A Walk in Blue-State Moccasins: Imagining Life as a Utah Mormon Democrat

A Sandy, Utah stake president’s recent speech ignited a frenzy on Facebook and Twitter after it was posted on the internet by one of his stake members. President Matthew DeVisser’s words of warning about a general decline in values and admonition to prepare for turbulent times ahead was nothing revolutionary, but it soon morphed into a political rant that emphasized right-wing Republican talking points, lamenting, for example, that Americans had chosen “socialism over capitalism, entitlements over free enterprise, redistribution and regulation over self-reliance.” DeVisser said that he didn’t intend “to be controversial, political, or even dire” but simply to “state the facts” after “having been moved upon by the Holy Ghost”; however, left-leaning Mormons, including me, found the speech highly offensive, factually misleading, and theologically problematic. The talk was offensive because DeVisser was speaking as Stake President, a position of authority and influence over the region of the Church he supervises; it was factually misleading because many of his “facts” were false or deceptive (e.g., that the “UN Ambassador was instructed by the White House to cover up what happened in Libya”); theologically problematic because most of his concerns about the ominous direction our country is headed in are not Church teachings (e.g., where in the scriptures does the Lord give divine approval to deregulation and unrestrained capitalism?).

Nevertheless, I do believe that President DeVisser never intended his words to be controversial (and surely he never imagined they would go viral on the internet). In fact, I would guess that the average Utah Mormon would have a difficult time even telling where this good stake president’s words jumped the rail from a message of preparedness and morality into a clueless, insensitive, partisan train wreck. Having lived most of my life as a Mormon Democrat in Utah, this kind of thing is nothing new to me. I’ve heard endorsements for Republican candidates in sermons, George W. Bush compared to Nephi in Sunday School, rants about Democratic politicians leading the world into apostasy in Priesthood meeting, and announcements about Republican political events given at the beginning of Sacrament meeting. In 1984, my mother even received a post-card sized portrait of Ronald Reagan in Relief Society as a reminder to vote in the upcoming election. I doubt any of these people realized that they were crossing a line that aliened people in their ward and defied official Church policy of political neutrality—after all, there are so few of us progressive Mormons in Utah valley that some of my ward members probably never met a Democrat until they met me. The problem, as I see it, is that it’s very hard to recognize one’s own ideas end and the  gospel begins. As Hugh Nibley once stated,

“Nothing is easier than to identify one’s own favorite political, economic, historical, and moral convictions with the gospel. That gives one a neat, convenient, but altogether too easy advantage over one’s fellows. If my ideas are the true ones—and I certainly will not entertain them if I suspect for a moment that they are false!—then, all truth being one, they are also the gospel, and to oppose them is to play the role of Satan. This is simply insisting that our way is God’s way, and therefore the only way. It is the height of impertinence.”

Each of us has a web of beliefs—some we inherited from our family, some we gained from study and schooling, some we learned in Sunday School and seminary, and some we received with our testimony of the Church. Of course, we see these beliefs fitting into a coherent whole, but where our own beliefs and God’s beliefs overlap is not clear. This is especially true in the world of politics, since the scriptures and Church leaders’ sermons typically stress general truths rather than applied principles. To paraphrase Joseph Smith, scriptures and leaders typically “teach correct principles” but leave us govern ourselves. “Politics, as practiced on earth,” Hugh Nibley reminds us, “belongs to the ways of men” not the ways of God.

I’m lucky, I suppose, because my stake president was our Democratic Party district chair before he was called into stake leadership, so I doubt I’ll hear a version of President DeVisser’s talk at my stake conference. But that fact caused me to imagine a liberal stake president in Utah delivering a similar talk, but with Democratic Party talking points mingled with scripture. What would it sound like to hear a such a talk? What would be the reaction of the congregation?

In her 1980’s-era satirical “Walk in Pink Moccasins,” Carol Lynn Pearson attempted to show Mormon men what it’s like to hear patronizing patriarchal language as Mormon women hear it, as it constantly permeates Church meetings and lessons. By imagining a matronly “Presiding Sister” speak to the “dear young brethren” of the Church, praising them for their modest clothing and clean fresh faces, Pearson reverses the gender dynamic in Mormon discourse. Pearson’s goal is that the men who read her satire are “never quite the same again.” With a similar goal in mind, I want to attempt a walk in blue moccasins, blue not as in male but as in blue-state progressive, to help my red-state Utah brothers and sisters understand the Church I have experienced throughout my life.

Let me emphasize that I would never give this talk in a meeting—not all of it, anyway—not because I don’t believe these things are true, but because I know the content would offend people in my congregation. I strongly believe politics should remain out of our Church meetings. Since the Church belongs to Jesus Christ, I believe its meetings should be reserved for thoughtful, charitable discourse that brings us to a unity of the faith. But I also want to stress that I could deliver this talk without the least bit of irony. Just as Republican Mormons see their religious beliefs confirming their conservative political values, we see these same religious beliefs confirming our progressive values. Just as they see their web of beliefs from politics and religion as overlapping, entirely consistent and self-evident, so do we. We feel no more tension between our political and religious beliefs than you feel with yours. I offer the following only for the sake of comparison, with the express hope that after reading it you are “never quite the same again.”

The Walk

Dear brothers and sisters. It is indeed an honor to address you at this stake conference. As I look out at this congregation, the Spirit of the Lord tells me that we are at the dawn of a new era of peace and justice. The past four years have seen a tremendous spirit of hope spread across our great nation, a continuation of the slow but steady reparations after the disastrous reign of lies and terror of the earliest decade of this century. As we look back at the past election, I am encouraged that the people have once again chosen to put their faith in optimism and justice rather than turning back toward cynicism, fear, and inequality. Even during those dark days of war just prior to the economic collapse, President Hinckley spoke of the “great dawning” of our age, how “the God of heaven inspires and pours out light and knowledge.” “Think of the increased longevity of life. Think of the wonders of modern medicine. I stand amazed. Think of the flowering of education. Think of the miraculous advances in travel and communication.” President Hinckley’s optimism for the future was inspirational even as we headed into our worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

I feel that same optimism when I think of how the Lord has directed our current leaders to enact laws that have comforted the poor and needy, the sick and the downtrodden. By expanding health care access, they are following Christ’s ministry of caring for the sick. By enacting Wall Street reforms, consumer protections, an auto industry bailout, and economic stimulus, they have brought us back from the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression and are providing economic justice for all. And now by working to raise the minimum wage, increase paycheck fairness for women, and eradicate poverty throughout the world, they continue to follow Christ’s admonition that “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).

I am reminded of the example set by our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, who, when he was first called as bishop at the young age of twenty-two, cared for and ministered to the spiritual and physical needs of eighty-five widows in Salt Lake City ward. And I am so thrilled to see the Church and the nation follow the prophetic lead of President Monson’s addition to the three-fold, now four-fold, mission of the Church,  “to care for the poor and needy.” Brothers and sisters, the gospel calls on us to provide care and comfort to all, both privately and publicly, to use our resources to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (Heb. 12:12-15). In the Book of Mormon we read that inequality was a “great cause for lamentations among the people” (Alma 4:13), and that it was only when “there was no inequality among them” that “the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word” (Alma 16:16). As the Lord has stated, “For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things” (D&C 78:6).

I am elated as I watch wars ending in Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan. Truly the Lord’s hand is at work in establishing peace throughout the world, especially after Satan’s lies were used to justify these ugly and unnecessary wars by the wicked leaders of our past. In his Bicentennial address, “The False Gods We Worship,” President Spencer W. Kimball scolded us, as a Church and as a nation, for being “a warlike people” and admonished us that “our assignment is preparing for the coming of the Lord .” As he clearly and unambiguously stated, we are under the condemnation of the Lord when we assume that the ways of the world are superior to the ways of the Lord: “we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’” As the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, we must “renounce war and proclaim peace” to all the world (D&C 98:16).

Today our leaders are coming to understand the Church’s teaching of the importance of gaining an education, that “the glory of God is intelligence,” and our leaders are working to provide unprecedented opportunities for all of our young people, both rich and poor, to attend better schools and take advantage of college. But they also recognize the central role service can play in that education process and are striving to assure that our youth have new opportunities to serve their communities and the world. They understand the importance of King Benjamin’s words that “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

We know that family is central to God’s plan of happiness and we are so blessed that our leaders are working to keep families together by creating a path to citizenship for our brothers and sisters who, like Nephi of old, have been blessed to come to this promised land of hope and prosperity. They are following the Church’s official position on immigration reform that encourages a “balanced and civil approach” to the problem, one that emphasizes not only the rule of law, but also “compassion, . . . [and] reverence for family.”

Despite all the positive in the world, we do face increasing challenges as well. I am reminded of the seventh chapter of Moses when Enoch hears the cries of the earth “Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me?” (Moses 7:48). Sin and suffering continue to be ever-present. We have polluted, as President Kimball said “mind, body, and our surroundings.” Today we face threats that come from that pollution, from sin and from global warming, land degradation, air quality, and hazardous waste. Let us remember the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell that “True disciples … would be consistent environmentalists—caring both about maintaining the spiritual health of a marriage and preserving a rain forest; caring about preserving the nurturing capacity of a family as well as providing a healthy supply of air and water.” As Elder Maxwell stated, “Adam and Eve were to ‘dress the garden,’ not exploit it. Like them, we are to keep the commandments, so that we can enjoy all the resources God has given us, resources described as ‘enough and to spare’ (D&C 104:17), if we use and husband them wisely.”[1]

Even though the Lord has been pouring out his Spirit upon our land, Satan and his hosts are spreading doubts and lies throughout the land, scattering innuendos about our president’s birth place and religion, slandering our leaders as “socialists” and “Marxists,” trying to convince us that economic justice is economic tyranny. Like Gadiantons of old, corporate interests and their secret combinations (for what is more secret than hidden moneyed influence outside of the channels of public transparency?) are even now seeking to overturn democracy and obstruct the will of the people. They seek to oppose the Lord’s work.

These people want to exert the will of a minority over the democratic will of the majority, the rule of tyranny over the rule of law. They are a vocal and dangerous minority who insist that because they are now governed by those with whom they disagree, they have a right to overthrow the very principles upon which this nation is based. We must remember that, as the Book of Mormon states, “it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people” (Mosiah 29:26). I also worry that some of this anger focused specifically on our president is motivated by racist ideology. President Hinckley warned that “that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ.” We may disagree with each other and remain civil. In the 2006 general conference, Elder Robert S. Wood cautioned us that “I suspect the divine wrath is very much provoked by those who are stirring up the hearts of men to wickedness, slander, and violent hatreds.” Elder Wood continued, “Have we who have taken upon us the name of Christ slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping? Have personal or partisan or business or religious differences been translated into a kind of demonizing of those of different views? Do we pause to understand the seemingly different positions of others and seek, where possible, common ground?” And while “the political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum,” our leaders have warned that “the Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible.”

Sisters and Brothers, we must not allow the rhetoric of fear and hatred and divisiveness to alarm us, to distract us from the project we have of bringing again Zion. For Jesus Christ has stated to this very dispensation, we are to become one in heart and in community, “for if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). We must have faith in our Father’s plan and, as President Hinckley admonished us, “Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.” Let us contribute to the peaceful and reasoned momentum that is, through our Heavenly Father’s spirit, spreading throughout the world.

[1] A Wonderful Flood of Light (Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 2009), 103.


74 thoughts on “A Walk in Blue-State Moccasins: Imagining Life as a Utah Mormon Democrat

  1. Boyd, you make a good point. it will be interesting to see when we get to heaven how often the holy ghost will sign off on what we said, he said. I am reminded of franklin richards telling the martin willie handcart commpany to go ahead, the Lord will take care of you, then whammo! brigham young said later, franklin, make sure it’s the holy ghost talking and not you! had a democratic friend here in wyoming say over the pulpit, how tough it was to be elected in wyoming as a mormon democrat. the mormons wont vote for you because you’re a democrat and the democrats wont vote for you because you’re a mormon! a good safe text is always, “repent, forgive and be nice”

  2. Thanks Boyd. I did not see the video you referenced, but I have heard many similar talks. As such I appreciated your proposed stake meeting talk. However, let me point out that you failed to share any lies or major distortions of reality. Ergo, I doubt it really mimics the stake presidents talk.

    1. And sincere thanks from a fellow Mormon Republican as well. Well done (even though I don’t share the political views).

      1. And sincere thanks to you as a Mormon Republican for expressing your disagreement in a kind and respectful way!

  3. Amen! The next words that come to my mind are “Right On”! I grew up in Utah County, Alpine to be exact and I know all too well how it feels to be in the “extreme minority”. I am still good friends with two other people who both grew up in Alpine and they are both Democrats/Left leaning individuals as well. I guess we sort of banded together. Growing up one of the friends that I speak of parents were also Democrats, as far as I am aware it was just our two families. There may have been others that is just all that I am aware of. The other friend got there on his own, he comes from a Republican family. Now that I no longer live in Utah I’ve tried to explain to people that my parents are “conservative liberals”, I know it sounds like an oxymoron and it probably is but it is true. They are strong in our LDS faith which in many ways is conservative but they are politically liberal. I bet that you understand exactly what I mean! My Mom still lives there so there is at least one other Democrat in Utah County. I’ve had friends ask me over an over how I can be LDS and be a Democrat/Liberal, I tell them I am a Democrat/Liberal because I am LDS. This is a great post, thanks for sharing it!

  4. Interesting thought experiment. I suspect that there is a reason you will never hear this talk — especially all the tripe about relying more on the arm of flesh so solve our problems for us. This is the most misguided of all: “By expanding health care access, they are following Christ’s ministry of caring for the sick. By enacting Wall Street reforms, consumer protections, an auto industry bailout, and economic stimulus, they have brought us back from the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression and are providing economic justice for all. And now by working to raise the minimum wage, increase paycheck fairness for women, and eradicate poverty throughout the world, they continue to follow Christ’s admonition that “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).”

    How are we caring for the sick by letting government pretend to do it for us? I just don’t get why democrats and liberals want to tax Republicans to pay for their supposed charity. Hold it, now I do get it. It ain’t charity at all but a facade for charity by capitulating to the idea that if the government does it, I gave charity and my job is now done (in fact studies tend to support that this type of thinking actually drives liberal failure to contribute as much as conservatives who don’t rely on the government for their so-called charity).

    The actual result of Obamacare is surprise after surprise of hidden gargantuan cost increases for healthcare and reduced quality of care across the board. How does that help the poor again?

    The bailout hardly brought us back from the brink of economic disaster — we are still in a prolonged cycle of stagnant economic faltering as a result of the bailout.

    Raising the minimum wage does not ameliorate the prospects of the poor, but merely makes the price of fast food more for less to an almost exact pro rata basis as the minimum wage raise as shown by just about every study to look at it. In addition, it is the consensus of economists that raising the minimum wage leads to even greater unemployment (even more than the Obama administrations policies have already continued it)– and we know how much that helps the poor.

    Pray tell how does a disastrous Federal deficit help us to eradicate poverty throughout the world — and how on earth is it somehow based on any policy promoted by Democrats? Yeah, I noticed that you didn’t mention it.

    Now, I suggest that you take a closer look at what really caused the economic collapse of 2008 — I suggest that recent studies have reached a consensus that the Democratic policies of requiring loans to non-creditworthy borrowers through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was a primary contributor to the 2008 collapse. I don’t fault Democrats for wanting to help the poor. I simply suggest that they not play chess because they cannot think down the road two moves ahead. Their policies, while well-intentioned, lead to economic disaster.

    And yes, I noticed that you got through your “mind experiment” without once mentioning the $16.5 trillion debt that will lead us to economic collapse.

    1. I think you’re missing the point of the talk – to demonstrate how a progressive Mormon may interpret and frame event differently than a conservative would. That his ideas are transparently flawed to your eye is irrelevant. It’s not an invitation to argument; rather it’s a demonstration that it’s possible for someone of any political persuasion to deliver a heartfelt talk on the subject using scripture and quotes from church authorities to justify their views. The ability to do so doesn’t make it appropriate to deliver such a talk though, which was the primary point of the larger article.

      1. Thanks, MattP, for summarizing what I was attempting to do with this perfectly concise statement: “it’s possible for someone of any political persuasion to deliver a heartfelt talk on the subject using scripture and quotes from church authorities to justify their views. The ability to do so doesn’t make it appropriate to deliver such a talk though.” This is spot on!

    2. I will comment on only one of the points this contributor makes, although I disagree with most of what he has written. I have been working for Medicaid Expansion in the State of Utah so all residents can be insured. I can give you a personal example of how insuring all will save money. My friend was employed with part time jobs and no medical insurance. He had a back problem that wasn’t treated for lack of money. By the time he got to the ER he was near death. His life was saved after spinal surgery, five days in ICU, two more weeks in the hospital and a month of outpatient IV therapy. It would have been far less costly to treat the problem when it was just beginning. As is, he is now permanently disabled and will never be able to work again. He is on Social Security disability and does now have Medicaid which paid retroactively for all the hospital bills. ER care is the most expensive medical care and if the bills aren’t paid, it ends up being charity care which you and I pay for. Another example is treatment and medication for mental health. We can cut those benefits for the mentally ill, and then their antisocial behavior may land them in prison at $30,000 a year cost to the taxpayer. Insuring everyone will cut costs through preventative care, and treatment of medical problems early on.

    3. I have always believed that man should not be compelled in things as much as we are these days to provide for others. It is a very unhealthy thing to the human soul. That doesn’t diminish the need, just challenges the method. As the needs of one are made known to others, they have the opportunity to voluntarily respond with their own forms and amounts of charity. I never see this fail in a community if the recipient is truly in need. There forms a good-will bond between the giver and the receiver. This is the type of bond that helps the receiver feel gratitude and responsibility and the giver joy, and for both, love for one another.

      Now, put the government in between and what do you have? The receiver now feels something of this toward the government and not an individual who actually provided the charity, and in fact, has created, over the decades, a growing antagonism toward those who are doing the providing and a feeling of entitlement by many at the public trough. Responsibility and gratitude are failing, being replaced by feelings of entitlement. And because the process of government charity is so poorly administered, fraud is the norm, not the exception.

      And how do you think this affects the giver when the government is telling him how much and to whom he must give? Charity? Really? You have tossed out the concept of true and MEANINGFUL Christ-like charity and replaced it with socialism.

      You must remember that it is Satan’s way to compel. It is not the Lord’s way.

      1. Please…ok factor in discrimination into your little fantasy! The “Giver” can choose who they give to, if the individual in need doesn’t fit that “Giver’s” criteria of worthiness then they can just choose not to “give”. There are individuals in need of assistance that may not fit your criteria. The government is required not to discriminate. Private charities can. There is a social contract that exists, we all pay taxes and the money is divided up. You are focusing on one little part of what your taxes pays for. Your taxes also pay for pointless wars, roads, parks, schools, etc, etc. The amount of your taxes that go to help the people who you think are not appreciative enough of your effort is probably very minimal. The Lord loves “Socialists” as much as he loves “Capitalists” and everyone else. Not that “Socialism” has anything to do with this but you are clearly buying into the fallacy that our President is a “Socialist” when he isn’t…

      2. Consider though, following that argument, that we have in essence also been compelled through Republican policies to contribute far greater sums to corporate welfare and changes in taxation that have benefitted the wealthiest of Americans,

  5. Thanks for taking the time to write this. I especially appreciate that you took the time to mention that no one is trying to be offensive, we are all often just so convinced, that we forget that someone could be seeing it differently.

  6. I say this with all due respect, but most of what you said in your supposed talk is delusional thinking… The hypocrisy of liberals is staggering. I could site dozens of examples of double talk and double standards from liberals. All you have to do is compare what “candidate” Obama said to what “president” Obama now says on any number of issues to see the blatant hypocrisy…

    It will never cease to amaze me how good LDS people can vote for people who support not only abortion, but late-term abortion. And gay marriage?? How do you square those with the Proclamation? You’re okay with Obama’s drone program? Okay with his kill list? Okay with Obama now openly selling access? I could go on and on, but it would be to no avail. Liberals and Conservatives are definitely wired differently…

    To accuse conservative’s disdain for what this president is doing to this country on racism is dishonest and despicable. Most conservatives would be just as disgusted if it was Mitt Romney doing the exact same things…

    1. All I can say, Steve, is where was the Tea Party when Bush was racking up deficits with huge spending and tax rebates? Where were the angry Mormon Republicans when Bush went to war with Iraq? And where were the happy Mormon Republicans when Clinton signed the DoM act or was ready to sign off on a ban for late-term abortions (with terms that coincided with the LDS position perfectly, providing exceptions for health of mother and fetal abnormalities) which Republicans blocked because it was too “liberal.”

      But I think you and Blake both missed the real point of my essay if you’re focusing on the content of the “walk” (although there’s a few links in there you might want to check out, like the Church’s statement on civil discourse). I honestly think it’s great that we can have a nation where we disagree (and I disagree with Democrats almost as often as I disagree with Republicans). What I don’t like is Church meetings where Republican talking points are interspersed with the lessons and talks as if they were scripture, especially when they are spoken by those in leadership positions who do have a responsibility to represent the whole Church. I dislike it when people at Church assume that an R after a candidate’s name equals “righteous” and a D after a candidate’s name equals “diabolical.” I also dislike it, “with all due respect,” when my opinions are called “hypocritical” when you don’t really have a clue what my opinions are and when you act like only Democrats are guilty of this kind of party-loyalty blindnes. The “Walk” was a satirical version of the talk DeVisser gave, reversing the roles to make a point. Personally, I have many complaints about my president–the drones and Guantanamo are big ones–but I happen to have many more complaints about the two-term Republican administration that preceded this one. Surprisingly, even some of my Utah Mormon Republican friends are ready to concede that Bush wasn’t the greatest president of all time, though not many.

      1. Boyd,

        Re: “I don’t know what you opinions are”… Obviously I was responding to the opinions you expressed in your piece…

        Re: Bush… as a staunch conservative, I was no fan of Bush. In the 2000 primaries Bush was our dead-last choice to win the republican nomination.

        Not trying to argue. We both know that liberals and conservatives have vastly different perspectives and neither side will ever convince the other side. You progressives think Obama is God’s gift to mankind, most conservatives think he is destroying our country. At the pace things are moving I suspect that in the not too distant future we will fully realize the consequences of his policies. For all of our sake, I hope your vision of progressive utopia is correct!

  7. Brilliant, Boyd! Makes me want to line up the Stake President ‘s talk, next to yours, paragraph by paragraph, just to enjoy the satire even more. Way to go.

  8. Very interesting discussion. I’m a non-citizen and have lived in Utah for the last decade. I completely agree that mixing political ideology with gospel truths is completely out of line, although I have once or twice declared myself to be a socialist just to balance some discussions in Priesthood meetings.

    In truth, I consider myself to be quite conservative – I’m a business owner and most of my employees are off-shore. I think unions belong only where there is a single employer in a geographical location and no possibilities of employment mobility (i.e. somewhere in the 1930’s). I think fiscal stimulus should be reigned in, and that long-term debt reduction is essential for the long term economic health of the nation. Businesses create wealth, not governments. Allowing people to subsist on welfare handouts destroys self-esteem and families in this situation need to be helped (by restricting welfare payments if necessary) back into meaningful employment.

    Having said that, the political ideologies of many Republicans leave a bad taste in my mouth. The vitriol spouted about Obama-care is painful to listen to. How can people who claim to believe in serving their fellow-beings (and I loved your reference to the new “fourth mission of the church” – what an inspired declaration!) not want to try to solve the systemic problems that make quality healthcare only available to half of their brothers and sisters in this country?

    The current healthcare reforms are far from perfect – they don’t go nearly far enough towards reducing the costs associated with healthcare, and add economically unfeasible requirements on insurers. (For example, after April 2014, someone on a low-cost high-deductible insurance plan will be able to switch to a high-cost full cover plan before an anticipated expense such as childbirth or orthopedic surgery, wait until the insurer has covered the expense, then switch back to the low-cost high-deductible plan. Complete madness!) But Obama-care is a small step in the right direction, and instead of trying to kill it dead, Republicans should join the movement and try to help make it better.

    It is a privilege to live in this country. Many people have done all they can to come here to enjoy the blessings it brings them and their family. Not all were able to do so legally, but are still good hardworking people that are doing their best to raise good families. Why would we not provide a way for them to repent of the way they got here and become legal tax-contributing residents or citizens?

    I think support of abortion belongs on no party’s manifesto. In some countries, parliamentary debates on that subject (and also questions such as the death penalty) have been strictly non-partisan – with a free conscience-based vote allowed to elected representatives. Perhaps removing the abortion stumbling block would allow the many middle-ground Republicans to distance themselves from the extreme right and move to the side that more accurately represents their true Christian beliefs? Or maybe it’s time for a 3rd way – a Purple Party, that mixes the best of Red and Blue?

    1. I assume you’re being sarcastic here, so that’s what I’m responding to. I think you’ll find a great number of LDS Democrats do not support abortion. Even Harry Reid breaks with his party line on that issue and votes pro-life. It’s an excellent example, though, of what Boyd was trying to point out – we can’t just stereotype people’s beliefs and assume that we know what they believe and why they believe it. There are not only two camps into which all of humanity must fall. Let us work out our own way to implement the principles of the Gospel without pre-deciding what our worldviews should look like.

  9. Boyd: It is always good to begin an exchange with the assertion that one who responds just fails to grasp what you say. Your point about not mixing politics with religion is really ironic in light this post. — and yes, I got that you wanted to demonstrate what it would look like for a Democrat to do what you assert DeVisser did and somehow Republicans do all of the time in Church. I guess since I attend a Spanish speaking branch where the members don’t really care about the R or the D leaves me in a blessed state. It is quite wonderful that you do exactly what you decry.

    Your post reminds me of the Utah Democrats who mounted a press campaign to bring Mormons into the fold by emphasizing that they are Democrats because they are Mormons (I am sure you have never said that) — and mounted an outreach to Mormons by pointing out how their religion dictated a Democratic point of view. They did the same thing with sanctimonious denials that they were using their religion to promote their politics. I reject it whether it is Republicans or Democrats who want to prostitute their religion in the service of their political party.

    However, I commend you for being repulsed by the unconstitutional targeting of American citizens by drones so that Obama can act as judge, jury and executioner without the Due Process guaranteed to all. Since I openly opposed the Iraq war from its inception you will get no argument from me on that score; but the notion that the Republican irresponsibility in profligate spending (and it was all of that) is somehow comparable to the Democratic deficit spending is laughable. The Republican budgets (and amazingly they actually had budgets — a feat that neither Obama nor the Democratic Senate has achieved in five years) pale in comparison to the spending spree of the Obama administration which dwarfs prior spending by comparison.

    In any event, I count you as my friend. We have far more in common that joins us than what separates us. For that I am glad.

    1. I am LDS, being an LDS individual means that my religion has strongly contributed to my world view. To say that I am a Democrat because I am LDS is absolutely correct. Maybe you don’t realize this but in the last election cycle many of us left leaning LDS people were treated very badly by members of our communities and wards. Things were said to us in person and on line that we never could have imagined would have been said. It is likely that the last cycle was different because the Republican candidate was also an LDS person, or maybe things have just changed in a big way. Either way, it was really bad. I am not “prostituting” my religion in the service of a political party sir rather stating a fact about myself. Why is that so hard to understand?

      1. Missy: Sorry for the way you were treated. Stating that you are a Democrat because you are a Mormon is simply a logical fallacy. You could be any number of things because you are a Mormon and being a Mormon is not determinative of being a Democrat. I suspect that there are many reasons that you are a Democrat, no doubt many wholly legitimate and well-intentioned, and your particular take on Mormonism is but one of them. But there are many legitimate ways to be Mormon that don’t include being a Democrat.

  10. I am looking for a “like” button.

    I wish politics were not so divisive among LDS members. An LDS Democrat is no more immoral than an LDS Republican, or Jewish Democrat, or Hindu Democrat or Christian Republican or… pick your combo. Everyone is living the best that he or she can.

    For me, it’s OK to to be OK with someone making their own choices. I don’t think I’d ever have an abortion, and in public policy I would prefer to keep it safe, legal and rare. However, I also believe strongly in a right to privacy and that adults have to make their own choices based on their own personal beliefs.

    As for the gay marriage thing – there have been gay people walking this earth since the beginning of time, and there will be gay people until the end of it and beyond. I tend to believe that everyone deserves to be treated equally. That doesn’t mean that the LDS church has to change it’s own internal policy on gay marriage. But if the Methodist church down the street wants to recognize it, then so be it. If loving and committed adults want to be together – then let them. It’s easier for everyone involved if if the state recognizes this union. The church doesn’t have to in order for a couple to receive fairness under the law when it comes to paying taxes, hospital visitations, dealing with after death issues, matters of children and so forth,

    I really look forward to the day when politics are not such a divisive thing within the church. When that happens, I might go back to full participation – but due to years and years of being told that “I’m not as righteous” as someone who is a Republican, I’d rather just not attend anymore. It’s talks like Divisser’s that drove me away in the first place. I want to go to church and feel uplifted, not so worried about my own salvation or how the country is crumbling at its knees, but instead be uplifted and inspired about how I can lift others. It’s much easier for me to find those moments outside of LDS Sacrament meeting and stake conference.

    Having said that, the LDS Democrats who I know are more religious and dedicated than some LDS Republicans I know. I would never question their commitment to the gospel or their families. They just see public policy in a different way.. and that’s ok, isn’t it? It doesn’t mean a person’s personal salvation is on the line.

    1. I appreciate your thoughts on gay marriage. Sometimes I think it would be easier just to let it be legalized everywhere so we can just move on. But the reality is that the issue goes beyond a simple allowance for people to choose their own path. The legalization of gay marriage has far-reaching consequences pertaining to children and society. We would be wise, in my humble opinion, to stand against its legalization. Here are a couple articles that illustrate why.



      1. I don’t agree with the point that this harms children. And your links are purely LDS so it’s a bit biased. Sorry, there are other thoughts on this issue. And I know gay parents who have wonderful children…

      2. Society has not been negatively impacted in areas that allow gay marriage. Any type of thing that says so, is pure speculation, and the real on the grounds, physical proof, is not there

  11. Brilliantly done. If I didn’t know it was a thought experiment, I’d have cried because it’s overtly political (which is bad) but encapsulates my views so well (which is good).

  12. Threading politics into religion or religion into politics upon the pulpits of LDS churches is in complete and total violation of church policies. Regardless if one strongly agrees or disagrees with what the Stake President said, the moment he opened his mouth to his own personal political views is the moment he became in violation of church policy. How is it that a Stake President thinks that he has the authority to over-rule written policies is beyond me. I wonder if he is sorry for what he has done or if he thinks he is like the apostles of old who were persecuted for their righteous desires.
    Hopefully he will have learned from this and next time follow the direction of the First Presidency and shut up on political issues. As an active and practicing Mormon I am offended at his “speech” because Mormons come to church wanting to feel the devotional uplift by the doctrines Jesus Christ taught… not a rundown of how bad the world is and how much worse it is going to get. If I want a history of the past and where it will end up in the future then I’ll attend a history class at school.

  13. I actually thought that that stake president was right on and was glad to see that there was at least one person in our church that wasn’t in bed with the adversary and moved upon by the spirit enough to speak up

    1. Why do you think it was a stake president that was so moved and not, say, President Monson or one of the Quorum? Or are they in bed with the adversary?

    2. Sorry, I could have sworn the Law of Consecration is what this Stake President was speaking out against. You know, things like the economy of Heaven. I might be crazy though

  14. this was awesome, thank you! Someone in my Branch actually read that original talk from the pulpit, and it was very difficult to not be outraged at the overly political tirade in church.

  15. Earlier today I read an article written by Mike Jensen about a month ago for Canada Free Press called “Smart Mormons”. Mike is not a Mormon but in his article he spoke very favorably of the church and summed up some of our doctrines very nicely. I’ll include the link below, but that is not the purpose of what I am writing. It just so happens that as I read the comments that followed his article I found one that had some good insights on welfare, etc. and I wanted to share that comment here since I think it is better-written than what I could do. But I also wanted to correctly attribute where I got the link so that is why I mentioned the article. Here is the link to the article if you’re interested and for proper attribution. (again, that’s not the reason for my post so please keep reading).

    Now back to the subject. I appreciate Boyd’s version of “The talk” and it’s clear that we should keep politics out of the church. I understand Boyd’s point and he made it well. Having said that, I think the democrat/left/liberal understanding of how to “help others”, welfare, etc. is misguided and I think the comment I referred to does a good job of explaining it. Here it is:


    Great insight into the Mormon theology. I wanted to provide one more thought into free agency in regards to welfare. Mormons believe in taking care of their neighbors. In fact the Book of Mormon teaches that when the people of God are living as they should, they “have all things in common”. Mormons also believe that the Saints will enter into the United Order (giving all things to the church for distribution) when Christ comes again. However, when the saints are living so that they have all things in common, they do so freely. They are not coerced in any way to live that life style. When welfare is done freely, it provides both material substance and internal growth opportunity for the poor, as they have a sense of gratitude. Giving freely also provides growth opportunity for the giver. He has the opportunity to become less selfish. To think of others before himself, and to use his free agency to place others before that of his own wants and needs. However, when welfare is coerced, it only provides material substance for the poor. It does not give the poor opportunity for growth and a sense of gratitude toward their fellow man and to God. It stirs a sense of entitlement. They wonder why they are not getting more, as surely some can afford to do so. It also allows no growth for the giver. The giver is left with a feeling of angst and a bitter taste for the program. Instead of looking for opportunities to give, the rich look for ways to keep hold of their possessions, and avoid the burdens being placed on them.

    Welfare is not only good, it is necessary for any society to prosper. However, it cannot ever trump freedom. Our fee agency to choose is what allows the growth necessary for all of us to become better human beings.
    Posted by Jeffery J. on 01/31 at 05:24 PM | #

    1. Do you realize that the majority of those on Medicaid are either children, the disabled, or elderly, none of which can work? They have a sense of entitlement? Or maybe they are just trying to get by, have enough to eat, and medical care. The births of my twin grandsons who are now 19 and going on missions, were paid for by Medicaid. Their father was going to dental school and my daughter thought she was covered by Cobra, but a few months into the pregnancy the insurance company said no. Since the pregnancy was high risk they went on Medicaid. Now my son-in-law is a successful orthodontist and pays plenty of taxes. Did they have a sense of entitlement while on Medicaid? I think not. About 60 per cent of the bankruptcies in this country are due to catastrophic illness. We are all one catastrophic illness away from bankruptcy. Charity by individuals can’t take care of those kinds of costs!!! I believe in the preamble to the Constitution that one of the purposes of our Federal Government is to “promote the general welfare.”

    2. This is your opinion, and respectfully stated. I respectfully believe that free nations can use their free agency to choose to use their vote to help the poor and needy. If we change our minds, then we vote to change policy or policymakers. Just because we have a welfare system doesn’t make us Communists. On the opposite end of the spectrum from Communism is Fascism, with its xenophobia and elitism– it is just as bad. Too many members seem to confuse social democracy with communism and forget that the other extreme is just as evil and insidious and freedom-sucking (the Tea Party has ventured near that territory, no matter how righteously they speak about freedom and the Constitution). If charitable institutions and charitable givers were giving enough, there would be no need for the government to step in. It sounds great in theory to have churches pay volutarily for care of the poor, but when given the opportunity, the donations never match the need. I feel that helping through government is desirable because government is a divinely appointed institution we sanctioni through our freely cast votes. Just as with anything else, within the system we all have to give and take. (I was against the Iraq war, and for all this military spending, so were my “rights” taken away? I understood that part of the price of democracy is not being on board with everything, but raising my voice and placing my vote and accepting what the people have chosen.)

  16. I am neither dem nor rep.
    As i have had my spiritual eyes opened…
    All i can say is that you are a spiritual dumbass.
    Not because I’m trying to be a name caller…
    But because you are misled so badly that you are literally a dumbass when i comes to the workings of an evil society.
    Holy cow…
    When will you see the truth?

    It is prophesied that peerless times are here. That the end if the world is at the door.
    So if that’s the case, how is it that people including the evil confines of the government are doing the lords will.
    I will go as far as to say that everything the government does is in an evil form.
    Because we are told that the the costitution is on the way out.

    Keep up with your dumbasivenesss… And you will be one of the first to be destroyed because you have been deceived by the destroyer.

      1. So mature. Anyway, one who also is in spiritual harmony does not speak like that. One who has their spiritual eyes open does not degrade others, but seeketh to uplift and to edify. I would call on you to repent, just as the Savior of the World admonishes us.

      2. For the record this was in response to a reply that, cant believe it, put and it seems has vanished. Just so I dont look crazy with this random post

  17. “It is prophesied that peerless (perilous?) times are here. That the end if the world is at the door.

    “So if that’s the case, how is it that people including the evil confines of the government are doing the lords will.”

    This statement is, to me, the crux of the problem. Believers in prophecy, written by anonymous individuals hundreds, or thousands, of years ago, take that perspective when looking at the real world today. “If that is the case.” The thought never enters a believer’s mind that it may not be the case; that the “prophecies” of by-gone eras have no relevance to our time today. That prohibitions against homosexuality found in Leviticus may be just as relevant to our time as demands that disobedient children be stoned. Rather than look at things clearly, such believers assume that these anonymous writings are somehow trustworthy, or even wise. A believer should recognize that his belief in such “prophecy” and “divine law” is historically and intellectually weak, and should tread very carefully before demanding that everyone accept it as truth. Believe them if you will, teach them to your kids if you must, but please don’t allow them to distort your view of humanity,and the world we live in.

  18. “Politics, as practiced on earth,” Hugh Nibley reminds us, “belongs to the ways of men” not the ways of God.
    “Have we who have taken upon us the name of Christ slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping? Have personal or partisan or business or religious differences been translated into a kind of demonizing of those of different views? Do we pause to understand the seemingly different positions of others and seek, where possible, common ground?”

    I totally agree with both those points…Now we need to hear from the Libertarians of the church and the circle will be complete.:) I think I’m going to write up a libertarians view compared to this… Republicans may be the red, you may be the blue…Guess I’m the white in the red white and blue;p

  19. I am a member of the Church, but I am also a Marxist, registered CPUSA member, a Communist. Though I ally myself with Dems mostly because of the fact I find their ideology more closely related to mine, then Republicans. I must say I enjoyed reading this, and can not express more how much I agree with every word in this article

  20. I didn’t see you mention gay marriage or abortion in this talk. Maybe I should read again. …..hmmm. Aren’t these two things Liberals consider rights.

    1. Is it really necessary to encompass every single thing in Liberal ideology in this? There are tons of things left out, not just those 2

  21. I love this! Thank you.

    I am a left leaning Mormon man.

    I remember as a young man seeing our elected US Senator on the stand in our Sacrament and priesthood meetings during his election year campaign. He was not asked to speak. He was inactive. Never saw him in church again. A good man from a good LDS family. War hero. The Bishopric did not sit next to him on the stand. They sat together on the right and the Senator sat alone on the left. It was a very interesting experience. I thought he looked uncomfortable sitting alone. But there he was during an election year, on the stand in his home Ward. There was a message there. It was one of recognition and support in the most subtle way.

    Until the 1960’s and the influx of California republicans into my state for retirement, the LDS community in southern Nevada was all democratic. From local offices up. Then it changed by the sheer weight of numbers, the passing of the civil rights and voting rights acts. Mind sets changed.

    With the announcement in 1978 allowing black males to receive the Priesthood I witnessed an amazing discovery of who was resistant to change in our Ward. The small aside, whispered comments and jokes (“come come ye saints…doo dah, doo dah”) surfaced all around me.

    During my recent yearly physical at work, the company doctor recognized my garments during the exam and asked if “Are were going to get Mitt elected?” He is not LDS. I came back with the notion I was a Harry Reid kind of guy. He liked that.

    I realized some years ago I am a minority within a minority.

  22. How on point. I heard Orrin Hatch quotes in Sacrament meeting within the last month in a high council talk.

  23. “It’s a demonstration that it’s possible for someone of any political persuasion to deliver a heartfelt talk on the subject using scripture and quotes from church authorities to justify their views.” In other words, the philosophies of men, mingled with scriptures.

  24. Another interesting way to help people stay on-topic would be simply to quote modern-day prophets about the hot political topics of today. There are plenty of directly applicable, this-policy-not-that-policy statements by the Church that enable someone to quickly and easily determine which politicians and which party platforms best align to Church teachings. No need to try to interpret when the prophets spell out in black and white who you should support and vote for. So many members want to pick and choose, ignoring the Church statements they disagree with in order to maintain support for their favored political parties and candidates. In my opinion, it’s an all-on-none choice. Either you sustain the leadership of the Church or you don’t. None of us are perfect in our actions, but we can all at least pledge to sustain leaders and not sway from that minimum level of commitment by criticizing and arguing against them.

  25. There is a sound reason and real wisdom that led our founding fathers to include a separation of Church and State in the Constitution. Just look to the Middle East for an example of of the chaos and evil that is brought about by lack of separation. As a Mormon, I am just sickened by the meanness of spirit that has evolved within the Church’s membership in the last decade. When I joined the Church it was filled with love, inclusion, fellowship, and acceptance of others. Albeit, they were fodder for conversion, but that is beside the point. The people as a whole were absolutely sweet spirited and kind. Brigham Young encouraged a two party system within the membership. And President Hinckley was also an advocate of the two party system. It is healthy to have different opinions and healthy debate. As a student at BYU, years ago, our political science teachers encouraged debate from all sides. I had one roommate who was a Social Democrat and another who was a John Bircher from Arizona. Our dinner time conversation was stimulating, informative but above all kind. Ones political inclination did not make him an enemy. I think, as members, we need to step back and learn to love one another again. We need to go to Church to rejoice in the Life and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We absolutely need to leave the politics out of the meeting hall. That being said, we should all reach out in the community and support those groups that expose the principles we believe in. I mean attend town hall meetings, join caucus groups, volunteer with real time to your candidate of choice and if able donate financially to that person or party. These are two separate things that should remain separate. Go go church for your soul and be kind to others. You know it is the right thing. And you must sense the anger that prevails all around. The Church should be our respite. This is not what Mormonism is about or ever has been.

    1. I totally agree with you about the loneliness of being a Mormon Democrat. The ward that I have attended had a General Authority Emeritus who was supposed to be teaching a Sunday School lesson from III Nephi and after the Presidential debates was making rather rude commentary about the debates, not naming names, but it was obvious who he was talking about. I got up and left. That was one of many incidents where political comments were made and judgmental remarks about those less fortunate. So I have found the perfect solution. My husband and I are serving at the Branch at LDS hospital. We are there for 3 hours on Sunday morning. 1/2 hour Branch business meeting, 1/2 hour Sacrament meeting (some staff, patients and family of patients attend), 1/2 hour Relief Society. The other hour and a half we are on the floors visiting patients and taking the Sacrament to those that want it. Isn’t this the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action? Besides, it is much better for my back which after 3 hours of sitting in church causes me great pain.

      In the past, being a lonely Democrat I pretty much kept my mouth shut. I knew who the other liberals were in the ward (probably less than ten people, and my husband isn’t one of the ten) and talked to them in private. I remember my neighbor after a snowstorm pooh poohing global warming. I argued with him about it. He is a good guy, but he was very uncomfortable about what I said, and I surmise was thinking “she’s on her way to apostasy!” At least in Utah, in my opinion, the problem is those Mormons who believe ours is “the one and only true church” and therefore the Republican party is “the one and only true political party.” I think Elder Marlin Jensen proved that wrong!

      I will read your blog later. Got to get ready for the RS BD party today (at my home ward.)

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