Yesterday the SLTrib (5 Dec 2012), on its front page, published photographs and the political party registration of the 15 top leaders in the LDS Church. To no ones surprise they are white, male, and mostly old. But to my shock, church president Thomas S. Monson and his first councelor, Henry B. Eyring, are registered Republicans, as are 9 of the 12 Mormon apostles. The rest (4 in total) are “not affiliated.” There is not one Democrat in the group. So the LDS Church is governed by 15 senior white males, 11 of which are registered Republicans. What message does that send to the membership, a group that is comprised of notorious followers?
An LDS Church spokesman has suggested that we not read too much into voting-registration information. After all, those records say nothing about which candidates the LDS leaders actually voted for. But that statement is naive. Mormons are always looking to their leaders for guidance, and the leadership encourages them to do just that. What happened to leading by example? Furthermore, it makes our religion look even more like a business (with 15 men in dark suits, white shirts, and conservative ties) that is in league with Evangelicals.
The LDS Church’s political neutrality statement says its “mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians . . . [the church] is neutral in matters of party politics.” Yes, but our leaders aren’t. According to our august Senator Orrin Hatch, “My experience is they’re not political. They just want to do what’s right.” Which, according to Hatch I guess, is register and vote Republican.
This puts to rest the LDS Church’s pledge of neutrality. We are neutral only in our words, not in our actions. If the LDS Church were truly neutral, all of its senior leaders would be “not affiliated.” Congratulations to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and three current Apostles; they get it.