I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mormon Freak!

Today's post is a write-up from my sister-in-law, Marcie, about her son, my nephew, Rhett.
Rhett was in his Advanced Placement literature class yesterday and they were discussing a short story called Grace or something like that. Anyway, Mr. Wilkinson* was talking to one of the kids about the story and the boy mentioned that he came across a word that he didn't know.
The word was "mammon." Mr. Wilkinson asked him if he looked it up, and the boy said, "No." Mr. Wilkinson told him that was dumb because he always tells the kids to look up a word if they don't know what it means. Then he proceeded to ask the class if anyone knew what it meant. Rhett was the only one to raise his hand so Mr. Wilkinson asked him to please tell the class what it means. Rhett explained that it means riches or worldly things.
Then Mr. Wilkinson smiled and said, "Where does it come from?" Rhett said, "The Bible." At this point, all the eyes in the class were fixed on Rhett. Then Mr. Wilkinson said, "Where?" Rhett said, "Matthew, Chapter 6, Verse 24." Mr. Wilkinson (smiling) said, "What does it say?" and Rhett proceeded to recite the verse. At this point, there were literally open mouths and stares of utter disbelief from the students. He even got a comment from one of his friends, "Mormon freak!"
Then Mr. Wilkinson said, "How many of you go to church?" Of course there weren't any other hands raised, so Mr. Wilkinson continued, "I think I'm going to make it a requirement for you to attend church at least twice a semester." He continued by explaining that the Bible is the most widely read text (except, perhaps for the Koran, because there are more Muslims than Christians) and that there are so many references to it in the literature they will be reading this year.
Then, Rhett gave a plug for Seminary stating anyone who wanted to come was welcome to join him at 6 am every week day morning.
No word yet on whether Rhett had any takers. . .

*Some names have been changed.

(Some punctuation and grammar have been altered for clarification and standardization.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

1.9 Million Versus 30 Million

I got an email from LDSTech that said the Church's music web site gets about 1.8 or 1.9 million visitors per month and is one of the Church's most popular web features. I also read where Stephanie Nielson's Mormon mommy blog, The Nie Nie Dialogues gets 30 million visitors per month.

Can anyone doubt the impact of individual digital efforts when confronted with such statistics?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Almost Mormon: But Did He Get to the Lesson on Chastity?

An astonishing news story today is that Bill Clinton almost became Mormon. Poltico reports that Clinton admitted (last night, Tuesday, 09/11/12) to being taught by the L.D.S. missionaries when he was growing up in Hope, Arkansas. He attended some events and almost joined. However, heaven was just a bit too complicated for him and he didn't want to leave all his friends behind.

From the Politico article:
Clinton — toting a copy of Milica Z. Bookman’s new book about economics in the afterlife, “Do They Take Credit Cards in Heaven?” — spoke of recruiting presentations he’d attended at the local Mormon church while he was growing up in Hot Springs, Ark. Clinton, a Baptist, said he admires the church for its high ethical standards and belief in a celestial kingdom but said the idea of being in a heaven without his non-Mormon friends was too much to give up. “I didn’t want to leave all these other people behind,” he said. 
My question: Did Clinton get to the lesson on chastity?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why Mormons are Conservative Republicans: Part 10: Conclusion

Ideology and political party identification isn’t always rational. In fact, it is often irrational. People may simply identify with their parent’s party or the dominant party in the community they live. 

Besides, how people talk and how they vote is often very different.

I don’t care if it is or isn’t. Whether rational or irrational, Mormons are conservative Republicans. I’ve presented my reasons for why there is a rational basis for Mormons being conservative Republicans.

The labels I've examined in this series coincide with the national political parties, not how something might be translated at the local level. For example, I know Mormons who ran as Democrats in local races; just because it was a one-party area and the only viable candidates for anything had to have the Democrat label, even though their personal ideology was conservative Republican.

I’m not interested in someone’s irate comment that their father, grandfather, uncle, mother niece, or whatever, is a good Mormon and a Democrat. I’ve addressed aggregates, not individuals, and I’m not interested in personal examples.

My contentions are based on aggregates, so unless you have aggregate statistical data I’m not interested in it.

You may WANT the situation to be different, but that does not alter what IS. Mormons are conservative Republicans. This is indisputable.

This series only addresses the “why” question. I’ll entertain commentary on the whys I’ve presented; but I’m not going to allow someone to deny the truth – Mormons are conservative Republicans.

When I took a modern church history course from Dr. Richard O. Cowan at BYU in 1984, he told us that he had researched whether church leaders assigned members to the various political parties. He told us that he found NO evidence to support this very common myth.

Members have always been free to affiliate, identify or join the political party of their choice. Mormons choose Republicans who are conservative.

Our religious teachings put us squarely in the Republican camp, especially when moral issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage are considered. These are the hot button social issues and have been for years.

When beliefs are turned into action by Mormon office holders, the beliefs square with the action:

Critical to these issues is the assumption that Mormon elected officials actually behave differently from those of other religious backgrounds. It turns out they do: when it comes to making policy, Mormons take a backseat to no one on conservative ideological purity.

It needs to be said and it is being said by me.

Our religious doctrines, beliefs and teachings should put all Mormons in the Republican camp, as conservatives. There is no other conclusion.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why Mormons are Conservative Republicans: Part 9: The Inconvenient Truth

Recently the Church issued a delightful little video to explain the Church’s political neutrality.

View it below:

It accurately depicts the Church’s neutrality. This may not have been how the Church operated in the past, but it IS how things are done now. For example, I remember the Church allowing mass meetings (precinct caucuses) in Utah to take place in church buildings. It has been a long time since that occurred though and it may not have been done with official approval even then.

However, neutrality is not necessarily non-partisan. It is difficult for the Church to claim it is non-partisan when its members are almost wholly associated with the Republican party. This is an inconvenient truth.

The Church is neutral and non-partisan, much more so than anyone would guess. I've been astonished to discover this cannot be said of all other religions.

My husband and I have a Christmas tradition where we attend Christmas programs of other religions. We go to as many as we can – Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, Assembly of God, independent denominations, etc. I'm amazed at how often politics creeps into the proceedings.

Politics is absolutely off-limits in Mormondom. We may refer to it in general terms. We may use terms like politican, elected leaders, national elections, broadcast new media, but rarely specifics.

If someone does bring up specifics it makes some irate and the others uncomfortable. Then, closed door meetings ensue on how to deal with the inappropriateness.

If a current local Church leader endorses a candidate in his private, personal capacity it can often backfire, sometimes badly, even in a primary.
 "Here in Utah, it's not kosher to use your religion overtly for any purpose," says Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, and a friend of Mitt Romney.
"You don't hear politicians quoting the Bible or the Book of Mormon."
News media generally access L.D.S. political science/government faculty for information, commentary, sound bites and whatever else they need. L.D.S. political science faculty are almost entirely liberal Democrat; as are all such higher education faculty, regardless of religion.

Scholars that think government activity should be limited don’t generally want to study government. People who study government generally see an expansive role for government in society and in the lives of individuals; so it is perfectly logical that political science/government professors are liberal Democrats.

I’ve written before on how statistically I didn’t exist being a conservative Republican and working in academia.

These faculty members like to try and present the Church as being open to both parties. I think their commentary is skewed for this reason. Their own political ideology interferes with them being straight about how all the Mormon numbers align with conservatives, and especially, Republicans. It is an inconvenient truth.

Journalists and those associated with news media are overwhelmingly liberal Democrat. This also is an inconvenient truth.

So you've got liberal Democrats interviewing liberal Democrats about conservative Republicans. How can we really expect objectivity?

The Church may be open to both parties but the people aren’t.

There is no other religion so closely associated with one party, the Republican party, as the Mormons. I’ve known this ever since I got into politics which was about 1980. Mormons are overwhelmingly Republican and have been for years.

Highly religious Mormons are even more likely to be conservative and Republican than less active Mormons.  Mormons with lackluster commitment are much more likely to be liberal Democrats.

It is very hard to find good Mormons who are Democrats. Good Mormons are nearly always Republicans. That also is an inconvenient truth.

I share this viewpoint of Harry Reid's liberal Democrat views:
It is not possible for a faithful Mormon to support state-sanctioned gay marriage because it entails rejection of prophetic authority. On this issue Sen. Reid’s stance is not a liberal Mormon position; it is an anti-Mormon one.
Although the LDS Church does not expect or demand that its member politicians vote in accordance with its doctrines on political issues, it is possible to compare and contrast their positions with official church teachings. By this standard, Mitt wins the Better Mormon Award, though not by a landslide.
The “L word” is political death in Utah. Mormons do not like liberals, period.

Current news reports underscore that it is liberal Democrats that don’t want to vote for a Mormon President, not Evangelicals. That also is an inconvenient truth.

Given that the majority of church membership is now outside the United States, I see nothing wrong with underscoring that United States Mormons are conservative Republicans.

This is an inconvenient truth we all need to face.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Why Mormons are Conservative Republicans: Part 8: Judicial Activism vs. Judicial Restraint

I’ll let Dictionary.com define my terms:

[A]n interpretation of the U.S. constitution holding that the spirit of the times and the needs of the nation can legitimately influence judicial decisions (particularly decisions of the Supreme Court) [syn: broad interpretation]
A view . . . that judges should be reluctant to declare legislative enactments unconstitutional unless the conflict between the enactment and the Constitution is obvious. The doctrine is akin to, but not identical with, narrow construction, and it is the opposite of judicial activism.
Mormons believe our federal Constitution to be an inspired document. It was necessary for this government to be set up so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ could be restored. The temple work for our Founding Fathers was accomplished in a pretty miraculous way.

For more on this belief and the fascinating history behind it, see Brian H. Stuy, “Wilford Woodruff’s Vision of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence,” Journal of Mormon History 26, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 64–90.  Retrieved July 10, 2012 from http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/mormonhistory/vol26/iss1/1/. Also see https://chl.libraryresearch.info/reft296.aspx?pmi=Kstvjm7Dki for the names of all those baptized.)

As a result, Mormons are very uncomfortable with altering the Constitution.

Mormons are not comfortable with allowing the “needs of the nation” or the “spirit of the times” to affect Constitutional interpretation. Mormons aren’t particularly comfortable with anyone fiddling with, what we consider to be inspired language.

Unfortunately, this often results in Mormons being unwilling to alter state constitutions. This is personally frustrating to me. State constitutions are generally detailed, working documents that need revision regularly. They shouldn’t have the same status as our federal Constitution.

Many liberal groups attempt to overturn democratic action, like California’s Proposition 8, via court action. This offends Mormon’s concept of majority rule.

Many liberal groups attempt to achieve their social goals through bypassing legislative action and seeking it directly through the courts. This also offends Mormon's concept of majority rule and basic democratic principles.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Why Mormons are Conservative Republicans: Part 7: Ideology and the Modern Church

Fast forward to current times. Most commentators correctly point out that Mormons have only been Republican since about the 1970s.

It has always been clear to me that the Great Society programs under Kennedy, but especially LBJ, are really what turned Mormons into Republicans.

These anti-poverty programs with multiple safety nets allow people who don’t work to receive government assistance.

It is highly offensive to Mormons to give someone a handout if they are idle. Our strong work ethic and scriptural teachings revolt at the idea that someone isn’t working for what they get.

Consider the following:
D&C 75:29 Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways.
D&C 56:17 Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!
Mormons believe in helping the poor. We have a large and astonishingly successful welfare program.

We believe individuals should help the poor. We believe non-profits should help the poor. We believe for-profits should help the poor. We believe churches should help the poor. We believe all organizations should help the poor. We just don’t believe it is appropriate for government to help the poor in the way they have traditionally done it – government handouts.

Self-reliance, thrift, work and serving others are hallmarks of our religion, not dependence, sloth, and idleness; which these government give-a-way programs are noted for.

In 1936, when our welfare program was first set up the purpose was crystal clear. It still is. Mormons have Heber J. Grant’s remarks ringing in their ears constantly.

Here it is:
“Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves.” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 3.)
Democrats, especially liberal ones, are too closely associated with government programs that offend our Mormon principles.

See this recent counsel from a current leader:

There are many good people and organizations in the world that are trying to meet the pressing needs of the poor and needy everywhere. We are grateful for this, but the Lord’s way of caring for the needy is different from the world’s way. The Lord has said, “It must needs be done in mine own way.”9 He is not only interested in our immediate needs; He is also concerned about our eternal progression. For this reason, the Lord’s way has always included self-reliance and service to our neighbor in addition to caring for the poor.
When people are compelled by government to give up the money they worked for and this money, in turn, is given to the poor through government programs, everyone is degraded.

When people voluntarily assist the poor, the poor can receive assistance, knowing it is sincere and kindly meant. This ennobles everyone.

Another social issue is environmentalism. Mormons don't believe that the earth's resources are scarce. We believe "there is enough and to spare."
D&C 104:17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
Mormons believe that we are stewards of the earth's resources and they should be taken care of and managed wisely. We just don't think they are scarce. This results in the rather curious position of being anti-waste, but not necessarily pro-recycling. This is more in line with Republican thinking.

Abortion on demand is abhorrent to Mormons. Democrats tend to favor abortion on demand or Pro-Choice as they euphemistically call it. Republicans tend to oppose it.

Same-Sex marriage and approval of homosexual behavior is abhorrent to Mormons. Democrats tend to favor it. Republicans tend to oppose it.

Republicans are more apt to be religious. Democrats are more apt to be non-religious.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Why Mormons are Conservative Republicans: Part 6: Ideology and the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is an abridged version of historical events and religious teachings that occurred over hundreds of years here in the Americas. It is another testament of Jesus Christ.

Most of the material in the Book of Mormon occurred while the inhabitants functioned under a democracy; although all forms of government were present, including monarchies, theocracies and tribal governments. It was a democracy, but perhaps not our modern definition of democracy. It was as democratic as you can be when judgeships are passed from father to son.

Guidance on government is scattered throughout The Book of Mormon, but is concentrated in Mosiah 29. Below are some relevant passages:

26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.  27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.
32 And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.
Clearly, The Book of Mormon teaches that government should be conducted by majority rule and that we should seek equality.

King Mosiah’s father, King Benjamin, also instructed the people in government and expressly affirmed that he supported himself, not at the people’s expense. See Mosiah 2:14:
And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.
Several passages exist in The Book of Mormon where excessive taxation and governmental excesses are condemned.  See especially Ether 10:5, Ether 10:6, Mosiah 11:6, Mosiah 7:15 and Mosiah 11:3.

Mormons do not like to see government overstep its boundaries. They prefer that it be limited and exist in a particular sphere.

Throughout The Book of Mormon defensive military efforts were judged as righteous, as long as people were defending their lives and their liberties and led by righteous leaders. See especially Captain Moroni.

Mormons tend to support a strong military. Currently, this is more in line with the Republican party than the Democratic party.

The Book of Mormon clearly teaches that government has a responsibility to protect religious freedoms. Mormons tend to view the Republican party as supportive of religion and the Democratic party as being non-supportive.

Unrighteous judges and lawyers are portrayed in The Book of Mormon as detrimental to society. See Alma 10:27:
And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.
Most lawyers in the United States are Democrats. I know this from all my schooling, training and experience. Most lawyers contribute money to Democratic candidates and always have.