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Does LDS Church Control Utah Politics? (Part 3 of 4)

There have been many charges that the LDS Church controls Utah politics.  Rod Decker says the Church is involved in state politics but doesn’t wield as much influence as it could. I was really surprised at his answer.

Rod:  The church is somewhat involved in state politics, but it depends on what you mean by involved. Utah politics are essentially what Latter-day Saints want. Mostly that’s what it is. They elect the Republicans and they control the governor and they control the legislature, and they decide what happens in Utah politics, but the church as an institution doesn’t do a lot.  It does some, but not a lot in Utah politics. There are two polls…

GT:  Would you say the church is less involved than the critics claim?

Rod:  Yeah. Now if you talk to conservative Latter-day Saint Republicans, real conservatives, they say they teach them correct principles and let them decide on their own. That’s sort of what happens. The Latter-day Saints are conservative. They don’t like Washington. They’re conservative economically, and giving rise to everything else, they’re conservative on moral issues. They are conservative about sex and families and morals, and that’s the way they vote. That’s what determines Utah politics and that’s what has determined it since 1976. So Utah politics are Latter-day Saint politics.  The church hires a permanent staff of lobbyists.  They go up the legislature, tell lawmakers what they want–the lawmakers refer to them privately as the home teachers.  The home teachers came by and talked to me.

But the church doesn’t get what it wants all the time. They wanted a rule to make it illegal to secretly tape an interview with your Bishop.  The people said, what’s this? Or secretly tape a phone call with your bishop. No, they didn’t get that. They’ve had other things they don’t they don’t get, but mostly on moral issues they get what they want. Sometimes they speak. They say they only talk on moral issues. They get to say what a moral issue is. They try to speak mostly on moral issues. They don’t want to appear bossy and powerful and running things. Utah legislators don’t want the Church telling them what to do. Utah voters, the Latter-day Saints vote Republican. Non-Mormons vote Democratic. There are more Latter-day Saint voters than non-Mormon voters, so they win. But by and large, bishops, etc don’t tell them what to do. There are two polls. Both of them polled people of various religions. Latter-day Saints was the one that said they are least likely to hear politics from their pulpit of any religion. They say no.

GT:  So compared to evangelicals, the LDS Church does stay out of politics more than say evangelicals.

Rod:  That’s what [LDS members] say.

We also talk about some recent political issues in Utah, and the LDS Church’s influence, including medical marijuana, Medicaid for the poor, and even how gerrymandering affects non-LDS voters.  Check out our conversation….

Rod Decker says the LDS Church stays out of state politics more than evangelicals.
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The Christian Right & LGBT Fight (Part 2 of 4)

It’s not just the LDS Church that has had a difficult time dealing with gay rights.  The Christian right is struggling with the issue as well.  Dr. Greg Prince serves on the Board of Directors for a Methodist seminary near Washington, D.C.

https://youtu.be/FmaaUqUBHw4

Greg:  The Methodists have a heap of trouble on this. In February of this year, they had what is termed a Called General Conference. They normally have general conferences once every four years. But they can have a special conference, and they did it for one issue, and that was LGBTQ. There were really three elements that they were considering during this conference. One is how do we deal with religious talk about gays? Do we brand them as apostates? Do we brand them as sinners? The second was, will we allow the ordination of gay clergy, and the third was, will we allow the performing of gay marriages?

The Conservatives prevailed, and that was primarily because of Africa. Forty-five percent of the delegates to the conference were from Africa, and that vote which was strongly homophobic, combined with the delegates from the American South prevailed, and it put the Methodist Church in a more homophobic stance than they had been prior to the conference. The other alternative that was put forward and voted down, was called the One Church proposal, and that was written primarily by the head of our Board of Governors. So, he was front and center in the debate, and he and other delegates from Wesley were just devastated with the outcome. It puts them in a much more difficult position, organizationally, than the LDS Church right now, because there’s a very real possibility of permanent schism, that the United Methodist Church might not wind up being very united anymore. They’re trying to work out some kind of a compromise that can avoid that, and when I went to the board meeting earlier this week, Tom looked at me and he said, “I never thought I’d see the day when the Methodists would make the Mormons look progressive.”

In our next conversation, we’ll talk about how the Christian Right deals with gay rights, and specifically discuss what happened in the Prop 8 battle in California.

GT:  Okay, so, by November, the church with a coalition of the Catholic Church and some other organizations–now, one of the things that I found interesting last night was you said that that the Mormon Church combined with the Catholic Church and some evangelical organizations for some sort of a front organization, and then you said that they all said, “Well, we’re behind you,” but they weren’t.

Greg:  This went back to 2000, and it was reminiscent of Lucy and the football.

GT:  Okay.

Greg:  I won’t lift up the football this time. And every time Charlie Brown fell for it, and every time she lifted up the football and he wound up on his back. So in 2000, the other churches said, “We’re in this together,” but the LDS Church wound up carrying all the water.  In 2008, they said, “No, this time, we’re really in this together,” and the LDS Church wound up carrying most of the water. Because the money was given to a front organization, it’s very difficult to figure out how large a role church members played in financing Prop 8.  The best estimates are at least 50% of the $40 million, that the Yes on 8 Movement collected came from Latter-day Saints. It could have been substantially more than 50%, but we know that much just from reverse engineering because the donors’ contributions were registered with the California Secretary of State, and a group of innovative church members looked at that list and started disseminating it to their network throughout the state, and identifying church members and then tabulating the amount of money collectively that hadn’t been given by them.

Check out our conversation….

The Christian Right is also struggling with gay marriage. Greg Prince tells interesting story about the Methodist Church.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Greg!

283 – Mixing Church & Politics in Gay Fight

 

 

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Mixing Church & Politics in LGBT Fight (Part 1 of 4)

I’m excited to have Greg Prince back on the show!  We’re going to talk about his new book, Gay Rights and the Mormon Church and we will discuss the history of LDS Church policy toward gays, and get into not only Prop 8 in California, but Prop 22 as well.  We will also talk about the legal battles in Hawaii that led to federal legislation prohibiting gay marriage. But why did Greg write this book on church & politics?

Initially, I thought I would write a book about Prop 8 and the Mormon Church’s role in it. Because even though people knew that there had been a role, there had not been anything published that tried to take a comprehensive look at that. When I started with Prop 8, I quickly began to realize that Prop 8 wasn’t told whole story. It reached backwards into Prop 22, which was similar legislation in California eight years earlier and that, in turn, was related to the Hawaii lawsuit that began in the early 1990s, which was really the first time when the courts took up the issue of marriage equality, in any serious fashion, enough so that people thought that that would be the turning point.

He’ll answer that in our next conversation….

Greg Prince details the history of LDS political fights over gay marriage from the 1990s through today.

Don’t miss our previous discussion with Greg!

104: When did we start Ordaining Young Men?

103: Naturalist Explanation for Word of Wisdom?

102: Early LDS Priesthood: Similar to Ancient Christianity?

101: Ailing Church Leaders:  “Not Ideal Governance.”

100:  The 4 LDS Leadership Vacuums – What Happened?

094: “There is Nothing in LDS Theology that Justifies Whacking Infants” (POX)

093: Greg Prince on History of LDS Policy Toward Gays