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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: “Though all the issues of the conflict are anything but clear, the matter of citizenship responsibility is perfectly clear.” In other words, according to this church leader, even above one’s sense of morality, above duty to God, and even to the Church, one should place the “civic duty of armed service” 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.

Pres. Packer's quote

I wish I had the time to discuss the points you've brought up, Joe, many of which I agree with.

What I disagree with, though, is your interpretation of President Packer's quote. First off, if you're going to quote him like this you should give a reference so that we can go back and read it in context. Secondly, you've extrapolated an awful lot from what he said. He by no means said that we have a duty to government leaders above our duty to God.

Now that's not to say that the interplay between our duty to God vs. to our government leaders isn't an interesting one, and one which I personally don't fully understand. It's an issue I'd like to understand better.

I've been meaning to read God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties by President Benson (ISBN B0006CF3MC) for some time now, but have yet to do so. I'm sure it would be a good source to go to for a better idea of what exactly is meant by the twelfth Article of Faith.

Why are Mormons Republicans?

"I'm just wondering why there is such devotion when there are clearly many issues that aren't clear-cut morally.."

I think that for Many Mormons family issues are a priority and they see the Republican Party as the family friendly party as well as being the Christian friendly party. Bush himself is outwardly a devout christian (who knows what he is inwardly) and many Republican Mormon friends of mine see him as a righteous man who receives revelation from God and is protecting Mormon values with his policies. To a lot of Mormons, abortion and homosexual issues are the only issues that matter in voting.
At the same time, Utah has got to be one of the most incredibly gullible states in the USA as is evidenced by their embrace of pyramid schemes. Utah is the scam capital of the country or so I've been told. Mormons tend to be a little too trusting and a little too greedy. They often don't question authority and are too busy enjoying the pleasures of life to think very deeply about issues of importance to our country such as the war in Iraq.
There are also some who do think deeply about these issues and come to different conclusions than I do (as you may know, I'm very anti-war).

There are a lot of good

There are a lot of good points in this article as well as the ensuing comments. I myself am also independent (mostly because I don't see a real difference in the dominant parties and believe proponents of these parties to really be proponents of enriching themselves *cough* Hannity *cough*).

I'll admit that I'm pretty critical of conservatives around here, and that's largely due to the blind allegiance of a few acquantainces who genuinely believe God himself is a Republican and called George Bush to serve as US President. But when it comes right down to it, I'm probably more conservative than liberal.

But to all of you who have studied issues out and made your stance after seeing both sides, I respect and admire you, regardless of whether you vote red or blue (or other). I would love nothing more than to see party lines dissolve and good men elected because of their character, not their (financial) platform.

"I would love nothing more

"I would love nothing more than to see party lines dissolve and good men elected because of their character, not their (financial) platform."

I got to meet and talk with Bill Nixon of policy impact communications today. he is one of the top lobbyists in the nation, and very much the guy (besides karl rove) that put bush in the whitehouse. i'm even more convinced now that politicians are crooked assholes.

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I just saw, "This Divided

I just saw, "This Divided State."

There is a clip (I believe it's available online somewhere) where a UVSC professor says that there were no WMD's and no connection between Iraq and 9/11. And the crowd booed him, for these facts. He didn't rail on Bush, he didn't say anything negative about the Republican party or conservatives, he actually ended by asking something like, "Isn't it possible for well-meaning people to question these things?" The crowd yelled at him to sit down.

What an embarassment, to say I live in this community. So much for Mormon tolerance.

The problem with Packer's

The problem with Packer's (and especially Benson's) ideology is that equating patriotic loyalty and civic duty with righteousness and loyalty to God creates a false standard as to which determine which actions we should take.

Here's a hypothetical example...

-Bush decides to attack Iran and has to reinstate the draft because recruiting has gone down the drain.
-John Smith believes the war is immoral both intellectually and spiritually.
-John Smith gets drafted.

According to Packer and Benson, God would rather have Smith do what he feels to be morally wrong. Loyalty to the state overrides personal divine revelation and morals.

Today we praise the dissent of Helmet Hubner, who during WWII pamphleteered and led an underground revolt against the Nazi's. This however goes strictly against the GA's teaching of the time (and today) about national loyalty. Hubner was turned in and executed by his branch president.

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Interesting topic. I've been

Interesting topic. I've been thinking about this one a lot lately.

I've noticed a number of Mormons who simplify politics down to two issues: gay marriage and abortion. Rather than becoming genuinely informed, they pick the stance of the party whose views on these two issues seem most consistent with their personal values.

Since political orientation seems to be very much influenced by religion in the mind of Mormons (which is natural and appropriate), sometimes they mistakenly jump to the conclusion that God supports their particular stance. Any dissenting viewpoint is not only viewed as politically unacceptable, but heretical.

Given the close relationship between politics and religion in the mind of these Mormons, it's not surprising that they are especially sensitive to criticism. Rather than prompting a re-evaluation of the issues, political criticism usually just evokes defensiveness.

Additionally, Mormons aren't known for questioning authority. If I suggest that a prominent Church leader perhaps said or did something that was incorrect, I am labeled an apostate that needs to repent and sustain my leaders. It's easier to condemn the dissenter than admit the possibility that mistakes were made on the leader's part. If we are looking at President Bush in the same light, then I would guess that many Mormon Republicans (at least the uninformed kind just described) would defend him to the death before admitting his failures as a leader.

Today we praise the dissent

Today we praise the dissent of Helmet Hubner, who during WWII pamphleteered and led an underground revolt against the Nazi's. This however goes strictly against the GA's teaching of the time (and today) about national loyalty. Hubner was turned in and executed by his branch president.

Again, a reference would be appreciated.

Reality is a painful thing.

We praise Helmut Huebner because he was very brave and he died doing the right thing. But at the same time, we can look back with 20/20 hindsight and be sure that if every Mormon in Germnay had done the same thing, it wouldn't have amounted to a hill of beans. Rather, the Nazis would have put all the Mormons in concentration camps and destroyed the church there. That doesn't help anybody. It's a complicated situation.

Someday the church will be large enough to influence the world for good in situations like that. But now, you have to realize that the church has a distinct mission for which it is uniquely qualified, and it can't solve all the world's problems instantaneously. In my opinion, both Helmut's and the branch president's courses of action were acceptable in the eyes of God.

He wasn't executed by his

He wasn't executed by his branch president.
Read the book "Three Against Hitler" for more info. And incidentally, I don't think the Church condones loyalty to a tyrannical government, which is why the Revoluitionary War is largely praised. But you're right, there is an interesting dillemma poised by the definition where loyalty to the state ends and loyalty to some notion of greater good begins.

Mormons are not unique in

Mormons are not unique in this regard. Most people are single-topic voters-- they'll vote according to a given social or economic or moral issue, and that's the end of it. For better or worse, most people are terribly ill-informed.
As far as I go, I'm disappointed by both parties, frankly. I'm voting libertarian this year. The third parties will rise again!

Are we comparing the modern

Are we comparing the modern United States Government to that of Nazi Germany? I think that is ridiculous... First of all the governmnets don't compare at all. As much as one can hate Bush, he only has 1/3 the say of what goes on... The rest is up to congress and the judicial branch. We do not live in a Dictatorship, we are not forming consentration camps sending non-militant people to their deaths. We are not taking over countries for our own occupancy. It is completely different. And no matter how you feel about the war in Iraq, comparing Hitler to Bush is just irresponsible. If anything Hitler and Bin Laden are the comparison couple. The killing of innocent civilians, loud angry propaganda, and hatered.

Everyone has the agency to feel they way they do about the present situation of our nation. But the reason the majority of mormons, and interestingly the majority of Americans and Canadians(recent uprising of conservative Canadians taking control of the government), tend to vote republican is because they believe the republican party represents the conservative values of our conservative religion and way of life. You can read their mission statement at www.gop.com .

I am not saying that the Republican party is perfect, nor that the men in the party are either, and as soon as those men and women whom represent the party diverge from the conservative guidlines, you will see many mormons, and many americans, not vote republican.

I dissagree that the general mormon population is ignorant, and although I have no statistics I would argue that Mormons are some of the most educated voters. This due to the encouragement of church leaders to remain politically active and stand up for the moral values of our church when it comes to the moral values of our nation.

Anyway if I type anymore i will begin to rambel, I am tired, thats my two cents.

He won't find a reference,

He won't find a reference, because it's not true. Helmut Huebner's branch president was a Nazi sympathizer, but he never knew about Hubner's subterfuge until after he was arrested. It was when another member of Huebner's movement tried to recruit a colleague that the whole operation fell apart.

"Someday the

"Someday the church..."

someday will never happen when someday is always placed in the distant future. camus was right. unless we are willing to make changes today, nothing will ever happen.

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you are probably right about

you are probably right about the execution. i don't think the branch president was high up enough to order that. though i'm pretty sure that the branch president was involved in turning him in.

i do know that huebener was excommunicated post-humously by his branch president for his national disloyalty. i've heard salt lake was involved in this, but i haven't been able to confirm it.

had (today's) church been in england during the revolutionary war, i am pretty sure you would see them supporting england. you rarely see the church condoning strong national opposition until well after the fact.

i must admit that the church has at least done a better job at being less state-oriented with the current war...far better than the 'support america or shut up' attitude of WW1 and far better than the 'fight communism or worship satan' antics of BYU and several of the GAs during vietnam.

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"Are we comparing the modern

"Are we comparing the modern United States Government to that of Nazi Germany?"

no.

"The killing of innocent civilians, loud angry propaganda, and hatered."

wait. maybe you are.

"because they believe the republican party represents the conservative values of our conservative religion and way of life."

and why do they think that? because that is what their mommy and daddy taught them, and their friends and school who learned it from their mommy and daddy. my roommate's fiance found out that i voted mostly democrat in 2004. she started mocking me and implying that something was wrong with me. i asked her to name a single issue that divided republicans and democrats. she couldn't name a single issue. not one. not only was she blindly voting republican, she had the audacity to mock me for voting democrat. you may say she's an anomaly, but i have met many mormons (and non-mormons) who are just as ignorant as her, and even more to a slightly lesser degree.

why do mormons feel they are supposed to be conservative anyways? jesus was hardly a conservative, he actively fought against those who were trying to conserve the social, economic, political, and religious norms at the time. jesus was not conservative. he was not trying to conserve anything. he was progressive, pushing for progress. he was a liberal, "Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry" and "Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded." joseph smith was the very same. to call joseph smith conservative would be ridiculous. do you think polygamy, new scriptures, communitarianism, exotic doctrines, and etc were conservative ideas? no. do the teachings in the book of mormon (and bible, d&c, and pofgp) about equality, forgiveness, pacivism, social reform, political reform, economic equality, and liberation represent conservative values? no. when did mormonism hop in bed with the christian-right and abandon so much of the gospel?

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Aside from gay marriage and

Aside from gay marriage and abortion, where the typical Republican stance clearly coincides with the official Church stance, I'm not really sure what other doctrinal reasoning pushes most Mormons to be so ardently Republican/Conservative. Perhaps it's the Republican pro-family rhetoric. But I really think that most of us don't do our homework when it comes to politics (despite our leaders' encouragement to be informed).

Historically, we aren't a conservative religion. I believe someone already pointed that out in another post.

What we need to understand is that sustaining and supporting our political leaders does not mean agreeing with everything they do. I'll recognize and respect President Bush as this nation's leader, but I'm not going to agree with everything he does. Government spending is out of control; the projected deficit for 2006 is $423 billion. The Iraq war has been an embarassment. I'm not going to support these decisions, and this doesn't make me a bad Mormon.

While interviewing with Larry King, President Hinckley made a point of clarifying that he voted for person, not party. Voting strictly along party lines isn't smart. I don't see how a legitimately informed voter could agree with a single party on every single issue. Do your homework, and don't be afraid to sidestep party lines when you get to the ballot box.

OK, but therein lies the problem

The question is *WHY* do LDS people always say that the Republican Party is the "party of the values?" - When I hear that, it makes my skin crawl, as if Democrats have no values worth considering. Leave abortion and gay marriage out of it, neither issue is listed *anywhere* in the Democratic party platform. Show me what Republicans have done *lately* for American families.

For example, in the Utah legislature, they recently voted against raising the minimum wage. We still have a partial tax on food. Utah salaries are among the worst in the nation, yet we pay workers less and charge them sales tax on food. Why NOT have a wage that is more competitive and that would actually help people support their families, and why in the world are we taxing food when most states do not? If you want families to get ahead, then help them to get ahead. But our republican-controlled legislature said "NO WAY" to both issues. In the same legislature, they consistently are trying to change laws and sponsor legislation to make it more difficult to help protect children from abuse and neglect. How does that make UTAH republicans MORE moral than UTAH democrats? The United States Congress just passed defecit reduction legislation that removes adult literacy programs and early education programs, school lunch programs, in addition to hundreds of other programs that help families to get ahead - these programs are not just underfunded, they are now gone. How is this helping any family? Don't give me the "pride in doing it by yourself" bull crap. A government that does not provide for the least of its citizens is morally depraved. If you don't believe me, consult King Benjamin.

It is my contention that most of the LDS population will never choose an abortion as a method of birth control, and I'll bet my left arm they aren't considering a gay marriage as an alternative to hetero marriage, yet the good Mormons in the land are those who bring up these two issues as the MOST important issues of our time. As a temple-going, choir-directing, God-loving member of the LDS church, I absolutely do not understand why one set of morals trumps the other.

I have said it before, I will say it again. We are having the *WRONG* discussions in this country. Instead of worrying about how many abortions there are, why aren't we figuring out how to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place? Instead of fighting against gay marriage, why don't we try to figure out why 50% of all marriages fail. If we TRULY want to strengthen the family, then please ... I beg the powers that be (Republican controlled legislature and congress) to please do something proactive that actually helps someone have a better life.

for mason

my reference to camus is from, The Rebel. i don't have the book with me at the moment to give you a page number.

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Patriotism

Here here Narrator,
As my contribution to this discussion I'd like to leave you all with my favorite quote on patriotism from a Prophet (Pres. Kimball)

"We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel -- ships, planes, missiles, fortifications -- and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching:

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
"That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45)."

and why do they think that?

and why do they think that? because that is what their mommy and daddy taught them, and their friends and school who learned it from their mommy and daddy.

This is the same for both parties; heredity is the biggest factor in determining political affiliation.

i asked her to name a single issue that divided republicans and democrats. she couldn't name a single issue.

She is obviously not very informed. And I'm not sure what your point is, either. If there really is no difference between the two parties, why don't you just vote Republican? Then you wouldn't have to worry about being "mocked."

jesus was hardly a conservative, he actively fought against those who were trying to conserve the social, economic, political, and religious norms at the time.

All depends on how you look at it. Jesus said he came not to destroy but to fulfill. Some Bible scholars say he was trying to conserve the original intent of the law by removing the pharisaical fences that had been placed around them. If the Pharisees hadn't been into big government (which party favors a strong central government again?), He wouldn't have had to go through the trouble.

"This is the same for both

"This is the same for both parties; heredity is the biggest factor in determining political affiliation."

i agree this happens with both parties. however, i was replying to the claim that mormons vote republican because republicans supposedly support mormonism's supposedly conservative values. i said it was not because of ideals, but because of mommy and daddy. and you agreed.

"She is obviously not very informed. And I'm not sure what your point is, either. If there really is no difference between the two parties, why don't you just vote Republican?"

yes. stay in the muck of conservative apathy. 'tis better to stay ignorant and unmocked then educated and... smart.

"All depends on how you look at it. Jesus said he came not to destroy but to fulfill. Some Bible scholars say he was trying to conserve the original intent of the law by removing the pharisaical fences that had been placed around them."

con·ser·va·tive (kn-sûrv-tv)
adj.

1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

he was trying to make change. socially, religiously, economically, and politically.

"which party favors a strong central government again?"

both. one wants to be open about it. the other wants to do it behind the curtain.

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Prevailing Local Attitude

It always kind of rubs me the wrong way when tyler, or lloyd or the narrator or whatever he is current going by implicitly equates liberalism with intelligence and conservatism with slack-jawed ignorance. That being said I think that for Utah at least he's partially correct.

Uniformed, apathetic people tend to go with the prevailing winds. Therefore in Utah if you don't care to investigate issues thoroughly you'll most likely come out conservative. However, somewhere like Boston the opposite is true. So, in my experience at least, liberals in Utah tend to be better informed on average, and the same is true of conservatives in Boston for example. Swimming against popular opinion makes for strong, well-informed opinions.

Also, I think it's hilarious when people debate Jesus's politics but I couldn't resist giving my opinion. It seems to me that he was reactionary rather than liberal. (And here's a definition for Tyler who seems to love them..)

"A movement towards the reversal of an existing tendency or state" or a "return to a previous condition of affairs." (Taken from the wikipedia article on the subject)

con·ser·va·tive

con·ser·va·tive (kn-sûrv-tv)
adj.

1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

The Pharisees had changed the law from it's original intent. Jesus was opposed to those changes.

And now that you've busted out the dictionary definition, I see that Joseph Smith falls under the same category too. Since he restored polygamy, which was traditionally practiced by Old Testament prophets, and he was opposed to the changes that Christianity had introduced into church practice during the apostasy, that makes him a conservative too!

Taking it a step further, since Justices Alito and Roberts are going to overturn Roe v. Wade, and liberals everywhere are opposed to this change, that makes them conservatives too!

i was just trying to

i was just trying to juxtaposing meph's appeal to apathy in ignorance with intellectual inquiry...not to make any intellectual distinction between conservatives and liberals.

i do believe there are intellectual conservatives, just as i believe there are many stupid liberals (i work right next to one). i especially find plenty of people here in happy valley who are caught up in the wave of liberalism without actually knowing what they are trying to do (hell, i find myself there sometimes).

i would hardly classify jesus as a reactionary (at least by definition and the info from wiki). reactionary was used to classify counter-revolutionaries. hardly a description of jesus.

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"Taking it a step further,

"Taking it a step further, since Justices Alito and Roberts are going to overturn Roe v. Wade, and liberals everywhere are opposed to this change, that makes them conservatives too!"

haha. good point.

ummmm....

i had sex with your mom.

jk. you are right, it's a bit difficult and unfair to compartmentalize people into liberal/progressive/conservative boxes. i guess you could say that progressivism is a movement, and that roe vs. wade is part of that movement to counter the conservative norms of gender construction and push feminine liberation. since the latter has not been achieved, it is not a norm that can be considered able to be conserved.

not sure if i understand what i said there.

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Concession

You've got me on this. Jesus isn't a reactionary in the sense of being a counter-revolutionary. I just see him more as trying to restore the society/culture/religion to pre-"law of moses" state (Zion/Salem type society) rather than make "progress" in an entirely new direction . So reactionary probably isn't the right word but I'm not sure liberal is either.

I don't suppose it really matters how you label jesus's brand of reform because, and you know this better than I do, all those labels are really subjective. Even if liberal is the perfect word to describe Jesus' ideological stance it really has no baring on how he would feel about current political ideologies. Still an interesting topic to discuss.

i was just trying to

i was just trying to juxtaposing meph's appeal to apathy in ignorance with intellectual inquiry

And I was just trying to demonstrate that there ARE differences between the parties, not appeal to apathy in ignorance.

"it really has no baring on

"it really has no baring on how he would feel about current political ideologies."

i couldn't picture jesus as supporting a particular party...only particular issues. WWJD is probably actually pretty telling, though again, my answer to WWJD would probably be very different than what others might say of him.

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