Patriotism and religion
In the Mormon faith (as in other world religions), there is a strong emphasis on obedience to appointed leaders. If these leaders are directed by God, the reasoning goes, it makes sense to follow them. There is plenty to discuss already with this premise, but what's interesting to me with the Mormon faith is how obedience to religious leaders often translates into obedience to political leaders (and how obedience to political leaders currently translates into obedience to the Republican party).
Now let me mention here, I am not affiliated with any party. I consider myself an independent. I have voted both Republican and Democrat (and other). But what's strange to me is that even though the Mormon Church has repeatedly stated that it is non-partisan, and even though 50 years ago in Utah party lines were split about right down the middle, lately Mormons have become overwhelmingly Republican. A recent Salt Lake Tribune article stated that over 75% of Mormons support the war in Iraq. Bush also has his highest approval rating in Utah.
Why is this? I'm not vilifying Bush or the Republican party, I'm just wondering why there is such devotion when there are clearly many issues that aren't clear-cut morally (the war, tax breaks, poverty, New Orleans, the Patriot act, etc).
I guess, ultimately it comes down to where a person feels their duty lies. Is it to their own conscience? Is it to God? Is it to Church? Or is it to Country?
During the Vietnam War, apostle Boyd K. Packer said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Though all the issues of the conflict are anything but clear, the matter of citizenship responsibility is perfectly clear.Ã¢â‚¬Â In other words, according to this church leader, even above oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sense of morality, above duty to God, and even to the Church, one should place the Ã¢â‚¬Å“civic duty of armed serviceÃ¢â‚¬Â in a questionable war.
This idea begins to have scary implications when one realizes that under this policy, a Nazi soldier in World War II, who perhaps assisted in the Holocaust, would, according to the Church, carry no responsibility, because he was simply doing his duty to his country.
Blind obedience to religious leaders is unhealthy enough. Over the centuries, most prophets have advised that individuals must not be spiritually dependent on another human being, but find confirmation to questions and seek direction directly from God through prayer and the influence of the spirit. When we translate blind obedience (or patriotism, as it is sometimes mistakenly called) into politics, or even worse, to a specific party, the final result could be devastating. Just ask any member of a country under totalitarian rule.