Question: Why does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) take a stance on certain political issues?

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Question: Why does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) take a stance on certain political issues?

The Church will become involved in a political matter if it is deemed to have a moral consequence

Church leaders encourage members to be active in politics and to exercise their right to vote. The Church does not, however, specify how members should vote or which political party they ought to belong to. Occasionally, however, the First Presidency issues a letter which is read over the pulpit urging members to act upon some political matter. Why does the Church choose to do this? President Gordon B. Hinckley answers this question:

We try to follow a very strict course in political matters. We observe the principle of the separation of church and state. We do concern ourselves with matters which we consider of moral consequence and things which might directly affect the Church or our fellow churches. We try to work unitedly with other people of other faiths in a constructive way. We hope we can use our influence for the maintenance and cultivation of the good environment in which we live as a people in these communities.[1]

The Church will become involved in a political matter if it is deemed to have a moral consequence. President Hinckley reiterated the same point while speaking at a conference in Japan:

We believe in the separation of Church and state. The Church does not endorse any political party or any political candidate, nor does it permit the use of its buildings and facilities for political purposes. We believe that the Church should remain out of politics unless there is a moral question at issue. In the case of a moral issue we would expect to speak out. But, in the matter of everyday political considerations, we try to remain aloof from those as a Church, while at the same time urging our members, as citizens, to exercise their political franchise as individuals. We believe, likewise, that it is in the interest of good government to permit freedom of worship, freedom of religion. Our official statement says, "We believe in worshiping God according to the dictates of conscience, and we allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."[2]

Upon which issues might the Church take a stand? President Hinckley specifically mentioned issues involving alcohol, gambling and "thing[s] of that kind."[3] On June 30, 2008 the First Presidency under President Thomas S. Monson issued a letter urging Church members living in California to "...do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman." (See: Latter-day Saints and California Proposition 8)

Notes

  1. Press Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 13, 1995., reprinted in Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 62. (emphasis added)
  2. Media Luncheon and Press Conference, Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 1996, reprinted in Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 62. (emphasis added)
  3. BBC Interview, February 21, 1997., reprinted in Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, pp. 62-62.