Thursday, September 4, 2008

This might make you mad



Ive got beef.
No, not the beef I'm thawing for tonight's dinner (Layered Southwestern Bake--recipe to follow!) But I've got a major problem with Mormon's and people's assumptions of a Mormon's political views. For some reason, I've been bombarded with it lately (I guess I bring it upon myself, reading so many Mormon-blogs) But I have a NEWS FLASH for everyone--- CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN is NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH MORMON! To be honest with you, I hate the LABELING one way or the other. I was going to write a whole big schpeal about why I think as a Latter Day Saint Barack Obama is actually the BEST canidate for someone with our belief system...but I am just not well-versed enough like many of you. However, I came across this one man's blog and I really like what he had to say. So please, humor me...read this. I don't agree with everything he writes--but pretty darn close. The one thing I want to bring up before I paste his article is this: Pro-Life/Pro-Choice and Gay Unions. I know this is always the most heated argument with Christians. Personally, ME, as a woman and mother WOULD NEVER, EVER want anyone to feel the only option for her is abortion....HOWEVER, being PRO CHOICE allows OTHERS (who are most likely NOT OF MY FAITH) to exercise her free will. She will live with that her whole life, and hopefully someone like us, can befriend her and teach her the way, but if that never happens---in the end, the ONE who is to judge her will be Heavenly Father---NOT ME. In addition to that, the thing that IRRITATES me the MOST about "Republicans" is that they are so AVIDLY Pro-Life---- you SUPPORT that BABY while its in the mother's womb and call it MURDER and NEGLECT and IRRESPONSIBILITY...but once that baby is born to the single mother who can't hardly get the hours for a part-time job and can't afford someone to watch the baby.....You are out of the picture---you don't want programs and help for the single mother to make a safe life for that baby....so you will let that PRECIOUS LIFE that you worked SO HARD TO SAVE, but then leave them in the dust, with NO help and NO future. Fair? I think not. Gay Unions: I whole-heartedly believe in EVERY word the Family Proclaimation declares. Again, the entire United States are NOT LDS...they don't have the same values or belief system we have. How dare we tell a couple who is in love that they can't be together? Union---"not marriage" is the title I think it should have. We have to remember to LOVE these people...our BROTHERS AND SISTERS...and understand that WE ALL HAVE DIFFERENT STRUGGLES. Let them live the way that they wish and be happy---and let us rejoice in our ETERNAL COVENANTS that we KNOW to be what Heavenly Father has approved--Someday THEY too will know of the truths, and everything will be sorted out in the END. Instead of TEARING people down that have DIFFERENT morals and VALUES, lets just WORK on OURSELVES and help others as HONESTLY and SINCERELY as we can. Phew. Now for the article.




With Mitt Romney out of the presidential race, who might the Mormon faithful back?

Of course, the Church is officially neutral on political candidates and parties (thank goodness). But let’s be honest, Romney’s failed attempt at the presidency has got to upset a lot of Latter-day Saints, who overwhelming backed Romney (at least in Utah), and who seem to not be very fond of John McCain or Mike Huckabee, not to mention Hillary Clinton.

But Latter-day Saints I have talked to have a fairly favorable view of another presidential candidate: Barack Obama.

Is it possible for a good number of Latter-day Saints to turn to this inspiring new face as their preferred presidential candidate?

I realize that I am facing incredible odds in this question of mine — 1964 was the last time a Democrat (Lyndon B. Johnson) took the state of Utah. But still, I think that if Latter-day Saints will take seriously the counsel of the late Gordon B. Hinckley, and vote for the best person, regardless of party (as he did throughout his life, voting for both Republicans and Democrats), then maybe, just maybe, Obama will gain support among the LDS faithful.

Let me be upfront. I am not a Democrat. I consider myself to be historically conservative and currently moderate. I have grown to be disenchanted by the Bush administration, as I’m sure many of my fellow Latter-day Saints have been. I was in support of the Iraq war at first, but now I realize that it was a major mistake and an abuse of power, and that it is not in the best interest of America or Iraq for us to stay there. Whatever good is being done there is negated three times over — by its costs in American and Iraqi lives, American dollars, and the continually neglected threat of terrorists in Afghanistan.

In regards to Iraq, we can’t simply say, “Well, what will happen if we pull out?” We need to also say, “What is happening, right here and right now, by our continuing to stay in?” I know that some Mormons are in total support of the war for various reasons. But can we really continue to let our troops — fathers and mothers — go back time after time after time to fight a war that is questionable? Our wonderful troops have sacrificed so much, and unless we have a draft or enlist many more individuals (your sons and daughters), we cannot continue to fight this war. It simply must end. I daresay that even some of my reddest fellow Saints are frightened by McCain’s assertion that we could be in Iraq for 100 years. A vote for John McCain is a vote for George Bush’s war. It’s a vote for the continued loss of American and Iraqi lives. It’s a vote for billions and billions of dollars to be spent — who will pay for it? It’s a vote for neglecting more serious needs — Afghanistan, Darfur and other genocides, our children’s educations, our own economy, and so on.

Conservatives worry about how liberals will raise taxes, but it is unrealistic to think that we can continue in this war, as we are, without either raising taxes or seriously depriving our children and others of crucial resources. It is not honest. It is not responsible. Either we hike taxes and stay in the war, or we get out. There’s no other honest way about it. (Remember the LDS principles of buying what you can pay for.) We need to be careful and measured about how we leave, which Obama wants to do, but let us be honest — we cannot keep fighting. The Iraqi government needs to take responsibility, and we need to move on. It is not unpatriotic, nor is it neglectful of our troops, to suggest that we need to move on if it really is true. Mitt Romney’s father George Romney, along with the rest of the nation, realized this about Vietnam. We need to follow his lead and realize it about Iraq.

Regarding the economy, I used to be in support of conservative principles, but I have grown to be fed up with the philosophy of giving tax breaks to the rich and not taking seriously the health care crisis in our country. (Obama, by the way, is not interested in raising taxes, but repealing the Bush tax cuts for those who make over $250,000. This group never asked for these tax cuts, nor do they need them, and the past several years have shown our economy to be worse off, not better, since their inception. Moreover, that these tax cuts have coincided with an ultra-expensive war is unbelievably dishonest.)

I have grown to realize that my religious beliefs require me to take the plight of struggling working families seriously, to no longer hide their faces behind an economic trickle-down curtain that allows me to ignore the growing poverty in our country. Like my fellow Latter-day Saints, I am sure, I am afraid that economic classes are being more polarized, that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The middle class is shrinking. Selfishness is rampant. We have great need to worry, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is our only hope.

It is because of my belief in Jesus Christ that I believe we need a new political direction in our country. No, it won’t solve all our problems, and the Church will continue to grow to be independent and shine as a source of light and hope for all to see. But a new political direction can help us to better serve those who are need, and to better interface with the world around us. I envision a new type of political involvement among Latter-day Saints, in which Republicans, Democrats, and Independents work together in tackling the problems of our day. I am tired of political division. I am tired of political campaigns and platforms being bought by lobbyists, many of which do not really care about you or me.

President Hinckley would never have voted for someone simply because of his or her political party. What about you? Are you willing to entertain voting for a Democrat because it is for the good for the country? Are you willing to consider anew your political commitments and obligations? President Hinckley voted for individuals (Republicans and Democratics), not parties, as he has said in media interviews. So I ask, who is the best PERSON?

May I suggest that, in my opinion, the best person currently in the race is Barack Obama. If we can look past partisan politics, I think more will start seeing this. More and more Mormons are seeing it everyday. He is the friendliest candidate to taking faith seriously in the public square. He wants to unite the country, not divide us. He is a deeply religious man who takes his Christian faith seriously. He is one of the most “fair-minded” public figures that I have ever known of. He prays every day that he will be fair to others, that he will give them the benefit of the doubt. I encourage you to listen to his speech on the role of faith and politics, located on his web site.

I don’t agree with him on everything. I am very much pro-life and he is pro-choice, for example. I wish he would consider more of a pro-life position. But he is more concerned with fighting for sexual responsibility and decreasing abortions than he is about fighting about ideologies, which never gets us anywhere anyway. He is also very willing to continue to have a fair-minded conversation with pro-life Americans about the abortion issue, and what we can best do as a nation right now. Perhaps we should consider entering this conversation, rather than merely fighting about legal issues. Perhaps, just perhaps, such an approach will help us get the values of responsible sexuality into the hearts of American men and women. It really is a problem of the heart, isn’t it?

Consistent with our concern for innocent human lives, let us not forget that a war has and is continuing to claim thousands of lives, both soldiers and civilians. That a genocide in Darfur is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and has displaced millions. That there are hard working families in our country who have a father or mother die because they don’t have adequate health care. Let us not allow an ideological fight (such as abortion) to keep us from taking seriously the pressing needs of our society. We have a responsibility to our citizens and to the world. This responsibility transcends political bickering. We have a responsibility to a troubled world to set an example as walkers of peace, as solvers of problems.

Obama also has compassion for our brothers and sisters from other nations, including those who have come into this country undocumented, often working long hours with little wages to support their families. Let us never forget, as our Church leaders have cautioned Utah legislators recently, that “illegal” immigrants are our brothers and sisters. Many are our fellow Saints. Obama is taking the immigration issue seriously, but he is also opposed to the radical and dehumanizing plans of some, such as punishing ordinary citizens who help out illegal immigrants or busing law-abiding immigrants back over the border. I have found that most of my fellow Latter-day Saints are much more compassionate regarding immigration than many other Americans are, while at the same time realizing that we need to work hard at solving the problem. Obama feels the same way, and he also realizes that much of the problem is due to NAFTA, signed into law by President Clinton, and other problematic American trade policies.

In addition to being the most faith-friendly candidate, I think he is also the most family-friendly candidate. One of his biggest concerns is fatherless homes. He is concerned about parents not taking responsibility for their children’s media watching. He is concerned with hard working families who don’t make enough to even begin to make ends meet. I encourage you to take a look at his issues in this regard on his website.

Obama is also the candidate who best approaches the LDS communitarian ethic. Politically speaking, he is not unlike Joseph Smith. His approach revolves around “we,” not “me.” His movement is completely invested by average Americans working together, many of whom have never been involved politically before. He has a charisma that inspires people to realize that they really can make a difference in this world. He desires to reach beyond petty bickering and divisions, realizing, as did Joseph Smith, that we can move beyond our differences and work together for positive change in the world.

Moreover, I think that he is the candidate who is the friendliest to the Mormon faith. He doesn’t demean LDS beliefs as Mike Huckabee did. He has strong family values and has been faithfully committed to one wife, unlike John McCain. In fact, his wife Michelle Obama recently visited with Elders Ballard and Cook about how we can better help American families. Take a look on the Church’s website.

I envision that an Obama presidential administration would be a very friendly place for LDS leaders to work with in order to tackle our common goals. I’m unsure if I can say the same thing about John McCain or Hillary Clinton.

In conclusion, I ask:

Is backing Obama in line with our political obligations?

Yes it is.

Should we consider rallying behind such a leader?

Yes we should.

Can we?

Yes we can.

Michelle Obama with Elder Quentin L Cook and Elder Russell Ballard.

11 comments:

Brianne

Thanks for sharing that very interesting article! He brings up some good points. It's great that you've found the man you want to back up. That's the great thing about this country, we all get to decide for ourselves. I still haven't decided who I want to vote for. I will have to wait and watch the debates. It seems like most of the country is leaning towards Obama though...and that would be alright with me. The other great thing about this country is we have checks and balances...so whoever gets in won't have all the power.

Tillo's
This comment has been removed by the author.
Collin Brooksby

Whoa there, sisters! Sounds to me like Tillo could stand to get down from her moral high horse. I don't think anyone supports abortion, or murder as she puts it. I've always understood the pro-choice position as being pro-free agency. God never guaranteed that free agency wouldn't be abused by some, nevertheless, He saw fit to institute it.

I imagine that Kelly's view on the issue is really quite similar to that of the quotations you listed. I'm sure that Kelly abhors abortion while loving the sinner. In fact, I'd bet that Tillo and Kelly agree entirely on the moral depravity of abortion. The only difference, in my mind, is that Kelly wouldn't want to force her beliefs upon others through legislation.

I, too, abhor abortion, but restricting one's free agency isn't the answer. Abortion must be defeated on a personal level. Outlaw abortion and the alternative will be unsafe, underground operations. Education and compassion seems a much surer solution. The only way to stop an abortion from taking place is to pre-empt with love and knowledge of the alternatives.

Abortion is a very complicated issue. That's why even the Church concedes that under very trying circumstances it remains permissible.

Tillo's
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly Tillotson

I don't think sharing your opinion on your own blog is nonsense....and my feelings are a little hurt for you guys saying that. I just wanted to post a different perspective....to get it out there that not ALL Mormons are republicans...and you aren't a "bad Mormon" if you vote for a democrat. Collin couldn't have said it any better---we all abhor abortion and love the sinner. And I'm not trying to be snooty when saying this, but the Church is adamantly against dictating our political beliefs. If I called the first presidency, I guarantee they would tell me to be prayerful and choose a candidate that I felt would help this country the most---he would not say: McCain or excommunication. And I don't think anyone thinks you're a dumb girl from California...I certainly don't.

Tillo's
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly Tillotson

HOLD UP! When on earth did I ever say that Jeff and Amy's sacrifice was in vain? You are putting very hurtful words in my mouth. It is my prayer every night that women young and old who are even contemplating abortion will find the strength and courage to bring forth life in this world---i just don't agree with making the choice illegal. i am very sorry that you feel so hurt by another person's opinions. they are just opinions....and they aren't meant to hurt anyone....am I supposed to just nod my head and never say a word on what I believe? I don't make light or harass you on your beliefs, I just wanted to express mine....so anyone who read it can understand that mormonism is not synonymous with republican-conservatism...that was my whole point in this. I hate knowing you are upset, I am not the heartless instigator you are making me out to be!!!!!

Rains Family
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rains Family

Sis,

I love you and am not hurt at all by your comments. While I respectfully disagree with your political views, I'm happy that you have the right to express them openly.
On a funny note, I'll just say that a liberal Mormon has to be the oxymoron of the century. It doesn't make me care for you any less....Jeff, your ultra right-wing, Christian (non-LDS) bro-in-law

Kelly Tillotson

Why is everyone deleting their comments? I look like a crazy woman ranting!!!
Thanks, Jeff-- I appreciate you respectfully disagreeing with me...and I'm really not that liberal...honest! I am an advocate of choice...a grateful American.

love you guys.

Tillo's

I thought I'd delete all my comments, because they won't mean as much as the words from an Apostle of the Lord.

Weightier Matters

By Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Choice, or Agency

My next example in this message on weightier matters is the role of choice, or agency.

Few concepts have more potential to mislead us than the idea that choice, or agency, is an ultimate goal. For Latter-day Saints, this potential confusion is partly a product of the fact that moral agency—the right to choose—is a fundamental condition of mortal life. Without this precious gift of God, the purpose of mortal life could not be realized. To secure our agency in mortality we fought a mighty contest the book of Revelation calls a “war in heaven.” This premortal contest ended with the devil and his angels being cast out of heaven and being denied the opportunity of having a body in mortal life (see Rev. 12:7–9).

But our war to secure agency was won. The test in this postwar mortal estate is not to secure choice but to use it—to choose good instead of evil so that we can achieve our eternal goals. In mortality, choice is a method, not a goal.

Of course, mortals must still resolve many questions concerning what restrictions or consequences should be placed upon choices. But those questions come under the heading of freedom, not agency. Many do not understand that important fact. We are responsible to use our agency in a world of choices. It will not do to pretend that our agency has been taken away when we are not free to exercise it without unwelcome consequences.

Because choice is a method, choices can be exercised either way on any matter, and our choices can serve any goal. Therefore, those who consider freedom of choice as a goal can easily slip into the position of trying to justify any choice that is made. “Choice” can even become a slogan to justify one particular choice. For example, today one who says “I am pro-choice” is clearly understood as opposing any legal restrictions upon a woman’s choice to abort a fetus.

More than 30 years ago, as a young law professor, I published one of the earliest articles on the legal consequences of abortion. Since that time I have been a knowledgeable observer of the national debate and the unfortunate Supreme Court decisions on the so-called “right to abortion.” I have been fascinated with how cleverly those who sought and now defend legalized abortion on demand have moved the issue away from a debate on the moral, ethical, and medical pros and cons of legal restrictions on abortion and focused the debate on the slogan or issue of choice. The slogan or sound bite “pro-choice” has had an almost magical effect in justifying abortion and in neutralizing opposition to it.

Pro-choice slogans have been particularly seductive to Latter-day Saints because we know that moral agency, which can be described as the power of choice, is a fundamental necessity in the gospel plan. All Latter-day Saints are pro-choice according to that theological definition. But being pro-choice on the need for moral agency does not end the matter for us. Choice is a method, not the ultimate goal. We are accountable for our choices, and only righteous choices will move us toward our eternal goals.

In this effort, Latter-day Saints follow the teachings of the prophets. On this subject our prophetic guidance is clear. The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Our members are taught that, subject only to some very rare exceptions, they must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. That direction tells us what we need to do on the weightier matters of the law, the choices that will move us toward eternal life.

In today’s world we are not true to our teachings if we are merely pro-choice. We must stand up for the right choice. Those who persist in refusing to think beyond slogans and sound bites like pro-choice wander from the goals they pretend to espouse and wind up giving their support to results they might not support if those results were presented without disguise.

For example, consider the uses some have made of the possible exceptions to our firm teachings against abortion. Our leaders have taught that the only possible exceptions are when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or when a competent physician has determined that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy or that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Because abortion is a most serious matter, we are counseled that it should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.

Some Latter-day Saints say they deplore abortion, but they give these exceptional circumstances as a basis for their pro-choice position that the law should allow abortion on demand in all circumstances. Such persons should face the reality that the circumstances described in these three exceptions are extremely rare. For example, conception by incest or rape—the circumstance most commonly cited by those who use exceptions to argue for abortion on demand—is involved in only a tiny minority of abortions. More than 95 percent of the millions of abortions performed each year extinguish the life of a fetus conceived by consensual relations. Thus the effect in over 95 percent of abortions is not to vindicate choice but to avoid its consequences. 1 Using arguments of “choice” to try to justify altering the consequences of choice is a classic case of omitting what the Savior called “the weightier matters of the law.”

A prominent basis for the secular or philosophical arguments for abortion on demand is the argument that a woman should have control over her own body. Not long ago I received a letter from a thoughtful Latter-day Saint outside the United States who analyzed that argument in secular terms. Since his analysis reaches the same conclusion I have urged on religious grounds, I quote it here for the benefit of those most subject to persuasion on this basis:

“Every woman has, within the limits of nature, the right to choose what will or will not happen to her body. Every woman has, at the same time, the responsibility for the way she uses her body. If by her choice she behaves in such a way that a human fetus is conceived, she has not only the right to but also the responsibility for that fetus. If it is an unwanted pregnancy, she is not justified in ending it with the claim that it interferes with her right to choose. She herself chose what would happen to her body by risking pregnancy. She had her choice. If she has no better reason, her conscience should tell her that abortion would be a highly irresponsible choice.

“What constitutes a good reason? Since a human fetus has intrinsic and infinite human value, the only good reason for an abortion would be the violation or deprivation of or the threat to the woman’s right to choose what will or will not happen to her body. Social, educational, financial, and personal considerations alone do not outweigh the value of the life that is in the fetus. These considerations by themselves may properly lead to the decision to place the baby for adoption after its birth, but not to end its existence in utero.

“The woman’s right to choose what will or will not happen to her body is obviously violated by rape or incest. When conception results in such a case, the woman has the moral as well as the legal right to an abortion because the condition of pregnancy is the result of someone else’s irresponsibility, not hers. She does not have to take responsibility for it. To force her by law to carry the fetus to term would be a further violation of her right. She also has the right to refuse an abortion. This would give her the right to the fetus and also the responsibility for it. She could later relinquish this right and this responsibility through the process of placing the baby for adoption after it is born. Whichever way is a responsible choice.”

The man who wrote those words also applied the same reasoning to the other exceptions allowed by our doctrine—life of the mother and a baby that will not survive birth.

I conclude this discussion of choice with two more short points.

If we say we are anti-abortion in our personal life but pro-choice in public policy, we are saying that we will not use our influence to establish public policies that encourage righteous choices on matters God’s servants have defined as serious sins. I urge Latter-day Saints who have taken that position to ask themselves which other grievous sins should be decriminalized or smiled on by the law due to this theory that persons should not be hampered in their choices. Should we decriminalize or lighten the legal consequences of child abuse? of cruelty to animals? of pollution? of fraud? of fathers who choose to abandon their families for greater freedom or convenience?

Similarly, some reach the pro-choice position by saying we should not legislate morality. Those who take this position should realize that the law of crimes legislates nothing but morality. Should we repeal all laws with a moral basis so that our government will not punish any choices some persons consider immoral? Such an action would wipe out virtually all of the laws against crimes.