From yesterday’s Idaho Statesman: “In convention dominated by fear, control, and cruelty, extremists take over Idaho GOP.” [Yahoo News also posts the text of the article.] Idaho politics has always been a little wacky. The Bundys. Neo-nazis. Ezra Taft Benson. Now, at least in the Idaho GOP, extremism has gone mainstream. What’s disturbing is Idaho is something like 25 percent Mormon (and probably 90% of those are Republican, so probably 35 or 40 percent of Republicans in Idaho are Mormon). So that article might easily have read: “LDS extremists take over Idaho GOP.” Which makes it an LDS problem as much as an Idaho problem.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who now looks around at fellow ward members with a bit of wariness these days. This LDS problem (an affinity for extreme politics) did not start in Idaho and it is not now limited to Idaho. So here’s your first question: Has politics in the age of Trump somehow caused this sudden lurch toward political extremism in the average Mormon? Or was it always there, just waiting to be ignited?
Second question: Did the same thing happen in the Utah GOP convention? I can’t say I paid that much attention to what happened in Utah. It didn’t generate the same sort of headlines.
Third question: LDS leadership keeps talking about public civility and moderation. No one in the Church seems to be listening. Pres. Nelson says, “We don’t say Mormon anymore,” and instantly the word is verbotten in LDS circles. But much of the time LDS counsel now seems to have little effect. Aren’t you a little surprised that most LDS are simply ignoring talk after talk about civility and moderation? Or maybe current LDS counsel is more mixed than I’m acknowledging. When the new Idaho GOP Chair shouts, “Our guns are loaded!” that sounds a lot like Elder Holland’s advice to keep those muskets ready at hand.
The big question here is the extent to which politics has poisoned the Mormon soul. Have you lost confidence in any local leaders because of recent politics? Have any ward friendships gone cold? Is this a temporary thing for the Church or a permanent shift? Are the youth of Zion faltering? Or maybe it’s the rest of the Church that’s faltering and the kids are alright.
Parting thought: If the Antichrist were on the ballot, most Mormons would vote for him. Change my mind.
I don’t think traditional politics has poisoned the Church. You have a group of leaders and members that are more conservative than average (in the US) with a few progressives scattered within. It’s always been this way in my lifetime. Political involvement is actually healthy.
But the Trump era has definitely poisoned the Church. Certain members have a funny way of linking Trump’s most outrageous positions (hating on immigrants for example) with their own Church-based prejudice. It’s easy to be anti-LGBTQ when your Church is and your president appears to be.
I place more blame on Trump than any other single individual. He makes Bill Clinton and Obama seem harmless. But he doesn’t get 100% of the blame. Cable news and the Internet allow all of us (even you Dave. B) to focus on information that confirms our bias. And it’s easy to just keep feeding the monster. I don’t think liberals spend very much time on Fox News but they sure hate it. Likewise for conservatives and MSNBC. And don’t get me started on the tin foil hat web sites out there on both sides. The extremists are ruining the Church, admittedly more from the right because the Church was already conservative to begin with.
I’ll take a stab at these questions. First, I think the Mormons are politically moving toward extremism along with the rest of the GOP, and some of that was inevitable (pre-Trump), but Trump’s total incivility and open embracing of white supremacists gave the right license to say and do things they would never have dreamed of saying and doing out loud before; it’s possible that in removing the filters of polite society, this encourages further extremist views. He has emboldened them to be unapologetically cruel, which I suppose is better than being “niced” to death. There is no longer a “compassionate conservative.” Those guys (like Romney) are now labeled RINOs, not “tough enough” in the fight. I suppose at least we see the truth of their views. Some portion of Utah GOP Mormon voters, I suspect, don’t like that, didn’t like it, but held their noses and voted for it, and would consider McMullin. Many are so indoctrinated to believe that voting for a Democrat is like voting for actual communism, though, that they wouldn’t go that far.
Whether members are listening to calls for civility or not feels moot to me. We have the second-in-command literally participating in an anti-LGBT hate group. Members may not heed the word, but they see the actions. They know (*wink*) what’s NOT being said, but is perhaps privately and politely held.
Mormons in general are more open to immigration than the rest of the GOP, which is both good and bad. It’s good in that they don’t literally cheer for kids in cages and women being raped and sterilized by ICE agents (if Fox News ever did stories on these cases). Unlike Evangelicals, the Church seems to realize that 1) college educated voters aren’t vociferously anti-immigration like blue collar voters, and Mormons are more educated than Evangelicals on average, and 2) they realize that immigration helps the Church grow. What they may or may not realize is that immigrants from south of the border are gravitating more toward the GOP (or it’s a toss up at least) due to their Catholic upbringing, so it’s not like keeping immigrants out is a good strategy at expanding the base.
So that’s more than my own 2 cents (more like 5 cents with inflation and comment length).
>If the Antichrist were on the ballot, most Mormons would vote for him.
It would depend on if s/he had a D or an R after their name
“Every nation has the government it deserves,” the French writer and diplomat Joseph de Maistre declared in 1811. Since the primary function of government is to make laws, it follows that every nation has the laws it deserves.
The words of de Maistre are no less true today than they were in 1811. The reason we have a federal government that is running amok is because the great mass of the public has become lazy and indolent. That goes for both major parties. Sadly, it goes for the great mass of Church members too.
Sadly, most Church members are not willing to put in the time and effort it takes to research candidates and issues. They are just as occupied as the public at large in wasting time on YouTube and social media. Even better if they can do both and share Dua Lipa YouTube videos on social media and kill two birds with one stone.
The end result is that lazy voters default to doing whatever the celebrity or pundit they have focused on tells them to do. Both parties become more and more extreme and less and less palatable.
At the core of all this extremism are White, Patriarchal, Christian Nationalists, who believe they are divinely ordained to rule over all “lesser” beings. Throw in the latter-day saint contention of being the One True Christians. Put all that together and it’s no longer simply extremism but God’s Plan.
There was an effective programming of the Latter-Day Saint male psyche during the Golden Talk Radio 1990s, when goofballs like Rush Limbaugh exposed the soft underbelly of American Conservatives by tickling their private parts. As a youth I watched my intelligent grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles—all LDS—buy into it, and swallow it up. In time, I noticed that such conservative “programming” had the effect of supplanting the art of argument with cheap rhetoric, and that, as a consequence of repeated conservative radio-wave programming, LDS audiences were drawn into a new lens—a lens through which listeners would begin to “see” a world of right-wing conservatism in opposition to left-wing liberalism. The right-wing value of “liberty” and the left-wing value of “equality” were repositioned in media as opposition instead of balance—a brilliant psycho-political slight-of-hand if for the effort to create domestic division. Opposition and controversy got more attention, ratings, advertising and profit. So mammon was worshipped and served by the money-manager priesthood of the Lord’s Restored Church.
Sadly, however, as a result of the polluting of the radio waves, many LDS are generationally blinded by the figurative fog, and everything they see and interpret in life is through a right-left political lens. There is no garden and there is no feast in a lens of opposition: only in a lens of balance can we cultivate the garden and enjoy the feast. All who see life through a political lens are fundamentally unfit for a consecrated temple economy.
The LDS-owned Bonneville Broadcasting is responsible for polluting the airwaves with such divisiveness. The myopic Utah Mormon conservative culture that runs the LDS Establishment is liable for negligence, mismanagement, and shortsightedness: divisiveness and contention has been administered by the money-managing priesthood to the faithful congregation.
Whatever devil has infiltrated the institution that dominates the tithe and sits perched over the Lord’s ordinances, needs to be flushed out. In Israel, drought is a sign of unrighteousness dominion in the land. The whole land of Deseret is in drought. Something up top in LDS leadership is amiss.
What @Rich said. Add to that the fear that in the coming years, BIPOC folks will outnumber white folks in the US. Mormonism is caught in that same tide. This is about white supremacy and patriarchy.
I’m fine being around people with different politics. I’ve been in congregations with different politics my whole life. I have got lots of politically conservative friends—but they aren’t Trumpers. There’s a big difference.
The problem for me in our congregations isn’t politics. It’s racism and sexism and homophobia by people who refuse to self-reflect about whether that’s what it’s about.
“If the Antichrist were on the ballot, most Mormons would vote for him. ”
They already did. Twice.
In the past it seemed voters would select decent people who agrees with their political positions. Now it seems that political positions trump decency (pun intended). That’s never been 100% true, but human decency is no longer en vogue.
I remember chatting with the Stake YM president right before the presidential election and telling him that Trump is a “scumbag” and that I didn’t understand how Mormons could vote for him in good conscience. His response was essentially that the end justifies the means. I immediately lost respect for him as I already had for LDS in my area with similar attitudes. Occasionally I see glimmers of hope that some are listening to the messages of civility. Deseret News just last week published articles about a prominent LDS politician in Arizona who doesn’t believe the Trump lies. I’d never liked that politician before but I was pleasantly surprised that even some hard core conservatives can see through the lie machine. Not sure it’s enough tho.
I don’t know what to think about the youth. Sometimes I think they see through it and sometimes they just don’t care. 2 of my 3 voting age kids are democrats and one is a registered libertarian which I think is a bit of a cop out (“both sides suck”). He was surprised when his primary ballot didn’t have any meaningful choices and I had to explain that’s what happens with 3rd party candidates during primaries.
Hey, JCS is back! I forgot to mention that I feel this post missed a real opportunity for the title “Your Own Private Idaho,” because when it comes to Idaho, that seems to be the political modus operandi. In fact, Idaho’s GOP has put forward a resolution to “officially” declare that they don’t believe Joe Biden won the 2020 election: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/idaho-republicans-poised-to-reject-2020-election-results/2022/07/14/9e172d4c-0398-11ed-8beb-2b4e481b1500_story.html. I guess that is following suit with Texas’s similar action, but the rhetoric in Idaho is even more extreme and conspiracy-driven.
Also under consideration for their state legislature, a law to do away with the popular vote, instead instituting a state-level electoral college designed to “protect the rural vote” (and to disenfranchise Boise, I guess? This is a state that went 64% for Trump, hardly contested), and a law to prevent RINOs and covert Democrats from voting in Primaries. They are also considering outlawing non-binary and trans identities.
Toad: This might be a chicken/egg question, but you are right to notice that the Mormon political neutrality statement that encouraged members to vote for candidates who were decent people with moral character has been completely DROPPED from the instructions coming out from the first presidency. In this slippery slope of a statement, no longer are members encouraged to consider a candidate’s moral character, which was changed coincidentally before the 2016 election when the GOP candidate had 18 credible complaints of sexual assault and was a pretty well known grifter. Apparently, the first presidency is now OK with us voting for bad people, so long as they are conservative. If you missed it, here’s my 2020 post on this topic: https://wheatandtares.org/2020/10/28/the-churchs-changing-statement-on-political-neutrality/
As Josh h mentioned above in his important comment, I have tried to stay connected to the other side of the coin, as the other side of the coin represents a lot of kith, kin, and community. During the pandemic for example, it was really interesting to peruse COVID articles at Fox News vs CNN, realizing that the truth was probably somewhere in the middle.
But now with the Supreme Court news and Tucker Carson’s comments on Ukraine and Russia, my poor heart cannot take what Fox News has to stay. I really did try.
What the pandemic and everything since then has showed me is that the core of our tribe is Republican first and Mormon second.
I also agree with Rich Brown.
Reading your linked article reminded me of Tara Westover’s dad in her memoir.
As members of the church we are very well practiced in the art of dismissing the warts of those who lead organizations that are working for us. If you are making millions of dollars a year with an accountant that seems to know some excellent money management techniques and you hear a “rumor” it may be done in borderline unethical ways, how tempted would you be to make an effort to remain ignorant to the situation if it means it could all go away if you learn about it and making you culpable if it’s true and you don’t report.
Well, I have enjoyed the post and almost all of what was written in the comments. At the risk of getting sucked into politics:
1. Idaho is where Mormons move when they think Utah is getting squishy and dangerously liberal.
2. Idaho’s wackiness stretches back to the early 1960s, when it started lurching into extreme conservatism. Does anyone remember George Hansen, Church member, elected to the U S House in 1962, wound up doing time in the slammer. But Mormons only worsen Idaho’s ultra-conservatism. Plenty of non-Mormon right-wingers live there/
3. I am as alarmed as all of you by what is happening to Idaho’s GOP, but find a thin thread of hope in Governor Little having handily won re-nomination to a second term over that idiot Lieutenant Governor. I am not necessarily a fan of Little, but he at least is not insane.
4. I choose, perhaps obstinately, to have faith for the future rationality of Church members. Jana Riess, whose opinion surveys are well-respected, found that 80 percent of Mormons over 40 voted for Trump in 2020, BUT, Mormons under 40 voted 47-40 percent for Biden over Trump.
5. In the meantime, I have gotten disbelieving stares in my Stake Center parking lot when people see my “Pro-America, Anti-Trump” bumper sticker on my car. No one has so far ventured to say anything to me, perhaps because they know that I am ready and willing to argue. But I know many people in my Ward who voted for Biden; they are simply drowned out by the Yahoos.
6. In the meantime, I pray for my Church and my country. If we give up, we abandon them to dangerous crackpots. I believe in fighting back.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Muslim countries (Egypt, Turkey, Palestine) and many seemingly reasonable Muslims just grow immune to what the insanity of politics in the Muslim world is. A lot of political focus when I was living there was on Israeli policy and US foreign policy, which almost became a sort of distraction from the corruption of the Egyptian government or just how crazy suicide bombers were. Many seemingly reasonable Muslims also would call suicide bombings in Israel “martyrdom operations” instead of suicide bombings or terrorist attacks. Of course, many great reasonable people in all the places I lived. I mean no disrespect or generalizations. But something as grotesque and condemnable as suicide bombing often got downplayed, and largely because of drummed up fear against a perceived enemy. And that’s exactly what’s happening in the GOP and among Republican Mormons. They’re so hyperfocused on cancel culture, or the Black Lives Matter protests, or Hunter Biden, or whatever other boogeyman issues there are out there that they’ve become immune to just how insane their party has become.
I’m an old Millennial, born to a standard Utah Republican family who grew up and found that I’m a democrat. As Taiwan Missionary pointed out, I see plenty of middle aged Mormons that are liberal and plenty more that are reasonable conservatives. The future struggle of the church that I see looming is whether my generation (late Gen X and Millennials) can survive the ultra-conservativism still in place at the top of the church. The middle management of the church (bishops and stake presidents) has already shifted to Gen X and with each passing year there will be more Millennial bishops, RSP, EQP, etc. But the church is still governed at the top by men born in the 1920s and 30s. Even the youngest Apostles were born in the 50s, and they will likely be running things for decades to come.
It seems that many of the active members in the primes of their lives, the ones who are raising middle school and high school kids, running those youth programs, etc., are waiting and hoping for some continuing restoration that will let us stay. I know I am. Even my peers that aren’t actively longing for some fundamental changes around big topics like LGBTQ and gender equality issues aren’t afraid of them. I think the vast majority of active LDS millennials would stay active if RMN declared same sex marriage to be ok tomorrow. I’m not sure that is true for the older folks.
I’m rambling, but my point is that I see a political gulf that is forming between GAs and the membership, and I suspect that gulf will keep growing for some time. Baby boomers will continue to make up a smaller portion of the church with each passing year (provided younger people don’t start leaving even more than they have been), but baby boomers will still dominate the Q15 for the next 30 years. This is the growing divide that I worry will tear the church apart unless something big changes.
I live in Idaho. There is a bit more detail that may be helpful.
First, Idaho Republicans generally fended off the hard right in the May 17th GOP primary. Governor Little beat handily our wacky, pro-Trump, gun waving, bible toting Lt. Governor. LDS House Speaker Scott Bedke won over hard right Patricia Giddings (the chief defender of a rapist legislator.). And, our next Secretary of State is Ada County clerk Phil McGrane. Congressman Mike Simpson soundly thumped Trumpian debt-collector Bryan Smith.
Second, as a consequence, the hard right focused on taking over the State Republican Party apparatus. That was the crazy convention mentioned. Our new state GOP chair, Dorothy Moon, is a John Birch Society crazy who on winning, declared : “We have to make sure with the Democrats coming at us with full force that we have our barriers up, our guns loaded and ready to keep this state free.” She is nuts.
What is the Mormon tie? Some of the county parties are driven by nutty LDS folks, particularly in Bonneville County (Idaho Falls). They have lost locally in primaries but control the party structure and pushed hard for outlawing abortion even if the mother’s life is in danger, pushed Bircher Moon, and still gripe that Biden stole the 2020 election. They are not respected locally.
Their allies are mostly not Mormons. Mostly evangelical folks in North Idaho and the Boise area.
I’ve mentioned it before Dave B., but bloggers like you and Hawkgrrrl do an excellent job attempting an articulate view of conservative political analysis, but I feel like you ultimately end up missing the point.
I only have two friends, inside and outside FB, that I’d call Trump loyalists. That’s it. I didn’t “hire” Trump as a civil servant in 2016, but I did in 2020. I have no qualms about dropping him in 2024 if someone more qualified comes along and they can convince me he or she will do a better job.
Most people I know who voted for Trump aren’t bad people. They’re very good people actually. What they wanted, when all was said and done, was less power in the hands of the federal government, and more in the hands of state and local governments. That’s all it really boils down to. It’s a pretty simple concept really, but one that is increasingly hard to execute.
Americans took a gamble. No career politician on either side of the aisle had convinced them that they were serious about reducing the size of the federal government. If Americans took the time to actually study the candidates, even many conservatives were actually planning on increasing it for “conservative” purposes while lightly shaving other areas of government. Many Americans were just fed up, so they voted for someone who wasn’t a career politician. It wasn’t the decision I made, but I can understand those who did.
For the most part, that decision paid off. My biggest misgiving about Trump (other than his moral depravity and rude behavior) politically was his frequent use of executive power to further conservative causes, which I found both ironic and hypocritical. I’m hopeful a majority of actually conservative house members can take a hint and lessen power without executive help. Whether that includes Trump or not remains to be seen.
Of the two Trump loyalists I know, I haven’t talked to one in person for years. The other I talk to regularly. He’s a nice guy, makes people laugh, is service-oriented, and doesn’t fly a Trump flag as far as I know. He doesn’t worship the guy. He’s just excited about a movement he believes will result in less federal power.
So why the attribution of so much power to Trump in LDS circles? Do liberal and democrat members esteem their candidates in similar ways? Is there a projectionist aspect to this? I’m honestly not entirely sure. Is it no longer extremist if the political ideals align with your own? Do many of us appear extremist simply because we don’t condone big government that happens to align with your political views? I haven’t called Biden supporter members extremists or a cult, even if I think our President may be using China to profit and may otherwise be morally bankrupt.
I think as long as W&T bloggers see a large chunk of members as being more loyal to their politics, rather than their religion, it will continue to show just how out of touch bloggers have become (unless it’s simply a tactic in gaslighting everyone else into thinking the problem is far worse than it is, which would be far worse). I simply do not see what they’re describing (disgusting and mudslinging politics) as the main political philosophy of conservative members.
As far as the real (but small) group of Trump supporters who might actually fit the definition of “depraved,” I don’t condone their behavior in any way. But for an even smaller part of them, I can understand where they’re coming from. If you get so much crap thrown at you by political opponents, eventually you start flinging crap back, not so much because you think your opponent deserves it, but because you’ve become increasingly (and mistakenly) convinced that “crap flinging” is the only form of communication your opponent is capable of.
I’m a conservative (but heavily anti-Trump). What did that man ever do to reduce the scope of the federal government? He took entitlement cuts off the table and ran up the largest deficits in U.S. history. He repeatedly threatened and used federal power for his own ends.
Did you not read about the misgivings I already had with Trump? You listed some other good examples. He was far from perfect, and we can do better. I think the problem of the deficit is bigger than the presidency.
I did think he did more to reduce federal power over land and business than those before him. I felt he selected some pretty conservative judges (not just in the Supreme Court). We didn’t get into any new wars. Those are trends I’d like to see continue with or without him.
Russell M Nelson counseled members to wear masks and get vaccinated. Generally speaking, the consensus of the mainstream medical community also encouraged masks and vaccines.
Fox News disagreed. In my ward, those not wearing masks outnumbered those wearing a mask probably 10:1.
So yes, I feel our religious community put politics ahead of their religion, not to mention sound medical advice and courtesy to others.
Please explain what I’m missing here that makes me out of touch. Or as the kids say, convince me I’m wrong.
You seem to have been sold having a small federal government as a positive by republicans, who claim to have smaller government. Why is a smaller federal government so wonderfull?
They are the main taxing body and can therfore redistribute wealth and services. In the case of republicans away from the less wealthy toward the more wealthy.
Trump before the election, said he wouldn’t accept the result of the electors unless he won. What does that mean to you? To me he is saying I don’t believe in democracy, and those republicans who continue to support him are saying the same. He attempted to overthrow the election, but failed.
At what point is America no longer a democracy? Can you have a democracy with one party that believes in democracy and one that doesn’t.
Can America be leader of the free world if it no longer believes in democracy, Or does it join the side of dictators?
My guess is that Eli is importantly using the term ‘conservatives’ instead of ‘Republicans’ because he wants to distinguish his views from the base of the Republican party. Such a deflection is only a hair-splitting (and face saving) effort that ignores Trump’s lasting influence and power over the Republican party and the conservative movement in America. I get that many people like him (and I know plenty who are members) think they are above it all, but I think it shows just out of touch he has become with the major conservative party and movement in America right now.
Steven Carter in a Sunstone podcast said it best, “Mormonism and Trumpism is the same organism.”
“What [Trump supporters] wanted, when all was said and done, was less power in the hands of the federal government, and more in the hands of state and local governments.”
And he did nothing of sort. In a 2020 news briefing, Trump was asked what constitutional provisions allowed him to override states wanting to remain closed because of COVID, he responded, “Numerous provisions,” not naming any and then adding, “When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total.” Additionally, Trump tried to use federal authority to crack down on “sanctuary” cities and get them to comply with ICE. Also, Trump used federal authority to get federal agents involved to crack down on the Portland protests of 2020 when the Oregon governor never called for his help. In fact, the governor told him to take agents off the streets saying that it was like “adding gasoline to a fire.”
“Do many of us appear extremist simply because we don’t condone big government that happens to align with your political views?”
No. Many Trump supporters appear extreme because they hold extreme views that are not based on any evidence whatsoever. These include the ideas that COVID vaccines are evil and the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and that Trump actually won it. They also include the idea that “big government” (ill-defined) is bad but then turn around and demand big government to deport millions of immigrants, prohibit mosque construction, and an expansion of the US military to fight pointless foreign wars. Never mind the fact that Trump supporters only seem to decry “big government” when it is Democrats using government mechanisms to achieve policy aims, but love “big government” when it is deployed to curtail the freedoms of people they hate, including Muslims, LGBTQs, and undocumented immigrants from Central America and Mexico. Trump supporters tend to be big supporters of the police and have celebrated horrific actions of police brutality, especially against peacefully protesting against it.
“I haven’t called Biden supporter members extremists or a cult, even if I think our President may be using China to profit and may otherwise be morally bankrupt.”
Well, because there is no cult around Biden and people who support him don’t base that support on conspiracy theories and insane ideas like QAnoners. But there is a cult around Trump. You can’t deny that. There is no evidence that Biden is using China to profit. You’ve got some nerve calling Biden “morally bankrupt” when you say nothing of Trump. Biden is a good man with good character and he’s repeatedly shown that. Your “moral bankrupt” claims are baseless. Trump, by contrast, is a disgusting human being who has repeatedly lied and violated the constitution and law.
“He’s just excited about a movement he believes will result in less federal power.”
Your friend is under a delusion.
“He was far from perfect, and we can do better.”
And yet you voted for him in 2020. That you didn’t arrive at the idea that Biden is better than Trump shows that you too are under a pretty huge delusion, and you’ve repeatedly shown that in your misinformed and outright mendacious comments on this blog and your routine crying of wolf and playing of a fake victim.
Questions from OP:
“Aren’t you a little surprised that most LDS are simply ignoring talk after talk about civility and moderation?”
Pure conjecture. You site a few crazy LDS politicians in Idaho and your conclusion is “most LDS”? But if you continue saying this long enough and loudly enough, then it becomes the “truth”. It becomes what people think when they hear “LDS”.
“Have you lost confidence in any local leaders because of recent politics?”
“Have any ward friendships gone cold?”
“Is this a temporary thing for the Church or a permanent shift?”
You’re assuming the Church has shifted. There have been some changes, yes, but I would say the world has shifted more so than the church.
“If the Antichrist were on the ballot, most Mormons would vote for him.”
Nearly the entire world, mormon and non-mormon alike, will be “voting” for him. Faith in Christ in the last days, during the rule of the Antichrist, will be in very short supply. Most of the world will offer their support to the Antichrist’s cause, some because they are convinced by him, others perhaps because they fear him.
For me, religion is about values. Apparently, the majority of members over 40 voted for Trump. And the Republican parties in both Idaho and Utah are loaded with extreme right-wing politicians. I share few values with these pols. Utah’s national pols aren’t much better. Senator Lee, a Trump supporter and active Mormon, compared Trump to Captain Moroni.
How can I belong to a church where the majority of members don’t share my values? And my values are who I am.
@Roger – “How can I belong to a church where the majority of members don’t share my values? ”
You change your values 😉
Eli: You mention the claim that church members view the gospel through their political lens rather than the reverse as if this is a new phenomenon in our writing (well, mine anyway–I can’t really speak for Dave), but I have been observing this from my earliest days blogging, all the way back in 2008, when we were blissfully unaware that Trump even existed, back when the Republican party was represented, reluctantly by Mitt Romney. The party was not so extremist then, although it had its own history with the Tea Party, which the majority of Republicans saw as being to the right of the party as a whole. Those days are long gone. If you want to see how extreme the party is, look no further than the open embracing of white supremacist groups. The party used to be ashamed of that part of the party. Not anymore.
But my observation about members viewing the church through their political lens rather than the reverse stems from my formative years. My parents were conservatives, but most of my ward’s leaders were very vocal Democrats (old-style moderate Democrats, though, not as progressive as an AOC, for example). I grew up listening to talks and comments at church from these very different perspectives, and the gospel does look very different depending on your political views. The priorities are different, the parables you cite differ, the Jesus quotes, the leaders you like, etc. I don’t see how this observation is at all controversial, but it wasn’t until I went to BYU that I realized that the majority of Utah Mormons were conservatives. My parents felt like they were in the minority to me, but clearly they were not. While my experience may have been unusual in that regard, it’s why I have long seen church members’ values this way.
On a personal level, I have never affiliated with either party, but I have certainly moved away from the Republican party as a result of Trump, and even more, as a result of the right’s unquenchable quest to strip rights away from women and the LGBT community, and their inability to admit that the election was not stolen (in fact, calling people RINOs who don’t agree with the big lie). I used to be very proud of the Church’s political neutrality statement about considering the character of the candidates, and voting regardless of party for those who will uphold the gospel values and principles. Well, my blinders are off, and the Church’s own actions are less and less neutral over time–they are incredibly political, maybe less than Evangelicals, or maybe just more clever about it. That’s the problem when you blog–you start looking at things that you would otherwise not have seen.
But if we go back a decade, my own opinion has always been that there are some conservative principles of value. States’ rights allow some entrepreneurial ideas to flourish and later be implemented elsewhere, such as how to address homelessness, education, infrastructure, employment, etc. The right has also been a check on the more ill-advised programs of the left, those that are problematic or financially not viable or have gaping loopholes and won’t really serve the constituency they intend. Those things now appear to be mostly twisted into states freelancing on the craziest schemes to subvert democracy, disenfranchise voters, strip away rights of citizens, and enable companies too much leeway to destroy the planet and harm workers. But yes, the left is still mired in a fragmented coalition, bogged down by inefficiency, and sometimes creates really dumb or ill-designed programs that are expensive and ineffective.
I don’t know much more about Idaho than what I read here and elsewhere, so I won’t offer my .02¢ about it. I’d love to visit the mountains there sometime.
But. After receiving the reports of the Jan 6 congressional committee, along with witnessing Trump’s term of office and campaigns, and all the subsequent fallout, I have a dreadful sense of alarm anymore when I run across someone who supports him. He is a con artist, grifter, underhanded manipulator, pathological liar, and he abused the office he held so badly that I don’t know if our political system can recover. Along with all his other abuses, he unleashed violence on our government while he was a sitting president, which is treason. He’s a criminal traitor.
He and his enablers must be held to account. If they aren’t, it will happen again. But next time it might not be your side— Dems are no different than Republicans in using corruption to their advantage. Next time, the narcissistic abuser in the Oval Office might not be such a dumbass. Next time he may have strategic military support.
I’m not in any way anti-Republican, and I think the impulse to place limits on the federal government has merit, always. I used to be registered Republican, (because Arizona!) and I may be again if I see the need to support folks like Rusty Bowers. But Trump is the figurehead for the ruination of the present Republican Party, and a whole lot more. I’m not pretending anymore that he’s a normal former president and a political player of any value.
Sorry if this is a massive threadjack, but there is an elephant in this room.
Chadwick wrote “Please explain what I’m missing here that makes me out of touch.”
“Fox News disagreed” would probably be the first indication. No one I know watches Fox regularly, although I’m sure there are a few people out there who do religiously. I do check their website regularly, along with a number of other websites that vary across the political spectrum. About 40% of voters are Republican, upwards of 30% identify as independent. Fox has about 14 million viewers in total and roughly 5 million in prime time (all this from a Yahoo search). During the last election year, MSNBC and CNN regularly beat Fox in many of those coveted time slots, which I think is a pretty big indicator that moderates and/or undecideds make up a large—possibly the largest—portion of the cable news audience. That doesn’t make the problem of being informed entirely by cable news any less of an issue, but I think one can put a little less blame at the feet of conservatives, and more at the feet of moderates. Conservative thinking goes well beyond Fox News. I think an inability to see that does make a person out of touch.
That Fox disagreed I think is also false. They had certain anchors who disagreed, but when I last went to their website, they had graphs on the vaccination status of each state and months ago they had links on where to get the vaccine. Maybe that was mandated by law, but I never got the impression they were anti-vax.
I honestly can’t speak for all conservative members, but for the first six months of the pandemic, my biggest concern was doing what was best for my family. The initial vibe I got from the Church was simply to “love your neighbor.” I looked beyond medical science and started studying about half a dozen sciences that COVID had its tentacles in, and how those sciences affected the human condition. I still think masking a child is ludicrous about 90% of the time. I disagreed with how things were rolled out and framed by the government. I do wish more people got informed and were encouraged to make their own decision. All that said though, when Russell M. Nelson asked us to wear a mask to Church, I did. Most of my Utah County Ward did. There were about three families that didn’t. I wore it until I got natural immunity. I was a little slower to get the vaccine, but I got it as well (I do think the Spirit can and will direct the timing in which we’re suppose to follow counsel at times). I’ll admit it was a little difficult at first (although if I agreed with the prophet on everything there’d probably be no need for him), but I did it. I did also gain a little more understanding for those who disagree with the Church on other issues, such as LGBTQIA and other things.
But again, my original intentions in not wearing a mask were based largely in simply doing what I thought was right (I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say bucking the establishment wasn’t a little fun though) based on the research I did. If you are unable to see that in those you disagree with, instead calling that purely political, I would call that out of touch. Would you be able to say that all ten members of that 10:1 ratio didn’t have similar motivations, at least initially? Why they didn’t eventually mask up is saddening, so I don’t know, maybe it is just the conservatives in your ward. My only experience with Californian members was in Fresno, and it wasn’t a bad one.
We’ve been through this so many times before that I’m hesitant to get into it again. I would say it’s more correct to call America a Republic, rather than a democracy. And as far as unlikely but real dictatorships go, I’m almost certain it will be conservatives who first rise up against such a dictatorship, regardless of which political party is in power.
Brian, am I only worth a third-person reference? 😉
In all seriousness, I’ve been pretty consistent in putting my ideals above my party from the start, so your guess is wrong.
Talking to you gets old real fast. I’d give it roughly an 80% chance your next response is a personal attack (Well, we’ve kind of already gotten there today haven’t we?), and then we’re just wasting each other’s time. I will respond to this though:
“routine crying of wolf and playing of a fake victim.”
I’m not crying wolf at all. I’m stating that I don’t see the aggressor you guys do to the extent that you assert. That sir, is crying wolf. Way to try to flip it. And I’ve never once thought of myself as a victim. Not once. I’d say this is projectionist on your part, but you’ve genuinely got me wondering now if I’m mislabeling a lot of liberals who I think play victim when in reality they’re just trying to fight for what they think is right. So hey, you may have actually done some good today in talking to me. I don’t expect a lot of that in the future.
Thank you for your genuine response. I’ve been around here seven years or so, so I know where you’re coming from, but I think you guys are ascribing way too much power to Trump as of late. His die-hard and depraved followers exist, but when I look at media, social media, and blog portrayal and compare it to the conservative reality I know, there is a huge disconnect. I won’t deny that those pushing for more limited government may feel more empowered, but that doesn’t mean their political ideology suddenly changed. The push I’m also seeing (not just on this blog) to say the entire party is becoming extreme does come off a little disingenuous to those of us who have always been the way we are. Most all of us have not and will not stoop down to some of the things that have been described here, but if you start treating them both as one and the same, then I think it becomes largely a manufactured problem that may or may not be used by liberals as a political weapon to dehumanize all conservatives. That could get ugly real fast, and I don’t think the majority of conservatives would be to blame.
Eli, that you that you put your ideals over your party is exactly what I was saying. It’s not that I don’t admire you for it, it’s that it makes it out of touch with the Republican party. That you repeatedly claim to know so few Trump supporters and don’t know people who regularly watch Fox News, for example, further proves my point: you continually want to distinguish between conservatives and Republicans, countering complaints about Republicans with your experience as a conservative. You know there is a schism and yet you defend Republicanism and Trumpism by defending conservatism. These aren’t the same things, you know you it. If anyone is muddying the waters on the issue and misrepresenting things, it’s this semantics game you are playing. Look, I live in the Deep South. And for my experience, you are very, very mistaken on your portrayal of Republicans and the state of the Republican Party.
Eli, “I know you are but what am I” seems to be your response, not just to me personally, but to the Democrats in general. One of your accusations against Biden was that he was profiting from China while president. There is no evidence for this. What is aggravating is that you say this against Biden and then say nothing about Trump and his family, who profited well over $1 billion by using the presidency to make a profit. Much of the profit came from foreign dealings, and there is overwhelming evidence for this.
Then you say Biden is morally bankrupt. On what grounds? Trump said on the Access Hollywood tape that he sexually assaults women. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with Trump. Never mind over 20,000 half-truths and misleading statements he told while president as tracked by the Washington Post.
It is unbelievable how much nonsense you’re willing to believe about Biden and overreact to, all while giving Trump every pass imaginable even for the most obviously egregious actions and words.
But that’s your MO isn’t it? You come on here as a brash contrarian and make outrageous statements, get downvoted to oblivion, and then act like a victim when someone points out just how outrageous what you’re saying is and demand that your blatant absurdities be oh so delicately handled.
If I were a moderator, I would have banned you a long time ago, and not because you disagree with things I say, but because you’re here in bad faith and are an obvious troll.
Eli says, “No one I know watches Fox regularly”
LOL. You might believe that to be true but I have a hard time believing it. But if it is true then it makes a pretty good case that the conservatives/republicans you know and describe elsewhere are smarter than your average republican, and different than the ones described by Dave B and Angela.
To the OP, I have been dumbfounded by the willingness of die hard members to ignore Nelson’s encouragement to vaccinate and mask. But I don’t think they are intentionally ignoring the direction to be civil in discourse. People are generally blind to their own incivility. Only the Other Side is rude or uncivil, it is never the friendly side.
I don’t know much about what happened at the Utah Republican Convention, except I’m pretty sure Mitt Romney did not attend. He was vehemently booed as an RINO at the last convention, enough to make the news.
I can tell you that at the Utah Democratic convention their was a vigorous debate and a bit of angst. The convention voted to not nominate a candidate for senate, in spite of an eligible candidate (Kael Weston) who normally would have won. Instead the convention voted to support (without nominating) conservative Evan McMullin ask the candidate more likely to unseat Mike Lee. This way McMullin gets a nod of support from Dems without having a kiss-of-death “D” next to his name on the ballot. However many of the staunch Dems felt betrayed and felt like the convention was hijacked by outsiders. To the extent that during a recess a man walked over to a crowd supporting McMullin and yelled at them until the Sergeant at Arms was called.
“And it’s easy to just keep feeding the monster. I don’t think liberals spend very much time on Fox News but they sure hate it. Likewise for conservatives and MSNBC.”
This bothsidesism doesn’t work. FoxCable, et al. purposely mislead, do not use truth as a basis, and strongly discourage their audience from finding information from mainstream sources (MSM is their derogatory term). They have spawned the likes of Breitbart, QAnon, and Infowars.
Even beyond their corruption, their main intent of delivering policies that serve the wealthy, while convincing those harmed by gross wealth inequality through flattery, mocking, and distraction has proven to be horribly effective. They have destroyed our previously healthy middle class, and are actively dismantling democracy.
I highly recommend MSM as a basis for making informed opinions: PBS, NPR, NYT, WaPo, SL Tribune, anything not owned by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Sinclair Broadcasting, etc.
Hang in there Eli. Some of us enjoy your truthful, rational, well-thought-out, and well-worded comments here at W&T 🙂
Thanks for the comments, everyone. When the comments are rolling along nicely, I often don’t comment myself. Generally I’ve said what I had to say in the OP. A few responses:
Angela C (first comment): “First, I think the Mormons are politically moving toward extremism along with the rest of the GOP, and some of that was inevitable (pre-Trump), but Trump’s total incivility and open embracing of white supremacists gave the right license to say and do things they would never have dreamed of saying and doing out loud before.” Yeah, it’s like the bad example of Trump’s nasty rhetoric and bad actions somehow have given a lot of LDS permission to do the same. They say that often all it takes to start a riot is someone to throw the first brick. Then 3 or 4 others (the “I’ll throw a brick if someone throws one first” people) throw a brick. Then 10 or 20. And soon half the crowd is rioting. Trump threw the first politically incendiary brick.
Toad and Angela C: Yes, the dropping of the “vote for candidates of good moral character” counsel that was previously included in the regular “go vote” letters from the FP was dropped just about the time Trump came on the scene. That’s one of two or three blatant tells showing that LDS leadership is largely Trump-leaning. Waiting like two months to recognize Biden as the legitimate president (by sending a posting a congratulatory letter) instead of the usual day or two is another tell. So it’s wrong to blame just the mainstream membership. LDS leaders fell for Trump as well. I’ll be 95% of GAs still see Trump as the lesser of two evils, because Democratic candidates generally support abortion rights, women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, social programs, affirmative action, gun control, and all those other objectionable things.
Eli, thanks for sharing your views. But no one is buying the idea that most Republicans are just quiet conservatives and just a few rabble-rousers in Trump’s corner are making all the noise and trouble. Go look at polling data, which accurately captures the broad picture. From Pew Research in October 2021: “Two-thirds of Republicans want Trump to retain major political role; 44% want him to run again in 2024.” More recently, a July 2022 report: “Three-quarters of Republicans view Trump favorably, while about nine-in-ten Democrats (91%) view him unfavorably.” Trump still has broad support from all Republicans, whatever they call themselves.
Dave B: The only potential quibble with the Church dropping its admonishment to vote for candidates of moral character when Trump became the Republican nominee is that it’s theoretically possible that they saw Hillary in an equally dubious light (e,g. hello, bothsidesism). While I can’t concur with that view, so many Republicans had, to riff on a phrase now in common parlance, “Hillary Derangement Syndrome.” Personally, I believe a lot of this was related to misogyny, at least in people’s lizard brains, but she was a well-known Washington political operator for decades, and that’s always going to mean you have at least rubbed elbows with some bad people, probably also taking donations from them, possibly engaging in some shady deals as well. Having said that, I don’t believe she was immoral or didn’t have a “moral character’ (I think less of Bill, for sure), but wow, did Republicans believe it. A good friend of mine, someone I had known for over 15 years, spent holidays with, raised our sons together, etc., told me in a completely sincere way “Oh, I totally believe Hillary Clinton has had dozens of people killed. Absolutely.” I just had to shake my head and walk away.
But does that mean that Church leaders, particularly the FP, were just worried that the phrase was outdated because all politicians are corrupt, or did they want to give themselves and other church members a pass for voting for a completely unscrupulous candidate who openly bragged about sexual assault (and used profanity! the sin third to murder!!)? Nah, I agree with you. They were Trump-voters. And bear in mind the third piece of evidence (IMO anyway): Uchtdorf was “corrected” for donating to Biden’s campaign and had to make a public statement walking it back as if he didn’t do it and didn’t know about it. Really??
John W wrote “ get downvoted to oblivion”
Are you still seriously gauging the quality of a conversation on the voting function? Last I checked, W&T invited conversation, but after my first two months here, I’ve never been under any illusion that this isn’t, for the most part, a bastion for liberal, non-orthodox, disaffected, or former members (and for a blog that often seems to pride itself on calling out the Church for a lack of transparency, it would be kind of nice to see the “Blog Description” get updated to more properly reflect that nature). The fact that I’m a conservative among liberals is a pretty clear indicator I’m going to get down votes in any political discussion, and most religious ones for that matter. I don’t care. If for some reason in the future one of my political comments gets 50 up votes and 10 down votes are you suddenly going to start thinking “Hey, Eli is finally starting to see the light!” ? I don’t think so. It’s the comment. Why are you here John if not for discussion? I come here for about a dozen different reasons, not the least of which involves getting an understanding of others, understanding where I can be more sympathetic, and checking my preconceived notions. I consider not doing the same for others from time to time a selfish act. If I simply wanted an echo chamber I could hang out all day at Millennial Star and pat myself on the back. Is that why you’re here? Based on your obsession with the up votes, I’ve slowly come to suspect it’s for your ego, but I’d love to be proven wrong. But since it’s been a couple of years since I lost nearly all respect for you, that would admittedly be more difficult than not. Ask yourself if that’s not at least a small part of it.
“and then act like a victim”
Clearly we have different ways of defining what a victim is. Again, I have never felt like a victim any more than I’d expect you to feel like a victim for saying you think Biden is doing a good job while you’re talking to one or more conservatives.
“when someone points out just how outrageous what you’re saying is and demand that your blatant absurdities be oh so delicately handled”
Is it how I’m typing my thoughts? How do you handle in-person conversations with those who disagree with you? I haven’t made any demands of anyone. I’m trying to come to some form of mutual understanding, even if some or great amount of disagreement remains. That’s called discourse.
“If I were a moderator, I would have banned you a long time ago,”
Of that, I’ve never had any doubt. With enough power, I’d imagine you’d do even more. Your thinking and your ways are why people think and believe the way I do John. The fact that you’re at least open about is refreshing.
“but because you’re here in bad faith and are an obvious troll.”
At the risk of sounding arrogant John, many people I know have told me I’m one of the kindest and most genuine people they’ve ever met. It’s an ideal I try to live up to. . . but since no one is perfect, I will go ahead and admit that although what I write is genuine, I have started to become mildly amused at predicting and watching when and where you’ll insult, bring up the vote function, or otherwise react the way you do. So yes, with special regards to you, the troll label might fit loosely. I’m trying to spend less time online (successfully this time, I might add), so if the mods decide to ban me for this, they might actually be doing me a favor.
If I am allowed to continue here, and with enough will power, I might even just let you continue insulting and ignore your comments for your benefit, but we’ll have to see.
I’m sorry if I gave the impression that most conservative will just remain quiet. Not the case. I’m just trying to make the point that most all of us will not turn into pure Ammon Bundy clones, which is the impression I often get here. It just feels like the rough equivalent of saying 90% of the democratic party is Marxist, which I don’t think is true.
Some people seem to derive a sort of high from being perpetually disagreeable. It is almost as if that is the end itself and will go as far as sacrificing reason, reasonability, coherent thinking, and even facts themselves just to be disagreeable. Maybe they find their lives boring, so they seek out environments where people are likely to disagree with them, find someone who drives hard counterarguments and will actually engage them, and endlessly disagree. They’re always misunderstood, reject being placed in any sort of category, and fancy themselves completely independent thinkers (but are really just incoherent). These types love outrage and crave a sense of victimhood. But victims to what is unclear.
FYI John, some of us are thinking your last comment is auto biographical.
I kind of have to agree with bwb here.
But besides that, the fact that I don’t comment here as half as often as you do should be decent evidence that you’re wrong. Personally going back over all the reasons I come here, a “high” doesn’t register, but you’re not wrong in the sense that I do get some amount of exhilaration in any form of conversation, whether it be those I disagree with, or those I agree with wholeheartedly. Exercising the mind is a good thing.
Forgive me for possibly being too pessimistic, but should I go out of my way to be even more coherent, cite my sources line by line, or just present my logic and reason from the very first thought process on down, I don’t think your reaction would be all that different.
“should I go out of my way to be even more coherent, cite my sources line by line”
Yes. Your thoughts are based on a combination of no evidence and bad evidence. Root your thoughts in evidence and what will change are your very ideas. In fact, strong evidence will make your ideas more aligned with liberalism. For conservativism and libertarianism are evidenceless philosophies based mostly on emotion and grifters.
“based mostly on emotion”
Have you not noticed you’re the most emotional person to frequent this blog? That’s the most ironic thing you’ve said up to this point. And for that matter, do you actually cite sources beyond “proven by scientist decades ago” type statements? I think we’ve both posted one or two links in the past, but I’d say we’re both pretty guilty here. Maybe it’s just an unwritten rule that the burden of proof lies with the one who doesn’t fit the liberal mold of the blog. I can kind of understand that to a small extent.
In fairness, it also seems links often get comments stuck in the queue, so I’ve never had much of a problem with people referring to studies and other things in passing.
I’m not above changing John, and in fact I have. I do realize it’s not the direction you’ve gone. That doesn’t stop me from assimilating the same information you have, but I still have to think for myself.
…And more whiny rambling. Can’t even produce original critiques and has to borrow from mine. Laughable
,I’d like to see this end and not repeat on other threads, so I’ll ask you one more time. Why are you here?|
Is it the ego? Your upvote obsession is the best piece of evidence for this and what I’ve increasingly come to believe.
Is it for echo chambers? W & T often does take on the appearance of a liberal Mormon country club. If this is the vibe mods and commenters want to keep exclusively then I again suggest they update the “About” section of the blog and/or codify that vibe in the description as well. I would stay away out of respect for the forum rules, however detrimental they may be to those not willing to look outside themselves.
Is it for genuine discussion? This ranks high on my list. I don’t live here to the extent you do John (hence the slower response), but I do make an effort to soak it in from time to time, since learning is also high on my list. I have had many of my views tempered since coming here. But like I said, not making an effort to do the same for others strikes me as selfish, so I try to reciprocate.
What is it exactly that you’re trying to accomplish with the insults? Throwing out words and phrases like “faux victim” and “whining” when nothing of the sort is going on does nothing to enhance the discussion. I think the word gets thrown around way too much, but “gaslighting” does feel appropriate here. I’m not what you’re trying to tell me I am. It’s enough for me to know that, but I think you’d be better off knowing that as well. Is it simply to alienate or drive off?
I’ve said before that I don’t phrase things as eloquently as you do, and especially for that reason, I don’t know why you feel the need to resort to insults. I’ve got a backbone, so the only person you’re really damaging is you. I’ve been on forums far more liberal than this and have had had far more productive conversations with people who forego your tactics, so I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish by it unless you just feel annoyed or threatened. Other than your intellect, you have become the full embodiment of what many conservatives view as the stereotypical liberal.
I’ve seen plenty of studies and case studies that would appear to support liberalism, and plenty that would appear to support conservatism. I’ve also tried to follow the money in all those studies. Conservatism, as of now, has won me over. It makes the most reasonable sense in both heart and mind. And for all the studies in the world, they’re still just simply ideologies. I am of the simple belief that an individual can and will often change for the better, with or without the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More often than not, they just need the right information and encouragement. I’ve seen it happen in others repeatedly. I’m of the belief that they can accomplish this without legislative or Executive compulsion. I believe if an idea is powerful enough, it can stand on its own without the help of government entities. If it can’t, then I believe whatever destruction occurs as a result of freedom still does not outweigh the moral atrocities of inflicting my will on another through government entities. It’s that simple. By your insults, previous talk of mandates, and your obvious disdain for others, I would not trust you with any form of power whatsoever. You have become one of the very things you supposedly preach against. You deserve to be resisted. I will not do this using your tactics.
If you feel I have used these tactics in the past then I offer my sincere apologies. Although I do occasionally have a weakness for playing ball on the same terms my opponent does, I usually just try to point out the value of the game. And although I’ve participated in some pretty productive games, I’m willing to walk away if needed.
Wow, still going? Sorry, man, I glanced at the first sentence, laughed and sighed, and I didn’t bother to read the rest.
I highly doubt that. But even if I take you at your word, I can now just link back to my last comment for your next emotional tirade. Should save some time. Good luck to you John.