With elections coming up and my time as a guest blogger running out, I like to take up the topic of Mormonism and voting. First, what should we make of the many Mormons who seem completely disengaged in politics? I remember some polling data during one of the last election cycles from Utah that showed that Mormon women particularly had abysmal voting participation. Why is that? And even when members of the church show up to vote they often seem to have no clue about the issues/candidates. Unless voting is informed, it is guessing. Virtually every Mormon I know from the U.S. would extol the virtues of living in a free country, yet many Mormons take their stewardship of being a citizen so lightly.
Second, I want to say a few words about the churchâ€™s position of political neutrality. Each election cycle when the church leadership has its statement of political neutrality, I get the feeling that most people in the audience hear: â€œThe church is neutral (wink, wink), but we sure hope you vote Republican.â€ So, should we take churchâ€™s stand of political neutrality as something more than an effort to protect its 501(c)(3) status? A few years back, Elder Marlin K. Jensen gave a frank interview to the Salt Lake Tribune. He told the Tribune that he was generally a Democrat and thought that it was important that Mormons understood that being good Mormon doesnâ€™t mean you have to be a Republican. He didnâ€™t go out and say, â€œVote Democratâ€ either. Rather, he stressed that reasonable members of the church could and perhaps should differ when it comes to political philosophy. While this interview has almost disappeared from Mormon society’s memory and most Mormons I know never drifted from automatic pilot when voting, I think that it is important to remember his message: our elections deserve more attention, more thought, and more scrutiny.
If we really feel â€œblessedâ€ to live in a free society, shouldnâ€™t we show it?