholic I have been told more than once–during a Homily in Mass (which is supposed to be based on the Gospel reading of the day) –that I cannot be a “good Catholic” unless I vote Republican. I got so infuriated with that that I got up and walked out. I also didn’t appreciate being shown anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage videos at the beginning of the Mass. When I complained to the Diocesan office about it, I was told I was free to worship elsewhere.

    1. Thanks Joseph for your response. We want this site to be more general instead of Mormon only. Im glad you found application outside of our community. Religion and Politics are such polarizing topics I always wonder how this site will be received.

  5. I really enjoyed the article, especially being able to identify with it. I have been asked if it was possible to be a Dem and hold a temple recommend. Seriously.
    One point I’d have to disagree on is where you suggest writing to a GA. Don’t you think they have other things to worry about besides these matters? They know it exists, and if our local leadership won’t do anything about it, then we need to turn the other political cheek and wait til the next leaders get put it who hopefully WILL do something about it.

    1. Neti- many thanks for your comment. I can appreciate your point about not writing GAs. Its true, they have a lot of other issues to worry about. However, I think this is an important one, equally important to some of the other issues that face members. It significantly detracts from the spiritual quality of our meetings, which I’m sure you would agree would be of significant concern to GAs. And I also don’t believe that most GAs are aware of the problem, or even consider it a problem. Relatedly, how many times have we heard a general authority cite a letter they received in a Gen Conf talk as inspiration for their address? It happens quite frequently. You’re right, we need to turn the other cheek and not take offense in these situations, even if offense is intended. But I also think we should try to reverse the trend in a positive way. I don’t think the church culture will change significantly on this issue unless GAs speak more openly about it.

      1. Just a quick point on writing to GA’s- the general handbook of instructions book 2 section 21.1.24 says that “Members of the Church are discouraged from making telephone calls or writing letters to General Authorities about doctrinal issues or personal matters.” And later goes on to say “In most cases, correspondence from members to General Authorities will be referred back to their local leaders. Stake presidents who need clarification about doctrinal or other Church matters may write in behalf of their members to the First Presidency.”

        Just FYI

        I don’t really have too much of a problem with politics in church except for a couple of older men who are pretty vocally conservative. I am the gospel doctrine teacher in m ward. My first day on the job I read to the class D&C 38:27 and discussed unity as a class. I told my class that anything that causes disharmony or threatens that unity needs to be left out of my class and that includes politics. I think that it was well received and politics haven’t been an issue since.

        1. “Other than being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States. If members of the Melchizedek Priesthood allow the U.S. Constitution to be destroyed, they not only forfeit their rights to the Priesthood, but to a place in this highest degree of glory as well.” (David O. McKay, The Instructor, Feb. 1956, p. 34)

          Is that a proper point to discuss in Church?

        2. “Other than being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States. If members of the Melchizedek Priesthood allow the U.S. Constitution to be destroyed, they not only forfeit their rights to the Priesthood, but to a place in this highest degree of glory as well.” (David O. McKay, The Instructor, Feb. 1956, p. 34)

          Is this a good point to discuss in Church?

  6. I really like the article. I feel very alone in my ward. I mostly feel as though I am the only Democrat. Or at least the only person who really pays attention to the issues.

    1. Sherri- thank you for reading and commenting. I’ve often felt the same way in the wards I’ve lived in. There are more LDS Democrats and progressives than many of us realize; linking up online via MormonDems.com and other sites has helped me to better understand that there are many of us. If more of us try to gently change the church culture by advocating that politics be kept out of our church meetings, I believe the whole church will benefit significantly.

      1. I just recommended the article for my Facebook friends. A couple of weeks ago, a letter was read from the General Authorities that the church is neutral where politics is concerned. But I guess that doesn’t stop people from posting on Facebook, as my bishop did when he sent out a scathing message about Obama where most if not all stated “facts” were untrue. It never ends, but we can hope for civility and for change in time.

  7. Guys, I stumbled across this post and found it very interesting and agree completely with it.

    I’m a registered Republican (with moderate views) and I myself get tired of the political comments from many in my ward. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for a democrat or progressive.

    I hope we can improve both the quality of our meetings, and the independent quality of the political discourse in our nation.

    1. Daniel- thanks for reading and commenting. Yeah, I really wish we could see some change at both the church and national level. For change to occur within church culture, I think it’ll really take more of us being unafraid to speak out when our meetings depart from spiritual topics and begin to focus on politics. As someone who doesn’t like confrontation, I really need to step out of my comfort zone to speak out. Fortunately, I live overseas and the people in my ward don’t often get political in church.

  8. I too live in a small Branch in a very red area. This past Sunday a brother came very close to crossing the line in his testimony. Sometimes I feel like staying away until after the election. But, I play the organ and would leave everyone with no music as I am the only player. I am being inundated by emails where the church email lists have been used. I really resent this. I so appreciated the article in the Ensign emphasizing the right of members to have diverse opinions. May we all stay strong and support on another .

    1. Jane- that was a great comment. That’s terrible that ward email lists are being used to spread political propaganda. Have you talked to the branch president or relief society president about it? They should certainly know that it is inappropriate and against Church policy. If you have a chance, would you mind sharing the link to the Ensign article you are referring to? I’d love to read it. It’s good to see that there is some renewed emphasis of this theme. Too many members think we all are supposed to have the same political views.

  9. I can no longer attend church meetings. Partly due to ilness and partly because I know that ppl in my ward laugh at us if we identify as anything but repub. and spread gossip. I started getting hate filled email pass alongs, deriding the POTUS. Such foul things being shared by “faithful” members. What place does hate have in a religious setting?

    1. Cayenne- Thank you for reading and commenting. It is a shame that there are members in many wards who act in such a unChrist-like way and deride anyone who doesn’t think the way they do politically. You’re right, there is no place for such spiteful and derogatory commentary in any religious setting. Have you tried bringing it up with the bishop? Hopefully the bishop in your ward would be sympathetic regardless of his own political leanings. A bishop should certainly be aware that politics have no place in our sacred meetings and that members have been counseled repeatedly to be respectful of one another. Perhaps the Relief Society president would also be able to affect some change in your ward. I sympathize with you as I’ve experienced the same kind of persecution in some of my wards. Good luck and God bless.

  10. I completely agree with you. I am not that into politics, do not side with a group, but choose instead to vote for the right person in a race. However, I feel whenever politics are brought up in church, if you agree with them or not, there is a certain change in the air, that is just not good. I remember in one meeting they announced where the Republic meeting (not sure which one)was going to be held. A lady then asked where the Democrat one was, and nobody had any idea and the question was met with silence. It was funny to me, we should be educated on all, just not in church.

  11. I live in a blue state, but a few months ago a woman in my ward used testimony meeting to announce that she was attending the Republican convention as a delegate and said that anyone who wanted to know how they could be a delegate for 2016 could ask her after the meeting. The first testimony meeting after the convention, she got up again and gave a report on her experience at the convention. She even likened what she and her group was doing to spreading the gospel and doing the work of the Lord. I had to restrain myself from going to the pulpit and saying something! The worst part is that my husband, a recent convert, was VERY turned off by both “testimonies” from this woman and now he has no desire to attend sacrament.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I’m shocked that the bishopric would have allowed this kind of “testimony” to continue. It’s obviously a violation of church policy. I’m sorry to hear about how that experience affected your husband. I can sympathize with him since I certainly don’t want to attend sacrament meetings that end up being de facto Republican rallies. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again. I’d highly recommend bringing it up with your bishopric and telling them how the blatantly political comments by that sister during testimony meeting affected your family. Political commentary has no place in our sacred church meetings.

  12. I got so disgusted with the political talk at meetings that I almost quit going until after the election. Finally, I decided that I would get up and walk out every time people made political comments. And I did just that several times– once during a stake presentation on the “Mormon moment” which began with a photo of the Romney family and talked about how a Democrat had made comments about Ann Romney never holding a job. This came just after our bishop had spoken to us about not making political comments….During the temple recommend interview when they asked about organizations contrary to the church I replied “Well, I’m a Democrat!” They gave me one anyway.

    1. In my latest temple-recommend interview, the member of the bishopric who interviewed me asked if I was going to vote for Romney! I was flabbergasted. I told him no. He brought it up after I pointed out that the question about organizations that have views contrary to the church applies to every political party. Thank you for standing up for political neutrality in our sacred church meetings.

  13. Thanks to everyone for all comments as I feel so much less the outsider now. I am a convert and grew up in a politically active Democratic family but consider myself an Independent. I voted for Obama for the last two elections and honestly found admirable traits in both candidates. I have been shocked at the hostility and hatred that I have heard within the walls of my church during lessons, testimonies and discussions. I was hopeful that the message on political neutrality would take hold, but today a sacrament meeting talk featured a story about how Mitt Romney won a debate because he lived a particular principle. I suggested that was crossing the line but others said it really was not political. So, how would I be received if I gave a talk about great dads and used Barack Obama as an example? The sad thing is that I would be afraid to bring my non-member family members to church because they would NOT sit back and be polite as I have been for the last 4 years.

    1. Jolie- thanks for commenting. You are in good company. It shouldn’t matter what our political leanings are. Church should be a place where we go to worship and feel edified by the Spirit, not where we hear right-wing political banter. Thank you for speaking out on that incident in your ward. If more of us speak out when politics rears its ugly head in church meetings, we can help affect a cultural change.

  14. Thank you for this excellent article! I am sharing it on my FB site! I have witnessed this behavior in the LDS church and that is why I am so happy to support the LDS Dems. Recently I was involved in a very divisive local issue (Millcreek city incorporation), one of the local couples who are very devout LDS as well as Republicans were called “damned Democrats” by members of their ward because they were opposed to the issue. I especially like how you give concrete advice for dealing with the shaming occurring within a spiritual setting.

    1. It’s so sad to hear about supposed Christians denigrating fellow church members because of their political views. Hopefully we can help bring about a course correction. Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing the article.

  15. I’ve experienced political talk within my ward and my stake. Much of it occurred while we were on our way to YSA activities in our stake and in our region. Some has occurred during sacrament meetings and some has occurred on Facebook groups set up by the stake’s YSA for us to keep up with the schedule of events. Since I joined the church in 2008, my first few months as a member were soured by a lot of anti-Obama talk. I knew that most members of the church were quite conservative, but my prior experiences with the church (my mom converted when I was a kid) had involved little to no political commentary. Within five months of joining the church, I went inactive. I got sick and had family issues, which was part of why I didn’t go anymore. Most of why I quit going was that I no longer felt the warmth that I had once had in the church. I’ve gone a handful of times since then, and each time involved more talks and comments where people denigrate the DNC, Obama, and any moderate to liberal policies. It was bad enough to know my politics weren’t well-received by locals (I’m from Alabama), but it was worse when I knew that I wasn’t really wanted at church because of them.

    1. Janet- Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m really sorry to hear about your experiences in your ward. I suspect 2012 was a bad year for keeping politics out of church, especially with Latter-day Saints because of Romney’s candidacy. Hopefully now that the election is over things will have settled down more. If you get the chance, I’d recommend speaking to your bishop or stake president about the negative experiences you’ve had. It’s incredible terrible that ward members act in such a way that relatively new converts such as yourself no longer feel welcome.

  16. I do consider myself fortunate that I live in a country (Australia) where there is no accepted connection between Church membership and political affiliation.

    Based on my experience, many of the most worthy, faithful and devout Mormons I know (including bishops and stake presidents) tend to vote for the centre-left Labor Party rather than the centre-right Liberal Party. And I have never, ever heard any form of the sentiment “if you’re a good Latter-day Saint, you must vote for candidate/party X”.

    The only counter-example I can think of relates not to domestic politics, but to the recent US Presidential elections. Very many Australian Mormons expressed a good deal of enthusiasm for Mitt Romney’s candidacy. I suppose the reasons are fairly obvious, and I wasn’t very surprised at this. What did surprise me, however, was the number of Australians who voiced the complaint that President Obama stood for “socialised medicine”! I couldn’t help pointing out, gently, that Australia’s healthcare system was far, far more socialised than anything President Obama had proposed. Some still didn’t understand what I meant. I knew where they were getting their information from – but still!

    1. Gwyn, Thanks for commenting. It’s funny to hear about the enthusiasm that some Australian Mormons had for Romney’s candidacy. I attended a bunch of church meetings in the UK during 2012 and also found a lot of enthusiasm for Romney among the British Latter-day Saints, who, just as you pointed out, did not seem to recognize that President Obama’s policies were far closer to those implemented by the British government, including the National Health Service, than policies advocated by Mitt Romney.

  17. I have to say that the Church can’t really have it both ways. The Church over the past 2 decades has issued multiple official statements to be read from pulpits in states where the civil rights of LGBT people were on the ballot (not incidentally without the major participation of the Church in getting the measures on the ballot in the first place) calling on members to give time and money to purely political fight to extend discrimination into state constitutions (an effort that should be anathema to a people who struggle to be Christ like, and who will tell tales of their own historic discrimination at the drop of a hat). Members where specifically encouraged to use social media, to walk streets etc.. The church’s rather pathetic efforts to distance themselves from this increasingly losing fight come off as mere PR stunts, especially when the same Mormons recruited to lead the official opposition to Gay rights sit on the boards of the newer “non-Mormon” groups like the National Organization for Marriage. The Church was very careful to make sure tat NOM’s public face (Maggie Gallagher) is a Catholic but the resources and personnel a level or so below her are largely the same.

    The Church pretends to have no political position but routinely supports right wing GOP causes, candidates and efforts. There is no process for punishing leaders like those mentioned in the article for espousing their positions, and having non-professional clergy just creates plausible deniability for the Church as an institution when it’s local leaders make the blunder of espousing what everyone knows to be the Church’s real viewpoint politically.

    This may be a largely US problem as the Church hasn’t managed to work it’s influence very deeply into the governments of other nations just yet.

  18. I appreciate this article. I appreciate the recommendations for how to respond. I would like to opine that these are not the only ways to respond. I’d like to see more vocal disagreement. As one who is comfortable being a bit more confrontational, I have spoken up on many occasions. I live in a Utah ward, actively serve in my ward and stake leadership, and represent one of very few Democrats (I know this because I have the precinct voting record). Members of my ward know (or think they know) how I stand because I post campaign signs in my yard, on my car, hold candidate cottage meetings at my house, and have campaigned door-to-door. I’ve observed that people are less apt to make insensitive remarks when they know you well. I get plenty of playful teasing, and I’ve learned to enjoy it, but rarely experience a direct attack. I am very matter-of-fact. When someone presents a blatant political position with which I disagree, I am quick to vocalize my disagreement. I believe waiting to say something is, in a way, being complicit. If nothing is said to counter the statement, it establishes the statement as acceptable or correct. I believe this can be done politely and with some humor. For instance, I might say, “I disagree with your opinion, Brother Brown. I sustained you as Sunday School teacher, but I want to let you know that I am unlikely to vote for you when you run for office.” Or, “Sister Smith, I get the feeling you are not a liberal like myself. I hope you will will either change your ways or avoid getting me riled up.” It’s gotten to the point that anytime a right-wing comment is issued, most of the congregation (including the bishop) turns to see what my reaction will be. Usually I just have to levy a sarcastic smile and the tension is broken. Even my conservative fellows will often come to my rescue, announcing to the uninformed, “Brother, you may want to be careful what you say, we have a diversity of opinion in this ward.” Simple responses that let people know their political views are not ubiquitous, have created many opportunities for me to share my political views with earnestly-seeking individuals in my ward (outside of church). You’d be surprised how many agree with some of your thoughts, though they always felt they were alone or off the straight and narrow.
    By the way, I have a sign in my garage that reads, “Parking for Democrats only.” I always invite my home teachers to park there, explaining that the party could use a few more brethren like themselves. A fellow in my High Priests Group took me up on it.

    1. John- thank you for reading and commenting. It’s great to hear about someone like yourself who is comfortable about speaking up in church and opposing right-wing political commentary. You reminded me of something a General Authority told me when I wrote to him regarding politics in church meetings- he said “I have found in my case that a little patience and good humor will get one over almost all of the bumps in life, including this one.” I’ll have to muster the courage to be more vocal in my ward when politics come up. Fortunately, I attend a ward outside of the Mountain West where politics in church is incredibly rare. Although I was shocked when the first counselor in the bishopric asked me if I was voting for Mitt Romney during my temple recommend interview!

  19. The church is perfect, it’s people are not. Regardless of what may or may not be appropriate, there will always be things like this happening. The suggestions were polite and appropriate, however we must remember that we can choose to take offense, or let be un-affecting towards us.

  20. Our political freedoms should be appreciated, cherished, and exercised using ones own best judgement. However, the Gospel transcends all worldly -including political – philosophies of men. I was not baptized in the name of Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck, or any political ideology, left or right. I haven’t met anyone else who was, either.

    There were some who rejected the Savior because they looked for a political Messiah to free them from the Romans. They missed the purpose of the Atonement. Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t walking on equally shaky ground when I hear someone so politically invested that he or she repeatedly disregard the church’s position of political neutrality in talks, “testimonies”, or comments during Sunday classes.

    There is a difference between discussing principles and being blatantly political. I think most of us can sense when that line has been crossed, but I don’t think anyone really intends to do it. Only a bishop or other presiding authority can intervene with someone at the pulpit, but we can share concerns privately, as friends.
    As a teacher,sometimes I’ve had to smile and say that “we’re not going there” and ward members have respected that. Patience, respect, and kindly reminding ourselves and each other where to draw that line can help make the Sabbath a “delight, the holy of the Lord” (Isaiah 58:13) and politics free. Most of the time.

  21. I usually try and ignore it. I think for the most part those people mean well, and they are probably a little bit ignorant to the fact that there may actually think differently. The other day in EQ the instructor said that in the war in heaven it was the republicans who followed Christ and the democrats who followed Satan, because Dems just want free handouts and don’t want to work for anything. I just laughed and texted a friend about it and spent the rest of the lesson looking at Instagram. Maybe I should have said something, but I don’t think it’s the time or place.

    Mosiah 18:27-28 is why I am a democrat.

  22. When people bring politics into church, whether it is sacrament or a class, we need to start speaking up. Silence only emboldens them. Our HP instructor was recently attacking Democrats and asked out loud, did anyone here vote for a Democrat? A wise older HP member spoke up and said, Brother _____, that’s an inappropriate question and it is why we have a secret ballot in our country.

  23. “This really hasn’t been a problem in Maryland, but in the Mountain West it seems to be more of an issue. Unfortunately, with any church, organization, political party, etc. “group think” tends to take over. With mass media catering to both political agendas (yes, there is both a liberal and conservative media) it is so shameful that there does not seem to be the possibility for a civil discourse. I really don’t like talking to people where it seems like every conversation will end in a “winner takes all” debate….it’s too frustrating.”

  24. Are you all aware that attacks are very vehement in some areas (mine) toward conservatives? The bottom line is: whatever your political leanings are, it is hurtful for them to be an issue, as we come together to worship and learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think it must be hard for people to not let their political stances show through, especially when they feel so strongly about them. But it can also be very hurtful, especially when strong feelings are voiced toward or against political figures, issues, or stances.

  25. Thank you for this story. A similar incident happened to me several months ago. Our Sunday school teacher started the class by talking about how some people think he’s ignorant because he’s a conservative. Then he said, ” what influences the other side? Evil. Where does it come from? Education.” Then he just went on about the day’s lesson. I was appalled. I sat there silently crying until class was over. I then went to the bathroom and cried some more. I would have just left but I had ridden to church with another member. I didn’t go back for a few months. I talked to the missionaries about it. They were shocked and encouraged me to talk to him about it but every time I would think about it I just got so angry.
    The first time I returned, something similar happened from a different member, but not to such an abusive degree. I still want to say something to the man but I feel it would be silly at this point because it’s been so long. I hate that it still bothers me so much, but…”evil”…that’s really serious. I am not evil. I also had the thought, “what of there’s an investigator in this room right now?!”

  26. My question is, what about comments in favor of studying, learning, and defending the principles in the Constitution? Applying the Constitution to a current topic in the news? It that politics in church?

    1. That’s a good point Rick. In my observation, politics is closely aligned with our current lives and application of our deep seated values. Can one honestly plead “No politics in church?” The Church is very engaged in political issues at the moment and has been throughout its history. Of course, the Church repackages these as “moral” rather than “political” issues (as if procuring liquor licenses for the Church-owned City Creek development is a “moral” stand– its about power and $ folks). My confession is that I don’t mind politics in church so long as it supports my own view (did I really say that?). If it conflicts, then I’m ready for “discussion.” I also must confess that I sometimes go to church just hoping for political issues to surface. Sometimes I look ahead at the lesson (some people do ya know) to see what kind of controversy might arise. I dream about it and fantasize about a perfect response. Most often I am disappointed that my ward is too sensitive to my liberal views despite a conservative majority. Can’t we get a little controversy going, people? It helps me feel the spirit! 😉

      1. Thanks, JJ. I have to agree that politics is part of our lives, and, the Gospel is also, so it’s hard to separate the two – no – i think it’s impossible. But my question was ” about comments in favor of studying, learning, and defending the principles in the Constitution? Applying the Constitution to a current topic in the news? It that politics in church?” The Lord and all the prophets have commanded, exhorted, and plead with us to preserve and defend the Constitution, which He inspired. So should we not discuss it’s application to our daily lives and, especially our freedom (agency) which is essential for our salvation and exaltation? I don’t think you really shared your opinion on the Constitution. I’m all ears. (ok, eyes.)

Leave a Reply