Is Politics Your New Religion?

Is our enthusiasm for politics stronger than our conversion to Christ? In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we have members throughout the world living and thriving under many forms of government, and participating in political parties that promote capitalist, socialist, communist, libertarian, and other political ideologies. In the United States, we are largely politically polarized and church members lean conservative. Outside the U.S., church members have very different political commitments that do not map neatly onto U.S. categories.

The list of considerations below is designed to help us assess if our political views are answering yearnings in our souls that should instead be answered by love of God and our neighbor.

  • When we ponder the question of how God’s purposes are to be achieved among humanity, our thoughts turn to political figures and parties.
  • We prefer political commentary to the current voices of God’s ordained servants.
  • We see people’s political views as the most important aspect of their identity.
  • We believe angry political commentators are a better guide to reality than calm, mild-mannered prophets.
  • We selectively apply statements from General Authorities to validate our political views and ignore or discount those that differ from them.
  • We post more strident political commentary than humble, peacemaking expressions of faith on social media.
  • We sense more meaning and purpose in our political identity than in our divine identity.
  • We put more trust in the promises of politicians than the Lord’s promises.
  • We can only see good in our political allies and only see bad in our political opponents.
  • We think that when the church affirms its stance on political neutrality, they don’t really mean it because they are firmly aligned with our politics and they only “pretend neutrality” to maintain tax status.
  • We think insults, hatred, anger, and violence are justified or appropriate when committed by our political allies.
  • We think the outcome of any election or vote has the power to either save or damn us.
  • We think the other side’s misdeeds justify our side’s misdeeds; the behavior of political enemies is our moral compass. (Tu quoque)
  • We view politicians in one party as somehow favored by God, and we use messianic and priestly terms like “anointing” when we talk about them.
  • We insist the prophets have never taught anything specific about creating a more just society.
  • We think the prophets only ever thought in terms of social justice, and in the exact way that we conceive of social justice.
  • We think prophets have never criticized the excesses of capitalism like greed or lack of care for the poor.
  • We think concepts like consecration and the United Order are closely analogous to socialism or communism.
  • We view all religious commitments as subordinate to the secular priorities of the state.
  • We view the church through the lens of political ideology, and not the other way around.
  • We decide who to love or hate based on whom they vote for.
  • We believe that the bad behavior or bad policy outcomes of a political leader’s decisions make it an act of sin to vote for that person, and righteousness to vote for their opponent.
  • We fantasize about defeating, humiliating and silencing people we disagree with, rather than loving and persuading them.
  • We read scripture to identify villains, and the villains that we find in scripture always seem to resemble people we disagree with politically.
  • We are part of a political movement that has its own prophets, sacraments, confession behaviors, doctrines of fallenness, redemption narratives, saints, bearing of testimony, and sacred texts.
  • We can’t imagine living forever in a celestial society that includes our mortal political opponents.

4 thoughts on “Is Politics Your New Religion?”

  1. I find that stating that American LDS lean conservative is pretty meaningless. The words conservative and liberal mean different things in different places. I find no evidence either of a conservative/liberal continuum or a right/left continuum. This notion comes from Louis IV; it is now 2021. They have become unhelpful media shorthand. Let’s also remember that Americans are a minority in the LDS Church and also their political opinions are a minority.

    Ken Kyle, Lethbridge, Alberta

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