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.
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.