As this presidential election approaches I marvel at some of the political ideas of many in our BYU community. The other day a Bishop asked a member of his ward what the LDS Church’s stance was on political parties. The person responded: “the church has no party preference, meaning research the candidates and vote Republican.” I have seen this attitude more often than not on this campus.
The idea that a good Mormon can’t be a Democrat. In response to this issue Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the First Quorum of the Seventy (a life-long Democrat) was sent by the First Presidency to grant an interview to the Salt lake Tribune. He spoke about a letter the First Presidency had sent out, which was in response to “the decline of the Democratic party and the notion that may prevail in some areas that you can’t be a good Mormon and a good Democrat at the same time. In response to this he stated, “I think it would be a very healthy thing for the church, particularly the Utah church – If that notion could be obliterated.” I agree with Elder Jensen that this notion should die.
One problem that often leads to this notion is the problem with abortion.
How can a good Mormon stand with a party or vote for a candidate that supports something awful like abortion. Elder Jensen responded to this problem, “We hope that they wouldn’t abandon a party necessarily because it has a philosophy or two that may not square with Mormonism … Everyone who is a good Latter-day Saint is going to have to pick and choose a little bit regardless of the party they are in … But I think there is room for that, and the gospel leaves us lots of latitude.” We do not have a one issue political system. There are many good reasons to be a Republican or Democrat and both sets of reasons can square directly with strong LDS values.