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Why Mormons should vote Democratic

Published October 29, 2006 12:00 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties," declared the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is certainly true of the Democratic Party.

Mormon descriptions of a just social order read like a Democratic manifesto. The Book of Mormon decries a society in which every man prospers according to his genius, and every man conquers according to his strength (Alma 30:17). It condemns those who ignore the plight of the hungry, needy, naked and sick (Mormon 8:39).

This brother's-keeper principle animates government programs pioneered by Democrats. In 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw "one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished" and acted.

LDS scripture warns incessantly against economic stratification: " . . . it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin" (D&C 49:20). Yet Republican tax cuts on one end of the economic spectrum and aid cuts on the other have widened the gap between rich and poor. Thanks to our Republican Congress, the world lies a little more in sin.

LDS scripture also calls us to "renounce war and proclaim peace" (D&C 98:16), and condemns offensive wars (Alma 43:45-47; Mormon 3:8-16). Yet the Republican administration misled America into invading Iraq, a nation that had not even threatened the U.S. Nor does LDS teaching justify the administration's fall-back rationale that the invasion was justified by our attempt to impose democracy.

In 1942, Church President David O. McKay declared, "Nor is war justified in an attempt to enforce a new order of government . . . however better the government . . . may be."

Astoundingly, the Republican Congress is borrowing money - from China, Saudi Arabia and federal trust funds - to cover the war, lavish tax cuts and their own profligate spending.

Even on abortion, the Democratic position is friendlier to LDS Church teachings. Mormonism does not teach that life begins at conception. President Gordon B. Hinckley declared that abortion inevitably brings "sorrow and regret."

Yet Church policy makes allowance where pregnancy results from rape or incest, where the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or where the fetus suffers from fatal defects. In such cases, Latter-day Saints are to consult with priesthood leaders and seek confirmation of their decision in prayer before proceeding.

The 2004 Democratic national platform says Democrats uphold Roe v. Wade; "strongly support family planning and adoption incentives"; and believe abortion "should be safe, legal and rare." This position grants Latter-day Saints freedom to follow the prophet.

The Republican position does not. The 2004 Republican platform declares that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed." In other words, it would prohibit all abortions. Consequently, a Latter-day Saint's decision to seek an abortion may be allowed by church policy, approved by priesthood leaders, confirmed by the Lord in prayer, but forbidden by the Republican Party.

We need both parties. As the First Presidency foresaw in 1891, "The more evenly balanced the parties become the safer it will be for us in the security of our liberties; and . . . our influence for good will be far greater than it possibly could be were either party overwhelmingly in the majority."

This will never be achieved in Utah, however, until Mormons see the light and vote their values. By which I mean, of course, vote Democratic.

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* FRED VOROS is a lawyer living in Salt Lake City.