Does my religion (Mormonism) affect my politics? Of course it does.
And so do my upbringing, my education, my work experience, my research and my constituents’ values (which are formed by their upbringing, education, work experience, research and, yes, their religion).
While I think my religion helps shape my reasoning on legislation that promotes families and strong communities, I can’t think of too many issues where my religious beliefs require a specific political outcome. This, I think, is because Mormonism has exacting expectations between individuals and their God and individuals and their families. Yet, when it comes to individuals and their neighbors and individuals and their communities, we are broadly commanded to love others and improve the world around us — which leaves us pretty wide-open to do what we want politically.
The one exception that comes to mind on political outcome is abortion. I don’t get how Mormon politicians (or Catholic, for that matter) can support abortion. I can’t bring myself to say, “Yes, I deeply believe abortion is murder, but, if you want to do it, that’s okay.” I’m not trying to be judgmental of others, because we all work through our own reasoning. I”m merely saying that my individual religious beliefs (as I hold and exercise them) would not allow me to vote for abortion on demand. Even saying that, though, it’s tough to say whether this determination is religion or an independent moral value (that also is shared by many agnostics and atheists).
As for political involvement by “the Church,” I will readily admit that I have been lobbied many times by ecclesiastical leaders. Not Mormon ecclesiastical leaders, but leaders of other faiths who rightly convey the common values of their congregations. And I see nothing wrong with that exercise of the rights of assembly and speech.
In my five years in the legislature, however, I have never had a conversation with “the Church” about any political issue (unless you count my Bishop lobbying me two weeks a year to get rid of daylight savings time). By that, I mean I’ve never sat down with anyone from the Church who has said, “This is what we want” or anything like that. I think it is telling that I’m in House leadership, and I don’t even know who the Church’s lobbyist is.
Now, of course, the Church is not politically indifferent, and, on some issues, like gay marriage, I wouldn’t have to ask to know where it likely would stand. But, then again, on many of those same issues, I wouldn’t have to ask the local Elks club, either. There’s no fault in holding common values, and there’s no fault in many people holding those common values and the law reflecting that fact. As for the Church exerting undue influence in Utah politics, I simply haven’t seen it, and I’m in a pretty good spot to notice.