Why Most Mormons Are Republicans

I was looking at an article posted on jewishjournal.com, a blog titled Jews and Mormons by Mark Paredes, titled “Why Most Mormons Are Republicans.”

He attributes it to Mormons’ belief in self-reliance rather than turning to the government, and to Democrats’ stands on certain social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, etc.

Those are valid points, Mark, but I think you missed the biggest part of the reason, and that is a fundamental belief that the overwhelming majority of Latter-day Saints have in individual liberty as opposed to the use of government force to promote the good of society. Mormons believe that the US Constitution is inspired and that the principles of liberty it codifies are inspired. To accept modern-day liberalism, you have to toss aside the Constitution the way it was written and believe, instead, in a “living, breathing” constitution that can mean whatever Supreme Court justices want it to mean.

The Joseph Smith quote you used at the beginning of your posting gets at that issue of personal liberty, but you failed to make the connection. Joseph Smith said, in explaining how he governed his people so well, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” This reflects an elevated view of humanity that ascribes to them common sense and the right to do as they please within wide limits of behavior. Yes, we need laws that protect people from injury by other people, but the notion that a government should take money from one person against his will and give it to another rubs the vast majority of Mormons the wrong way.

Let me illustrate the difference between Modern Liberal thinking and Conservative thinking with a common issue that comes up in every Congress: Tax Cuts. You can count on Liberals, without fail, when they talk of tax cuts, to want them to be targeted. You get a tax cut if you do this activity that we like. And by no means are we going to give tax cuts to the rich. Conservatives, on the other hand, will want across-the-board tax cuts: Let people keep their own money and spend it how they will – this is none of the government’s business. That exactly parallels the thinking of Mormons – let decisions be made as close to the people as possible, and where each individual can make his or her own decisions, that is the very best way to do it.


About mesasmiles

By Dr. David Hall. Dr. Hall runs Infinity Dental Web, a small company that does Internet marketing for dentists. He has had a long-standing interest in politics and as a college student toyed with the idea of a political career.
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4 Responses to Why Most Mormons Are Republicans

  1. mesasmiles says:

    Mark Paredes responded on his blog:
    David Hall – thanks for reposting my blog post to your blog. However, your point is a very America-centric one. I’ve spoken in Europe three times in the last two years, and can assure you that most European Mormons have no problem with big governments. Limited government is not viewed as divinely sanctioned there, and Mormons who voted for FDR’s and LBJ’s programs apparently also believed that they were in harmony with gospel principles.

    Response by David Hall:
    It’s interesting that you reference FDR and LBJ. Yes, Utah voted for FDR, which was a source of consternation to LDS leaders. Some very prominent Church leaders were preaching against FDR’s policies, and they had the feeling that he was going against constitutional principles. But they seemed to preach in vain, as Utah ended up voting for FDR. Afterward, the LDS Church decided to back away from partisan politics and became very adamant in that stance.
    In those times, during the New Deal and the Great Society, there was not the widespread public perception that the Federal Government was going beyond the Constitution. And during those times, Mormons were more evenly divided on partisan issues. And you had prominent Church leaders who were well-known Democrats, such as Pres. Faust. However, the perception has sharpened in recent years that the Democrat Party is taking the country way beyond what the Constitution envisioned as the role of the Federal Government, and I believe that this is why LDS people are gravitating more and more to the Republican party.

    • Brooks W. Wilson says:

      You are confusing your Teaparty affiliation with the teachings of the Bible, Bof M and D&C. I have been around longer than you and I don’t remember any of the Church Presidency making political speeches. I lived in Utah. I doubt if you did. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Spencer Kimball and a few other Mormon leaders were very liberal in their economic views.

      LDS with your views and attitude are cutting the proselyting field in the USA in half.

      Response from David Hall:
      I did live in Utah from 1966 to 1975, and was very active in politics during some of that time. But the time when Church leaders were public about their political views and even preached them sometimes in General Conference I have learned about from history books and from reading their addresses, which are readily available.

      There is a great book you may wish to consult, Presidents and Prophets by noted historian Michael K. Winder. It is about the relationship between the Church and each of the presidents of the United States, and gives fascinating insights on this subject. On page 250, he states:
      “In the election of 1936, President Grant [President Heber J. Grant, 7th President of the Church] openly endorsed the Republican candidate for President, Alf Landon. However, he pointed out that he was speaking for himself and not for the Church. First Counselor J. Reuben Clark Jr. was not only anti-Roosevelt, but he was very much in favor of Landon.”

      He goes on to say, on page 251 of the same book:
      “Determined that Utah should not support FDR’s bid for a third term in 1940, the General Authorities once again drafted a joint anti-Roosevelt statement but settled on issuing a less dramatic unsigned editorial. President Grant deferred to those who thought too bold a statement would cause problems for the Church without much hope of changing votes and came to the horrified conclusion that ‘about half the Latterday Saints almost worship him [Roosevelt].’ He regarded the strong LDS suppport for the President and his ‘neo-socialism’ as ‘one of the most serious conditions that has confronted me since I became President of the Church.’”

      Despite these efforts, Utahns voted 62% for FDR in 1940. President Grant, when he saw the vote totals, says in his journal that he was “dumbfounded.”

      It was after this that the Church became more strict in its silence on partisan political matters. To me that seems appropriate. The mission of the Church is one of spiritual salvation, and it does weaken its message to confront people on political questions. But interestingly, as the Church has become less vocal over political matters, the members have become more and more uniformly politically Conservative. Yes, there are some who are politically Liberal. It seems, Brooks, that you are one of those Liberals. But honestly, you have to be aware that you are in a small minority in the Church.

      Links:
      You may be interested to read my article about The Book of Mormon and Terrorism.

  2. Brooks W. Wilson says:

    David Hall typifies the rationalization LDS (Latter Day Saints) use to justify supporting politicians who completely oppose the government doing things that the Bible and Book of Mormon tell us we should do. None will admit that they just don’t like to pay taxes to support the less fortunate.

    The subterfuge that it is counter to “free agency” is nothing more than clumsy sophistry. We DO have the agency to refuse to pay government imposed taxes. The consequences are that we MAY have our property confiscated or even be jailed. But we have the advantage of challenging the government in a court of law.

    On the other hand, if we refuse to pay our Tithing, we suffer consequences far greater than property loss; we are denied exaltation and are condemned to a lesser degree of salvation. If you don’t pay tithing, you cannot enter the Temple. And there is no way to avoid the authorities knowing it and there is no trial.

    Response from David Hall
    Brooks, I don’t even know where to begin to reason with you on this. You are forced to pay taxes because you will be thrown in jail if you don’t, or the money will be forcibly taken from you. But to equate that with the decision to keep the commandments because you will be denied exaltation if you don’t? Where do you come up with this way of thinking? That is entirely foreign to everything the LDS Church teaches.

    No one passes a plate to collect your tithing. Paying is done entirely in private, and if you don’t pay, no one knows except the bishop, and he is solemnly bound to confidentiality. It is a voluntary donation.

    And as far as being forced to keep the commandments because you will be denied exaltation if you don’t, you are forgetting one key escape clause which a great many people use, and that is that you can choose not to believe. And if you do that, you are totally off the hook and no one will bother you.

    Taxes and other laws, however, are forced. The difference is stark. Oh, if I could choose not to believe in taxes I certainly would.

  3. Daveescaped says:

    I agree with David Hall in one sense; that is that the LDS should see an important connection between principles of self-reliance and individual liberty (which I personally believe are doctrinal) and Conservative politics (sometimes embraced by the Republican Party).

    But to Mark Paredes point, there can be little doubt that when one steps outside of America but remains in the LDS culture, political views are much more fragmented and often what we would see as liberal. I have heard comments that would put someone further left than Barney Frank by African Masters Degree classmates at BYU. I have heard vilification of nearly everything conservatives stand for in America from Eurpoean and African friends where I live overseas. And by contrast, I have heard little of what Mr. Hall describes of a supposed self-evident acceptance of conservative principles and their connection to LDS belief.

    So do I personally see a connection between LDS teachings and conservative principles? Yes. Do all LDS worldwide. Not in my experience. And, that U.S. LDS seem to now (the past is clearly in dispute) recognize that connection may have more to do with national politics. Had democrats ever lined up against abortion I think Utah politics would look very different.

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