The Meaning of the Mormon Republican Majority?

July 2, 2004 | 13 comments
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Some years ago, a friend of mine working in Pres. Clinton’s White House counsel’s office asked me why Utah in particular and Mormons generally gave Clinton no credit for his efforts to protect religious free exercise. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act languished under Bush 41, but was one of Clinton’s highest priorities, as was its narrow successor, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. It was also the Clinton DOE and DOL that adopted guidelines attempting to preserve a zone of individualized religious expression by teachers in public schools and by employees generally. Bush 43 has pushed initiatives that would make it easier for faith-based organizations to receive federal funds, but on the core issue of religious freedom has done little.

Some possibilities:

1. On balance, Republican positions more closely approximate LDS teachings than Democratic positions, and Clinton’s pro-free-exercise policies did not break through or otherwise counterbalance that perception.

1a. The foregoing is not merely a perception, but derives from the fact that Republican policies do more closely approximate LDS teachings than Democratic ones.

2. Latter-day Saints see politics as moral rather than pragmatic. It is more important to vote for persons whose private morality approximates LDS morality (even if their policies are unsympathetic to the Church), rather than persons whose policies might be best for the Church, but whose private morality is antithetic to LDS morality.

3. Sexual morality has eclipsed economic justice, environmentalism, and civil rights as the most important moral teaching of the contemporary Church, and thus the most important consideration when one considers how to vote.

Fred

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13 Responses to The Meaning of the Mormon Republican Majority?

  1. Gary Cooper on July 2, 2004 at 5:21 pm

    Fred,

    I would cautiously agree with your major points here. When you state that the Republican party and its nominees for office tend to be in agreement with the Church to a greater degree than the Democrats, this is far more evident on social issues (abortion, homosexuality, pornography, etc.) than it is on other issues. I do believe that, at a core level, Republican belief in economic freedom would seem to mesh with LDS views on Agency, but I admit this connection is not as clear as the social issues are.

    Let me also point out, though, that one danger I have always fretted over is the idea of Mormons falling into the lazy habit of thinking, “Republicans are in line with the Church, Democrats aren’t,” and then ceasing to question Republicans, giving them a “free ride” in elections. The recent results of the primary in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District (http://www.vdare.com/guzzardi/matt_throckmorton.htm) have encouraged me, though. The fact that an incumbent Republican spending 10 times more than his opponent could not muster more than 58% in his own party’s primaryn tells me that, in Utah at least, voters are becoming thoughtful about issues (in Utah the issue was uncontrolled immigration), and willing to seriously consider dumping an incumbent.

    As a conservative (in the Edmund Burke/Russell Kirk mode), I reluctantly register as a Republican. There are more people like me in the Republican party than in the Democratic (and the current third parties are going nowhere). However, I believe thoughtful LDS conservatives must look with dismay at a party whose rhetoric defends free enterprise, but embraces subsidies to Big Business; whose rhetoric advocates smaller government, but when in power spends and spends and spends; whose rhethoric embraces “family values”, but whose leadership plays footsies with Log Cabin Republicans and other groups, and whose personal lives are often every bit as hypocritical as the other side they attack. My point is that NO political party is worth unquestioned loyalty, and Latter-day Saints in particular must be very wary of corruption and hypocrisy in the “Right” as well as the “Left”.

  2. danithew on July 2, 2004 at 5:25 pm

    Latter-day Saints see politics as moral rather than pragmatic.

    I think sometimes this is very true for LDS people. I attended a miniature Republican political meeting in a student apartment a few years ago and heard one of the delegate candidates promise “not to compromise on matters of principle.” I sat in silence but it seemed to me that those who are unwilling to compromise on matters of principle probably shouldn’t aspire to political position or public office. Then again, as I write this I can’t help but think of how Ezra Taft Benson was known very much for this sort of uncompromising stance as Secretary of Agriculture.

    Despite providing this contradictory and shining human example of steadfastness, I still think sometimes pragmatism and compromise would help us to achieve more righteous results than if we refuse to budge from positions that can’t be turned into laws due to opposition.

    I think of perhaps the most controversial political issue we have: abortion. I see two prominent positions on the issue — those who completely oppose abortion in any circumstance and those who oppose the prevention of any abortion under any circumstance. I sometimes wonder if both sides couldn’t agree that in general less abortions would be better and work on pragmatic means to achieve that — even if compromise would require each side to agree to practices/approaches that it somehow finds reprehensible.

  3. Clark Goble on July 2, 2004 at 5:37 pm

    I think part of the problem was that people were so turned off by the appearance of Clinton’s morality that they couldn’t hear the good things he did. It truly became a discourse in which Clinton became the demon. Rational discussion of *policy* became difficult because of all the conspiracy theories that abounded. (Most of which were as ridiculous as the claims Bush started the Afghanistan war to build a gas pipeline) When discourse reaches that state, it becomes more of a team sport than real political discourse. It’s unfortunate that discourse returned to that state under Bush II.

    I say that because I think Clinton did a lot of good. Indeed economically, he was probably more in line with conservative ideals than many present people adopting the conservative label are. (Minus some of the tax issues)

    BTW – Gary. I’d not read too much into the recent primaries. Turnout was amazingly light and wasn’t helped by how difficult it was to find voting locations. (A few of my friends thought this was a conspiracy here in the Provo area given our voting tendencies) I spent an hour trying to find where to vote before I gave up in frustration.

    In any case while I’ve been very critical of many Republicans the past while, I think Chris is one of the good ones. (IMO) I also was rather turned off by some of the tactics of Throckmorton with respect to the illegal alien issue as well. (Although to be honest that is one of the places I think Chris goes a tad too far)

    I should add the usual caveats that I’ve worked with Chris before, some I’m somewhat biased. On the other hand the same place Throckmorton worked/volunteered and that may also bias things somewhat. But before I actually was around and talked to Chris, I had a very negative view of the Cannons But Chris really turned me around. I’ve really been impressed with him. Of course his sister was also letting me and John Gee live in her basement. So that may bias me even more…

  4. Kingsley on July 2, 2004 at 5:50 pm

    Recent studies have shown that it isn’t just active Mormons tilting heavily Republican; it’s active church-goers period. So it isn’t just a Mormon thing. Democrats are popularly perceived as being the anti-church, anti-traditional marriage, anti-living babies part of politics (indeed, I have one crazy uncle—who doesn’t?—who perceives them as the antichrist part of politics); and people who are more passionately pro these things than pro-environment etc. generally vote against them, to the distress of Hugh Nibley, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, thousands of T&S posters, &c.

  5. Kingsley on July 2, 2004 at 5:59 pm

    Not, of course, that Brother Nibley and Elder Jensen and thousands of T&S posters are more passionately pro-environment (e.g.) than pro-family! I’m only referring to popular perceptions here.

  6. john fowles on July 2, 2004 at 7:58 pm

    Fred has a good point with points two and three. But I am curious as to the language used in particularly point three. That sexual morality has “eclipsed” the other issues in the “contemporaneous” Church implies that earlier that was not the case. Perhaps Fred could clarify this.

    I think that it is true that many LDS see the values of the Republican party on moral issues as more in line with Church teachings and thus choose Republicans over Democrats. For example, let’s say that a Church member is dissatisfied with Bush. The Church member can simply vote for Kerry and the problem is solved, right? But wait, Kerry’s party supports abortion. And although the Church allows abortions in certain justified situations, it condemns them as damnable outside of those enumerated situations as one of the worst possible and disgusting sins. Also, Kerry’s party supports gay marriage. There can be no doubt but that homosexuality is contrary to the law of God, and the Church is very clear about this. So it almost doesn’t matter what Kerry thinks–if his party supports these things (among others) then a Church member dissatisfied with Bush will be discouraged from voting for a Democrat and still vote Republican anyway, not out of support for Bush, but out of hesitancy to support a party that supports those things that are preceived as being so clearly agaisnt the tenets of the Gospel and righteousness.

    Many in the Church are also aware of Mosiah’s warning that should the majority of the people choose that which is wicked, then the time for destruction is ripe. If they see the things that the Democratic party supports as wicked (i.e. abortion and homosexuality), then they will feel obliged to vote for the alternative, i.e. for the Republicans, regardless of their own personal views on economic issues, donations to big businesses, the environment, etc.

    It all seems to boil down to abortion and sexual morality. Thus, I think Fred is justified in asserting that these considerations “eclipse” other issues generally, but I question the premise that it has eclipsed the Church’s earlier views on those issues, as if environmentalism was somehow more important than sexual purity at some period in the history of the Church.

  7. Gordon Smith on July 2, 2004 at 8:53 pm

    Seriously, Fred, how many people voted one way or the other because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? How many people have even heard of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act? Most people I know do not go to the polls over issues of religious freedom because they do not feel threatened on these issues. Any differences between the parties simply do not register with most voters.

    On the other hand, abortion, homosexuality, drugs, and pornography are issues that motivate religious voters, and Republicans appear to be on the “right” side of those issues. That is, these are all issues in which religionists see a role for goverment intervention, and Republicans have, more or less, been willing to assume that role.

    Fred wrote: “Sexual morality has eclipsed economic justice, environmentalism, and civil rights as the most important moral teaching of the contemporary Church, and thus the most important consideration when one considers how to vote.”

    Eclipsed? Have economic justice, environmentalism, and civil rights ever been the most prominent political issues in the Church? I believe that we do not see block voting on these issues for a variety of reasons: (1) economic justice is clearly a religious issue, but whether the government (as opposed to private initiative) should figure prominently in creating a different world is controversial, to say the least; (2) many religious people do not consider environmentalism a religious issue at all; indeed, they suspect that many environmentalists have substituted Nature for God, and this has tainted the whole movement; and (3) civil rights has never been an organizing principle for white churches, either because the members were hostile to the notion of racial equality or because civil right simply seem less urgent to the racial majority than to those oppressed.

  8. lyle on July 2, 2004 at 10:44 pm

    Prof. Geddicks: Your characterization of Bush 41′ & Clinton are unfair & not very accurate to the best of my knowledge. As I recall, there were fairly specific reasons for hold up of RFRA under Bush 41 (i.e. Democratic congressmen wouldn’t support it because they feared it was an Abortion Trojan Horse). I’ll look back at a paper I wrote on the subject & post better facts/cites.

    Gordon is right on:
    1. Economic justice as a government issue doesn’t seem to resonate with LDS voters. Perhaps the _private_ LDS Church welfare policy & the exhortations of LDS Church leaders _against_ government welfare handouts has something to do with this?
    2. Environment. Framing. Only in the last two decades has environmentalism been framed in a “stewardship” ethic (that I’m aware of) that isn’t just plain “wacko” to your average LDS voter. So…this issue is gaining increasing traction. However, at least in Utah, this seems to result in more green-oriented GOP voters…not a party switch (i.e. I own a 2004 Toyota Prius; but haven’t changed parties).

    Finally…sexual morality isn’t “just” sexual morality. LDS Theology has a particular special place for sexual relations/reproduction. Hence, to paint LDS voters as potentially more “hooked on sex” in politics than caring about “other” religious issues is simply wrong. This isn’t just about the Law of Chastity (or at least its prohibitions). There is also something about 2 parent families, raising a righteous family, co-creation with God (and hence the ire about Abortion as a destruction of God’s creations…), etc.

  9. Kaimi on July 2, 2004 at 11:12 pm

    John, others,

    As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s perfectly consistent to think that abortion is a sin, but also that the state should not be prohibiting it (there are lots of sins that the state doesn’t prohibit); similarly, it’s perfectly consistent to think that homosexuality is a sin, but that the state should grant marriage licenses to gays (it grants marriage licenses to all sorts of other sinners).

  10. Kaimi on July 2, 2004 at 11:21 pm

    By the way, the assistant church general counsel spoke in a J Reuben Clark society meeting a few months ago, and he had a great story about Clinton.

    Clinton was president when a wacky political party in Russia announced that they were going to expel all Mormon missionaries. Apparently they had enough power in some of the provinces that it was a credible threat.

    Clinton personally pulled Putin aside at a summit and told him in no uncertain terms that he was not to allow harrassment of the Mormons. That kind of treatment was unacceptable, Clinton told him. And Putin in turn yelled at his subordinates and told them that he had been personally reprimanded by the President of the United States because Russian politicians wanted to harrass the Mormons. And local church leaders got a frantic call, along the lines of “President Putin wants to know who the Mormons are and why the President of the United States is telling him to leave them alone.” Lines of communication were established; Putin exerted a little bit of political muscle, and the Russian crazies were reeled back in.

    So a potential crisis was averted, because Clinton personally took time aside to tell Putin, one on one, that he was not to allow harrassment of the Mormon missionaries.

  11. lyle on July 2, 2004 at 11:26 pm

    Fred:

    My bad…in part.

    1. Bush didn’t “openly” support RFRA because the Catholic Church made it clear they were not interested in its passage (at least not initially during the timeline including Bush 41’s years in office, this subsequently changed). The following is from a theoretical paper using Eskridge’s balance of powers model & RFRA/RLPA.

    “Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, the General Counsel of the United States Catholic Conference, Mark Chopko, said:
    Supporters of the legislation…intended to include religiously based abortion claims. In 1980, a federal district court held the Hyde Amendment’s restriction on abortion funding violated the Free Exercise Clause. While the Supreme Court subsequently reversed this decision, in Harris v. McRae (1980) , the vote was a close 5-4 and left the Catholic Conference concerned about a possible reversal (U.S. Congress, House 1992, 36-47).

    …”

    2. Similarly, the Democratic controlled Congress, which relied heavily upon Catholic votes, was similarly dis-interested in moving the legislation.

    3. #2 applied in Spades to Clinton.

    4. #2 & #3 only changed _after_ the Catholic Church dropped its opposition to RFRA.

    From my paper (writtin in 99): both Clinton and Congress only came out in support of RFRA after the U.S. Catholic Conference dropped its opposition and endorsed the bill. The switch came after the Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey affirming Roe v. Wade (1973). Earlier, expecting the Court to use Casey to overturn Roe, the Conference had suspected that RFRA was an ACLU “backdoor” for maintaining abortion rights.
    With Casey reaffirming abortion rights, the RFRA supporters won the Conference’s endorsement of RFRA on March 9, 1993 (Olson 1993, 8). Two days later, President Clinton sent a letter to Senator Kennedy endorsing RFRA as “urgently needed to restore full legal protection for the exercise of
    religion (U.S. Congress, Senate 1993, 2822).” Both Senators Kennedy and Hatch then made explicit reference to the support of the Conference and the President on the floor, signaling other members of Congress that they could safely support the bill (Ibid).

    Sum: Did LDS voters Demonize Clinton? Maybe. Did Clinton have a more “public” (and to some very Pharisee like) attitude towards religion? Yes…he even brought the subject up with Ginsburg while vetting her for the SCOTUS nomination.

    However, saying that Clinton was pro-RFRA/RLPA legislation & Bush against is pure sophistry, w/o including that Clinton only supported it _after_ the Catholic Church dropped its opposition _&_ similarly re: Democrats in Congress & their Catholic “electoral” connection.

  12. lyle on July 2, 2004 at 11:34 pm

    Kaimi:

    As Elder Oaks has pointed out re: abortion, it is perfectly “inconsistent” to be LDS & pro-Abortion/Choice.

    While folks can disagree, I think John & “others” position is fairly well supported by Elder Oaks’ spiritual & Justice Oaks’ legal opinion as published in the Ensign.

    —————————-

    re: The Russia incident. It wasn’t any ‘fringe’ political party in Russia. It was done at the behest of the Russian Orthodox Church by one of the main Russian political parties. The problem lies in political structure of the Russian Federation; i.e. they have federalism just like us & the National government can’t always control the local state governments.

    regardless…That Clinton did to a 1:1 w/Putin is great. I’m not trying to detract from that.

  13. Restoring Lost Comments on November 25, 2004 at 9:35 pm

    [Restoring Comments Inadvertently Lost in the WP transfer] :

    Here is your defense lawyer John. :)
    ————————
    More than 30 years ago, as a young law professor, I published one of the earliest articles on the legal consequences of abortion. Since that time I have been a knowledgeable observer of the national debate and the unfortunate Supreme Court decisions on the so-called “right to abortion.� I have been fascinated with how cleverly those who sought and now defend legalized abortion on demand have moved the issue away from a debate on the moral, ethical, and medical pros and cons of legal restrictions on abortion and focused the debate on the slogan or issue of choice. The slogan or sound bite “pro-choice� has had an almost magical effect in justifying abortion and in neutralizing opposition to it.
    Pro-choice slogans have been particularly seductive to Latter-day Saints because we know that moral agency, which can be described as the power of choice, is a fundamental necessity in the gospel plan. All Latter-day Saints are pro-choice according to that theological definition. But being pro-choice on the need for moral agency does not end the matter for us. Choice is a method, not the ultimate goal. We are accountable for our choices, and only righteous choices will move us toward our eternal goals.
    In this effort, Latter-day Saints follow the teachings of the prophets. On this subject our prophetic guidance is clear. The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it� (D&C 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Our members are taught that, subject only to some very rare exceptions, they must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. That direction tells us what we need to do on the weightier matters of the law, the choices that will move us toward eternal life.
    In today’s world we are not true to our teachings if we are merely pro-choice. We must stand up for the right choice. Those who persist in refusing to think beyond slogans and sound bites like pro-choice wander from the goals they pretend to espouse and wind up giving their support to results they might not support if those results were presented without disguise.
    For example, consider the uses some have made of the possible exceptions to our firm teachings against abortion. Our leaders have taught that the only possible exceptions are when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or when a competent physician has determined that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy or that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Because abortion is a most serious matter, we are counseled that it should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.
    Some Latter-day Saints say they deplore abortion, but they give these exceptional circumstances as a basis for their pro-choice position that the law should allow abortion on demand in all circumstances. Such persons should face the reality that the circumstances described in these three exceptions are extremely rare. For example, conception by incest or rape—the circumstance most commonly cited by those who use exceptions to argue for abortion on demand—is involved in only a tiny minority of abortions. More than 95 percent of the millions of abortions performed each year extinguish the life of a fetus conceived by consensual relations. Thus the effect in over 95 percent of abortions is not to vindicate choice but to avoid its consequences. 1 Using arguments of “choice� to try to justify altering the consequences of choice is a classic case of omitting what the Savior called “the weightier matters of the law.�
    A prominent basis for the secular or philosophical arguments for abortion on demand is the argument that a woman should have control over her own body. Not long ago I received a letter from a thoughtful Latter-day Saint outside the United States who analyzed that argument in secular terms. Since his analysis reaches the same conclusion I have urged on religious grounds, I quote it here for the benefit of those most subject to persuasion on this basis:
    “Every woman has, within the limits of nature, the right to choose what will or will not happen to her body. Every woman has, at the same time, the responsibility for the way she uses her body. If by her choice she behaves in such a way that a human fetus is conceived, she has not only the right to but also the responsibility for that fetus. If it is an unwanted pregnancy, she is not justified in ending it with the claim that it interferes with her right to choose. She herself chose what would happen to her body by risking pregnancy. She had her choice. If she has no better reason, her conscience should tell her that abortion would be a highly irresponsible choice.
    “What constitutes a good reason? Since a human fetus has intrinsic and infinite human value, the only good reason for an abortion would be the violation or deprivation of or the threat to the woman’s right to choose what will or will not happen to her body. Social, educational, financial, and personal considerations alone do not outweigh the value of the life that is in the fetus. These considerations by themselves may properly lead to the decision to place the baby for adoption after its birth, but not to end its existence in utero.
    “The woman’s right to choose what will or will not happen to her body is obviously violated by rape or incest. When conception results in such a case, the woman has the moral as well as the legal right to an abortion because the condition of pregnancy is the result of someone else’s irresponsibility, not hers. She does not have to take responsibility for it. To force her by law to carry the fetus to term would be a further violation of her right. She also has the right to refuse an abortion. This would give her the right to the fetus and also the responsibility for it. She could later relinquish this right and this responsibility through the process of placing the baby for adoption after it is born. Whichever way is a responsible choice.�
    The man who wrote those words also applied the same reasoning to the other exceptions allowed by our doctrine—life of the mother and a baby that will not survive birth.
    I conclude this discussion of choice with two more short points.
    If we say we are anti-abortion in our personal life but pro-choice in public policy, we are saying that we will not use our influence to establish public policies that encourage righteous choices on matters God’s servants have defined as serious sins. I urge Latter-day Saints who have taken that position to ask themselves which other grievous sins should be decriminalized or smiled on by the law due to this theory that persons should not be hampered in their choices. Should we decriminalize or lighten the legal consequences of child abuse? of cruelty to animals? of pollution? of fraud? of fathers who choose to abandon their families for greater freedom or convenience?
    Similarly, some reach the pro-choice position by saying we should not legislate morality. Those who take this position should realize that the law of crimes legislates nothing but morality. Should we repeal all laws with a moral basis so that our government will not punish any choices some persons consider immoral? Such an action would wipe out virtually all of the laws against crimes.
    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates$fn=default.htm
    Comment by: lyle at July 2, 2004 11:51 PM

    *****

    Lyle (and anyone else interested),
    We’ve gone over this issue at length, in the “Is it Okay to be a Pro-Choice Mormon?” thread.
    It’s available here.
    Comment by: Kaimi at July 2, 2004 11:59 PM

    *****

    Kaimi,
    Whether it is okay or not to be pro-choice is beside the point in what I was saying. I was just trying to participate in the discussion about why things are the way they are. I thought that Fred was fairly accurate in his analysis but felt that he was trying to sneak in some premise or other with that language used in point three. I still haven’t seen any clarification of that.
    Just out of curiosity, what is your take on the Elder Oak’s article?
    I actually find your assertion, “it’s perfectly consistent to think that abortion is a sin, but also that the state should not be prohibiting it . . . similarly, it’s perfectly consistent to think that homosexuality is a sin, but that the state should grant marriage licenses to gays,” very persuasive–and always have. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, my brother Jordan signs on to it whole-heartedly. For some reason, though, I have never been able to get on board with that. I can’t say exactly why, to be honest. I will admit, however, that life would be a lot easier if I could. Life must be so easy for people on the Left. But somehow I just can’t go there. . . .
    Comment by: john fowles at July 3, 2004 12:24 AM

    *****

    Also, I’m familiar with that story from Bill Atkin. It is great that Clinton did that. He did some good things; he did some bad things. He put in a good word for the LDS Church; he had oral sex in the oval office, then committed perjury. So, what’s my point–I don’t know. Just wondering why the Left doesn’t seem to think that what Clinton did was wrong, that the real outrage was that Republicans impeached him for it. Just that sexual morality issue popping up again–perhaps another reason that many LDS people vote Republican.
    Comment by: john fowles at July 3, 2004 12:30 AM

    *****

    Kaimi: you are right…it has been gone over. However, not everyone is a T&S junkie and knows about every thread. I did, John didn’t.
    It’s as if because you have written elsewhere that “X” is possible, that no one can take the position that “X” is not possible. I don’t think that’s tenable.
    Comment by: lyle at July 3, 2004 02:18 AM

    *****

    Can anyone put up a link to Elder Oaks’ article? Thanks!
    Comment by: Julien at July 3, 2004 05:02 AM

    *****

    Sounds like a conversation we already had: is it okay to be a Mormon and be personally opposed to torture while also arguing that torture should be legal?
    (I just encountered the Trib article on Dan Burk’s T&S post.
    Comment by: Jeremy at July 3, 2004 09:33 AM

    *****

    Framing for just one question along this line. My business takes me internationally nearly weekly. I am throughout the world. The membership throughout the world is noted to be vastly more socialist and left wing than it is stateside. The international members stand for more social and equality principles and ideals which would make an American GOP Mormon shake in his boots.
    The question I pose is this:
    If US Latter-day Saints seem to be so right wing, why then are the vast majority of non US Latter-day Saints more left wing?
    Comment by: Sid at July 3, 2004 10:56 AM

    *****

    Julien,
    Lyle posted the article in the body of his comment above.
    Comment by: john fowles at July 3, 2004 11:22 AM

    *****

    Sid,
    First, “The international members stand for more social and equality principles and ideals which would make an American GOP Mormon shake in his boots.” I guess I am justified in calling you to task for the implicit assertion here that Republicans are somehow against social and equality principles just because they don’t sign on to the Democratic agenda. What if these are also important to Republicans too but they prefer to achieve them through a means that they feel is more appropriate, i.e. personal responsibility, self reliance, the free market, etc.? I would hope that you don’t truly think that the mass of Republicans simply doesn’t care about the welfare of their fellow human beings.
    Second, “why then are the vast majority of non US Latter-day Saints more left wing?” This seems to me a very broad overgeneralization. I too have plenty of international experience and I happen to know that abortion and sexual immorality disgust members in many other countries the same as here. Perhaps you have some kind of statistical data that shows that members in other countries vote more frequently for “socialist and left wing” parties? If you know much about those parties in those countries, perhaps you also know they are overwhelming inimical to religion generally and to proselytizing religions specifically. I can confirm that a number of members in small towns in the former East Germany would prefer to vote SPD than CDU, but I can’t imagine that is uniformly the case throughout the whole country. I am not saying that members in the rest of Germany would prefer the CDU, but I could imagine that in the case of Germany, many members might support the FDP, the “liberal” party (in the eighteenth-century use of that term). If you have factual information to the contrary I would be interested. (I only used Germany as an example–in many of the other countries that I’ve spent time in, I haven’t necessarily noticed any overwhelmingly socialist tendencies among members).
    Comment by: john fowles at July 3, 2004 11:35 AM

    *****

    Kaimi,
    Thanks for posting that info about Clinton defending the rights of LDS missionaries to proselitize in Russia. It was interesting to read a bit about that interaction Clinton had with Putin and the results afterwards. I had never heard that story before.
    My estimation of Clinton just went up a few notches. Anyone who would go to bat for our missionaries can’t be all that bad.
    Comment by: danithew at July 3, 2004 11:35 AM

    *****

    Steve: I’m afraid the credibility of your assignation of political affiliations has about zero credibility due to the following:
    “Dallin H. Oaks — liberal attorney”
    Lol. You’ve got to be kidding. Very funny…I’m still going to be laughing next week…
    Comment by: lyle at July 3, 2004 05:09 PM

    *****

    Well, many African American Churches are very politically mobilized. I don’t think that many are GOP bastions ….
    Comment by: Ethesis (Stephen M) at July 3, 2004 08:32 PM

    *****

    “But wait, Kerry’s party supports abortion. And although the Church allows abortions in certain justified situations, it condemns them as damnable outside of those enumerated situations as one of the worst possible and disgusting sins. Also, Kerry’s party supports gay marriage.”
    My own “but wait”: But wait, how can you define any party’s views so definitively. There are many “pro-life” democrats. There are many democrats who oppose “gay marriage.” Perhaps there was a day when you could look to the platform adopted at a party’s presidential convention as a formal definition of the party’s beliefs. But that hasn’t been the case for many years – for either major political party. You might try saying that “most Democrats” or “most Republicans” stand for a position, though you’ll seldom find quantitative proof to support your assertion. At most you’ll find some poll results, but if so, consider it carefully. The question posed is at least as appropriate as the answer.
    Comment by: J Layton at July 6, 2004 11:09 AM

    *****

    While that’s true while voting for particular congressmen or senators, its a slightly different calculus at the Presidential level. There the President brings in members of their party to fill leadership roles, aids the party in the other branches of government, and most significantly appoints Supreme Court justices. So for those to whom abortion is a big deal, the fact that not all Democrats are pro-choice ends up being somewhat beside the point.
    Comment by: Clark Goble at July 6, 2004 11:34 AM

    *****

    btw: there are 3 justices possibly up for retirment. Stephens is 84 (?), Rehnquist is very olde (bad back) & O’Connor has Parkinson’s & is slowing down (her vision isn’t as good anymore either).
    So…whoever wins in 2004 will have at least 3 SCOTUS appointments. If I didn’t know _anything_ else about the candidates, this alone would decide who I voted for. While I’m probably a minority, there are several attorney’s at my firm who are voting for the candidate of their choice based on this consideration alone.
    Comment by: lyle at July 6, 2004 11:42 AM

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    A slight correction:
    Judge Bybee wasn’t arguing that torture *ought* to be legal. He was arguing that certain high pressure tactics didn’t legally constitute torture and were *in fact* permitted under the law. He’s actually drawn a lot of criticism for not including his own view of what the law ought to be.
    Comment by: Adam Greenwood at July 6, 2004 12:01 PM

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    adam: you mean he was dissed for acting in his ‘executive’ capacity only & refusing to play legislature or judiciary?
    Comment by: lyle at July 6, 2004 12:05 PM

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    Well, John, not quite whole-heartedly.
    Although it is an idea I have kicked around and defended to see how it “fits”. To tell you the truth, I actually don’t think that position fits me very well. I think I am more aligned with your view, and to me, at least (for the record), Elder Oaks’ words are pretty persuasive. But I’ll not get into that here.
    I’ll talk to you about that later on.
    Comment by: Jordan Fowles at July 6, 2004 12:42 PM

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    Sorry about that Jordan!!! Just thought that was what you thought from stuff on your blog a few months back. Don’t sue me for false light!
    Comment by: john fowles at July 6, 2004 01:02 PM

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