Politics


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Recent LDS First Presidency members with political backgrounds:

N. Eldon Tanner:
Former minister of lands and mines and legislator in Alberta, Canada
Marion G. Romney:
Former Utah legislator
Ezra Taft Benson:
Secretary of agriculture under Dwight D. Eisenhower
David B. Haight:
Former mayor of Palo Alto, Ca., and governor of the San Francisco Bay Area Council of Mayors
Neal A. Maxwell:
Former legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Wallace F. Bennett of Utah
James E. Faust:
Former Utah legislator
Marvin J. Ashton:
Former Utah state senator

- See John Heinerman and Anson Shupe, The Mormon Corporate Empire, 1985, p. 135

“ ‘The Lord,’ said he, ‘has promised to give us wisdom, and when I lack wisdom I ask the Lord, and he tells me, and if he didn’t tell me, I would say he was a liar, that’s the way I feel. But I never asked him anything about politics. I am a Whig, and I am a Clay man. I am made of Clay, and I am tending to Clay, and I’m going to vote for Henry Clay; that’s the way I feel. (A laugh) But I won’t interfere with my people, religiously, to affect their votes, though I might elect Clay, for he ought to be president....’”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., speech recorded in the Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, September 15, 1843, p. 3, in article entitled “The Prairies, Nauvoo, Joe Smith, the Temple, the Mormons, &c.”

“Joseph Smith, Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion, has a proclamation in the last ‘Times and Seasons,’ directing the Mormons in this State to vote for the locofoco [Democratic] candidates for Governor and Lieut. Governor next August. This is indeed, a high minded attempt to usurp power and to tyrannize over the minds of men.”

- Quincy Whig, January 22, 1842, p. 2

“What a strange people these Mormons are. They are like a flock of sheep; if I should jump into hell, I believe they would follow me!”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., on the block-voting of Mormons, Macomb Journal, January 25, 1877, p. 2, “Politics and Mormons”

“When God sets up a system of salvation, he sets up a system of government; when I speak of a government I mean what I say; I mean a government that shall rule over temporal and spiritual affairs.”

- Apostle Sidney Rigdon, General Conference, April 5, 1844

“A man is not an honorable man if he is not above all law, and above government.... The law of God is far more righteous than the laws of the land; the laws of God are far above the laws of the land. The Kingdom of God does not interfere with the laws of the land, but keeps itself by its own laws.”

- Times and Seasons, v. 5, May 1, 1844, p. 524, also printed with punctuation changes in History of the Church, v. 5, p. 292

“Joseph suffered himself to be ordained a King, to reign over the house of Israel forever.”

- William Marks, “Beloved Brethren,” Zion’s Harbinger and Baneemy’s Organ, v. 3, July 1853, p. 53

“As the ‘world is governed too much,’ and there is not a nation or dynasty, now occupying the earth, which acknowledges Almighty God as their lawgiver, and as ‘crowns won by blood, by blood must be maintained,’ I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely for a THEO-DEMOCRACY, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness, and where liberty, free trade, and sailor’s rights, and the protection of life and property shall be maintained inviolate for the benefit of ALL.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. Daily Globe, April 14, 1844, also see Millennial Star, v. 23, June 22, 1861, p. 391. Deleted from the History of the Church, v. 6, pp. 340-341.

“The Church does not become involved in politics. We don’t favor any candidate. We don’t permit our buildings to be used for political purposes. We don’t favor any party.”

- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, Larry King Live, television program, Sept 8. 1998

“... as the Mormons entered national politics the hierarchy either openly or privately controlled prominent Democratic, Republican, and politically independent newspapers of Utah’s two most populous cities.”

- D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy, 1832-1932: An American Elite, Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1976, see pp. 241-242, 249

“Church attempts to influence Deseret News readers have sometimes backfired. During the 1936 presidential campaign, Church President Heber J. Grant (who detested the Democrats’ New Deal policies) had another member of the Church’s First Presidency write an unsigned editorial accusing Franklin D. Roosevelt of ‘knowingly promoting unconstitutional laws and... advocating communism,’ among other things. The editorial outraged Mormon voters. Many saw the conservative hand of the Church presidency in the editorial; over seventy percent of the letters sent to the First Presidency office soon after its publication condemned the editorial. One historian noted that over 1,200 Latter-day Saints canceled their subscriptions to the Deseret News because of the editorial. It had clearly caused a backlash, and a few days after its publication, 69.3 percent of Utah’s votes went for Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal (see D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years, p. 75).”

- John Heinerman and Anson Shule, The Mormon Corporate Empire, p. 38

“Will the President [James Buchanan] that sits in the chair of state be tipped from his seat? Yes, he will die an untimely death, and God Almighty will curse him; and He will also curse his successor, if he takes the same anti-Mormon stand.”

- Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, v. 5, p. 133

“Most people in this nation do not understand the origin and destiny of the United States as the Latter-day Saints do... How wonderful it would be if all Americans viewed the marvelous country in which we live in the same light as the Latter-day Saints....
“The Lord created the United States for a specific purpose. He provided freedom of speech, press, assembly and worship....
“Here He had determined to restore the gospel. From here it would be taken abroad. From here, during the Millennium, Christ will govern the world.”

- “Preserving Our Loyalties,” Church News, November 6, 1982, p. 16

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or its individual leaders have never been able to ignore Caesar’s world for very long. Caesar has not always been kind to Mormons, and Mormons have consequently sought to have Caesar with them rather than against them.”

- J.D. Williams, “Separation of Church and State in Mormon Theory and Practice,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, v.1, Summer 1966, p. 52

“Where do loyalty and duty lie, for example, when your Stake President asks you as president of the Mormon Elders’ Quorum to have your quorum distribute campaign pamphlets for a one-senator-per-county reapportionment measure – a measure you strongly disapprove?... What should your reaction be when an Apostle of the Church uses the pulpit at General Conference to charge the President of the United States, whom you worked to elect, with unconstitutional programs which are leading the nation to socialism?”

- J.D. Williams, “Separation of Church and State in Mormon Theory and Practice,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, v.1, Summer 1966, p. 30-31

“No man holds divine authority equal to or above the president of the Church. In his position he is pre-eminent!
“Let us understand fully the clear identity of the president of the Church. He is the mouthpiece of God on earth for us today.”

- “The Certain Sounds,” Church News, October 9, 1983, p. 24

“[Utah senators Orrin Hatch and Jake Garn] consistently support programs that are not in the interest of their constituency, including tax loopholes for the oil industry and other ‘corporate welfare’ programs, and increasing their own salaries and tax breaks while opposing anti-trust enforcement.”

- Ralph Nader, as quoted in Glen Warchol, “Nader Says Hatch, Garn Not Telling Whole Story on How They Really Vote,” Deseret News, February 2, 1983, p. D-6

“...the practice of Church officials making suggestions to public administrators and lawmakers [since the Church’s early days in Missouri and Illinois] has never died... In the legislative area, relations between Church officials and law makers are still very direct. Some are out-in-the-open for the public to see; others are behind the scenes. Communiques to members of Congress are periodically sent by the First Presidency. Two famous ones were the 1946 admonition to the Utah Congressional delegation to oppose a peacetime draft and the 1965 letter to all Mormons in Congress to resist the repeal of ‘right-to-work’ laws.”

- J.D. Williams, “Separation of Church and State in Mormon Theory and Practice,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, v.1, Summer 1966, p. 47

“We ought to legislate morality. My experience is that we legislate very little else, but it’s a question of whose morality do we legislate – the Lord’s or somebody else’s?
“If we could only convince ourselves that we are the agents of the Lord, we would surely make God’s purposes our own. That is what we ought to be doing in the political process.”

- Oscar McConkie, as quoted in Wendy Ogata, “Be Agents of Lord in Politics,” Daily Universe, October 12, 1978, p. 13

“In February 1974 Apostle Ezra Taft Benson was asked during an interview if a good Mormon could also be a liberal Democrat. Benson pessimistically replied: ‘I think it would be very hard if he was living the gospel and understood it.’”

- John Heinerman and Anson Shule, The Mormon Corporate Empire, p. 142

“There is a joke in Salt Lake City expressing a feeling that Mormon Democrats say they know well. It goes:
I thought I saw Brother Williams in the Temple last week.
Why that’s impossible. He’s a Democrat, you know.”

- John Heinerman and Anson Shule, The Mormon Corporate Empire, p. 143

“My main concern isn’t as a Democrat, but as a Mormon. We need to look at the universality of the gospel message. The basic Church principles are not liberal or conservative or Republican or Democratic.”

- LaVarr Webb, “Mormon Vote Makes Democrats Shiver,”, Deseret News, June 5, 1983, p. B-8

Proposed Equal Rights Amendment:
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or by any state on account of sex.”

“There are many churches in this country which deny various rights to women in the exercise of their religious doctrine. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, denies priesthood to women. The Mormon Church limits certain positions to men. The orthodox Jewish synagogue segregates men and women. In your opinion, would the ERA allow such churches to continue to have tax exemptions and other public benefits?”

- William F. Buckley, “Senate ERA Testimony is Revealing,” Salt Lake Tribune, June 21, 1983, p. A-13

“The Church organizational structure was used to tell people about the group [fighting the ERA] and to gain members for the organization [QUEST (conservative) “Citizen’s Quest for Quality Government”]. Each ward was assigned a quota of people to send to organizational meetings... and church-appointed leaders served as leaders of the group. This group... interviewed candidates using what was called by many an extremely slanted questionnaire, and then issued endorsements of candidates, during both the 1976 and 1978 elections. Charges were made during both campaigns that the endorsements of this group were distributed within the Mormon Church, as well as in some Catholic churches, and that the famous Mormon Relief Society ‘telephone tree’ was used to spread the word about acceptable candidates.”

- James T. Richardson, “The ‘Old Right’ in Action: Mormon and Catholic Involvement in an Equal Rights Amendment Referendum,” in David G. Bromley and Anson Shupe, eds., New Christian Politics, 1984, pp. 213-33

“When we go to foreign countries, we teach a model constitution which has been drawn up by the Freemen Institute [LDS think-tank] here. It is patterned similarly after the U.S. Constitution. We’ve taken certain concepts of the Restored Gospel [LDS] and incorporated them into our working model of what an ideal constitution should be.”

- Interview with an anonymous official, Freemen Institute, Salt Lake City, (ca. 1981), as quoted in The Mormon Corporate Empire, by John Heinerman and Anson Shupe, 1985, p. 154

“Some speakers were rejected because of their politics, in spite of university policies prohibiting politics as a criterion for selecting speakers, and others were rejected for their ‘reputation’ or statements on moral issues.”

- “BYU Rejected Speakers for Morals, Politics,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 10, 1980, p. B4