Political stances do not reflect faith

KATIE MCKENNA | Scroll Photography

KATIE MCKENNA | Scroll Photography

One of the things we Americans pride ourselves on most is the freedom we have to elect our leaders.

We value this right so much that the USA has been known to wage wars in order to bring democracy to those who have been denied it.

This freedom, of course, only matters if the people in a given area feel free to share their opinions.

When people who hold minority opinions don’t feel free to share those opinions, part of the electoral process is lost.

America as a whole values the right to make individual voices heard, but many students at BYU-Idaho feel as though they must keep their political views to themselves.

Madison County was the second-reddest county in the nation in terms of what percentage of the county voted Republican, according to data from the 2012 presidential election. Only King County, Texas had a higher percentage. King County, Texas is also 1 percent as populous as Madison County.

Mary Packer (name has been changed), a junior studying elementary education, is one of many registered Democrats at BYU-I.

She said having such a high concentration of conservatives in the area sometimes makes it difficult for her to speak out about her beliefs.

“I’ve had almost every professor that I’ve had, at least in my generals, say something really offensive,” Packer said. “They would say something and just assume that everyone’s Republican and everyone believed the same thing they did.”

Brianna Welch (name has been changed), a BYU-I alumna, said that there were many times where she felt like it was better to stay silent than to offer her opinion on political matters.

“I was quiet about [being a Democrat] because I was scared of not being accepted or people thinking differently of me,” she said. “I let people have their views, and I try to voice mine as politely as I can because I don’t want to cause any contention.”

Although The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t endorse any political candidates or parties, Church leaders encourage members to support their leaders.

“We invite Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to pray for the president, for his administration and the new Congress as they lead us through difficult and turbulent times,” according to a Church statement.

Packer, however, said that this kind of support doesn’t seem to be common.

“People show very little respect for the president here, which really bothers me,” Packer said. “I was raised that even if you don’t agree with someone’s political views, you still respect them …  I was walking home, and this woman had her van outside the Post Office with an “impeach the president” sign and a picture of President Obama with a Hitler mustache, and it was so offensive.”

Unfortunately, Packer said, the comments don’t stop with the president.

She has also had comments directed specifically at her because of her political standings.

“I’ve been called a bad Mormon because I’m a Democrat,” Packer said.

These kinds of assumptions are unfair, especially when the Church doesn’t endorse any political party.

The Church is politically neutral with regards to promoting or opposing candidates or platforms.

Mormon Newsroom makes a case for being courteous of other members’ political beliefs.

“The Church does expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters,” according to Mormon Newsroom.

A study done by The Forum showed that, nationally, 50 percent of university professors identify as Democrats, while 11 percent identify as Republicans.

The Student Review showed the situation to be switched at BYU: 47 percent of teachers there identify as Republican, and almost 14 percent are Democratic.

Welch said the political climate among the teachers at LDS Business College, where she currently attends, is very Republican, similar to what she said she experienced at BYU-I. She said she continues to feel like she needs to keep quiet about her beliefs at LDSBC, just like she felt at BYU-I.

Welch had a religion teacher refer to Obama as “a sign of the times” in a class recently, but she didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to disrupt the class.

“The Church doesn’t say that you have to be Republican,” Welch said. “I felt like I was being chastised [in class] for being a Democrat. Like, ‘Oh, you’re an Obama supporter. You’re the face of evil.’ That’s how I felt.

Zach Daniel, a sophomore studying history who classifies himself as a very liberal conservative, said there are a lot of times where he doesn’t say anything about his political beliefs because he feels people are quick to judge him because of them.

“People will be saying things about the government and how the government should be run, and I’ll just be like, ‘There’s no point,’ because if I bring up my point, somebody will hardcore throw me down,” Daniel said.

Packer said students and teachers should be more respectful of those who have minority opinions because political beliefs don’t need to be divisive.

“Really, there’s no huge difference,” she said. “I mean, we believe differently on a couple different things, but it doesn’t make me a bad person.”

4 Responses

  1. Great article. I am neither democrats nor republican. The problem I see is an issue with reasoning. I have heard silly and unfounded ideas expresses from students and professors at school. To be offended is an irrational and unproductive response. I have found its usually because the offended, regardless of who is right, doesn’t have a meaningful and insight response. It becomes an emotional debate and not an intellectual interaction which only elicits a confrontational interaction of emotional pleas.

    I have found it to be very productive to suggest, politely correct or present a meaningful alternative intellectual view. Also remembering that it’s not my classroom and everyone has the right to believe any crazy idea they may hold. But to get offended is an imature and unproductive response, regardless of how insensitive and misguide the view.

  2. Cameron Call says:

    This was an ironic article to read, seeing as how this week Senate Democrats just silenced the Republican minority on presidential nominations. Now Obama can appoint any federal judge with virtually no check or balance from any minority. But I digress…
    You’re absolutely right that the Church is politically neutral when it comes to parties. And it’s true that no party has a monopoly on righteousness – the Republican party is just as corrupt as the Democratic party. Yet you’d be gravely mistaken if you think “politically neutral” equates to “not caring about politics.” In terms of policy, the Brethren have made their stance quite clear on very specific topics. I’m talking about abortion, homosexuality, church-state relations, religious freedom, and government welfare programs, just to name a few. For all these issues, the comments of the Brethren – either made at family reunions or at General Conference – have almost always clashed with liberal ideals. Most public outrages against the Church have been advocated and championed by liberals. Maybe that’s why most church members are conservatives, because who would want to affiliate with groups that actively attack the Church?
    Is it wrong to support something that conflicts with God’s standard? Yes.
    Do conflicting policies only come from liberals? No. Conservatives come up with their fair share of nonsense also. I’m not excusing them in any way. But they rarely want to burn down our temples, as liberals in California tried to do when Prop 8 was passed in 2008. To justify yourself by quoting the prophet as saying, “Pray for the president,” and ignore him when he says, “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God,” is gross hypocrisy.
    As far as President Obama is concerned, “Pray for the president” is not the same as “Blindly accept whatever he stands for.” He lies, cheats, steals, and smiles through his teeth while doing so. His administration is the most corrupt in American history (Jackson and Nixon have nothing on Obama). He avoids responsibility like a lazy teenager avoids chores. He’s racist and instigates class warfare at any opportunity. When he doesn’t get his way, he either whines and complains, villainously attacks his opposition, or silences his opponents by unconstitutional and unprecedented acts (like removing their power to filibuster his nominees). And you take offense when you see a bumper sticker voicing someone’s God-given right to want him impeached? Wow.
    If you truly feel like Rexburg is squashing your right to voice your liberal opinion openly, I have good news for you – BYU-Idaho is not a prison; you can leave and go somewhere else. Somewhere that’s rife with liberal ideals of communism and humanist rhetoric, where God doesn’t exist and truth is relative, where the United States is not exceptional but the vilest country on earth, where professors are card-caring members of the ACLU, where internships for liberal think-tanks are mandatory, and where everyone is free to do, think, say, and wear whatever they want (as long as it doesn’t promote conservatism). You can go to just about any other college and get what I just described. But most of us are here at BYU-Idaho to escape that very depravity.
    In closing, you are absolutely right: Political Stances do not Reflect Faith. Latter-day Saints are not all Republicans nor should we all be Republicans. We are members of the Kingdom of God, which is open to all people. Yet entrance into His Kingdom might require us to check our worldly views at the gate in favor of His views. If you are a liberal, then be a happy liberal in God’s Kingdom, content and confident in your righteous opinions, and let none offend you. But I pity the person who wants out because their political stances won’t let them be happy here.

    P.S.- As we can tell, this is a hot topic. It’s been almost a week since your article was published and you only have 2 comments. Either that reflects the environment of political apathy here at BYU-Idaho, or it shows just how much people read the Scroll.

    • “have almost always clashed with liberal ideals.”
      You jumped to this conclusion because you only studied the points of view where the Church agrees with Republicans
      What about Climate Change (there’s even Ensign articles about it), Immigration, Welfare (while many quote Pres. Benson as the ultimate source for Church’s statements, there are many other official statements that support welfare programs), Equality, etc?

      I think one of the main points in this article is showing how we shouldn’t judge someone’s faith by their political views. And saying “The Church is neutral, but it’s more republican than liberal” is the attitude that leads to it.

      • Cameron Call says:

        This might be an old article, but it’s still the only one that I find interesting. And before I’m misunderstood, I’m not trying to bash anyone or “win” an argument. I just like engaging in constructive debates and this article provides a great platform for one.

        So let’s cut right to the point of this article then, about how we shouldn’t judge people’s faith based on their political views. The harsh truth of life is that whatever we do, we will be judged. If we dress modestly, we will be judged. If we dress immodestly, we will be judged. If we use filthy or clean language, we will be judged. If we drive a BMW or a junker, we will be judged. If we say “Satan is a liberal,” we will be judged. If we support Ordain Women, we will be judged. Even if we stand there with a blank look on our face – we will be judged! (Try telling your future employer not to judge you based on a first impression. See how well they take that) There is no getting around it. If you don’t want to be judged by your political views, then don’t have any! But I am so sick of people using the Scroll as a soapbox to exempt themselves from the realities of life.

Leave a Reply

Or