LDS author makes bold religion-politics claims

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In the midst of an election season filled with Mormon candidates in the spotlight, there have been various debates among LDS church members regarding how big a role religion should play in the political arena. One new book adds a different perspective to this issue.

Connor Boyack, a BYU graduate from Lehi, is the author of “Latter-Day Liberty,” a new book due out Dec. 8. In the book, Boyack attempts to provide an analysis of what liberty is and how it applies to government and politics as well as demonstrate how the LDS religion can play a part in the political philosophies of its members.

Books and articles have been written about the connection of religion and politics before, but what makes “Latter-Day Liberty” unique, Boyack said, is that it uses scriptures and statements from general authorities to show there are fundamental principles in the gospel that should guide our political views.

“Many Mormon political candidates don’t approach their political philosophy from a religious perspective,” Boyack said. “But I feel that our religion teaches an underlying philosophy that we should support.”

During his time at BYU, Boyack majored in information technology and worked at the Kennedy Center for International Studies. It was during his time at the Kennedy Center he became exposed to different political views and became interested in politics. He started to absorb various books and articles about many political topics.

“Growing up, I was raised to believe that if you were Mormon, you also had to be a Fox News-loving Republican,” Boyack said. “But as I started to research more and read lots of books and lectures, I learned there was a lot more to politics and religion than a simple party line.”

Boyack, who also works as a state coordinator for the Tenth Amendment Center in Utah, said he started to write about his political philosophies and opinions on his blog. He would use scriptures and quotes to back up his arguments, and soon gained a steady following of readers. After blogging for about five years, he said he decided to compile his views into a book.

“I thought I would do justice to what I believe,” Boyack said. “This is a comprehensive book of step-by-step cases for very important political issues and what I believe the gospel teaches regarding them.”

“Latter-Day Liberty” tells the fundamental principles of the gospel without endorsing a particular party or candidate, Boyack said.

“Parties change throughout the years,” Boyack said. “You have to think from a principle point of view rather than a party point of view.”

He said there are a lot of members who disagree with what he has to say, but he hopes they will give his book a chance and see that they come from gospel sources. Public figures such as libertarian candidate Ron Paul and author Thomas E. Woods have read it and gave it favorable reviews.

Despite this new approach, other members will argue the Church does not specify what its members should or should not believe regarding most issues in politics.

“Obviously, in moral issues, my political judgment will be influenced by my religion,” said Kate Smith, a political science major from Orange Park, Fla. “But for other issues, I think that should be your own decision.”

Other Mormon political blogs, such as SquareTwo, engage in intellectual discussions regarding politics that are based in LDS theology. There are many different viewpoints but each uses scriptures and quotes to back up their perspective.

Robert S. Wood, a contributor to SquareTwo, said in his article “Reflections on Politics and Religion” that religion and politics will always be intertwined and influence our decisions. However, he said we must be careful that our political decisions look after what is best for everyone in the community, and not just for one particular religion.

“The fact of the matter is, it’s very difficult to live in a society where we let people be different,” Wood said. “And you’re not going to be able to do that if you insist on organizing the political community in terms of your identity.”

In a statement by the Church titled “Religious Values in the Public Sphere,” it states that no single political ideology encompasses all correct principles all the time.

“Good principles are scattered among a number of parties, platforms, and ideologies,” the statement said.

Boyack said he hopes his book offers new insight on this issue for members as well as for any Christian.

“Any person who believes in the political philosophy of liberty can get behind it,” Boyack said. “Maybe it will change their perspective and they can adopt it as their own.”

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