Guest post: Mormonism in the public square

There are two subjects to be avoided, it is often said, in conversation among casual friends and, especially perhaps, among relatives: religion and politics. Among people of the same faith, the first restriction can presumably be relaxed. But even (or especially) in the company of other LDS, with whom we share the deepest beliefs about things that matter eternally, we find ourselves avoiding political topics.

This reluctance to tread upon potentially touchy subjects is understandable, and it even makes a certain sense theologically: “My kingdom is not of this world,” the Savior said. Whereas pagan religions had always closely identified religious observances and beliefs with duties to a particular political community, Christ’s good news was proclaimed to all sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father, without respect to nations or kingdoms. Why complicate eternal truths and spiritual bonds with divisive questions surrounding how we run a country?

We express this same interest in keeping religion and politics separate when we affirm that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not an American church, nor of course a Utah church, but an international church that proclaims the Restored Gospel universally. None of us would want to burden a promise of eternal life with needless controversy surrounding mortal interests and partisan opinions. Alexis de Tocqueville saw this very clearly: “Religion,” he wrote, “cannot share the material force of those who govern without being burdened with a part of the hatreds to which they give rise.” The cost of mixing politics with religion can easily exceed the benefits.

Click here to read the rest of this guest post by Ralph Hancock on Sutherland Daily.