Today’s guest post is by David H. Bailey.
I am concerned about the increasing politicization of the Church in the U.S. during past two or three years. I can definitely sense it here in our ward and stake in the SF Bay Area, and from what I can see the same is true in Utah, Arizona and Nevada. Consider:
1. Many members interpreted the Church’s support of Prop 8 as an endorsement of a broad range of politically conservative causes (although the Church leaders likely did not intend that message). In most areas of the U.S. people with moderate or liberal political views now feel unable to make comments, even in LDS social settings, for fear of ostracism. Comments such as “the country is really moving in the wrong direction” are often voiced in church meetings.
2. Many LDS listen to Glenn Beck (especially) and Rush Limbaugh, even here in the relatively “liberal” SF Bay Area.
3. Two months ago, a Las Vegas area SP’s invitation to have LDS Senator Harry Reid (a Democrat) speak at a fireside on his conversion experience had to be withdrawn due to numerous threats of disruption and even violence.
4. Last Friday, the Utah Republican caucus booted out 3-term GOP Senator Robert Bennett, who has one of the most conservative voting records in all the U.S. Congress, because he is “not conservative enough.”
5. Mormons are strong supporters of the “Tea Party” movement, particularly in Utah and other western states.
6. Visceral opposition to Obama is common in LDS circles (from what I have seen). Many truly believe that he is not really a U.S. citizen, and that he truly represents Satan in the last days.
7. Visceral opposition is also raised about the new health program in LDS circles — terms such as “socialism”, “communism”, “death squads”, “rationing” are used.
I’m not a die-hard liberal — compared to most people I’m middle-of-the-road. I was supportive of the health care initiative — it was a huge shame for the U.S. to be the only nation in the top 25 industrial powers not to provide some health care program for its citizens. On the other hand, I believe that a relatively free market capitalist system is the most efficient, provided safeguards are in place to prevent excesses and protect consumers. I am also very concerned that politicians are not being realistic about shortfalls projected in the Medicare and Social Security system. In other words, I strongly feel that a viable two+ party system is important, with reasonable, intelligent views represented from both sides. And I think it is important that LDS people be a part of this system.
But I am concerned that an unwritten law is emerging that only a very conservative point of view is welcome in the LDS Church, to an extent significantly greater than at any time in my life. Thoughts?