FAQ: Political Parties

HawkgrrrlMormon 95 Comments

We’ve explored a few of the profiles’ answers to tough questions on polygamy and women & the priesthood.  Today let’s take a look at another topic not suitable for dinner conversation:  politics!

Here’s the question members were asked:  Does the Mormon church endorse political parties?

This is the church’s official party line that was posted on the site:

The Church has made the following public statement on multiple occasions prior to major elections: “Principles compatible with the gospel are found in the platforms of all major political parties. While the Church does not endorse political candidates, platforms, or parties, members are urged to be full participants in political, governmental, and community affairs.”

Here are some of the member profile answers I liked best:

  • No.  Most of these were basically a recitation of the same statement that’s read over the pulpit regularly.  So, there’s clarity and consistency of message.
    • “No. The church does not endorse political parties. The church believes in free agency, and let’s its members decide which political party to join on their own.”  I like the shout out to free agency.
    • “No, THANKFULLY. I don’t believe any political party has the corner on morality.”  My favorite simple “no” answer.
  • No + we’re not all Americans.  Thanks to those members who rememered that little fact.
    • “No it doesn’t. The Church has always encouraged Church members to be knowledgeable about political issues and to participate in the political process e.g. voting in their respective countries and at all levels of governance.”
    • “I personally know active and faithful members of the church (in the U.S. and worldwide) who are Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Tories, Labourites, Libertarians, Greens, etc.”  Yeah, for this guy who has met a non-US Mormon.
  • No + 11th Article of Faith.  Adds a twist of “doctrine” to the refutation.
    • “I’m happy to say that there are members of the Church of all different political backgrounds. The Church does not endorse any specific party. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
  • No + pray / vote conscience.  Adds a nice religious touch that feels universal.
    • “No it does not. It does however encourage you to pray before you vote to help to choose.”  I do have a weird feeling about the wording, though, which sounds a lot like, “it puts the lotion on its back.”

I had mixed feelings about these, although again, they were mostly pretty good:

  • “No, we’re not all Republicans” or conversely, “No, as evidenced by the fact that I’m a Democrat.”  As they say, the exception proves the rule, but that just means that “the rule” is Republican, something I’m not quite sure we should be conceding.  It also rings a little hollow because it sounds like we’re protesting too much.  Frankly, I think that’s a good message for those who are aware that there are a lot of Republicans in the church (whether they are members or not).  It just has the potential to ring a little false if someone didn’t think that was a foregone conclusion.  And saying “I know some democrats at church” sounds just a smidge defensive like saying, “I have lots of black friends” to prove how culturally savvy you are.  Yet I do know that political affiliation is a badge of honor for folks in a democracy like ours.  I prefer the ones that are more personal.
    • “I know many people connotate Mormons and Conservatism and the Republican party, but it is a misconception. I can say this as a devout Mormon and democrat!”
    • “I think our church teaches us to be as informed and educated as possible, and that’s why I am an independent and consider each issue and candidate carefully, regardless of party affiliation.”  Actually this one I like better, probably because I too am an independent.  In addition to being as informed and educated as possible (just kidding on that one!).
    • “I am a fairly liberal democrat, while most fellow Mormons in my congregation are very conservative republicans. It can be a little tricky at times, but Mormons are a kind and caring community.”  I particularly like the comment about a kind and caring community, which for me rings true.  Nicely done!
    • “The Mormon church absolutely does not endorse political parties. In fact, my husband and I, faithful members of the Mormon Church, both belong to different political parties. I feel that the platforms of both political parties endorse some good things and that no party has all the answers.”  I like the mixed-politics marriage angle here.
  • Answers that are US-Centric.  This ran the gamut from those just talking about their own politics, and they happen to be American (not too bad) to those God-bless-Americans that sound tone-deaf to non-Americans (like most Americans sound to others).
    • “No, I used to think that all Mormons happened to be Republican, but they aren’t. I’ve met plenty of people in all parties. However, I think it’s safe to say, we do tend to be a bit more conservative no matter which party.”  I’m not sure I agree that Mormon Democrats are all middle-of-the-roaders.  Also, this forgets the 50% of Mormons who live in other countries.
    • “The Mormon Church does not endorse political parties. Members of our Church belong to both major political parties.”  Both the Tories and the Labor Party.  Right?

Answers I (in my wisdom) would not have approved if I were a reviewer:

  • No, but (hint, hint) God’s probably a Republican.  First of all, just as it’s anachronistic to think of God as a Mormon, he’s clearly not an American, so associating him with contemporary political issues in our little square inch of the globe seems off-key and presumptuous.
    • “any political party that approves of God’s teachings, and lives them consistently, is more likely to attract Mormons. Likewise, any political party that prefers different standards, or opposes the teachings of Jesus Christ, will be more likely to offend Mormons.”  I am unaware of any political party that approves of all of God’s teachings or any political party that wholeheartedly rejects them, so this comment seems suspect to me.

There has been some criticism of the profiles, stating that it implies wider diversity of thought than one actually experiences at church.  While I think that may be true, I think it’s a natural by-product of the process:

  1. Participants self-select.  Those who are confident in their uniqueness (and reasonably photogenic) will be more inclined to participate.
  2. It’s on the internet.  The outlier Mormons are more likely to be internet-savvy than the stereotyped ones.  And younger members are more likely to proliferate the internet and have more progressive views.
  3. There’s no “common” review process.  Each profile is reviewed by a team of 20-30 MTC employees who make personal decisions about what to approve or decline.  If there was a single reviewer, there would be more consistency of response.  This is better, IMO.

Here’s what I might have said:

  • No, I’ve been in wards in the U.S. that were predominantly Democrat and wards that were predominantly Republican.  And I’ve known members outside the U.S. with a very wide spectrum of political belief.
  • IMO, both parties are full of hypocrits and philanderers as well as genuine good guys who haven’t yet become hypocrits and philanderers.  Give them time.
  • Generally speaking, members avoid discussing politics in my experience because they are polite and understand that politics can be divisive; most members recognize the power of politics to divide friends and families.  But as with any large organization, there are a few bulls in the China shop.

Have you created your profile yet?  Let’s talk politics!  How would you answer this question?  What answers did you like or not like?  Discuss.

Comments 95

  1. Hawk:

    I liked your responses. Being in the “Bible belt” where politics and religion often mix (or clash), the closest our ward came to an endorsement was in the summer primaries, when a member from upstate was running for the Republican nomination for congress. Several members of our ward were active in his campaign and kept us informed of upcoming events, but it was all done outside of block meetings. (BTW, he lost the primary).

    I think people link the Church to repubs because political issues that sometimes creep into lessons/testimonies are echoed by the GOP.

  2. From the same poll:

    “The 16% of Mormons who categorize themselves as very conservative is the largest percentage for any of the major religious groups, while the 1% who are “very liberal” is the smallest.

    A recent Gallup analysis showed that Mormons have the highest percentage identification with the Republican Party of any major religious group.

    It is thus not surprising to find that the 49% of Mormons who self-identify as both conservative and Republican is the highest of any major religious group, significantly larger than the 31% of Protestants/other non-Catholic Christians who can be so categorized.”

    The poll also found that party identification and conservatism were higher among active Mormons. From a statistical sense, it is impossible for this to be a coincidence.

  3. Post

    BtC – “Those “predominantly Democrat” wards must have been real outliers.” Well, there are a few reasons this may be so. The wards were in PA and NJ. This was in the late 70s and 80s, well before the crackdown on intellectuals in the church. The wards had many very outspoken politically liberal voices, and conservative voices were not as influential. In PA, many of the ward leaders and youth leaders were college professors, so they were well-educated, well-spoken and confident (and obviously, very liberal).

    I really did grow up thinking that the church leaned to the left, and when I got to BYU it was a few months before I very hesitantly ventured a guess that many of those at BYU were Republican (as an English major, I met many dems at BYU also). Most of those I know outside the US are to the left of what we would call “democrats” here. I also know a few I would venture to call communist.

    The other thing to remember is that the church has simply become more conservative. In David O. McKay’s day, the church was nearly 50/50 in each party. Correlation probably contributes to this shift. The “outlier” voices are no longer getting the same amount of air time. However, even in my current ward (that I’m sure is quite conservative because it’s very wealthy), political chatter is avoided, and strident conservative rhetoric, when it has been raised, has been refuted every time with a more tempered approach that brings the subject back to the gospel topic.

  4. Does the Mormon church endorse political parties?

    The simple answer is “no, as an official body the LDS Church doesn’t endorse political parties, elected officials, or candidates for office.” (my quotes, not quoted from another source)

    However, its teachings are unequivocal on many social or moral issues, and many members of the Church have been taught all their lives (through both scriptures and sermons) that the most important function of government is to honor the moral laws of God, with dire consequences for nations or peoples who do not. Thus, if one political party or candidate can convince LDS members that he/she/it is on “God’s” side of moral issues, most members of the Church will support that group or individual, even if other aspects of that party’s/candidate’s platform run counter to principles of economic or social justice such as Jesus taught.

    This becomes more complicated by a general sense in the LDS Church that people who make moral decisions in one realm must also be making good moral choices in all other realms of their lives. Boy Scout heroes such as Nephi and Captain Moroni, who exhibit absolutely no signs of weakness or sin, as well as the mythologization of historical figures such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young into near-perfect men, all contribute to the perception that one cannot be an effective leader in the realm of political government without also being a spiritually moral individual. Applied to political parties and elected officials, LDS who find themselves attracted to a party/candidate for his/her/its stance on moral issues end up rationalizing all other aspects of his/her/its platform as somehow also being good or right. Because how could a person be right on such an important issue as (insert social issue here, i.e. abortion, gay marriage, stem-cell research, etc.) and not also be right about issues like education, welfare, gun control, war, free markets, communism, etc.? Hence, I believe many LDS who are attracted to a party or candidate for their stance on social issues also end up justifying all the other stances espoused by that party or candidate in order to make peace with a deeply-ingrained perspective that leaders must be all-good, or else all-evil.

    From another approach to the same issue, LDS Church members are encouraged to follow the example of their church leaders, of whom historically most have been conservative and Republican, including high-profile ultra conservatives such as Ezra Taft Benson. Many LDS surely see a leader’s political leanings as part of the example they should follow, reasoning that if a leader as smart and as spiritually sensitive as the prophet sees politics in a certain way, they must have access to extra knowledge from God to back up their position. Therefore, even though a typical LDS might not know those extra reasons, they can rely on their faith that if they “follow the prophet”, the Lord will bless them and give them peace of mind, and bless those people and nations who also “follow” the prophet’s stance.

    So although the Church doesn’t explicitly endorse political parties or individuals, there is much in the teachings of the Church and the LDS worldview that encourages members to vote predominately on social and moral issues, which favors a conservative and/or Republican (in the US) political ideology. I suspect that the reason we hear so much of politics in our church meetings has something to do with how deeply ingrained these perspectives on moral and spiritual leadership as a prerequisite for effective government really are.

  5. My fave intellectual foils (my wife’s sister and her husband) lambaste me for my libertarian affiliation, equating it with being libertine. Like many LDS republicans (speaking in a USA context), they feel that the Republican party most closely matches LDS values, so from their persepctive, why would you vote any other way? While I respect their decision to vote Republican, they don’t feel the need to extend the same courtesy for why I prefer Libertarian (e.g., the free agency aspect and limited govenrnment is more in line with my values and how I interpret the Gospel as applied to politics). It’s that intolerance that I don’t care for.
    I also take exception for how many members question a Democrat’s commitment to the gospel, ex: Harry Reid. That’s not to say that I agree with Bro. Reid on his politics, in fact, I profoundly disagree with a great deal of his positions. Nevertheless, having met the man, I can see where he’s coming from, and why in his view his politics are in alignment with his commitment to live the Gospel. And that Bro. Reid is a faithful member seems to be beyond question. The very intolerance that I mentioned before makes it unfortunately necessary to have to qualify the faithfulness of an LDS democrat. That shouldn’t be necessary.
    Non-USA members probably chuckle at why we USA members get our knickers in a twist over politics. Either they don’t get as emotionally wrapped up in it or at least they don’t identify their political views with being something that the Church should approve of or not.

  6. Post

    “Non-USA members probably chuckle at why we USA members get our knickers in a twist over politics.” Personally, I think that people have stronger political convictions than even their religious convictions because as was aptly pointed out, political affiliation requires a lot of twisting, contorting, and ignoring to align with the one’s entire morality set (or that of the gospel). The more you have to twist yourself in knots to defend something, ironically, the more your commitment. And it seems to me that people interpret the gospel in terms of their political affiliation more than the other way around, even though the counsel is to go the other direction (start with the gospel in mind).

  7. I think most Mormons know that the church doesn’t support any political parties. I just think a lot of them are convinced that no good Mormon could belong to a party which is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and pro-gun control. Of course, there are a few Mormons who can’t believe that their brethren and sistren belong to a party which persecutes poor immigrants, launches pre-emptive wars, and wants to eliminate every social safety net.

  8. Martin:

    It’s fascinating to see how, when discussing political issues, we vary our tone, based solely upon our own staked-out position. For example, for consistency’s sake, you might have begun your posting as follows:

    “I think most Mormons know that the church doesn’t support any political parties. I just think a lot of them are convinced that no good Mormon could belong to a party which promotes killing babies, sodomy, and the confiscation of guns.”

    It’s as though “my side is always the reasonable side – the other guy is the nut case.”

  9. persecutes poor immigrants, launches pre-emptive wars, and wants to eliminate every social safety net.

    And still other Mormons can’t believe their brethren and sisters could so grossly mischaracterize the beliefs of their opponents.

    If there’s a Republican officeholder, anywhere, of higher rank than the Hurricane dogcatcher who wants to eliminate every social safety net, I haven’t heard of him.

    Here is one of my main problems with many Mormon Democrats: Because Mormons, as a group, tend towards conservativism, and because when any group nears unanimity on any question, there’s a tendency towards groupthink, Mormon conservatives can, on occasion, be incapable of identifying flaws in their thinking. This results in those errors standing out like sore thumbs to Mormons who are exposed to liberal cultures. So a common reaction of those Mormons is to cluster together, and self-identify as a sub-tribe of “Mormon liberals.” Ironically, this results in a groupthink mentality of their own. Because they define themselves as separate from the more buffoonish aspects of Mormon conservatism, they draw the conclusion that it is in fact Mormon liberalism that is the One True Way.

    But just as groupthinking Mormon conservatives tend to paint liberalism with an overbroad brush, so may groupthinking Mormon liberals do the same in reverse. They erroneously conclude that the conservatism of Mormon family mass e-mailings is all there is of conservatism, and close their eyes to more in-depth conservative critiques. Like mine, he said humbly.

  10. Post
  11. I would add that it’s probably natural that a political movement that is more inclined to think it possible, and desirable, to create a “Kingdom right here on earth” will be less attractive to traditionally religious people (more of whose energies may be taken up in building a kingdom that is not of this world), than a movement that admits we can’t and therefore shouldn’t “immanentize the eschaton.”

    That said, it’s absolutely true that neither party is a perfect, or even a particularly good, fit for the Mormon social sensibility. Country-club establishment Republicanism, in particular — exemplified by the the “I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal” mentality which is as often as not a justification by a Big Swinging Dealer type who wants to (a) pay lower taxes and (b) not feel guilty about cheating with his secretary — is somewhat out of step with the traditional family-centered, distributist (not re-distributist — look it up), Law of the Harvest agrarian-minded, community-spirited Mormon tradition. Mormons whose politics are most influenced by their religious culture, in my experience, tend to be “crunchy conservative” types — generally conservative, but with some significant departures from the Establishment Republican party line.

  12. One of the comments you cite: “Any political party that approves of God’s teachings, and lives them consistently, is more likely to attract Mormons.”

    Your comment: “IMO, both parties are full of hypocrits and philanderers as well as genuine good guys who haven’t yet become hypocrits and philanderers. Give them time.”

    My comment: is a political party starts to live God’s teachings, I’ll be shocked.

  13. The point is, statistically it seems unlikely for mormons to be so dissproporionately conservative Republican without being influenced by the church. So while the church clearly cannot expressly “endorse” a political party, they obviously are doing so indirectly.

  14. #14 — What about Jews? They don’t (typically) have a centralized, hierarchical church, and yet they are as disproportionately Democrat as Mormons are Republican. So secret, “indirect” endorsement of a political party by a church institution isn’t the only possible explanation for denominational bloc voting. Culture matters.

  15. Thomas (#15): I think you and bewarethechicken are saying the same thing. You call it culture; bewarethechicken attributes it to the church. I claim in my comment above that the church’s teachings on moral issues are the major determinant in espousing one political party or ideology over another. Teachings translate into culture. So its probably both. Not secret, sacred. 😉

  16. BtC, I think it’s fairer to say that in the past the church has espoused a more conservative view. Certainly, as you’ve already cited, that was true in the time of Ezra T. Benson’s blended political and apostolic careers (though DOM’s biography does a nice job of showing that he did not have universal support for his political views among the leadership of the church). Further, it’s likely that that very conservative view around the 1960s attracted a certain type of convert (like my father, who was also politically conservative before joining the church).

    Another factor in my stake: most of the members are white middle class suburbanites. Those same demographics apply to most conservatives in my voting district (which is in the midwest, not the Wasatch Front).

    Clearly the alignment on hotbutton issues like abortion and gay rights today (and abortion and women’s rights in the past) has an influence, as well.

  17. #9, #10, believe it or not, I don’t think you have me pegged.

    The church is against abortion (in almost all cases) and opposed to gay marriage. Defending gun ownership is equivalent to defending the constitution, according to many Mormons.

    The church hasn’t taken any formal stance on illegal immigration, pre-emptive strikes, or government sponsored social programs.

    Therefore, if you go only by official church positions, you’ll end up Republican, not Democrat.

    On the other hand, if you go by gospel principles, you could argue you couldn’t really be either.

  18. Beware, I understood your post to be arguing that the institutional Church — that is, the First Presidency, the Twelve, and the General Authorities — are quietly, unofficially endorsing the Republican Party. The comparison to Jews shows that this is not necessarily the only explanation for Mormon conservatism.

  19. Ah – then you misunderstood my post. My post was attempting to answer the question of the thread – does the Mormon church endorse a particular party? My answer was – not officially, but clearly, by looking at the numbers, it does. I don’t think it’s quiet at all. To the contrary.

  20. Every time I try and inform myself about political issues, I feel tossed about by– you guessed it– every wind of doctrine. At times I equate Republican/Democrat with Sharks/Jets or Bloods/Crips. So rarely do I see discussion about the issues themselves but always there is the political “branding.” “I am a member of this team, which fully explains my stance on any/every issue.” I for one have a much more complex thought process than that, and can’t ever find myself consistently supporting a single party. Does that make me an Independent? No; they have their own issues as well, which are distorted and obscured by spin doctors on every side of the aisle.

    In summary, I enjoy discussing political issues, but the moment parties or movements are inevitably brought up, by eyes get droopy.

  21. #24 — That’s what I thought you were saying. The point of the analogy to Jews is that you don’t necessarily need “leadership’s” endorsement to get block voting. Sometimes culture does it all by itself. And I think Mormon conservativism has a lot more to do with Mormon culture than any endorsement from the leadership, which keeps much more neutral (for instance) than the leadership of the average mainstream Protestant church.

  22. #25 – obviously you are entitled to your opinion. But (a) what basis do you have for your opinion and (b) what do you mean by “culture?” If culture means – values, morals, etc – why is that different than what they learn at church? Isnt’ that where they get those things?

  23. 26: “If culture means – values, morals, etc – why is that different than what they learn at church?”

    Isn’t that like saying we’re taught about the benefits of green Jell-O in Sunday School? Everybody knows you learn about that in Mutual, any way…

  24. #27 – no, it’s not. Because I’m asking a question and you are making a statement. I’m trying to find out what Thomas means by “culture” (a difficult prospect indeed as he is generally inclined to only ask questions, not answer them) and you are making some statement about what you think culture is, or isn’t. See the difference?

  25. I’m an oddball member who was conservative independent, joined the ranks of liberals after leaving the church, and then rejoined the church as a strong DFLer (that’s the Dem party in Minnesota). I’m not gonna lie; I took special delight at our ward talent show where in my photography display I included a closeup pic I took of Barack Obama on the campaign trail. 😉

  26. Post

    Ronald Reagan described the Republican party as a 3-legged stool: fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and national defense conservatives. If we look at Mormon culture through those 3 lenses, here are some observations.

    Fiscal conservatives: Mormons preach self-reliance, but also preach charitable works like Humanitarian Aid, so adherents of either political party can feel self-assured that the gospel supports their views. Personally, I think this one follows the money. The wealthy are more prone to be fiscal conservatives. Insofar as the church’s focus on self-reliance and provident living creates personal financial stability, there may be a link to fiscal conservativism. However, I think the emergence (since Reagan’s era) of “Walmart” Republicans (shudder), the populist movement within the right, this has created a whole new category of Republicans: non-wealthy Republicans who used to be Democrats.

    Social Conservatives: Utah culture is very socially conservative. They would like to legislate morality in ways that make other states balk (BTW, all states legislate morality to some extent; social conservativism often refers to “bedroom legislation”). The issue is that Utah is so red that it can enact moral legislation largely unopposed. Frankly, there’s a real issue with separation of church & state in Utah, but an even bigger issue with homogeneity. If you look at Mormons in other states, they are on the defensive. They are accustomed to having their views challenged, not reinforced. As a result, IMO (and perhaps only there), Mormons outside of Utah are less prone to social conservativism. They don’t want others legislating their choices.

    National Defense Conservatives: You can interpret the gospel as pacifist (Golden Rule) or as patriotic (render unto Caesar/11th article of faith/I came not to bring peace, but a sword). Personally, I think this one follows the fear. Those who are afraid of outside threats identify; those who see the world as largely benevolent don’t. There may be some connection with Utah as well, a largely provincial population. But it could also be divided because Mormons may be less prone to do military service due to missions (which leave you feeling warm & fuzzy about other countries in many cases).

    Anyway, those are just some thoughts about the culture as it relates to conservativism.

  27. #26 — Damn skippy I’m entitled to my opinion, and you are too to yours, if you can defend it. Your assertion is that the Church leadership endorses Republican politics. It doesn’t do so expressly — its official position is political neutrality, and I’ve never seen any Church-issued lesson material giving partisan political marching orders. I say, citing the Jewish example, that it’s more likely that “culture” — and for purposes of argument, we’ll use your definition of “culture” as “values, morals, etc.” — that causes the Republican preponderance. You say that the “culture” Mormons receive is a function of the leadership.

    But that just proves the Mormon conservatives’ point — that the Church teaches its members correct principles, and they consequently govern themselves by being Republicans. I don’t think Mormon liberals want to make that point.

    Regarding (a), I think my point was sufficiently clear that the Jewish political experience shows that denominational block voting can develop even without the endorsement of those voting patterns by a hierarchical leadership, since Jewish denominations have none. Your whole argument, if you’ll recall, was that Mormon block voting is per se evidence of such endorsement.

  28. The poll indicated no significant difference in political views by mormons inside or outside of Utah. Also, I’m not aware that Mormons, on the whole, are any more rich or poor than Americans in general. Does anyone have any different information?

    What I’m getting at is – the “culture” mormons live in seem to me the same culture as the rest of America, with the exception of their religion. Therefore it stands to reason that if mormon’s are disproportionately more conservative than their similarly-cultured neighbors, then it is the religion that is making them so. That’s how my reasonsing takes me anywho.

  29. @28: Indeed I do see the difference. I was responding by saying (perhaps not clearly enough) that culture is more than just value, morals, and the other things one learns in church. I am agreeing with Thomas in saying that the strong correlation between Mormons and conservatism has more to do with culture (who you are raised by, what you are taught in school, the friends you make) than with anything Church leadership has said.

    The basis for MY agreement with Thomas’ opinion is personal experience within the Mormon culture itself. I’ve seen people (friends, ward members, local community officials) say things that seem to reinforce the correlation, but the correlation is based (in most cases) on two different motivations and thus coincidental. Conformity to a majority political stance comes from a world view based on individual upbringing and perspective on what would “work” for the town/state/country as a whole. Self-recognition as a Latter-day Saint comes from scripture study, prayer, and anything else that fosters a relationship with God.

  30. 32: “What I’m getting at is – the “culture” mormons live in seem to me the same culture as the rest of America, with the exception of their religion.”

    A tricky statement, and one I’m hesitant to agree with depending on its intended meaning. For one, if the mormon culture is just like the rest of America, why is it that so many visitors (especially Americans) find it such a strange place? I do not deny that it has a lot to do with church members, but I can’t point my finger squarely at the Church itself. For one, the solidarity and likemindedness is certainly strongly fueled by religious views, but it could just as easily come from the shared heritage of pioneer settlers who had to work together– to see each other as “us”– in order to survive in such an unforgiving environment. For many modern Utahns that same sense of cooperation can easily survive, especially for those in smaller communities.

  31. Therefore it stands to reason that if mormon’s are disproportionately more conservative than their similarly-cultured neighbors, then it is the religion that is making them so. That’s how my reasonsing takes me anywho.

    I think we agree, except that by definition, there is at least one difference — religion — between the culture of Mormons and their non-Mormon “similarly-cultured neighbors.”

    And I do think that a major distinction comes down to what kind of God you believe in — a philosophical construct dedicated to the overall good of humanity, or a flesh-and-blood Father who is intensely concerned with you personally. The latter belief (or outright agnosticism, which has traditionally been more the province of ecrasez l’infame left-liberals) may incline people more towards collective approaches to improving the human condition, whereas the latter may focus more on the role of the individual person.

    Regarding “bedroom legislation,” I’m not aware of any abortions or gay marriages (about the only two social issues left in any controversy) being performed in “bedrooms,” as opposed to clinics or county records offices. The only “social” issues that remain, are not *just* about what consenting adults do in private, none of which anyone wants to legislate against anymore; rather, the remaining hot-button social issues all involve third parties and society in the transactions as well.

  32. I’m too busy with family time, scouts, youth dances, preparing sunday school lessons, home teaching, and volunteering to setup chairs and clean the chapel. Its tough to find time to read my scriptures, let alone politics. So I know so little about politics…I just don’t have a lot of time to read up on the issues, so I listen to the radio for snippets. I SHOULD be more active in local politics…but I should do a lot of things. Maybe when I’m older I’ll put more time into about political issues.

    I wonder if mormons are less involved in politics than other religions, or if that is not a factor?

  33. (pushed submit too soon…oops)

    So I would firmly answer the Church does not endorse any party, and I frankly don’t hear politics talked about much at Church (thankfully). That is how it should be, IMO.

    I vote my conscience. My wife doesn’t know I voted for O’Bama…and I’m not telling her or her family.

  34. The point, again, is that statistically, Mormons are disproportionately more likely to align with the Republican party than non-Mormons. The only possible explanation I’m hearing, other than those related to religion, is that their shared heritage of pioneers may make them more inclined (although, I’m not sure how) to conservatism. I don’t think Mormons can trace their heritage back to pioneers any more than many other Americans, and do modern Mormons in Philedephia, California, New York, Nevada, etc. really have significant cultural tendancies based on a 150 year old Western trek?

  35. “The point, again, is that statistically, Mormons are disproportionately more likely to align with the Republican party than non-Mormons.”

    That seems plausible. 49% of Mormons are conservative/Republican. How many non-Mormon Americans are conservative/republican? If it’s less than 49% then I’ll agree with your statement 100%.

    “I don’t think Mormons can trace their heritage back to pioneers any more than many other Americans…”

    I didn’t mean to imply that, and I think my pioneer analogy may have been misleading. What I meant was that such a lifestyle can (and historically HAS) foster a sense of community cooperation toward survival. If the environment is particularly harsh (weather/wildlife/enemies threatening livestock/colonists), then such things as self-reliance and community defense– conservative concerns, according to Hawkgrrrl) become priorities. An urban setting prompts individuals to foster a more liberal approach to the community (spreading benefits to those that may be lacking and developing widespread well being), and such thoughts as militant defense and individual prosperity are seen as extremely inappropriate for the community.

    Now raise that to a national stage, made up of both urban and rural communities with many generations of ingrained tradition and viewpoint. Each community views their own paradigm as the ideal because, as far as the local community is concerned, it’s worked just fine for n decades/centuries. This ideal is so deeply ingrained that when the another group comes forward with their traditional– but different– views, the community resists the ideas. They’re new, they’re unknown, untested. Many determine without much deliberation that those new ideas are also WRONG.

    So no, all Mormon communities can’t claim a 150 year old trek as their heritage (though several can), but EVERY Mormon community can count on their local heritage to influence thought and world view. If that local heritage is heavily influenced by religion, then yes, religion becomes a strong (albeit indirect) influence on the community’s conservative/liberal position.

  36. #40: “O’Bama”

    Love it! Cousin, perhaps, to O’Clark, O’Mendez, and O’Klein. (All the best cornet players were Irish.)

  37. Living here in the most conservative place on the face of the whole earth, church members and others have no problem sharing and promoting their political views, even in the most peculiar circumstances. Since I teach a lot at Church, my favorite expressions are:

    “We’re not going to get into that now.”
    “Let’s just let that one lie there.”
    “Enough said about that.”
    “But that’s another story, for a different time.”
    “Ooh, let’s not go there.”
    “Shall we get back to THE GOSPEL”
    “Tell us how you really feel!” I use that in HP group.

    And others

    I try to mix them up so I don’t repeat myself too often.

  38. BTC:

    If I look back at the data you cite in comment #2, Mormons have the largest net differential conservative-liberal score. Jews have the smallest net differential conservative-liberal.

    That suggests to me that any community that isolates itself culturally to resist assimilation CAN drift away from the cultural mean in a way that isn’t possible for religions that are assimilated (if only because they dominate the culture).

    Notice that the poll data shows little difference between Mormons living inside or outside Utah.

  39. FireTag — I wonder if that’s a function of a *slight* tendency, in Mormonism, to cause people to gravitate towards the thinking now classed as “conservative,” multiplied by Mormonism’s emphasis on community, consensus (“all in favor, so manifest; OK, that’s everybody”) and group loyalty, so that what might otherwise be a slight advantage in conservative numbers tends to become the norm. Same in Judaism.

  40. A few observations of my own
    At the local level the party of a candidate doesn’t really mean that much, in that the main goal is keeping the city, roads, schools, fired dept, etc running.
    Political party affiliation are mostly formed at the state and national levels, where ideology takes a greater role.

    There have been a few defining/divisive issues over the last several years; perhaps the most iconic one is abortion. I think there are lots of mormons who side with republicans over this single issue. There is little room for debate on the LDS church’s stance on the issue, and I think lots of people simply can’t get themselves to vote for a democrat, regardless of their other qualities, because of course if they’re democrats they are pro-choice.

    Going back a couple of generations, there were the FDR democrats. I’ve known lots of mormon folks who detested FDR. They didn’t like the social programs he put in place, they viewed them as government taking over the economy, and over people’s lives. They also found a contrast between the new deal and between the church’s welfare program with goal of abolishing the evils of the dole, or however they put it.
    During the 60s and 70s if you had to pick one party whose rhetoric was more prone to not encourage chastity, families, sobriety, and the mother staying in the home, which one would you pick? Don’t forget that at one time the primary meaning of conservative was “resistant to change”.

    Then there’s the book “Who Really Cares” which advocates that political conservatives aren’t opposed to charity, in fact, they give more charity than liberals. According to the book middle class republicans give more money than upper class democrats, or something like that. They state that the conservatives are willing to dig into their own pockets for good causes, and keep the government out of it, while the liberals are eager to dig into everyone else’s pockets for the good of the country. I think it’s not difficult to see why this conservative line of reasoning resonates with a group who voluntarily give, and are encourage to voluntarily give, to good causes.

    But I think it’s fairly easy to see that both political parties have utterly sold whatever they imitating souls.

  41. I can see a distinctive difference in saying that the intermountain Mormon culture encourages conservatism and that the LDS religion encourages conservatism. I often hear justifications for conservatism in the name of religion at BYU but in all actuality it is not the official religious doctrines that perpetuate this mentality but it is the intermountain culture 1) clinging to selective church leader’s non official opinions (especially from the cold war era) 2)reasoning that the majority of church leaders and active membership can’t be wrong and 3)the pressure from LDS neocons to believe that conservatism and Mormonism are one and the same (cough, Skousenites). These three reasons come from non doctrinal sources and are clearly based on culture and not the religion itself. The tendency of Latter Day Saints to be conservative cannot be attributed to religion because when looking at the global church the correlation is not as strong as it is in Utah County. In fact, in some countries the latter day saints seem to be on the more leftist side of the spectrum. It seems like the more determining factor of politics among Mormons is location, location, location.

    The Church’s stance on gay marriage and abortion are not enough to convince me that it endorses conservatism as a whole. Plus, the church has some not so conservative stances as well (immigration, the equal housing/employment bills for homosexuals).

  42. Post

    Arnster – regarding abortion, you said: “There is little room for debate on the LDS church’s stance on the issue.” Yet, the church’s stance is very liberal by some standards in that we do allow for abortion in cases of rape or incest or where the health of the mother is in danger. We also are not opposed to stem cell research. You’d be hard pressed to find a Democrat who feels that elective abortion as an alternative to birth control is morally acceptable. The church’s stance is also compatible with middle-of-the-road Democrat views.

  43. #49 — ” 3)the pressure from LDS neocons to believe that conservatism and Mormonism are one and the same (cough, Skousenites).”

    I gotta say, calling “Skousenites” “neocons” is a good sign one needs to do some research into what terms actually mean. Skousenites aren’t “neocons” by any stretch of the imagination. They’re as paleo as they come. “Neoconservatives” refers mainly to a bunch of Eastern (mostly) Jewish former liberals who became appalled at leftism’s turn towards nihilism in the 1970s, and (mostly) all went to write for American Spectator. The paleoconservative Skousen types typically don’t consider “neoconservatism” (which typically is relatively irreligious, technocratic, and tolerant towards Big Government in the interest of “national greatness” and Wilsonian internationalism) to be conservative at all.

    The differences between the camps are at least as significant as between the Clinton-style New Democrats, and the Dennis Kucinich-style professional Left. They really don’t like each other much.

  44. Thomas,

    Good point, not that it really has anything to do with the argument at hand (but more of a personal attack on a relatively unimportant detail).

  45. Sorry for the tone (tho’ “personal attack” is a bit over-the-top). I’ve gotten sensitive, maybe oversensitive, to Right Thinking People using “neocons” as a pejorative for all conservatives, without bothering to understand what they’re condemning.

  46. JohnE:

    The data from PEW is national, and shows no difference between Utah and the rest of the country. I don’t know of data that compares Mormons in other nations with non-Mormons in other nations, which is what we need to evaluate your point.

  47. “You’d be hard pressed to find a Democrat who feels that elective abortion as an alternative to birth control is morally acceptable.”

    I think that overstates the case. There are plenty of people who simply don’t see anything morally wrong with abortion, period, for whatever purpose. Witness the argument that a human fetus is just one more part of a woman’s body, like her hair or fingernails. Nobody thinks there’s anything immoral about cutting your nails.

    “The church’s stance is also compatible with middle-of-the-road Democrat views.”

    Except that middle-of-the-road Democrat views (like virtually all Democrat views) favor upholding the execrable Roe v. Wade and Casey decisions, the practical result of which is that as long as you can find a doctor to sign off on it, you are constitutionally entitled to abort a fetus right up to the moment of birth, if you claim it’s necessary for your physical, mental or emotional health. There are doctors, ideologically committed to absolute abortion rights, who contend that any pregnancy is dangerous to a woman’s health; ergo, the exception is limitless.

    The Church’s stance on the politics of abortion, as far as I’m aware, is that it has no stance.

  48. “The Church’s stance on the politics of abortion, as far as I’m aware, is that it has no stance”

    I thought it was clear in being anti-selective abortion? Only in cases of risk of life or health of the mother (which would include emotional health),incest,rape etc would abortion be allowed (but after consulting with their bishop, who is usually a crazy republican… aint going to happen!)

    The handbook states this clearly but a new handbook is coming out in september so we should probably wait and see if this policy changes or is in some way altered, but as it stands today it would be closer to the middle-of-the road democrat or moderate republican policy on abortion.

  49. Suck face! Typed out my whole comment but Windows 7 needed to restart for some reason. I’ll give it another shot…


    I would be nice to see a study comparing the predominate political persuasions of Mormons by country. From what I have gathered from speaking to Mormons from different countries the church and politics are not as intertwined in other countries as they are in the US. The Mormon Worker blog has a good article about LDS political views in El Salvador. According to the article the members there mostly on the left side of the debate (although it does not mention if they are socially conservative). It seems to me that the location is a huge factor in determining ones politics.


    I think your point profoundly shows the difference between culture and religion. While the official religious doctrine itself does say that abortions are usually wrong, it does not say if abortions should be illegal. Mormon culture often tries to make voting for the right to choose against the church when there is no official church position saying whether or not woman should have the right. The word of wisdom prohibits smoking, but that does not mean the church is against people’s right to smoke. Not that I am pro choice, I am just saying that LDS culture, not the religion itself, makes the church seem more conservative.

  50. John E makes a great point I had also intended to make but forgot. While I’m politically independent, my strongest objections are to wealth redistribution and social conservativism in politics. There are many things that I consider immoral or ill-advised that I would not legislate. For example, is it better or worse for a child to be born in an unwanted and abusive environment where basic needs are not met. The link between Roe v Wade and the drop in urban crime was compelling.

  51. I am against the re-distribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich through financial thievery, overcompensation, political gladhanding, lower tax rates, unproductive financial gain and the general sense of entitlement.

  52. Jeff – I’m against that, too. Mostly I’m anti-intervention, but the recent economic collapse is bringing out a new pro-regulation side to my views. I’m against both parties’ fiscal designs to some extent.

  53. Once again, I can’t help but point out that Thomas has a tendency to take advantage of lay-person’s general understanding of legal issues to make his point. In so doing, he seems to misrepresent or misstate the law to prove his point. Here he says that Roe v. Wade and Casey say you can abort right up to the time of birth. Obviously this is not the case. Both Roe and Casey draw a line at viability – ie, the time when the unborn child has a realistic opportunity to survive outside the womb. Prior to this time, a woman’s right is fundamental, after this time, Roe and Casey permit government intervention. Most notably is the Supreme Court’s upholding of the so-called “partial birth abortion” ban. If Roe and Casey, as Thomas claims, permits unfettered abortion up till birth, then how could they have affirmed this law?

    From the Opinion in Casey:

    “The woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy before viability is the most central principle of Roe v. Wade. It is a rule of law and a component of liberty we cannot renounce.

    On the other side of the equation is the interest of the State in the protection of potential life. The Roe Court recognized the State’s “important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life.” The weight to be given this state interest, not the strength of the woman’s interest was the difficult questions faced in Roe.,….it must be remembered that Roe v. Wade speacks with clarity in establishing not only the woman’s liberty but also the State’s “important and legitimate interest in potential life.”

  54. As for wealth re-distribution – all taxes are wealth re-distribution. The single and solitary goal of government is to redistribute wealth from the few to the many. Poor who cannot protect themselves with guards and cameras have a police force and a military that everyone chips in for, whether they need to or not. Poor who cannot afford to privately educate their children have public schools paid for largely by those who own real estate – further redistributing this wealth from the few rich to the many poor. Those who could never afford roads, street lights, etc. are given these things by the government paid for with the pooling of resources from those who can afford to pay – to be used by those who cannot.

    If there are particular redistribution techniques with which one disagrees, that is a debate worth having, but being opposed to “redistribution of wealth” in general is like being opposed to “taxes” in general. Sure, we’d all like to keep everything we make, but we also like military, police, FDA, fire fighters, etc. To have these things, we have to redistribute our wealth – otherwise these will be luxuries of the rich only.

  55. Following on BTC #64, the right only identifies the term “Re-distribution of Wealth” as the funding of social programs which takes away their “hard-earned money” and gives to the poor in “Robin Hood” fashion. They fail to understand that that money is not always so “hard earned’ and that it had to come from somewhere.

  56. Once again, I can’t help but point out that Thomas has a tendency to take advantage of lay-person’s general understanding of legal issues to make his point. In so doing, he seems to misrepresent or misstate the law to prove his point.

    Gentlemen don’t accuse others of lying, and especially not with weasel words like “seems to misrepresent.”

    Yes, you do lack understanding of the issues you think you understand so thoroughly. Roe and Casey do not have an ironclad “viability” cutoff, beyond which the state has plenary power to restrict abortion.

    The Casey money quote, which you evidently missed (see how easy it is to politely ascribe an opponent’s mistake to error rather than deceit?), is this: “We also reaffirm Roe’s holding that “subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.” (Casey, 505 U.S. at 879.)

    So what is “health”? The binding Supreme Court precedent is Doe v. Casey, the lesser-known companion case to Roe v. Wade. Its holding was as follows:

    We agree with the District Court, 319 F.Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors-physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age-relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment. And it is room that operates for the benefit, not the disadvantage, of the pregnant woman.

    Thus, the “health” exception is exceedingly broad, and all comes down to the attending physician’s “best medical judgment.” There is no Supreme Court case that indicates that the physician’s judgment can be second-guessed; if Doc says what he’s doing is necessary for either physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and age-related “health,” then the Constitution prohibits interference with the abortion — at any stage, pre- or post-viability.

    You mentioned the Supreme Court’s upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, in Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007). That case upheld a ban on one specific abortion procedure, while specifically noting that other equally-safe methods of late-term abortion were available. Gonzales followed the “health exception” precedent:

    The Court assumes the Act’s prohibition would be unconstitutional, under controlling precedents, if it “subject[ed] [women] to significant health risks.” Whether the Act creates such risks was, however, a contested factual question below: The evidence presented in the trial courts and before Congress demonstrates both sides have medical support for their positions. The Court’s precedents instruct that the Act can survive facial attack when this medical uncertainty persists. This traditional rule is consistent with Casey, which confirms both that the State has an interest in promoting respect for human life at all stages in the pregnancy, and that abortion doctors should be treated the same as other doctors. Medical uncertainty does not foreclose the exercise of legislative power in the abortion context any more than it does in other contexts. Other considerations also support the Court’s conclusion, including the fact that safe alternatives to the prohibited procedure, such as D&E, are available. In addition, if intact D&E is truly necessary in some circumstances, a prior injection to kill the fetus allows a doctor to perform the procedure, given that the Act’s prohibition only applies to the delivery of “a living fetus,” 18 U. S. C. §1531(b)(1)(A).

    Note the bolded word “facial,” in the quote. There is a difference between a “facial” Constitutional challenge to a statute, and an “as applied” challenge. A “facial” challenge is harder to win: You have to show that under no possible circumstance, could the statute be applied consistent with the Constitution. What the Gonzales court held, was basically “wait and see” — that there was still sufficient medical uncertainty about whether intact D&E (the “partial-birth abortion” procedure) was actually medically necessary to protect a woman’s health, and that no other procedure could protect that interest. Presumably, if a court having a trial on the facts determined that the procedure was, in fact, medically necessary, then under Gonzales, the ban could not be enforced “as applied.”

    As they say, bewarethechicken, read the whole thing. Especially before you charge out accusing people of “misrepresenting.”

  57. #65: “They fail to understand that that money is not always so “hard earned’ and that it had to come from somewhere.”

    *My* money certainly is hard-earned. Don’t know about other folks — but in any event, Robin Hood doesn’t distinguish between righteously hard-earned money and finance/insurance/real estate funny money. It’s all his, from his perspective.

    If by “it had to come from somewhere,” you’re referring to the government’s role in creating and managing (or rather mis-managing) the money supply, keep in mind that money is *supposed* to be simply a store of the value of real things that real people produced, by their labor, mental efforts, and risk-taking. Once people exchange those things for government-issued money, the money’s theirs; government doesn’t have a prior right on it just because it printed the ink on the paper.

    You’re “against the re-distribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich through financial thievery, overcompensation, political gladhanding, lower tax rates, unproductive financial gain and the general sense of entitlement.” Re: numbers 1 and 3, me, too. (I note that “political gladhanding,” or rent-seeking by political influence, is more effective the more government runs the economy.) #2, sorta, although that’s really the business of the people doing the overcompensating, i.e., the stockholders of companies that overpay executives; it’s ultimately their money they’re supposedly pouring away. Re: #5, how does “unproductive financial gain” redistribute, and what exactly is that? If you’re referring to the government’s serial inflation of asset bubbles over the past two decades, then I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    Re: #4, “lower tax rates,” I have to disagree that letting people keep more of their money re-distributes wealth. Reducing the extent to which wealth is redistributed, is not re-distributing wealth, any more than increasing spending less than scheduled is a “cut” in spending. In any event, the tax cuts since the 1980s have consistently concentrated the tax burden on the upper-bracket earners, making the tax code *more* redistributive, not less. Goes against the received wisdom, but true nevertheless.

  58. #62: “Mostly I’m anti-intervention, but the recent economic collapse is bringing out a new pro-regulation side to my views.”

    If I bought into the conventional wisdom that “deregulation” caused the economic collapse — a charge that has never been much developed past the talking point — and if I had any confidence that “regulation” is capable of counteracting (a) omnipresent human greed, fallibility, and “irrational exuberance” and (b) the government’s own taste for inflating bigger and bigger asset bubbles, then I might think additional regulation (on top of the reams we already have) might make a difference.

    The bottom line, though, is simply this: Americans (and Europeans, and Chinese, and Japanese) paid too much for houses, in a global asset bubble enabled in large part by government mismanagement of the money supply, which burst and covered everybody with goo that will take years to peel off. In my opinion, the current administration boxed itself into a corner by flacking the simplistic narrative that this whole (worldwide) debt crisis is simply a function of The Evil George Bush. If that were true, then all we should’ve needed to do was to send him back to Texas, and in short order everything would be fine. But if the true facts are that we are now getting the bill for (a) four decades of inflationary Keynesian money-supply mismanagement and (b) a demographic crunch occasioned by baby boomers’ having better things to do than have kids, then the present administration promised what it can’t deliver, and will continue to lose credibility.

  59. Carlos #58:

    ““The Church’s stance on the politics of abortion, as far as I’m aware, is that it has no stance”

    I thought it was clear in being anti-selective abortion?”

    The Church has a stance on selective abortion being a moral evil, but as far as I’m aware, it doesn’t have a stance on what a country’s abortion laws ought to be. That’s what I meant by “the politics of abortion.

  60. #66. “As they say, bewarethechicken, read the whole thing. Especially before you charge out accusing people of “misrepresenting.””

    I don’t see how your comment here does anything beyond proving my point further. As you now indicate, the court permits government regulation after viability with other than in these limited circumstances, one of which is obviously the health of the mother determined by “appropriate medical judgment.” Your claim that this leads to unfettered abortion is just wrong. It’d by like saying we have unfettered access to narcotics because the court has allowed them to be given with appropriate medical judgment. Doctors are regulated, licensed and reviewed. There are not doctors out there giving willy nilly medical services and, to the extent they are, they are subject to punishement and having their license taken away. If someone other than doctors are allowed to determine when a woman’s health is in jeopardy, who would you suggest?

  61. #60: “The link between Roe v Wade and the drop in urban crime was compelling.”


    On its face, “abort enough black babies and the crime rate will drop” sounds logical, if ghastly. I know you weren’t making that point, but given the disproportionate involvement of African-American men in “urban crime”, and the disproportionately high African-American abortion rate, that’s a huge part of the “link.”

    The problem is that, while crime rates did drop somewhat following the liberalization of abortion laws in the 1970s (only to spike again in the early nineties, followed by a slow drop), it’s not clear that this was because of any corresponding drop in the population of unwanted babies. Out-of-wedlock births actually increased following Roe v. Wade. Some people have argued that the availability of abortion was just one more factor in the de-normalization of marriage, and the cultural de-linking between sex and procreation (which nevertheless has a stubborn biological tendency to reassert itself inconveniently!) Given the strong statistical association between fatherlessness and urban crime, it follows that whatever correlation there was between post-Roe drops in crime, and increased abortion rates, likely does not involve causation.

  62. #70:

    Your claim that this leads to unfettered abortion is just wrong.

    Quote that “claim,” please. Or here, I’ll save you the trouble:

    …the practical result of which is that as long as you can find a doctor to sign off on it, you are constitutionally entitled to abort a fetus right up to the moment of birth, if you claim it’s necessary for your physical, mental or emotional health.

    You said something about “misrepresenting,” if I recall.

    “If someone other than doctors are allowed to determine when a woman’s health is in jeopardy, who would you suggest?”

    Well, how about two doctors? If I’m being paranoid to think that there are doctors out there who would not hesitate to endorse a late-term abortion…

    …like this guy:

    Dr. Warren Hern, a leading practitioner of very late abortions who wrote the textbook Abortion Practice, commented on the Daschle amendment, “I say every pregnancy carries a risk of death,” and therefore, “I will certify that any pregnancy is a threat to a woman’s life and could cause ‘grievous injury’ to her ‘physical health.’” (in USA Today and Washington Times, both May 15, 1997)

    …then surely there’d be no harm to having some impartial back-up, like an independent review panel or an independent second opinion, to guard against the possibility of an ideologically-driven rogue giving his blessing “willy nilly” to late-term abortions for trivial reasons. Norway (that liberal paradise) has such a system ( But advocating a similar system in the U.S. would get you called the equivalent of the Taliban by the typical abortion-rights absolutist.

    Look, guys, if you really must do away with your little illegitimati, I’ll agree to look the other way, within reason. But if ’twere done, ’twere best ’twere done quickly. Keep the insult to life to a bare minimum, by getting rid of the thing before it starts sprouting limbs and things that might trouble the conscience. How on earth decent people can possibly defend a rule that says we must keep open the option of chopping up a full-term fetus for “emotional health” reasons — and as rare as that circumstance must be, it is still the Constitutional standard liberals will literally go to the mat for — is simply beyong my comprehension. I can only conclude (if I’m to be charitable) that the implications of what they champion are, in fact, beyond their comprehension, as the are apparently beyond bewarethechicken’s. Whether the incomprehension is accidental or intentional is a close call.

  63. (From the Simpson’s 1996 “Treehouse of Horror VII, Citizen Kang”)…
    Kodos (disguised as Bob Dole): Abortions for everyone!
    Crowd: Booo!!
    Kodos: Very well, then…Abortion for nobody!”
    Crowd: Booo!!
    Kodos: Ok, then…Abortions for some, tiny American flags for everyone else!”
    Crowd: Yaay!!

    The Church can well-proclaim its anti-abortion stance regardless of whether Roe v. Wade holds up or whatever the laws of a particular state on the subject are. As for the “politics”, it’s a matter of personal interpretation.

    As a libertarian, I would say that the most rational option is to (1) overturn Roe v. Wade simply because it’s an egregious example of legislating from the bench, e.g., the states are sufficient to decide this for themselves, some will allow abortion-on-demand, others will restrict it to varying degrees (2) in whatever state we live in, campaign to have the issue be a matter of patient-doctor decision, with any proscription being on the medical practioner to not perform an abortion where not medically justified. Ergo, regulate the health care community rather than intrude into personal lives.

  64. “by getting rid of the thing before it starts sprouting limbs and things that might trouble the conscience.”

    The problem with this is that at four weeks, the fetus has a heartbeat, at six, arms and legs are distinct, with brainwaves reliably detectable at 9 weeks, and some evidence points to earlier development. So even before a woman could typically discover she’s pregnant and schedule an appointment, the baby already has signs of life.

    There is no good way to draw an abortion line at how “human” an embryo/fetus is.

  65. We always know how to get Thomas going….. 🙂 But, really, while I appreciate the extent and passion to which you argue your points, it is generally a re-tread of ultra right wing blame tactics when there is enough blame in the corrupt American political system to go around. There is no one group that is immune from the responsibility for the mess we are in. And while we can blame Bill Clinton for his Moral bankruptcy, the economy improved greatly during his time in office and it has been downhill ever since. They are all to blame every one of them because of it.

    You can blame in on Keynesian this or Adam Smithian that, but the fact remains that we have a complete mismanagement and manipulating of the economy by all in political power for their own selfish gain and agenda with a heavy dose of old fashion wall street unfettered greed.

    So what do you do with that?

  66. Thomas – I don’t see the difference between what you said and what I said you said. I suppose others can decide for themselves. But I’ll ask you this – why would 2 doctors not be “appropriate medical judgment” fitting under Roe? And if it’s so easy to find one of these corrupt doctors, why couldn’t you find two just as easily?

  67. #73 — Huzzah. But don’t blame me; I voted for Kodos.

    #74 — “There is no good way to draw an abortion line at how “human” an embryo/fetus is.”

    Any line would be at least somewhat arbitrary, yes. The only really bright lines are at (1) conception; (2) implantation; (3) heartbeat; (4) brainwave activity, and (4) birth. At the outside, it’s not a baby before conception, and it is a baby after birth. (Unless you’re Peter Singer, who if I recall correctly advocates fourth-trimester abortion.) Because there can, I believe, be enough good-faith disagreement about exactly where between those two poles a developing human being obtains enough of a right to life that other human beings are as a matter of justice required to respect, I wouldn’t advocate an absolute rule being drawn at conception. That necessarily forces me to concede that whatever “line” we ultimately agree upon, is going to be arbitrary. Chalk it up to the fallibility of human moral understanding. That said, why isn’t the morally proper thing to do to err on the side of caution?

    What bothers me the most about all of this, is not the prospect of millions of abortions happening. The final moral responsibility for those is on the heads of the people involved. What bothers me the most, is how much this issue — in particular, the abortion absolutists’ desperate wish to pretend there’s no question of interpersonal justice involved, and that restricting abortion is simply a matter of would-be “bedroom legislators” trying to tell a woman what she can do with her own body — has corrupted our legal and social discourse. Rationalizing the indefensible will do that to you.

  68. #75 — “And while we can blame Bill Clinton for his Moral bankruptcy, the economy improved greatly during his time in office and it has been downhill ever since.”

    To be more precise, the economy improved greatly from 1994 on, after something or other happened with respect to the control of Congress…

    Or is it ultra right-wing to point that out?

    The economy from 1994-2000 went decently enough, thanks largely to the dot-com bubble. Likewise, the economy from 2003-2008 went pretty much just as well, thanks largely to government blowing a housing bubble to make up for the damage done by the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

    “we have a complete mismanagement and manipulating of the economy by all in political power for their own selfish gain…So what do you do with that”

    Give the selfish manipulators in political power less to selfishly manipulate.

    Old-fashioned Wall Street greed (not “unfettered” greed; there are regulatory fetters galore — mostly ineffective, as 2000 and 2008 demonstrated) will always be with us. What’s different since 1998 is the birth of Bailout Capitalism, where the threat of collapse acted as a check on really dangerous overoptimism. The “Greenspan Put” — the implicit guarantee that some entities were Too Big To Fail — made it rational for companies to take on risk and trust that someone else (us) would cover the downside. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the biggest examples of this; they are responsible for millions of foreclosed families’ lost dreams, and my own family being priced out of homeownership. You asked what to do? For starters, Jamie Gorelick really needs to be taken out behind the barn and given the downer-cow treatment.

  69. #76: “I don’t see the difference between what you said and what I said you said.”

    Run tape:

    “Your claim that this leads to unfettered abortion is just wrong”


    “…the practical result of which is that as long as you can find a doctor to sign off on it, you are constitutionally entitled to abort a fetus right up to the moment of birth, if you claim it’s necessary for your physical, mental or emotional health.”

    Not much of a “fetter” there, but I did acknowledge the one technical fig-leaf between current law and “unfettered” abortion.

    Your point is well-taken about two physicians not being much better than one. I would still prefer a completely objective review board for late-term abortions. Would that pass muster? Probably only if a certain five Supreme Court justices all stay healthy for the next three years at least.

  70. #79. “To be more precise, the economy improved greatly from 1994 on, after something or other happened with respect to the control of Congress…

    Or is it ultra right-wing to point that out?”

    It’s not ultra right-wing – just very simplistic thinking. Clinton got his budgets passed, notwithstanding government shut-down by the GOP and got his tax cuts and other major financial policies passed. How does it matter who was in Congress if ultimately Clinton’s policies became law and the GOP didn’t get any of their “contract with america” talking points past the veto? Or don’t you think government policies affect the economy?

  71. *His* tax cuts? That’s chutzpah on a par with Joe Biden taking credit for the success of the Iraq surge.

    Plenty of the Contract with America got passed, btw.

    And no, government policies don’t (positively) affect the economy as much as government’s advocates think. While there are some ways government can affirmatively “grow the economy” (like subsidizing 19th century railroads, although Joe Hill built the Great Northern — the best built and best-run of the transcons — without government help), there are many more ways it can foul things up. Like it did with the housing bubble.

  72. “Oh – and by my count 19 states require a 2nd doctor after viability. I guess the Supreme Court hasn’t gotten to these yet?”

    It did, in 1983. But the second doctor is not required to certify the necessity for the abortion itself — the statutes that were upheld only required the presence of a second doctor at the procedure, to care for the late-term fetus if it had the misfortune to survive the abortion procedure.

  73. Again – for those that still think Thomas knows what he’s talking about on this subject – take a look at Kansas’ abortion laws, for example:

    “(a) No person shall perform or induce an abortion when the fetus is viable unless such person is a physician and has a documented referral from another physician not legally or financially affiliated with the physician performing or inducing the abortion and BOTH physicians determine that: (1) The abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman; or (2) a continuation of the pregnancy will cause a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

    He also talks as if there is a national law or system regarding abortion. Obviously there isn’t. There are 50.

  74. “Or is it ultra right-wing to point that out?’

    With respect to whose to blame, Yes. they are all to blame. If you consider that Clinton left the economy in such good shape that greed and speculation took over and the DOT COM bust was caused, not by the government, but by too much money chasing some of the stupidest business ideas known to mankind.

    That we mortgaged the future on the game The Wars We Can’t Win – “Iraq and Afghanistan edition.”

    That once again, business greed gave loans (not just home loans, but loans) to naive and some greedy folks who would not be able to pay them back, if the economy had even the slightest hiccup, which it did.

    You can blame government for failing on the regulation side, but then again, who did that? they all did, members of Congress, hoping to curry favor with their donors and not realizing they work for the American PEOPLE.

    All I am saying is that there is enough blame to do around here, there is no need to be partisan about it.

  75. OK, Beware, you got me on Kansas, which looks different from the second-physician statute at issue in the 1983 Supreme Court case I’m familiar with. I learn something new every day. Clearly that means I am completely ignorant about the entire subject.

    “He also talks as if there is a national law or system regarding abortion. Obviously there isn’t. There are 50.”

    Within a narrow judicially-defined national framework, whose language could (and, depending on the future composition of the Supreme Court, may) be interpreted as invalidating that horribly restrictive Kansas statute.

  76. #86 — You raise an odd dilemma. The problem with just saying “Both sides are equally corrupt!” is that what do you then do about it?

    I’m not saying there’s not enough blame to go around. I’m not, in fact, all that concerned with “blame.” Yes, George W. Bush could have been an unprecedented profile in political courage, and actively taken away the asset-bubble punch bowl so as to deflate the bubble before it burst. But he would have been literally the first president in the history of the universe to do that. His half-hearted attempts to get a handle on the problem — to rein in Frannie — were quickly stomped flat by Democrats joined with enough ignoramus Republicans to, in Barney Frank’s delightful words, “roll the dice a little bit more” on the housing market.

    “You can blame government for failing on the regulation side, but then again, who did that? they all did, members of Congress, hoping to curry favor with their donors and not realizing they work for the American PEOPLE.”

    Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. Congress is not necessarily full of the sharpest tools in the shed. I was screaming and yelling since about 2003 about the unsustainability of the housing market, with strawberry pickers buying $500,000 houses. I got called a Jeremiah. The problem was less than legislators consciously said “let’s not regulate; that will make our donors mad” (well, maybe Chris Dodd said that); the problem was that they, most of them making north of $200 per year, simply couldn’t see that normal Americans don’t make enough scratch to afford the house prices that were being racked up.

    “If you consider that Clinton left the economy in such good shape that greed and speculation took over and the DOT COM bust was caused, not by the government, but by too much money chasing some of the stupidest business ideas known to mankind.”

    If inflation is, as classically described, a function of too much money chasing too few goods, then asset bubbles are a function of too much money chasing too few good investments. In both cases, the common factor is: too much money. And that’s a function of mismanagement by government, which controls the money supply.

    Right now, the conventional wisdom is definitely not aligned with what I think. Maybe it’s “partisan” to point out the flaws in the conventional wisdom, but what alternative is there? I think we’re going down a horribly wrong Hooveresque road, taking heroic measures to prop up asset prices that even after the 2008 correction remain above their rational levels. We’re loading trillions of dollars of bad private debt onto government books, as if the country’s credit is inexhaustible. Obama is basically doubling down on the worst economic patterns of the Bush era (which itself was a doubling-down on the bubble-happy late-Clinton-era Rubinomics). We just passed a new financial regulation scheme, which does absolutely nothing to address bad underwriting (which the government continues to foster, by buying up privately-unsellable mortgage paper and having the FHA insure ridiculously dangerous loans).

    My bottom line is that some business “irrational exuberance” is inevitable. The natural incentives make it so — the conservative trader who is prematurely right about the risk of an investment the conventional wisdom says is safe, will lag his colleagues’ performance and will have therefore been replaced long before the reckoning comes due. Better to be wrong with the crowd than prematurely right on your own. Nothing government can do (short of nationalizing the whole economy, which trades stagnation for volatility) can change this. So all I really want, is for government to enforce some basic rules, provide courts for adjudicating fraud disputes, and then get the heck out of the way. Because all it does when it tries to do more, is just blow the bubbles bigger and make the crashes messier.

  77. Wow, sex and politics are putting butts in seats at Mormon Matters. Who knew?

    Thomas – kudos for correct use of chutzpah (no surprise in your case, but I love a good Yiddish term). As to the question about regulation, the principle cause of the economic collapse, IMO, is individuals making poor assumptions: homeowners assuming that if they qualify they can afford it, bankers assuming that if it isn’t illegal it isn’t ill-advised. Either way, my view is that the greatest cause was misusing the wisdom of crowds. If “everyone else is doing it,” it’s often a good idea, but not always. Some corporations are as blind to this as some individuals are apparently. Both parties get this one wrong in my book.

  78. I guess I just come from the place that this all transcends the hideous political process we’ve found ourselves in and is chalked up to the basic negative human elements, which are greed and pride. Government manipulation aside, it all come down to that for me.

    While I can’t support some of the tea party clowns running for office at this point, I really like the idea of challenging the status quo of incumbency. If, by the grace of God, we could convince our politicians we do not condone their business as usual or we will kick their cans out of office, we’d see a change in behavior.

    Unfortunately, most people hate all the elected jerks, except for their jerks.

  79. Pingback: Main Street Plaza » Sunday in Outer Blogness: funnies and stories edition!

  80. I don’t really see what the fuss is about. If you objectively compare the two parties they are pretty much the same. Let’s see, Bush increased socialized health care more than any other previous president, he got us into two wars (one where all the reasons have been proven false), and he took away many of our civil liberties (patriot act, Guatanamo, etc.). Obama has increased socialized health care more than any previous president, he has continued two unpopular wars (after receiving the Nobel Peace prize) and has expanded or increased them to other countries (Yemen, Pakistan, Iran (economic sanctions is a form of war), etc.), he has taken away our civil liberties (made it possible to kill American citizens by presidential decree, etc.).

    The way I view it is pretty simple. God said, “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet.” He has given us commandments to help our neighbor’s and treat them well, these commandments are individual mandates, not group mandates.

    What does it mean to steal? When I think of theft I think of someone forcefully taking something from another person who wishes to keep that item. What does it mean to covet? I think of it as desiring what others have so you can give to yourself what they have (or others for that matter).

    So how does that equate to political philosophy? The government steals and covets the wealth of others. Therefore, the only moral government would be one that only taxes those who voluntarily contribute to its cause. This would necessarily create a small, limited government.

    What about the golden role? It’s said in the scriptures something like, do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. Government necessarily doesn’t do this. I would not have someone come into my house, kill my dogs, terrorize my spouse and children all because I have an ounce of marijuana.

    Government is a monopoly of violence and consequently will attract those who love violence. It is also a monopoly. Monopolies tend toward inefficiencies since they have no true competition. Hence the reason no matter how much we vote and care government will continue to grow and do things that no one can agree on. It’s the nature of the beast, it can’t be stopped.

    Government also likes to take credit where credit isn’t due. Take unions. They were once completely voluntary organizations (well, I don’t know the entire history but they weren’t forced to begin with) and they created great changes in how labor was done. The government first was against unions but then embraced them and said they were responsible for them and now create unions. This can be said for the civil rights movement too.

    I know government isn’t all bad but immoral actions will have immoral consequences. What’s the best solution? I don’t really know. If the necessary evil is true then give me limited governments that protects our individual rights. If the necessary evil is not true then give me voluntarism (ordered anarchy).

  81. (I missed this one earlier)…though also diametrically opposed to wealth re-distribution via the tax code and social legislation, both liberal and “converservative” (Gee, I guess that makes us BOTH Libertarians!), I failre to see the connection between drop in urban crime rate as a function of US-wide permissive abortion thanks to Roe v. Wade (1973). More than likely an overall drop in the birth rate (whether thanks to abortion or more accepted use of contraceptives, who knows) of young males in the demographics likely to commit crimes.
    As for abortion being a justification to prevent suffering, it sounds a bit like killing the patient to cure him. Or sentencing the victim to death for the evils that would otherwise be visited upon him. Either way, it’s chilling. But what do I know, I’m just part of the the mysognist patriarchy, right?
    Paraxodically, I don’t support a “right-to-life” amemdment. My objection to Roe v. Wade is its ergregious disregard of the Tenth Amendment in the abortion question, e.g., for about 180 years the indivual states were considered sufficient in and of themselves to decide this issue in their respective jurisdicitions. IMO, Roe v. Wade amounts to probably the most horrific example of legislating from the bench as well as Federal usurpation of state’s rights. So, were we to elect a President who in turn would appoint Supreme Court Justices as their seats open up that a Senate that we’d elect would affirm, the Supreme Court would be in a position to reverse itself (akin to Brown v. Board of Education reserving Plessy v. Ferguson) and remand the abortion issue back to the states, then in CA…(pipe dream, the status quo would remain ever thus) I’d campaign to make abortion illegal for medical practioners to perform w/o medical necessity, but leave that issue between doctor and patient. If enough doctors have the integrity to uphold their Hippocratic oath (“shall not procure abortion”), this sort of law should present no difficulty.

  82. Post

    Doug – well I agree that abortion to prevent crime is basically the same as the Minority Report argument: prevent crimes before they happen. But statistical correlations linking abortion and drops in crime go the other way also – when abortion is outlawed, crime flourishes in the following generation. I suppose it could also be an argument for sterilization or genetic selection. Granted, it’s all slippery slope stuff.

  83. The Republican Way-“Deceit of a Nation”

    Palin, McCain, Tea Party-ites and so called Patriots views of “religion” and “God” is the “Republican” view as “Conservative Christian”, which is in total opposition to true Latter Day Saints.
    The fact, “Mormons” believe that they can align themselves with “Republicans” whose view of the Conservative Christian God, which does not conform to Scripture, is a tragedy in modern politics.

    To true Latter Day Saints (God) is a real loving tangible, Eternal glorified person, while the Republican (Conservative Christian) God is a “Spirit”, permeating in all things, unknowable, and intangible, devoid of body, parts and passions. That is to say uncreated, unimaginable and without feelings.

    Matching politics to religion is futile.

    Eternal laws and principles are supreme, all else fails. Glen Beck is a fraud, and all those who follow after him and his doctrines will remain deceived as with most “Mormons” who follow the Republican way. His manmade vision will fail.

    Romney CAN NEVER win a presidential election, while he try’s to pander to the Republican rhetoric. This is patterned after the god of this world.

    Latter Day Saints, who believe in a God who is a personal, loving, kind God; will always turn to HIM for freedom and security and in gratitude. In this there is hope for eternal life beyond the politics of men.

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