Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Religion and Politics

General wisdom dictates that politics and religion should never be discussed in cordial society.  Too many strong, perhaps dogmatic opinions.  In recent days our family has exchanged some differing views on each, especially politics, via email.  I'm pleased that the discussion has taken the high road and nobody has come to blows.  I thought I would chime in via this blog post.

I was disappointed, though not surprised that Romney lost his presidential bid.  It is tough to unseat a charismatic incumbent, even in hard economic times, though that made for a close race.

There was one campaign theme that troubled me.  I felt it was a cheap shot the way Democrats portrayed Romney as one of the rich elite and disconnected from mainstream America.  I suspect most politicians, on both sides of the aisle, including Obama, could be similarly accused.

Further, I was sad to see Democrats pandering to an all too natural tendency of human nature to envy and resent those who are better off.  I felt they were driving a wedge between the haves and have-nots, and exploiting this to their political advantage at the expense of further dividing society and national unity.  The message seemed to be "let's sock it to the rich, they're getting a free ride and are gouging the poor and middle class".

I can't speak regarding all wealthy people, but the ones I know who might be considered such are heavy tax payers, and are quietly generous well beyond paying customary tithing and fast offering donations.  They don't hesitate at all in helping those who are less fortunate.  Some might look askew at their vacation homes, expensive toys, and exotic trips, but I have seen this other side, especially while serving as bishop.  I have been profoundly moved and humbled by what I have seen.  As bishop I was grateful they had the means and resources to help others, and that they stepped up and did so.  I see their contributions to society and the economy, and I don't begrudge their financial success at all.

Anyone in our church who has served as bishop, or Relief Society president, or compassionate service leader, or priesthood leader, or often home/visiting teacher is not disconnected from the poor and unfortunate.  As Christ said, the poor will always be among us.  The Church welfare program and philosophy of helping the needy is positive and heartwarming, and too often in contrast with the forced "take from the rich and give to the poor" methods of government, with its unavoidable waste and inefficiencies, and unintended debilitating results.  But I begin to ramble and preach.

Though generally aligned with Republican political thought, especially on the economy, and issues like pro-life, I confess I gave the nod to Obama on foreign policy.  I felt the Republicans hammering on the Benghazi attack was off base.  I prefer Obama's more even handed approach to the Middle East, rather than Romney's unabashed alignment with Israel.

By the way, one of my tennis friends asked a few days before the election what I thought about a Mormon president.  In retrospect, I find it odd and was somewhat embarrassed at the time when I didn't understand what he was talking about.  When I thought of Mormon president I thought of Thomas Monson, or my stake president--didn't connect the dots to the presidential race at all.  But now I find it interesting, and perhaps reassuring, that I didn't view religious affiliation as a factor in my choice of candidates. 

Unlike many Republicans, I am not beset by post-election gloom.  While I don't agree with Obama's politics in general, I am ecstatic to have participated in a free, open election, with a choice between two exceptional men who are good, and want the best for America.  I am optimistic about America, and I believe we will work through the challenges we face.


  1. Nice post. I wish citizens would strive to hold intelligent political discussions. They're much more fruitful than the hostile finger-pointing that takes over, especially during campaigns.

    I am very disappointed with the outcome of the election. I was so willing to have a skilled business person take the helm and give it a try (rather than a politician).

    As for Romney's stance on Israel (or anything else for that matter), I was confident that when he became privy to intelligence and understanding the precarious balance we try to maintain in the world, that he would have been sensible in foreign affairs.

    And as for the Libya incident, it is important to bring these kinds of things into the open, sooner rather than later. It is not an issue that would or should make or break an election though. It's never good when an administration sweeps things under the rug (am not talking about sensitive intelligence).

  2. PS: an acquaintance asked me a while back who I was going to vote for, the black or the Mormon. He knows I am a Mormon and we have discussed the Church many times, so I just laughed and so did he.

  3. I especially agree with your last paragraph. I didn't like to hear anyone call Obama an evil man because while I don't agree with his politics, I think he is really trying to make America a better place. I was also bothered about the wealthy image of Romney. None of these politicians, that the general population could name, live a middle class lifestyle. Why was that such an issue?

    1. Alyson, I resented hearing people say they were going to choose the lesser of 2 evils. Neither candidate is evil, not by a million miles.

  4. Great post! I especially enjoy your final paragraph and appreciate your optimism.

  5. This is a great post. Sorry for taking so long to read all yall's Nabloplomato posts. I finished Suzanne's and now I am working through ACW's posts! JLP