Saturday, June 13, 2009

Political Neutrality in The Kingdom

Those who know me personally know that conversing on the subject of political matters simply isn’t my choice of topics. I would much rather engage in a stimulating doctrinal discussion any day of the week over politics. There are times however when politics and religion do seem to overlap. One such discussion ensued in my Institute class a few weeks back. The discussion centered on what was the “Kingdom” and who was part of that organization.

In the study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Christ continually gives reference to “the kingdom”, especially in reference to His church.

Doctrine and Covenants 45:1 Hearken, O ye people of my church, to whom the kingdom has been given; hearken ye and give ear to him who laid the foundation of the earth, who made the heavens and all the hosts thereof, and by whom all things were made which live, and move, and have a being.

He also designates who is a part of that kingdom when he states “for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom.” This blessing is made possible through the grace of God and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are again told, “Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.” This kingdom is one known as a Theocracy, a government guided by God through revelation to a prophet.

“We often hear the Church referred to as a democracy, when in reality, instead of being a church where the body is governed by officers elected by the members, the Church is a theocracy, where God directs his church through representatives chosen by him.

Our fifth article of faith states, ‘We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.’

Now, this is the way in which Joseph Smith was chosen by the Lord as President of his Church and set apart by those authorized by the Lord to do so.” (N. Eldon Tanner, The Administration of the Restored Church)

The belief in a Theocratic government caused the early saints of the restoration to suffer much by way of persecution. The saints that had gathered together in Missouri, and then again in Nauvoo, made the people in the surrounding areas feel uncomfortable because they viewed them as political opposition. Those who were not members of the LDS Church became fearful of what would happen if the LDS members decided to politically vote as a “block” or group because of their belief in a theocratic form of government. The fear, that the Church as a whole would become involved in politics, even followed them to the Salt Lake Valley, where they were eventually driven because of mob rule and corrupt government officials. I believe that today history is actually repeating itself once again because of the stance the LDS Church has taken on the moral issue of defending traditional marriage. Many feel that our theocratic beliefs will “force” us to vote one way which takes away our agency and choice at the polls.

Although as a Church we do believe in a Theocracy, where ultimately we will be ruled by the perfect ruler, Jesus Christ Himself, until that day comes the official position of the LDS Church is that of political neutrality.

The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church’s neutrality in matters of party politics applies in all of the many nations in which it is established.

The Church does not:

  • Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.
  • Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes.
  • Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to. This policy applies whether or not a candidate for office is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

The Church does:

  • Encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections.
  • Expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.
  • Request candidates for office not to imply that their candidacy or platforms are endorsed by the Church.
  • Reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church.

In the United States, where nearly half of the world’s Latter-day Saints live, it is customary for the Church at each national election to issue a letter to be read to all congregations encouraging its members to vote, but emphasizing the Church’s neutrality in partisan political matters. (

On the earth at this time there is a separation of church and state. In the 12th Article of Faith it reads, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Our responsibility lies in upholding the laws that govern us in our individual nations, and participate responsibly in selecting officials that will uphold the values we proclaim to be true.

It is just as important to understand our role as members of His kingdom, or His Church on this earth, that of the important task of preparing the earth for the day that Christ will actually return and rule as both the ecclesiastical and political leader of the world. He gives the explanation of that role as “behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.”

Doctrine and Covenants 103:5 But verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour unto the counsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them.

6 Behold they shall, for I have decreed it, begin to prevail against mine enemies from this very hour.

7 And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it forever and ever.

8 But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them.

9 For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men;

The role we have been given is very specific and requires action and obedience to His word. Until that time when the Kingdom of Earth is reunited with the Kingdom of Heaven, Christ reminds us that “the kingdom is given you of the Father, and power to overcome all things which are not ordained of him.” This promise gives us hope. Christ continues with the comforting assurance that “the kingdom is yours. And behold, and lo, I am with the faithful always.”

Faith is simply too important a principle to leave out of our lives. The building of His kingdom depends on our faith and action, we can retain no neutrality when it comes to that position.

1 comment:

FelixAndAva said...

You just keep getting better and better.