Why, Yes, My Faith Does Sway My Politics

This may come as a shock to some, but I most often identify as Democrat. Of course, if you have read any of my political posts, this will not shock you. A couple years ago, I read a fairly ridiculous blog post about Mormons’ religious beliefs being the foundation for their political beliefs. The problem with the post, and the main reason I call it ridiculous, is the fact that the man brushes all Mormons with the same broad stroke. He generalizes, or, more accurately, he stereotypes, which is something the right has always been good at. The writer also assumes that only the right cares about liberty because clearly President Obama, and by extension the whole Democratic Party, is pursuing a tyrannical agenda of forced policies. The President is only interested in limiting our liberties, and so on and so forth.

First, I would like to know what is so liberating about leaving people sick, naked, and hungry. That is precisely what government entitlement programs address: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and taking care of the sick. If conservative Christians really are disciples of Christ, then I would like each one of them to ask, “What would Jesus do?” When one is consumed by any or all of these afflictions, that person has no liberty. That man or woman who is hungered, naked, sick, etc. is in bondage. Extending a hand to pull that man or woman out of bondage is giving that person liberty, providing that man or woman with the ability to make choices that will change his or her life and set it in a better direction. In other words, we can “save” these people, deliver them from bondage just as the Christian Savior portends to deliver us all. I think President Barack Obama said it best: “The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

7 replies »

  1. I think any believing Mormon is going to have political views that stem from his/her religious beliefs. The difference between politically conservative and politically liberal Mormons largely comes down to which religious beliefs come into play on political issues.

    For politically conservative Mormons, the key value that resonates with them in the political realm is individual liberty. They don’t disagree with the goal of helping those who need help; what they disagree with primarily is whether government is the right way to help them. (There also tends to be some disagreement about who needs help and, especially, what forms of help are most effective.) On a personal level, the politically conservative Mormons I know are just as compassionate and just as willing to help out others as anyone else — more so than many. (More so than me, a lot of the time.)

    Politically liberal Mormons, on the other hand, resonate to social inequity as the big moral/ethical issue in politics. They (we?) are no more interested in denying individual liberty than conservative Mormons are in making people go hungry. The key difference, I think, is that they see government as a means of positive collective action, more than they see it as a danger to individual liberty.

    It would be interesting to go into why Mormons see government in such different ways. Regardless, the point I would love to see people accept is that liberal and conservative Mormons are — if we look closely — divided more I think by opinions about means than by what they/we would want to see as the end result. A discourse that started with an explication of shared ground might help us all to be a little more tolerant.

  2. If conservative Christians really are disciples of Christ, then I would like each one of them to ask, “What would Jesus do?”

    I’m sure he would say let the government take money from other people and do it because you hear him saying that often in the scriptures. Oh wait ….

  3. Sorry all those say is that you have to do what the government tells you to do. Jesus never said that was the way to do it.

  4. Of course, Jesus would certainly opt to organize a huge top-heavy government bureacracy to issue food stamps and welfare checks. Meanwhile, the rich would continue to get richer, and the poor would still be poor. When we paint an idealized picture of government welfare, everything looks rosy. The reality is that many decades of government welfare programs have made no discernable difference in the actual welfare of the American people. All they accomplish is to help progressives feel morally superior about themselves. We can continue to invest our efforts into proven failures, or allow it to be replaced by charitable support programs and organizations that really work. Hope for change…

  5. I agree with Jonathan. The assumption made in this post is that the only way to help people is using the government to do so. Unlike the author, it won’t surprise any acquaintance of mine to know that I’m a libertarian. We don’t need to be taking from everyone in taxes in order to “feed the hungry.” Some call me idealist when I point to private charity, however I would argue that it is idealist to think that the government can handle welfare. Social Security is going to fail, public healthcare still hasn’t come into effect as it was meant to yet (and it’s past its deadline), and we’ve spent billions of dollars trying to make sure it does. Cut the bureaucracy, it can’t work like that.

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