The LDS Church is Politically Neutral, But its Members Aren't

The Final Word on Mormons and Politics

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The Church IS Neutral, Just Like it Claims

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon) always remains neutral, when it comes to politics. It does not allow its buildings or resources to be used for political purposes. In addition, during every political season it reinforces its neutrality. Leaders and members are advised to be cautious. Full-time leaders, lay leaders and ordinary members know of the Church's neutrality and are warned to help safeguard it.

Occasionally, the Church takes positions on moral issues of public concern. This would include abortion, same-sex marriage and similar things. However, it does not do it in a partisan way, nor does it acknowledge that it's position corresponds with a particular political party view.

Politics IS Off Limits in the Church

Unlike other religions and denominations, politics is strictly off limits in LDS church meetings and events. Political issues and candidates should never be referred to directly. Discussions should stick to generalities and principles.

For example, it is appropriate to discuss how conspiracies can corrupt government. It is inappropriate to assert by name that particular individuals and groups are guilty of this. It is also inappropriate to infer that a particular political party's view corresponds with the Church's position.

Individual political candidates and political news headlines rarely get brought up in church teachings and discussions.

If they do, individuals who raise them are often privately counseled by leaders that this is not permissible in LDS culture.

Any comment by anyone that overtly endorses political parties, partisan issues or individual candidates is avoided. When this norm is breached, people react negatively to the person or persons who violate this norm.

Mormon Support for the Various Parties Has Changed Over Time

Aggregate data for Mormons and their personal political activities and support exists. In general, Mormons were largely Democrats for years. This continued up until the 1960s and into the 1970s.

Since that time, Mormons have become overwhelmingly Republican and conservative. It is likely that Mormons shifted party allegiance because of the Great Society programs proposed and enacted during the Kennedy and Johnson years.

Many of these programs awarded public assistance to people, with nothing expected in return for the help. This is tremendously at odds with the Mormon self-reliance ethic. Assistance should only be given to help people who are willing to work towards self-reliance and committed to achieve it.

American political views have largely shifted away from the handout mentality; and public assistance is seen as more temporary. This could cause Mormon's political allegiance to shift over time as well.

Aggregate Data More Important than Lone Outliers

Mormon Democrats often tout the existence of other Mormon Democrats. They certainly exist. Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, is an obvious example of a long term Mormon and Democrat.

However, Reid is an outlier. Pointing at outliers should not mask the fact that most Mormons are overwhelmingly Republican and have been for some time. Most Mormons serving in top government posts are Republicans.

Mormons who do identify as Democrats tend not to be as strong and active in the faith. This simple fact is bound to to cause a negative reaction from Mormon Democrats. However, it remains a statistical fact.

Beyond that, what it means is less clear. For example, it could mean that Mormons who identify as Democrats are being marginalized or excluded in some way from church activity. It does not necessarily mean that being a Democrat makes you a bad Mormon.

Why Won't Anyone Admit All This?

Stories in the news media suggest that these issues are not as well defined as they are. Why? There are several possible reasons.

  • Government scholars and experts are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats themselves. Journalists usually quote and rely on these sources.
  • Journalists themselves are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats.
  • The Church obviously wants to appear neutral, as well as be neutral.
  • No one wants to manipulate political opinion by using church influence or data.
  • Mormons are expected to make up their our own minds about politics and political issues. Political pressure is not being exerted on members.
  • Most Mormons now live outside the United States. So, why is it even an issue anymore? American Mormons being overwhelmingly Republican says nothing about international members or the Church in general.
  • The current situation can change. Mormons identifying with one political party over another can change over time. Mormons may well shift more towards the Democrats in the future or the Democrats may shift more towards conservatism. Who knows?

Partisan Disagreements and Partisan Discord is Pointless in Church

Political party identification is not relevant to anything church related. It exists outside our membership. We should not try to bring it into church discussion or our church relationships.

In the Handbook (Political and Civic Activity) it states:

While affirming the right of expression on political and social issues, the Church is neutral regarding political parties, political platforms, and candidates for political office. The Church does not endorse any political party or candidate. Nor does it advise members how to vote.

The Church will continue to encourage members to get involved in the democratic process and make our voices heard, especially through voting. We are counseled to be good citizens. There is no reason to expect the Church, or its instruction on politics, to change.