Sunday, October 29, 2006

Religion and Politics -- SLCSpin

SLCSpin has been posting on LDS Church neutrality and the recent Romney/Boston Globe debacle. This issue is a valid issue, however the arguments are sometimes misdirected.

Regarding political campaigns and candidates, it is absolutely illegal for the LDS Church to endorse a political party or a candidate. Hence the church, every year, has the same letter announcing political neutrality read over the pulpit near election time. This is the church's official position and a disclaimer. The organization is forbidden from creating ties to parties or candidates. This is a point that is firmly established.

From this point on the water gets a little muddied.

In the same letter, individual members of the church are encouraged to participate in the political process. I'm inclined to believe this letter means all members of the LDS Church. Ethan had an issue with the president of the MOTAB Choir (Mr. Mac) being a campaign worker for Hatch. My question and issue with Ethan's argument is this: at what point should an individual's position in the church, force that individual to refrain from open support of a political campaign or party? I feel cases like this should only occur in cases like that of General Authorities, where an individual is fully and completely tied to church leadership and management. (All of my argument rests on the assumption that LDS members show respect for the neutrality policy the Church holds, which is sadly not the case sometimes)

The other issue where people look beyond the mark is in regards to the Church's lobbying activities. Lobbying is allowable under IRC Section 501(c)(3) (the tax exempt organization rule book)if a charity is lobbying on political legislation that it deems critical to the organization's mission and purpose. If you pay attention to the issues that the church openly lobbies they are always issues that are connected to LDS Church doctrine. In 1995, the church issued "The Proclamation on the Family" which served as a firm pronouncement of church doctrine, and gave the church greater ability to lobby against gay marriage without violating IRC 501(c)(3).

UPDATE : Ethan made a second post on the issue that made one very solid point "The LDS Church has always maintained its political neutrality. The problem doesn't really lie with The Church. I believe The Church is victimized by opportunistic politicians and also employees who do not understand the consequences of their actions." This hits a major part of the problem on the head, so the solution lies with the church making firmer policies with employees and employees emails, establishing what church leaders should refrain from visible political activities, and more solidly establishing its political neutrality among church members.

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