Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Moral Obligation of Latter-day Saint Voters

This year is an important year for Latter-day Saint voters, the large majority of whom have been solid Republicans for decades. But the Republican Party is not the party it was even three years ago. It has become the Party of Trump, and the Republican Congress has prostrated itself before this disturbing human being. Some Church members may rationalize that putting up with Trump’s offensive words and behavior is simply the price you have to pay to get conservative judges and tax cuts. But voting for Republican House and Senate candidates is a vote for individuals who will enable Trump rather than hold him accountable. It is a vote for everything Latter-day Saints should be morally opposed to.
Consider these words from Peter Wehner, a conservative who served as an adviser to President George W. Bush: “I think the fundamental interpretative fact of the Trump presidency—and I think that this Saudi example [Trump’s support of the Saudi regime in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi] is only one manifestation of it—is this is a person (Trump) who is fundamentally amoral and immoral. He is a man without human empathy or without human sympathy, and in many respects a man without conscience; and I think what you’ve seen over the last several days is a person who’s reacting that way.”
Wehner continued, “And I think that we’ve seen that lack of human empathy and conscience in almost every arena of the Trump presidency. It explains the cruelty, it explains the policy at the border, separating kids from (parents), it explains the pathological lies, it explains the fact that he’s a man without loyalty—and I think this is just the latest arena in which we’re seeing this ugly drama play itself out.”
If any Democratic president had enriched himself through the office of the presidency, had offended our allies while cozying up to brutal dictators, had called the press the enemy of the people, had lied constantly to promote a political agenda, had been credibly accused of both sexual assault and adultery, had refused to release his tax returns, had been accused in an in-depth news investigation of tax evasion and fraud, or any of a hundred other Trump offenses, the Republican Congress would have been launching dozens of investigations. And Latter-day Saint voters would have demanded action from their elected representatives. But what do we hear from Congress? Silence. And what do we hear from LDS Republicans? Excuses and rationalization. Morality has been replaced by an ethic of winning at all costs.
But let’s look at what the Party of Trump has become. It is now the party of hate. It is the party of manufactured anger. It is the party of lies. It is the party of bigotry and racism and misogyny. It is the party that defends accused sexual predators and dismisses victims. It is the party of voter suppression. It is the party of polluters and shameless corruption. It is the party of empty ideology and vacant values. If you vote for Republican Senate and House candidates, you are voting for a party that has no answers for our troubled health-care system, that offers tax cuts to the wealthy in the midst an economic expansion, that threatens to cut benefits to the elderly, the sick, the poor, and the disabled. You are voting for a party that will not investigate even the most egregious offenses of the most corrupt president this country has ever seen, a party that has tried to undermine the legitimate independent investigation of Robert Mueller, a fellow Republican. In short, the GOP has become a moral quagmire.
If you are disgusted with the Party of Trump, you cannot just sit this election out. Turning your head and trying to ignore the corruption is the same as voting for it to continue. In this election, if you are a moral Latter-day Saint, you have an obligation to vote for Democratic candidates. The only way to wrench the Republican Party away from Trump and his loyalists is to deal them such a complete and embarrassing defeat that it destroys the Cult of Trump. This is a problem you cannot solve by being loyal to the GOP. The Republican Party cannot cure itself of this horrific malady, this cancer at its core.
Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot, who has left the Republican Party because of what I just outlined, described Republicans who refuse to see what their party has become: “They act, these political ostriches, as if this were still the party of Ronald Reagan and John McCain rather than of Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller—and therefore they cling to the illusion that supporting Republican candidates will advance their avowed views. Wrong. The current GOP still has a few resemblances to the party of old—it still cuts taxes and supports conservative judges. But a vote for the GOP in November is also a vote for egregious obstruction of justice, rampant conflicts of interest, the demonization of minorities, the debasement of political discourse, the alienation of America’s allies, the end of free trade and the appeasement of dictators.”
Boot concluded: “That is why I join [George] Will and other principled conservatives, both current and former Republicans, in rooting for a Democratic takeover of both houses in November. Like postwar Germany and Japan, the Republican Party must first be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.”

Thursday, October 18, 2018

“Too Frequent Repetition of His Name”

In the ongoing discussion regarding President Nelson’s instruction to use the full name of the Church and avoid abbreviated versions or nicknames, one scripture I haven’t seen mentioned is D&C 107:1–4:
“There are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.
“Why the first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest.
“Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.
“But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.”
Setting aside for the moment the anachronisms in this section, such as the term church being used for pre-Melchizedek times or the assumption that the modern LDS definition of the word priesthood existed in ancient days, I have to wonder which approach to using the Lord’s name is correct. Is it somehow offensive to Jesus to use his name too frequently, as indicated in D&C 107? Or is it offensive to him to not use his name every time we refer to the Church? Do we show respect for his name by not using it too frequently or by using it as frequently as possible? This is confusing.