Monday, November 10, 2014

Fact Check: Republican Party Platform and LDS Teachings

Mark Paredes's attack on the Democratic party has been widely criticized, primarily because he uses his position as a Bishop to imply that Mormons who belong to the Democrat party are not temple worthy, by beginning with the temple recommend question that asks whether the church member belongs to any organization that contradicts Church teachings.

Mark points out that the Democrat platform is opposed to the Church on abortion and same-sex marriage. He then writes, "While the 2012 Republican platform is almost unreadable, at least it does not contain statements that directly contradict LDS teachings." My purpose here is to show that his statement is factually incorrect: the Republican party platform has plenty of statements that contradict the Church's teachings.

The easiest example is immigration. Page 25 of the 2012 Republican Party Platform opposes any amnesty for illegal immigrants, and page 26 calls for "tough penalties," implicitly emphasizing deportation, where the Church statement says, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God. The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship."

Another example, ironically, is abortion. Page 33 of the Republican Party Platform states simply, "We stand firmly against it." The platform makes no distinction between abortions after rape or incest, abortions when the child is unlikely to survive, and abortions when the mother is unlikely to survive. Yet The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cites all of these cases as possible examples where abortion may be acceptable. Even Mitt Romney, the Republicans' 2012 presidential nominee and a Latter-day Saint, did not support his own party's platform on the issue.

While not a direct contradiction, it is also worth noting that the Republicans' anti-discrimination statement on page 9 omits any mention of sexual orientation, where the Church has come out in support of sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws for employment and housing. Once again, the Church is more moderate--and more focused on pertinent issues--that the Republican party. In fact, this is one of the Democrats' most poignant criticisms of Republicans: that they fight for traditional marriage, but not for anti-discrimination laws in other areas of life.

Another direct contradiction is the Republicans' declaration, "We are the party of peace through strength" (pg. 39). This is followed by several pages of reasoning for expanding our military capabilities; the party platform, along with most Republicans' personal statements, is filled with the rhetoric of military power and conquering our enemies. But in 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball said:

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.” (Matt. 5:44–45.)

We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us—and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)—or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha’s life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, “And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:17.)
First Presidency Message, June 1976

The Church does not support disbanding our military or any such extreme measure. Instead, they unequivocally oppose the sort of military devotion that Republicans proudly espouse. President Kimball went so far as to call it idolatry.

So, yes, the Democrats have issues where the oppose the Church, but so do Republicans. If we were to apply Mark Paredes's final judgment of Harry Reid to staunch Latter-day Saint Republicans, we would conclude that they cannot be men or women of "serious religious faith," that they are an "embarrassment." However, I try to follow Cariadoc's Law: "Do not ascribe to malice that which can be explained by ignorance or error."

If you believe that your political party is entirely in line with the gospel of Jesus Christ, or if you believe that your political leaders are more enlightened than the seers who stand at the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then I believe you are simply mistaken. I invite you to exercise your faith, continue to learn through prayer and study, and become someone better.

NOTE: This is not intended to be an in-depth analysis of the entire Republican Platform, which has many other good and bad ideas in it, and I do not claim that one party is more or less in line with LDS teachings than the other. There are scholars who have studied this in much more depth than I have. As for myself, I am a moderate conservative and a registered Republican, so in my last temple recommend interview, I freely admitted that I belonged to an organization that contradicts Church teachings. My fairly liberal bishop agreed with me, but he still gave me a temple recommend.

No comments: