My friend and colleague, Greg Kearney, stated that he is a Democrat because that party is the best way to fulfill Deity’s mandate to care for the less fortunate and to work justice [See James 1:27 and other Scriptures]. Greg is right; too many of us tend to not want to “get involved”–the Kitty Genovese murder is eloquent illustration of the need to help others. The Democrats, of course, have rather detailed plans to achieve what Thomas Sowell calls, “cosmic justice.”
Conservative Republicans, on the other hand, view many of these plans as misguided. Thus, what liberals see as bringing justice to the disadvantaged strike conservatives as imposing injustice on others, and what conservatives see as protecting wealth creation, without which there can be no emergence from poverty, seem to liberals as callous indifference to the poor. Because of differing emphases on what constitutes justice, conservatives and liberals–especially within the Church (and FAIR)–too often argue past each other. This arguing past each other leads to people on both sides ascribing impure motives to their opponents. Liberals accuse conservatives of trying to slaughter the poor, while conservatives return the favour by asseting that liberals wish to resurrect Stalinism. And demagogues on both sides encourage this vituperation.
Without going into the merits of conservative and liberal policies, my point is that this “conflict of visions” [also from Sowell 😉 ] has both benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, this diversity of viewpoints allows some members of FAIR to spot both problems and solutions that others would miss. Unfortunately, this same diversity could lead to members of FAIR to question the motives of their fellows “on the other side of the aisle,” for espousing policies that appear to be morally repugnant. We must be on guard against this, or our effectiveness as apologists are compromised. When I was a member of the NEA (dominated by liberals), I was often invited to leave, on the grounds that a conservative could not be “pro-worker.” However, after I had demonstrated my loyalty to the main goal of the union (i.e., better treatment of its members), they became willing to look into my case that conservative methods may the way to achieve goals held in common.
We see something very similar in relations between Latter-day Saints and their non-member acquaintences. Egged on by “ministers to the cults” and other militants, our non-LDS neighbours accuse us of not being honest about our beliefs.
One example is that, to the Evangelical mind our ninth article of faith, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly,” is tantamount to a declaration that the Bible is neither authoritative nor reliable. Their logic is that anything that is inspired by a perfect God must also be perfect. However, to the LDS, the minor typos, mistranslations, and other errata found in editions of the Bible that we have today do not detract from either the reliability or the authority of the Bible, and, in real life, anything connected to humans are subject to flaws, and this doesn’t stop people from accepting people and things with minor flaws as reliable.
The problem is, as long as each group dwell in conflicting paradigms, we will continue to argue past each other, and, goaded by “purists,” we will continue to assume bad faith on the other side, and, until we can demonstrate common ground, we’re in for a long, hard war.