Some of the thoughts of a commenter on my last post, got me thinking about Mormons, politics, and morality. My observation is that the issues that set off moral alarm bells for most Mormons are those that deal with issues relating to what I would consider â€œfreedom to sinâ€ or â€œprohibitions of obvious sins.â€ The former, for example, being things like matters relating to gay relationships, abortion, and drug use. And, the latter, for example, being things like child abuse, murder, and rape. Am I right about that? I think so, but I would like to hear if you disagree about this generalization.
What is odd in my view is that there are many issues that many people consider to have significant moral dimensions that most Mormons do not really treat as moral issues but rather a matter of personal political preference. Policies relating to poverty or the environment are a couple examples of these. To put a little meat on the bone here: should Mormons not be in arms that so many children live in poverty both in the United States and worldwide? I am not just talking about willing to make a contribution to the church to help the poor either. I mean willing to get involved in the political process to try–even if it only be a degree– to address this issue.
What is even more odd, going back to my pet-issue as a guest blogger–Zion, at one time Mormons seemed to identify moral dimensions to these sorts of public policy decisions much more readily. During the nineteenth century, the way people used land, built cities, provided inroads for the poor, and respected resources did raise the moral ire of many Mormons. What has changed? Is it as simple as what was once the role of the church as shifted to the political process? If so, should we stop seeing moral dimensions in these issues just because â€œthe peopleâ€ rather than â€œthe churchâ€ is charged with making these policy decisions? To me anyways, if anything, the fact that these decisions are in the stewardship of voters, it seems to make it all the more important that at least â€œthe peopleâ€ that subscribe to Mormonism treat these issues as serious moral issues and become advocates if not champions of these issues. This, of course, is a far cry from a simple matter of personal political preference.