A Look at the Political Affiliations of Some Prominent Members

A friend recently drew my attention to a new website that catalogs Utah voter registration data in a searchable format that was purportedly purchased from the Herbert administration. After checking the voter registration data of a few friends and acquaintances, I thought it would be interesting to identify the party registrations of some prominent members of the Church. Any other fun finds to add to the list?

First Presidency
Thomas S. Monson, registered Republican
Henry B. Eyring, registered Republican
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, unaffiliated voter

Quorum of the Twelve
Boyd K. Packer, registered Republican
L. Tom Perry, registered Republican
Russell M. Nelson, registered Republican
Dallin H. Oaks, registered Republican
M. Russell Ballard, registered Republican
Richard G. Scott, registered Republican
Robert D. Hales, registered Republican
Jeffrey R. Holland, registered Republican
David A. Bednar, unaffiliated voter
Quentin L. Cook, unaffiliated voter
D. Todd Christopherson, unaffiliated voter
Neil L. Anderson, registered Republican

Relief Society General Board
Linda K. Burton, unaffiliated voter
Carole M. Stephens, registered Republican
Linda S. Reeves, registered Republican

Gary E. Stevenson (Presiding Bishop), registered Republican
H. David Burton (former Presiding Bishop), registered Republican
Steven E. Snow (current Church historian), registered Democrat
Larry Echohawk (general authority, former Obama cabinet member), unaffiliated voter
Sheri Dew (CEO of Deseret Book), registered Republican
Marlin K. Jensen (emeritus general authority), unaffiliated voter
Cecil O. Samuelson (President of BYU), unaffiliated voter
Bronco Mendenhall (BYU Football Coach), registered Republican
Thurl Bailey (former NBA star), registered Republican
Donny Osmond (singer/actor), registered Republican
Robert Kirby (Salt Lake Tribune columnist), registered Democrat

[Note: Updated to include Steven E. Snow]

115 comments for “A Look at the Political Affiliations of Some Prominent Members

  1. I wish there wasn’t such a strong stigma attached to being a Democrat. I wonder how many of the unaffiliated voters vote on the Democratic ticket.

    While most Utahns swing conservative in national politics, Utah Republicans are a far more conservative and almost hostile breed.

  2. One of the things that I have always admired about Mormons is that they (most of them, by far) have got it right when it comes to politics.

    Republicans may not be all that smart…but the Democrats are darn right dangerous.

  3. Just wondered how many of the GAs are US citizens? Also wondered how many of the declared Republicans were closer to Tea Party affiliation?

  4. Wow. And it is not like they were doing it secretly. Here it the Utah Lieutenant Governor website where you can buy it.
    It says, “Utah law requires that statewide voter registration data be available to the public. Utah statute has established a fee of $1,050.00 to acquire the voter database.”
    So it sounds like the Utah legislature has at least equal blame.

  5. I really thought it was a more even split than that. ‘Course, in many real ways, Utah’s nexus of political power is the Republican Party…

  6. This would explain why there are always some conference talks that contain an (inadvertent?) assortment of right wing talking points

  7. This situation is particularly detrimental to the international image of the Church. In most countries the American Republican Party is viewed more negatively because of its perceived attitudes toward economy, social protection, immigration, gun control, pacifism, climate, the UN, etc. It was not surprising to see 81% of the world population preferring Obama above Romney (who spoke in scathing terms about other countries).

    Already in 2012, Peg McEntee wrote an editorial “Top Mormon leaders should drop political party labels”.

    The political leanings of members around the world are diverse, but it’s safe to say that all would expect the top Church leaders to not be openly affiliated with one party. “Unaffiliated” seems wise if these leaders want to be credible in their claim that we are “a world church.”

  8. When these persons register as voters, they do so as individuals rather than as representatives of the church. As individuals, they care about taxes and local schools and bond issues and other things. We must allow them to have a private sphere in their lives. A person can be a registered Republican and a faithful servant of the Lord at the same time.

    Even so, I wish the state didn’t release affiliations of its citizens. That’s a matter between the individual voter and his or her party.

    If the Republican party publicly proclaimed that these persons were registered with them and used it in an advertising campaign to get more members, I think all or most of these persons would quickly drop their party affiliation. Likewise, the attention drawn here and elsewhere might also have that result. That would be a shame, because we would be even another step further along the path of making these persons into holy relics on a pedestal instead of allowing them to be real people and fellow saints with broader callings. I see some danger going down this path any further.

  9. Interesting that they also include data on frequency of voting. For instance, Elder Stevenson only votes in presidential elections. That’s helpful for interpreting the church’s guidance that members should vote.

    It’s also nice that they include home addresses so we can calculate who has the longest commute to the COB each morning. Also to create a google map to see how long it would take to TP the entire Q12.

    I do find it odd that the democrats are all registered as unaffiliated. For example, Elder Echo Hawks unaffiliated registration date is November 2012, six months after leaving the Obama administration to become a GA. Perhaps there is some policy against being a registered democrat and a GA?

  10. There is another explanation. In many parts of a state like Utah, the election is essentially over when the Republican primary is held. If you want to have a meaningful vote, you have to vote in that primary. So maybe that’s why all those men register Republican.

    And, if that isn’t the case (and I suspect that it might not be), then maybe this is a chance for Europeans and others to stop thinking that the Republican Party is a monolithic bloc of loudmouths who say stupid things about immigration, war and other subjects. If church leaders are thought to be good men, and their counsel worth heeding, then perhaps a person can be a Republican in America without fitting the stereotypes drawn up by their political superiors in Europe.

  11. Keep in mind that at least some of this is due to the primary system in Utah where the Republican caucus is only open to party members and pretty much decides the election. It is prudent to register as republican in Utah in order to actually make sure your vote counts. I would be an independent anywhere else, but am registered republican in Utah for that reason. I am guessing some of the Apostles might be in the same boat.

  12. To suggest that party registration equals “open[] affiliat[ion]” is nonsense. Nobody expects when he registers to vote and chooses a party affiliation that that choice will be made public in the way that Utah has just made its voter rolls public. It’s not as if the church leaders are marching in party parades or speaking at party rallies.

    As to the 81% of the rest of the world who preferred Obama to Romney: I think there are a lot of Americans who would be happy to lend Obama to the rest of the world for the next three years. It would be, as Steve Covey would have said, a “win-win.”

  13. I’ll show up on that list too (though I haven’t lived in or voted in Utah for years)–and I’ll show up as a “Republican” even though I typically vote Democrat in the general elections.

    In uber-conservative states like Utah, Republican primaries are open only to registered Republicans. Also, in Utah, the winner of the Republican primaries almost always wins the general election. If I want a halfway reasonable politician representing me, I need to do what I can to keep the unreasonable ones out. So I register as a Republican so I can help keep the crazies from winning the Republican primaries. Then, in the general elections, I typically turn around and vote for the Democrat.

    I have friends in Utah who do the exact same thing. I’m not saying this is what the general authorities are doing, but don’t assume that just because someone is registered Republican that they’re going to vote that way.

  14. A few questions from a non-Utahn. Is the republican primary open to non-affiliateds too? I’m trying to understand the benefit of registering as unaffiliated if one aligns with the Democratic party. Also, is there any oath requirement to join a party? In my state, you have to affirm by oath that you support the principles of the party you join. Yes, there’s lots of wiggle room (who really supports ever plank of their party’s platform), but it would cause me some grief to make such an oath if I really supported another party’s principles more.

  15. Dave K-

    Interesting that they also include data on frequency of voting. For instance, Elder Stevenson only votes in presidential elections. That’s helpful for interpreting the church’s guidance that members should vote.

    A leader doesn’t perfectly follow an item of Church counsel, so now we have a reasonable basis for reconsidering that guidance? Really?

    I guess if my bishop doesn’t do his home teaching perfectly, I’m off the hook for that, too.

  16. Correction to comment #11. I should have referred to Gary E. Stevenson as “Bishop Stevenson.”

  17. In at least one case I’m familiar with, “unaffiliated” means that the person in question does not entirely support the platform of either major party, and consequently does not want to throw his or her weight behind either organization, and will vote his or her conscience.

    Unfortunately the state of residence has closed primaries, so that means this voter cannot vote in primaries.

    My morals are a little more flexible, so I’ve retained my long-time party identification and do vote in the primaries, but am happy to swing either way in general elections. Several years back we had an excellent, honest Republican state representative. Then he decided he’d served long enough and was replaced by another Republican who gave off a creepy vibe. (Think Charles Logan in “24.”) After visiting with him several times, we decided he didn’t have the best interests of the district at heart, so we threw our support behind his Democratic opponent, and have been pleased to have a very public- and family-minded Democrat in office.

    However, we tend not to mention such things to our Utah associates or family. My husband did that one time and for weeks we received long, concerned emails from someone agonized over the state of our souls, trying to prove that the cause of Zion is the same as the cause of the Republican party.

  18. Nathaniel, perhaps I was unclear. I was not suggesting that Bishop Stevenson is not following counsel. I was pointing out that his documented voting record can serve as a data point for answering the question of whether we are instructed to vote in primaries. I have been in conversations with church members where this issue has been debated. Yes, this was at BYU, where else? We also debated whether purchasing an item from a vending machine on Monday violates the sabbath if the machine was stocked on Sunday.

    For the record, it appears that many other GAs do vote in off-year elections. Former Presiding Bishop H. David Burton is one example. And to be perfectly frank, I feel a little queezy snooping on the voting patterns of strangers. It seems voyeristic. I hereby repent and will do it no more.

  19. With regards to questions about Utah politics, in Utah, you must register as a Republican to vote in the Republican primary, but anyone can vote in the Democratic primary, so there is much more incentive to register Republican.

    However, I don’t think that fully or even sort if explains this Republican slant among church leaders. General Conference often sounds like a Republican political rally to me because of the party sentiments that make their way into so many talks.

  20. I’m curious what you mean, April, when you say “the party sentiments that make their way into so many talks.” Can you give a few examples?

  21. I’m mostly disappointed by the number of unaffiliated registrations. That’s what I call sitting on the fence during the cosmic battle between good and evil.

    Other than that, the list is pretty encouraging.

  22. Seriously, the only interesting pieces of information in the list are that Larry Echohawk is unaffiliated and Thurl Bailey is a registered Republican.

  23. I am unregistered, and it’s precisely because I’m taking a stance in the battle between good and evil. I believe that both parties have both good and evil, and by refusing to put on a colored shirt of one or the other, I’m free to choose good according to my own conscience.

    ” I was pointing out that his documented voting record can serve as a data point for answering the question of whether we are instructed to vote in primaries.”

    I think if you’re relying on that, you’re kind of missing the whole point.

  24. Follow the prophet! I consider them to be some of the smartest guys in the room and if that many people swing that way there must be something to it.

  25. LOL, mike. They’re mostly Republican because they’re religiously and socially conservative Utahns, not because it’s God’s Own Party.

    Look at the German in the room. As Wilfried noted above, many members of the Church around the world would find it contradicted their ethics and religious beliefs to affiliate themselves with the Republican party.

    Explain that if you can.

  26. SilverRain, saying that both parties have good and evil is like saying that both sexes have tall and short people; it’s trivially true, but it doesn’t change the fact remains that men are generally taller than women. Likewise, Democrats are generally more generally wicked than Republicans. It’s a proven fact.

  27. Regarding the “frequency of voting” mentioned in some of the comments, my wife and I searched for ourselves and noticed that we are both shown to have not voted in a few elections, including Presidential, where we know with certainty that we did. I don’t know what causes this discrepancy, but it exists nonetheless. So while the party affiliation of prominent members makes for interesting discussion, perhaps some caution is in order when it comes to assessing how often these persons cast a ballot.

  28. I am surprised that the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune is a member of the Church. But not that he’s a Democrat. Probably less active.

  29. I apologize for not making this distinction clear in my previous comment (#34), but I am not the same Andrew as #2.

  30. “maybe this is a chance for Europeans and others to stop thinking that the Republican Party is a monolithic bloc of loudmouths who say stupid things about immigration, war and other subjects.”

    “It’s not as if the church leaders are marching in party parades or speaking at party rallies.”

    So a few dozen good men and women who do not participate in party politics, and may not even vote along party lines, are supposed to sway foreign perceptions of the Grand Old Party?

    Allow me to suggest that the problems Europeans may have with the Republican Party have little or nothing to do with the former’s “political superiors” or even the faceless masses of registered voters but the public record of its leadership’s deeds. After all, a fish starts to stink at the head.

  31. Even though I’m a life long Republican it’s sad to see a monolithic political party in the Church. As stated earlier, I too vote for the candidate and not the party, but I might be switching my party affiliation to Democrat just so the Church isn’t know as a one party church. L”D”S D’s here I come, perhaps I can steer you closer to the center.

  32. Thanks to the keen research skills of Jason Knapp, I’ve updated the blog post to include the party affiliation of Steven E. Snow, current Church historian.

  33. Good sleuthing Jason Knapp. Everyone else can stop looking. General Authority Democrats are like the Highlander – there can be only one.

  34. No time to dig into the database, which looks both fascinating AND voyeuristic. But I’m surprised that any of the commenters are surprised at what the list reveals… are you truly surprised that the majority of church leadership swings GOP? Have you not been paying attention to the chatter in 2nd and 3rd hours of Sunday meetings? :)

    What interests me more is: does the data catalog only living folks? (Wait, that sounded creepy!) What I mean is: I suspect that in prior eras the political affiliations were more balanced. Not ACTUALLY balanced, but perhaps a bit moreso. For instance, my understanding is that Pres Faust was a lifelong active democrat, and was even the chair of the Utah democratic party at one point is his life. And I have it on reasonable authority (rumor, but straight from an extended family member of GBH) that Pres Hinckley was officially unaffiliated, but tended to vote dem. So if that’s true, at one point two thirds of the First Presidency leaned left, not right.

    Anyhow the point is: I suspect that in prior eras the “mix” might have been different.

  35. Dave K (Highlander… there can be only one…)

    Hilarious! Laughed out loud. Thanks for that.

  36. Peter LLC: Just a small subset of Europeans–European Mormons. When faced with the disconnect between what they’ve heard of the Republican Party and the fact nearly all of the General Authorities are Republicans, they might just have to reconsider: either the Republican Party is different from what they’d heard it was, or the General Authorities are a bunch of xenophobic, war-mongering backwoodsmen.

    On the other hand, imagine how this news would have been received in 1968–in the middle of Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam War, European Mormons would have been relieved to see that most of the General Authorities were Republicans. But they would have started to wonder about Pres. Hugh B. Brown.

  37. I looked up the Presidency of the Seventy, as I figured they were more likely to actually live in Utah than the rest of the Seventy. Six of the seven members of the Presidency of the Seventy are registered as Republicans in Utah. Elder Soares is the only one who isn’t–he isn’t in the database at all. He’s from Brazil, and I doubt that he’s able to vote in Utah anyway.

  38. “Likewise, Democrats are generally more generally wicked than Republicans. It’s a proven fact.”

    It is a proven fact that most anti-Christian garbage that has hindered the Church, and most of the things that currently are an embarrasment to Church members in general, like the FALSE teachings used by LDS Leaders to support a clearly racist agenda, seem to stem directly from the ill conceived precepts of the Republican Agenda.

    What a stupid thing to say. Obviously a bit oblivious as to what significant problems the Church has had to overcome (and is in the long process of overcoming) to become more Christlike.

  39. Is it any surprise that the leaders of a religion that promotes self-sufficiency, sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and fiscal and social conservatism are NOT registered democrat?

    Anyone who was hoping to see more blue in this list does not understand the teachings of the LDS church or the current Democratic party.

  40. No, you don’t have to pledge allegiance to party ideals to affiliate with the Republican Party in Utah. I switched my political affiliation from Democrat to Republican at my precinct caucus meeting in 2012 (just to help save Orrin Hatch from the Tea Party), and it was a quick and morally uncomplicated process. And it’s not like most people don’t agree with some of the “philosophy” behind each party. I’ve thought about just staying registered Republican so I can be a moderating force in Republican primaries (and then vote for whomever I like in the general elections). As mentioned above, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the GAs registered as Republicans are so registered for that reason. But I feel it a calling to be a registered Democrat most of the time–to give some of the balance that Elder Jensen has suggested that the Church leaders would like to see in Utah politics. We’ve elected a lot of duds lately thanks to lopsided local politics and have neglected issues we all care about that traditionally fall under the banner of the Democratic party.

  41. SterlingK: “Anyone who was hoping to see more blue in this list does not understand the teachings of the LDS church or the current Democratic party.”

    And the current Republican party — sitting comfortably in the pocket of gambling, liquor, pornography, tobacco, international banking, and warmongering interests — is somehow compatible with Christianity?

  42. And the historical Republican Party — you know, the political party that stripped the right to vote from both male and female members of the Church in the 19th century in a fight over the definition of religious freedom; the party that confiscated the holdings of the Church; the party that repeatedly jailed members of the church in that same decades-long fight — that’s the party that you want to equivocate with the cause of righteousness? Hmm.

  43. Many of these comments are charming examples of how it’s possible to be quite intelligent in some areas, yet remain as bright as a shoe in others.

    The prophets are smart. They’re conservative; hence, I am too.

    Sitting on the fence in a battle of good and evil, implying that conservatives represent the good and liberals the other.

    It’s a proven fact that Democrats are more wicked than Republicans.


    I am, however, grateful for such as you, you know, the proud purveyors of intellectually and morally vacuity, for it demonstrates that the loving arms of Mormonism stretch far and wide, wide enough even to provide a space for you. My God is an awesome God. He loves saints and sinners alike, nor does he shun the galactically stupid.

  44. A few commenters have been referring to Europeans and their alleged reactions. Just to clarify: my comment (9) did not mention Europe specifically but referred to the worldwide church and the possible effect on members and investigators, as well as in the media, of this political preference of top church leaders. We know from research a significant number of converts have leftist backgrounds and, because of that, were more open to the gospel. Missionaries are not finding many willing ears among conservatives with strong roots in their own churches. Think Latin America. Think the potential for the church in former communist countries. Not to speak of China.

    No, this open political preference of Mormon top leaders is not going to be helpful. We saw the negative media effect of the church’s political image during the Mormon moment abroad in 2012.

  45. I’m another registered Republican, but only so I can vote in the primaries, which too often are the real elections in Utah. I have openly campaigned for Democrats while registered as a Republican. (I was even in a Matheson ad last election). When it comes to general elections my votes are likely to fall out about half and half, including for top offices. However at the present I am very unhappy with Utah Republicans generally, so while I will probably remain registered as a Republican, until if or when more Democrats win Utah offices, I expect my stances to be more and more with the Democrats.

  46. Wilfried, I don’t think it’s asking too much of people outside the U.S. to understand some of the local context. I know environmentalist Bavarians, for example, who are members of the conservative CSU because that is the only way to effectively influence the political process. I suspect it’s not difficult to find other examples. Those who can’t be troubled to look slightly closer at the local context probably can’t be influenced by anything at all.

  47. What I found most surprising is that President Uchtdorf is a US citizen. Or do Utah voter rolls make little effort to screen non-citizens from their voting rolls?

  48. I can’t see that anyone else answered the question posed by Dave K about whether unaffiliated voters are able to vote in Republican caucuses in Utah. No, they are not. So there would be no reason for anyone to choose “unaffiliated” over “Democrat” in order to be able to participate in Utah Republican caucuses. I find it curious as well that even the one who had been “outed” as a Democrat with the blessing of the Church admin (Marlin Jensen) is currently registered as “unaffiliated,” even after being made emeritus.

  49. And of course Larry EchoHawk is not only a “former Obama cabinet member” (I don’t think his position was actually cabinet level, although he certainly was a high-up appointee), he was also Attorney General for Idaho and ran for Governor of Idaho–both as a Democrat. I read a speech he gave at BYU prior to his Obama appointment where he talked about how an Idaho newspaper said he had no chance at become Attorney General in Idaho because of three major disqualifiers–he was an Indian, a Mormon, and a Democrat. So even though he’s listed as “unaffiliated,” I think it’s safe to say at least three members of the 70 in Utah are Democrats.

  50. “I don’t think it’s asking too much of people outside the U.S. to understand some of the local context.”

    By the same token, I don’t think it’s asking too much of leadership of a global denomination to transcend the local context when it comes to religion.

    Let’s say your German environmentalist CSU member takes it upon herself to consider how single-member district plurality voting and closed primaries reinforce the two-party system and encourage strategic voting (as well as low voter turnout, misrepresentation and gerrymandering). Now she understands that, as Mark B. argues above, good men and women can vote Republican without being particularly Republican. But so what? Why should American politics determine* what she hears over the pulpit, regardless of whether the speakers are dyed in the wool partisans or just regular guys trying to get by in the world?

    *Ok, “determine” may be overdoing it, but the local influence, even when the audience is a global one, is undeniably strong, if not dominant. To the extent this is a virtue, by all means, shout it from the rooftops. To the extent it is not, excise away.

  51. As a Utah native and Latter-day Saint, I honestly don’t care which political party a church leader supports. But I completely understand the pressures faced by any active Latter-day Saint who openly supports a Democratic candidate or issue. They will be stereotyped and viewed with suspicion, often by members who have know them for years. That is the REAL reason for the large segment of unaffiliated Utah voters.

  52. I’m late to the party and I know most people have already pointed out the notion of closed primary elections. But my wife and I decided several years ago to work together during election season. She’s a registered democrat and I’m a registered republican. That way we can both take part in the primaries (and since we live in CA, both primaries matter). This way we also tend to get a wider array of literature in the mail. We usually discuss who I will vote for, who she will vote for, et al.

    Maybe some GA wives’ are registered democrat for the same reason? Or maybe being in UT that’s not necessary (in CA I believe all primaries are closed).

    How we actually vote in elections really has nothing to do with how we register. So perhaps it’s not as lopsided as we think? Wishful thinking on my part? =)

  53. I wouldn’t too much into this. The Republican and Democratic parties are quite broad. But if we are to read something into this, I would say that the FP and Q12 register either Republican or unaffiliated so as to not upset the core LDS membership, a majority of which vote Republican. For a lot of LDS people (my dad included) it is utterly unfathomable that someone would vote Democrat. They see the Democratic party as the “immoral” party; the supporters of gay marriage and legalized abortion.

  54. #9 Very true.

    I’m also late to this party. However, Wilfried, you forgot to mention warmongers as another reason why most of the rest of the world is suspicious about republicans. The rest of the world has not forgotten Iraq and what was in effect a negligent at best or criminal at worst invasion. Any other nation would be an international pariah if they had invaded a sovereign country in the way the US did, without full UN support and on false pretences.

    Maybe those reason Wilfried lists and Iraq are some of the main reason why the church is supposedly ‘neutral’ when it comes to politics. Although clearly they aren’t….

    But I must say that all of a sudden I like Bednar, Cook and Christofferson a bit more seeing that at least they are listed as unaffiliated, although I’d guess they are most likely pro-republican.

  55. “Meetings were held with stake presidents and bishops where they were instructed to encourage more Latter-day Saints to vote Republican. This would demonstrate to national party leaders that a viable two-party system could exist in Utah. Local leaders, however, were also urged to use good sense and caution in their encouragement. Church members who were known to have strong Democratic convictions were not asked to switch parties, but those whose commitment was not particularly strong were encouraged to change. This method was effective, and by 1892 the Republican Party was strong in Utah politics.” http://www.lds.org/manual/church-history-in-the-fulness-of-times-student-manual/chapter-thirty-four-an-era-of-reconciliation?lang=eng

    Perhaps it’s time for some members to be given a new assignment?

  56. Out of curiosity, how many Democrats do you know who are (among other things): (1) pro-life, (2) pro-traditional family, (3) anti-gambling, (4) anti-marijuana, and (5) actively expressing concern about the threats to religious freedom? In light of this, is it surprising that, in 2014, so many of our leaders are uncomfortable with the current Democratic party platform?

  57. Anon #49,
    And the current Republican party — sitting comfortably in the pocket of gambling, liquor, pornography, tobacco, international banking, and warmongering interests — is somehow compatible with Christianity?

    I have never heard any of the topics you mentioned used in a stump speech for the Republican party. The core message most Republicans endorse is a limited government, traditional family values, self-sufficiency, and fiscal conservatism. Democrats endorse a much more progressive/liberal approach to government which includes supporting same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and expansion of government. It seems to me that the GOP message aligns much more closely with core LDS doctrines.

  58. I think the question is one of core vs. periphery. Which party is more likely to support the notion of a Supreme Being? Which party unabashedly promotes moral relativism and is more comfortable with outspoken atheism? The idea of the existence of eternal truths (versus the-only-truth-that-exists-is-that-which-we-create — hat tip: Justice Kennedy), I would argue, influences all sorts of positions at “lower” levels. So yes, while there are certainly faults–possibly even significant ones–to point out in the Republican party line (in terms of their compatibility with Gospel principles), I’m not sure arguments highlighting these are the same in degree to the (massive?) discrepancies found in the core principles of today’s Democratic party. To me, “All are alike unto God” does not equate to the visions of equality (or contrived egalitarianism) that I see promoted today.

  59. 4 out of the last 5 apostles called are independent/unaffiliated, rather than gop. Maybe that will be the way of the future. Maybe when elder bednar becomes president the vast majority of the FP and 12 will be unaffiliated/independent like president bednar. Who knows, there might even be a non Caucasian in the FP or 12 by then. Or maybe a woman.

  60. #73, European Saint: While I would hesitate to identify as a Democrat, portions of your comments invite a reaction in their defense.

    You present Democratic comfort with outspoken atheism as if that were a bad thing. Surely you can see the wisdom in allowing them their say, can’t you? I invite you to spend a moment reconsidering your position here. The implications of silencing our opponents are not only counter to what I, as a Mormon believe, but would result in a society you may find unacceptable.

    You may also want to reconsider your third criterion mentioned in your comment #70. That casino owners are among Republican politicians’ most substantial donors indicate reality is counter to your position. In other words, gambling is big business(In some ways gambling could be considered the quintessential corporate model, as, by and large, nearly everyone loses while the owners make off with fortunes large enough to run small countries–no doubt, you’ll find this assessment too egalitarian.), and–God knows–no cow is more sacred to Republicans than big business.

    I think my conclusion can be best stated thus: I agree with you 100% when you say “There are certainly faults–possibly even significant ones–to point out in the Republican party line (in terms of their compatibility with Gospel principles).”

    We each select the paradoxes, faults, and discrepancies we find chafe the least. That others’ do not reflect our own does not make them less righteous or less out of step with the Gospel. We all agree, if we have spent five minutes reviewing the history on this topic, that the Church’s “politics” have less to do with God’s will than they have to do with survival, and, that assured, monetary stability.

  61. It shouldn’t surprise anyone…. I guess maybe you can be surprised that they registered Republican, but does anyone think the Q12, etc. are voting for Democrats who campaign increasingly on abortion, gay marriage, and the misnomer we call welfare?

    It’s all handled in ways the Lord and in turn, they specifically counsel against.

    Yes, yes, I’m aware some members really want to get technical and assume that while in theory we should do X it’s ok if we vote to allow others to do Y. Except it gets a little fuzzy when you’re the Lord’s servant, representing the Lord, voting for laws which violate the Lord’s laws.

    I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true that many many Democrats are on the wrong side of these issues. Terribly, tragically wrong.

    It doesn’t mean we don’t have a bunch of power hungry Republicans out there. And a disgust with party politics is why I presume a lot of recent members of the Q12 don’t register one way or another.

    But disgust with party politics, which has infected both parties, doesn’t mean the positions of the Brethren aren’t very very far from the positions of the Democratic party.

  62. “Out of curiosity, how many Democrats do you know who are (among other things): (1) pro-life, (2) pro-traditional family, (3) anti-gambling, (4) anti-marijuana, and (5) actively expressing concern about the threats to religious freedom? In light of this, is it surprising that, in 2014, so many of our leaders are uncomfortable with the current Democratic party platform?”

    I’m pro-life (although I realize, like the church itself does, that there are sometimes when exceptions can be made); I’m pro-traditional family and have mixed feelings about gay marriage being legal; I’m anti-gambling; I’m anti-marijuana and have mixed feelings about it being legal; I’m actively expressing concern about threats to religious freedoms.

    Please realize that some Republicans go too far in their support of pro-life (ie–no abortions for any reasons); many Republicans are incredibly mean to gay people (our church addresses this issue frequently and is careful to state that we need to be kind to people with different lifestyles even when we disagree with them; gambling, alongside tobacco, are very much Republican interests; I don’t believe the church has taken a stance on the legalization of marijuana; and real religious freedoms have been under threat for a long time, thanks in part to the 6-3 decision in the Supreme Court case Employment Division v. Smith–where three of the four liberals in the Supreme Court stood up for religious freedom but lost to the conservative majority on the court. Even Elder Oaks, staunch conservative as he is, has blasted that decision.

    Throw in Republican’s stance on immigration over the last decade or so, and it starts looking like Democrats have as much common ground with the church as Republicans do.

  63. “Out of curiosity, how many Democrats do you know who are (among other things): (1) pro-life, (2) pro-traditional family, (3) anti-gambling, (4) anti-marijuana, and (5) actively expressing concern about the threats to religious freedom?”

    Many of the poorer class, minority segments of US society. You seem to have some stereotypical impression of people who vote Democrat as pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-gambling, pro-drug legalization, secular atheists. You need to study US demography a bit more. Also, I think that it might be of surprise to you that a sizable number of Republicans (largely the libertarian wing of the part) tend to favor of gay marriage, legalized gambling, and legalized drugs. Oh, and atheists are a small minority in the US. Might it also surprise you that a prominent atheist thinker from the 1950s and 1960s has had a tremendous amount of influence on the Republican Party. Paul Ryan was one of her biggest fans. Her name was Ayn Rand. One last thing that might surprise you is that one of George W. Bush’s and Mitt Romney’s economic advisers was influenced by John Maynard Keynes and in the first edition of his economics textbook (which is the most widely selling textbook in the US) referred to Reagan’s economic advisers “charlatans and cranks.” His name was Greg Mankiw. While there are trends in the Democratic and Republican parties, there is a tremendous amount of diversity within them.

  64. Interesting. I took the first 1 million records (limitations of excel) from the list and came back with the following:
    47% republican
    42% unaffiliated
    9% democrat
    remainder multiple random parties

    The population of unaffiliated is strikingly high. Is there another state we could compare to?

  65. results were 44% republican, 43% unaffiliated, 9.5% democrat, remainder other, with the greatest groups in other being all less than 1% (Libertarian being .48%)

    So that’s interesting.

  66. Rachel (#69), if our concern were for Utah politics, and having more Mormon Democrats would substantially change the character of the party, that might be an interesting thing to try. But the national climate is so dominant in setting the character of the parties these days, and Mormons are such a small minority nationally, that Mormons would just be giving away their votes if we gave them such an assignment.

  67. Wow, who would have thought there were so few…republicans? Those unaffiliated must be rowdy, renegade bunch. I’m sure they’re being closely watched.

  68. RE: the politics of Elders Bednar, Cook & Christofferson. There are some common items with these brethren.
    They all lived outside of Utah for many years prior to their calls as GAs.
    They lived in areas where democrats were dominant on the local or state level for some or all of that time.
    These states had prominent, mostly democrat politicians that were morally repugnant on a personal level during their tenure outside Utah.
    They were all called as GAs and brought back to SLC by President Hinckley.
    Also, 2 out of 3 are lawyers.

  69. I would also add that all of the more senior apostles lived in Utah during the Reagan administration. There is one Christian principle that Reagan was far more effective at than his contemporary rivals: spreading freedom of worship into many more areas of the world. This was also highly congruent with the deep convictions of Pres. Benson and would have resonated strongly with all church leaders of that era.

  70. Thank you to so many of you for sharing your views on political parties.
    To #78 Steve Smith: “You seem to have some stereotypical impression of people who vote Democrat…”
    Generalizations are the only way to discuss parties in such few words, no? Of course there is more variation that what I have presented, but I am confident that 9 out of 10 (or at least 8 out of 10) actually do fit the mold I describe above. Food for thought. Meanwhile, despite a pretty significant announcement on the Mormon Newsroom site (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-instructs-leaders-on-same-sex-marriage) regarding SSM, I have yet to see a blog posting on this topic other than at M*, which few T&S readers appear likely to read. A few highlights: “Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established” & “The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution” & “We urge you to review and teach Church members the doctrine contained in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”” Which party would be more willing to accept or support these statements? Not an insignificant question, IMO.

  71. “Which party would be more willing to accept or support these statements? Not an insignificant question, IMO.”

    Since the prophet leads a global church, just what is the significance of the probability that a local party supports the newsroom’s statement on a local issue? If significance is to be attached to newsroom statements on local issues, where are the statements on SSM-related issues in any other country? It’s not like the US is the only jurisdiction reviewing traditional marriage, so why isn’t it just as important that church leadership align itself with, say, the platforms of the CDU, UMP, PP and PO, some of the most significant conservative parties in Europe? Not to mention conservatives throughout the remainder of the world.

  72. #88: “newsroom statements on local issues” –> Really? The definition of marriage only a “local” issue? I would submit that, by speaking out on this issue from SLC (in every General Conference in addition to the more-easily-dismissed newsroom), the Church is not directing its council merely at members in the state of Utah, but rather the worldwide membership.

  73. European Saint (87), you are right that a majority of Democrats are in favor of legalized gay marriage (although this is very recent) and are pro-choice on abortion. I don’t know about gambling (that doesn’t seem to be a significant issue that Democratic politicians campaign on). I’m not sure about marijuana either. But the vast majority of Democrats are most certainly not against curbing religious rights. In fact, a huge majority of Democrats are religious. Very few are honest to goodness atheists. The idea that religious freedoms in the US are under major threat is one of the most ridiculous unsubstantiated ideas touted by the religious right in the US. If anything it is a bit ironic that it actually seems that the people who vote Republican who are more in favor of curbing religious rights. They’re the ones persecuting Muslims, promoting Islamophobia, and trying to halt mosque construction. They’re the ones persecuting liberal Christian religions and keeping them from marrying gays.

    I don’t think that either party is more or less in line with the LDS church’s teachings. The Democrats aren’t threatening the religious freedoms of the LDS church. They are fully in favor of providing full protection for the LDS church’s right to believe what they think God’s law is and not have to marry gays. Attitudes in favor of legalizing gay marriage are growing among the Republicans too (i.e. Jon Huntsman Jr.). You should also note that the LDS church doctrine may not square too well with many Republicans’ stances on immigration, war, and economics. I think that the fact that many of the brethren are Republican has more to do with just personal political preference than any sort of deep religious conviction that Republican policies are more in line with God’s laws than those of the Democrats.

  74. #89, the LDS church wants to convert the whole world to its religion as well. The reason that the LDS church has taken action against gay marriage in the public sphere is that for some reason they feel that legalized gay marriage will infringe on their rights to not marry gays. I don’t think that they have much to worry about. The staunchest of gay rights advocates also advocate for the freedom of religions to believe and practice what they may and do not seek to impose gay marriage on religions. The LDS church is committed to not dictating what its members’ political beliefs should be either. In fact, local leaderships are counseled to take no action against any member in the event that it is discovered that they support gay marriage.

  75. There is another state you can compare it to, Matt W, #79. The same individuals who put the UT voters up also put up info for DE, CO, FL, RI, etc, etc, for example: rivoters.com. Thanks!

  76. I’m smiling at the thought of balancing Steve Smith seeing nothing to worry about with the Lords servants feeling compelled to repeatedly warn and speak on this issue.. Either you feel you know more than all the brethren combined on this issue or you feel you know more than God who inspires them to speak. Neither is a good alternative. Im not saying the thinking has been done, but loyalty to the point of trying to understand, pray, receive revelation consistent with their teaching is the way it should usually work.

  77. This probably explains why I was raised on advice from my leaders to always give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. I have never, ever heard from a general authority or a church leader at any level that I should be an honest employer and treat my employees fairly and decently.

  78. I am amazed by the number of anti-democrat comments here. I am a life-long democrat, fairly recent convert to the church, and someone who embraces the church’s teachings. Why has no one mentioned the republican party’s determination to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to environmental issues that affect all of us, especially Utah people who have some of the worst air pollution in winter, of any one region in the US? Republicans always seem like the last people to be willing to realize that we are stewards of God’s creation, and that the earth has long suffered because of people placing their own personal greed and self-interest above the common good?

  79. Chris (93) ??? I’m not sure you understood my main point, or the main point of the LDS church leaders. My main points: LDS leaders don’t publicly hint at which political party is closer to God’s ways. The fact that many of them vote Republican can’t be interpreted as evidence that they are motioning members to vote Republican or regard the GOP to be the more enlightened party. I also point out that on the issue of gay marriage, they are currently encouraging its members to stand up for religious freedoms (which aren’t under any known threat). Sure they have encouraged members to take action against gay marriage, but they haven’t made that a requirement. They also do not tell members how to formulate their political opinions. Consider the way that the LDS leadership phrased a letter to congregations in Hawaii in Sept. 2013 pasted below. Note in the first paragraph how they did not specifically tell the LDS members that they had to be against the measure in Hawaii which would legalize gay marriage and that they urged LDS members instead to protect organizations from having to support gay marriage:

    “Whether or not you favor the proposed change, we hope that you will urge your elected representatives to include in any such legislation a strong exemption for people and organizations of faith. Such an exemption should:

    “ — Protect religious organizations and officials from being required to support or perform same-sex marriages or from having to host same-sex marriages or celebrations in their facilities; and

    “ — Protect individuals and small businesses from being required to assist in promoting or celebrating same-sex marriages.

    “This is an important issue. As you stake presidency, we urge every family to discuss this issue together and then respond as you feel appropriate. Thank you for your support and faithful service. We pray that the Lord will bless and protect you and your families always.”

  80. Steve you said there is nothing to worry about with regard to the issue. They at least seem extremely concerned, in fact more motivated on this than about any other civil issue. I don’t dismiss that like others.

  81. Elizabeth B (95) …

    Because most LDS people are MUCH more concerned about being economically success/independent/self-sufficient that they have forgotten (or mock) the charge to be good stewards. They won’t say it, and they will talk all day about being good stewards and caring for the planet; but when economy and evironment come head to head the economy will win EVERY time to the church body as a whole (Individuals will obviously vary). I say this as a registered Republican. From the election caucauses to the Sunday School class, the money will trump all.

  82. Chris, the LDS leaders do have some reason to worry about gay marriage, but it isn’t the reason that they are saying that it is. Tens of thousands of active LDS people are gay (both openly and closeted). With society in the US and Europe becoming increasing accepting of gays, it is highly likely that more Mormon gays will come out of the closet. The problem is that many gays of religious backgrounds want to still be religious after coming out. Many LDS gays are already saying, “I believe the church is true and I believe there is nothing wrong with me being gay and having a romantic relationship with the person of the same gender.” As this attitude spreads, there will likely be increasing pressure within the LDS church from gays and their supporters for LDS leaders to recognize gay romantic relationships as equal with straight romantic relationships. So I should say that the LDS leaders are incorrect in identifying the push for them to change as coming from outside the church. It will most likely come from within the membership. But they don’t want to phrase it that way. They want the members to focus on an outside boogeyman.

    And yes, by saying that because the LDS leaders say that there is a serious threat to society and religious rights caused by gay marriage that we should unquestioningly accept it, or at least draw that very conclusion after thinking and praying about it, does smack of the idea of “when the leaders have spoken, the thinking is done.” Bear in mind that the LDS leaders don’t command us to accept them as infallible or to agree with everything they say. To be a LDS member in good standing you are commanded only to “sustain” the leaders. I interpret ‘sustain’ as meaning to regard the LDS authorities as making a good faith effort in understanding and conveying what is true and just, to not seek to usurp their authority, and to not seek to undermine them. I do none of those in saying that legalizing gay marriage poses no threat to religious rights.

  83. You say this:
    “They (LDS Leaders) want the members to focus on an outside boogeyman.”

    Then a couple seconds later say this:
    “and to not seek to undermine them (LDS Leaders).”

    Sorry Steve, you are doing your best to portray yourself as firmly within the faith, and maybe you strongly see yourself that way, but it doesn’t look that way based on the rhetoric here.

    You are undermining LDS leaders and apparently but your own definition not sustaining them?

    But the truth is, gay relationships are contrary to the plan of salvation. They are contrary to the kind of being God is and the kind of being God wants us to become.

    On the other hand, gay relationships and gay marriage are absolutely not contrary to popular church culture where we just have to live a good life, go to church, pay tithing and then one day live happily ever after in heaven.

    What’s wrong with this philosophy is it absolutely undermines the purpose of the church. The church teaches rather plainly that we’re all resurrected to a kingdom infinitely better than this life — gay and straight. But the purpose of the church is salvation in the celestial kingdom, receiving all the Father hath, through the Son, and therefore become as God is; to carry on the work of salvation in exaltation for and endless posterity after the pattern of our Father in Heaven.

    Gay marriage can never fit within that doctrine. How will gay marriage fit in the church? I dunno, I can almost see a path where the church plainly acknowledges that some of God’s children won’t be exalted and therefore we might as well lower the expectations to a certain extent. The role of the temple would change dramatically in that case…

    I don’t have the answers at every possible degree, but I do know the highest degree of heaven, what our Father in Heaven has in mind for all his children does know involve gay marriage.

  84. “Sorry Steve, you are doing your best to portray yourself as firmly within the faith, and maybe you strongly see yourself that way, but it doesn’t look that way based on the rhetoric here. You are undermining LDS leaders.”

    chris, I’m trying to undermine LDS leaders through an online discussion in which I disagree with the idea that gay marriage is threatening religious freedoms??? If this is your idea of undermining, then I imagine you could find hoards of faithfuls to be undermining the brethren somehow. Gay marriage and religious freedoms are political issues. I fully support protecting religious freedoms, just like the brethren, and agree that the LDS church should not be forced by the courts to marry gays. In fact come to think of it, I may actually be wrong, but not in the way that you want me to be. I don’t think that the brethren have at any time over the pulpit at conference, or in any official church publications or through any other broadcast that they want all the members to hear, stated that gay marriage is a direct threat to religious freedoms and that we must treat it as such. They have encouraged us to support religious freedoms and have encouraged us to campaign against gay marriage. But they have threatened no action against members who support gay marriage or disagree with them over what is a strictly political issue. Now, they have taken action against members who openly criticize them over their position. But one can disagree without criticizing.

    Also bear in mind that I’m not pushing the LDS leaders to marry gays in churches. I’m merely saying that there is a possibility that an increasing number of members may push for that in the future.

    As for me supposedly “not being firm in the faith,” I’ll let my local leadership determine whether I am or not. But assuming that you hold a temple recommend, you and I are on equal status in the church. So I’d appreciate you stop trying to playing ‘gotcha’ and stop trying to subject me to self-devised litmus tests to determine the degree of my Mormonness. The fact that there is a diversity of opinions, political beliefs, and acts of devotion all tolerated by the LDS leaders can be a painful realization for some. Personal campaigns to try to paint other members as less faithful and less loyal can be a coping mechanism for some.

  85. Steve, I took your words at face value. You said the Apostles intentionally are scaring (boogeyman) the members with their teachings. A kind of benign-nazi, “look at the bad guys over there, not the issues in here” rhetoric. And then you went on to say you’re not undermining them. And then you provided your own definition of to sustain which those above actions contradict.

    It’s entirely different to disagree on what should happen for a variety of political reasons. But to accuse the leadership of being opposed to gay marriage to mislead the membership into focusing on a boogeyman is a strong accusation that suggests your polarization is so complete your political view requires you to see ill will in all your opponents, even church authorities.

    I’m taking your words seriously here, not trying to play gotcha.

  86. I can see both both Chris’s and Steve’s point of view.

    The articles of faith say that we believe in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.

    Now, consider what it means to “sustain” the law in terms of taxes.

    Are you not sustaining the law if you complain about your taxes? If you push the legal definitions to their legal limit, or if you publicly comment that a particular tax policy is harmful?

    Or on the other hand, if you don’t pay legally owed taxes or encourage tax abuse and accuse the IRS of being a criminal fraud?

    Sustain can sustain a range of interpretations.

  87. chris, instead of focusing on the merit of my argument about the LDS church and gay marriage, you’re just interested in trying to wage a crusade and claim that I can’t be as Mormon as you. When you can’t win, just resort to ad hominems. Sorry I made you cry.

  88. Steve, it’s got nothing to do with that. The merits of your argument aren’t even worth addressing. Gay boogeyman?

  89. The issue of the religious freedoms being under great threat (especially due to legalized gay marriage) in the US is a boogeyman argument, in other words, many make strong assertions about the supposed threat without sufficient evidence to back it up. The argument didn’t originate from the LDS leaders, but some of them seem to have latched onto it. I believe that the leaders are sincere in their beliefs that their religious freedoms may come under attack via gay marriage. But as far as I can tell, there is no reason for them to be concerned about an external threat to their religious freedoms due to gay marriage. They also likely suspect the fact that there may be pressure mounting from within the LDS membership for policy change, but may not want to acknowledge that publicly yet.

    The questions that we should be grappling with are: will legalizing gay marriage limit religious freedoms in the US, particularly in the LDS church, and where is the evidence for such? But you don’t seem to want to deal with this argument. I presume that this is because you have no evidence, but you tell me.

    Here is the problem. You don’t like something you hear from another LDS person. But instead of trying to tackling the arguments that the LDS person is making, you question their worthiness and devotion. You appear to me more interested in tribalistic browbeating than engaging in reasoned discussion about serious questions. Your behavior on this thread is thuggish.

  90. Not really Steve. If it helps to dismiss me as such to maintain your commitment to the gospel that’s more than ok though. You seem committed to painting me as the accuser here, when worthiness or sustaining was first brought up by you. Not me.

    This little exchange started when you posted a comment that placed you as the authority and it’s back full circle. You said in your opinion, the Brethren don’t need to be worried. I offered that there are two positions to weigh here. Taking your word for it that they don’t need to be worried, or presumably taking their word for it since they’ve expressed their concern.

    You replied that they are hyping up some gay boogeymen to distract members.

    As I typed a reply, it really seemed to me like you were coming at this situation from outside the faith. I confess, I’m not really sure I can imagine someone who is a faithful member saying that the Brethren are intentionally ginning up this gay controversy to get the members amped up in opposition to something external (gay boogeyman).

    We can probably both agree this conversation isn’t worth continuing, because you view everything I say through a lens of apparently clinging to the fact that you must be less faithful than the great I. While I see you squirming around the ultimate issue that you place your judgement of this issue above theirs, and I think it should stand on its own who others should be persuaded by.

    Make no mistake, I agree you are free to believe as you wish. But when you enter the realm of public opinion, I’m perfectly within my right to weigh the comment of an unknown poster who says, “don’t worry, it will be ok…” with the words of the prophets, and further with my own personal experience and revelation.

  91. Alright, you keep beating up that straw man you’ve created there, chris. I think that I’ve given you enough rope for you hang yourself by now. I’m fairly confident that any rational outside observer (if someone is actually reading this) will conclude that you’re more interested in chest thumping than actual reasoning. At any rate your childish antics have been quite amusing for the last couple of days.

  92. (reminisce the Stoning scene of Life of Brian)
    Didn’t it trip the Nazi alarm back in 104? “You said it!” Course, we don’t stone someone for saying Nazi. “You said it again!”

    *ducks* ;)

  93. Kill the thread? How can they kill the thread? We’re still waiting for a reply about which parts of the Republican party platform are regularly aired in General Conference.

  94. It seems that the Big Sort now ongoing is driven to a significant degree by the choice between ideology (of which progressivism is the current main strand) and the gospel.

    Neither party is particularly close to the gospel, but one is by disposition commonly opposed to it.

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