Why Mormons should vote Democratic
By Fred Voros
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:10/28/2006 03:55:02 PM MDT
"Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms
of all major political parties," declared the First Presidency of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is certainly true of
the Democratic Party.
Mormon descriptions of a just social order read like a Democratic
manifesto. The Book of Mormon decries a society in which every man
prospers according to his genius, and every man conquers according to
his strength (Alma 30:17). It condemns those who ignore the plight of
the hungry, needy, naked and sick (Mormon 8:39).
This brother's-keeper principle animates government programs
pioneered by Democrats. In 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw
"one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished" and acted.
LDS scripture warns incessantly against economic stratification: "
. . . it is not given that one man should possess that which is above
another, wherefore the world lieth in sin" (D&C 49:20). Yet Republican
tax cuts on one end of the economic spectrum and aid cuts on the other
have widened the gap between rich and poor. Thanks to our Republican
Congress, the world lies a little more in sin.
LDS scripture also calls us to "renounce war and proclaim peace"
(D&C 98:16), and condemns offensive wars (Alma 43:45-47; Mormon
3:8-16). Yet the Republican administration misled America into
invading Iraq, a nation that had not even threatened the U.S. Nor does
LDS teaching justify the administration's fall-back rationale that the
invasion was justified by our attempt to impose democracy.
In 1942, Church President David O. McKay declared, "Nor is war
justified in an attempt to enforce a new order of government . . .
however better the government . . . may be."
Astoundingly, the Republican Congress is borrowing money - from
China, Saudi Arabia and federal trust funds - to cover the war, lavish
tax cuts and their own profligate spending.
Even on abortion, the Democratic position is friendlier to LDS
Church teachings. Mormonism does not teach that life begins at
conception. President Gordon B. Hinckley declared that abortion
inevitably brings "sorrow and regret."
Yet Church policy makes allowance where pregnancy results from rape
or incest, where the life or health of the mother is in serious
jeopardy, or where the fetus suffers from fatal defects. In such
cases, Latter-day Saints are to consult with priesthood leaders and
seek confirmation of their decision in prayer before proceeding.
The 2004 Democratic national platform says Democrats uphold Roe v.
Wade; "strongly support family planning and adoption incentives"; and
believe abortion "should be safe, legal and rare." This position
grants Latter-day Saints freedom to follow the prophet.
The Republican position does not. The 2004 Republican platform
declares that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to
life which cannot be infringed." In other words, it would prohibit all
abortions. Consequently, a Latter-day Saint's decision to seek an
abortion may be allowed by church policy, approved by priesthood
leaders, confirmed by the Lord in prayer, but forbidden by the
We need both parties. As the First Presidency foresaw in 1891, "The
more evenly balanced the parties become the safer it will be for us in
the security of our liberties; and . . . our influence for good will
be far greater than it possibly could be were either party
overwhelmingly in the majority."
This will never be achieved in Utah, however, until Mormons see the
light and vote their values. By which I mean, of course, vote
* FRED VOROS is a lawyer living in Salt Lake City.