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.