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HappyJackWagon

Calling of Political Specialists

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This seems like a bad idea.

We get fairly heavy messaging in church (unofficially) in Elders Quorum and Sunday School that is generally supportive of GOP politics and sometimes even mockery at Democratic politics and candidates, despite the church's official stance of neutrality.

Assigning people to help others become more politically active seems like a disaster waiting to happen. If a hardcore Republican is assigned to help others be politically neutral, is it possible that personal feelings of politics could bleed in? What if it were a democrat?

My preference would be for the church to continue to make it's statements of neutrality, and do what it can to enforce that neutrality (ie not allowing overtly political talks, lessons, statements made at church to stand without reminder of neutrality).

Like the story suggests, this kind of initiative to help people become politically active has a potential for hard feelings, and the pushing of certain agendas.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2019/05/14/lds-church-is-assigning/?fbclid=IwAR3_75HmfHr-mJNxA9NlJU_e440TyC1Atr8C3ruZZN5sAxmTEr47Kj7JS8Q

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5 minutes ago, juliann said:

Eh, regardless of how it turns out, it really isn't a good look for the minority party to be complaining about an initiative to increase voter involvement. Good grief. 

I agree it's not a great look. At the same time, it would be hard for the minority group not to see the potential harm when the majority pursues a course that may serve to strengthen their majority even more. There is always a majority and a minority, but typically those groups trade power from time to time. Utah is a little different in that the GOP maintains power (and has for many years) with the minority seldom able to gain a foothold. This will make it even harder. So for a political group, when everything is seen through a political lens, it would be hard not to see this as a political problem they need to fight.

9 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think educating people in their civic opportunities is as valid and as noble as Self-Reliance Services. https://www.lds.org/self-reliance?lang=eng

I certainly have no problem with "get out the vote" kind of operations. But I do wonder what other types of "political activity" will be promoted by these specialists.

I see this as similar to the prayer in school debate. Christians like the idea of prayer in school when Christians are the ones praying in school. But if another faith were to become the majority, and then lead the school is Islamic prayer (for example) the Christians would not be so excited about promoting prayer in school. Similarly, I think that the majority party likes when a program will help the majority party, yet if the shoe were on the other foot, and the minority party became the majority and had the power, the story changes. IOW- I think Republicans will like this because they are in the position of strength and most likely to benefit. IF the Democrats were ever in the position of strength and most likely to benefit, I think the Republicans would feel differently.

In any case, a calling like this will tend to combine conversations of politics and religion (like this one). And I'm usually pretty uncomfortable combining politics and religion.

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25 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Assigning people to help others become more politically active seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

In my experience, people who aren't into politics just aren't into politics. The problem isn't that they don't know how to register or when/where to vote, it's that they just don't care that much about voting in the first place.

I'm doubtful that a ward political specialist is going to do much to change that. I mean, honestly, when was the last time a ward anything specialist made a big impact on lots of people's behavior?

I suspect ward political specialists will end up being no different than the ward magazine rep or the genealogy specialists: they will be someone people can go to if they are interested in knowing how to do something / get started with something, but probably not much more than that.

 

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25 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I agree it's not a great look. At the same time, it would be hard for the minority group not to see the potential harm when the majority pursues a course that may serve to strengthen their majority even more. There is always a majority and a minority, but typically those groups trade power from time to time. Utah is a little different in that the GOP maintains power (and has for many years) with the minority seldom able to gain a foothold. This will make it even harder. So for a political group, when everything is seen through a political lens, it would be hard not to see this as a political problem they need to fight.

I certainly have no problem with "get out the vote" kind of operations. But I do wonder what other types of "political activity" will be promoted by these specialists.

I see this as similar to the prayer in school debate. Christians like the idea of prayer in school when Christians are the ones praying in school. But if another faith were to become the majority, and then lead the school is Islamic prayer (for example) the Christians would not be so excited about promoting prayer in school. Similarly, I think that the majority party likes when a program will help the majority party, yet if the shoe were on the other foot, and the minority party became the majority and had the power, the story changes. IOW- I think Republicans will like this because they are in the position of strength and most likely to benefit. IF the Democrats were ever in the position of strength and most likely to benefit, I think the Republicans would feel differently.

In any case, a calling like this will tend to combine conversations of politics and religion (like this one). And I'm usually pretty uncomfortable combining politics and religion.

If this were to eventually be implemented Church-wide, I don’t think every unit is politically homogenous.

I think the education and empowerment is great for those who are functionally disenfranchised as well as those followers of Christ who are civilly challenged in how they discuss and debate issues in the public square. This must be why the Church likes this.

Of course, people are people, and some have a talent for running contrary to plan, and yet the Church loves everyone. I expect political neutrality will be the order of the day, despite the tendency of the uneducated, untrained and undisciplined to conflate civic rights with partisan agendas. Maybe I will toss my hat in the ring and supervise them!

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4 minutes ago, CV75 said:

If this were to eventually be implemented Church-wide, I don’t think every unit is politically homogenous.

I think the education and empowerment is great for those who are functionally disenfranchised as well as those followers of Christ who are civilly challenged in how they discuss and debate issues in the public square. This must be why the Church likes this.

Of course, people are people, and some have a talent for running contrary to plan, and yet the Church loves everyone. I expect political neutrality will be the order of the day, despite the tendency of the uneducated, untrained and undisciplined to conflate civic rights with partisan agendas. Maybe I will toss my hat in the ring and supervise them!

I definitely see education as a major component of this new calling. But that is exactly why it is so fraught. I suspect there are very few people (myself included) who would be able to teach the challenging issues and encourage people to get involved without their bias shining through in some way.

31 minutes ago, Amulek said:

In my experience, people who aren't into politics just aren't into politics. The problem isn't that they don't know how to register or when/where to vote, it's that they just don't care that much about voting in the first place.

I'm doubtful that a ward political specialist is going to do much to change that. I mean, honestly, when was the last time a ward anything specialist made a big impact on lots of people's behavior?

I suspect ward political specialists will end up being no different than the ward magazine rep or the genealogy specialists: they will be someone people can go to if they are interested in knowing how to do something / get started with something, but probably not much more than that.

 

I think you're probably right that some people just don't care and it doesn't matter how much someone tries to get them engaged, they still won't care. BUT I think there are a lot of people who do care but simply don't have, or haven't taken the time to get up to speed on issues. If these people attend meetings where they are taught about the issues and/or encouraged to be more politically active, I suspect they may be more apt to be influenced. I see the hard left and hard right as least likely to be influenced. It's all the people in the middle who could be influenced one way or the other. So if a trusted person is teaching the political issues, even with their own natural bias', I suspect those could rub off on others.

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1 hour ago, juliann said:

Eh, regardless of how it turns out, it really isn't a good look for the minority party to be complaining about an initiative to increase voter involvement. Good grief. 

That very same thought occurred to me. 

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22 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I definitely see education as a major component of this new calling. But that is exactly why it is so fraught. I suspect there are very few people (myself included) who would be able to teach the challenging issues and encourage people to get involved without their bias shining through in some way.

Most if not all callings in the Church come with a manual and training. Callings come with a setting-apart and everyone typically has the gift of the Holy Ghost. I don't see this calling to be about teaching the challenging issues (which could stir up passion and bias), just how to go about exercising one's civic rights.

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These day, I think it is almost impossible to remain exclusively neutral regarding politics. Even the Church does not stay completely neutral. However, IMO, they do a very good job.

I for one wouldn't mind hearing a little more from the Church regarding politics. I am not a blind faith follower however, I do hold some very libertarian and conservative views, I wouldn't mind being corrected from time to time so that I don't get totally off track. Specifically, I would like to hear more clarification for abortions (I am strongly opposed, even more so than the Church), more about LGBTQ Rights when they go up against First Amendment Rights. 

So, it would not offend me at all if we see more politics in Church especially in these days when, to me, it appears that these days political lines are growing further apart and further against some gospel topics that  I grew up with.

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I don't see this as controversial, asking members to do their civic duty.  

I'm a libertarian (small "l") who has lurched between membership in the Republican and Democratic parties my entire life.  I am currently a Republican but I supported the Clintons.  I think the membership of the church is leaning more to the left as years go on. 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I definitely see education as a major component of this new calling. But that is exactly why it is so fraught. I suspect there are very few people (myself included) who would be able to teach the challenging issues and encourage people to get involved without their bias shining through in some way.

I think you're probably right that some people just don't care and it doesn't matter how much someone tries to get them engaged, they still won't care. BUT I think there are a lot of people who do care but simply don't have, or haven't taken the time to get up to speed on issues. If these people attend meetings where they are taught about the issues and/or encouraged to be more politically active, I suspect they may be more apt to be influenced. I see the hard left and hard right as least likely to be influenced. It's all the people in the middle who could be influenced one way or the other. So if a trusted person is teaching the political issues, even with their own natural bias', I suspect those could rub off on others.

 

Oh boy, I sure hope this calling comes with bold typed instructions "DO NOT ENDORSE" a specific candidate or whatever the IRS prohibited conduct language is to 501c3 tax exempt orgs and/or religious organizations.

I tend to agree that finding someone neutral will be difficult. 

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I think you're probably right that some people just don't care and it doesn't matter how much someone tries to get them engaged, they still won't care.

Yeah, I've been trying to get my wife to care about politics for years, but her eyes still gloss over whenever anything remotely approaching a serious political discussion ensues. 

 

Quote

BUT I think there are a lot of people who do care but simply don't have, or haven't taken the time to get up to speed on issues.

Unfortunately, the world is filled with people who are ignorant about politics. Sometimes the ignorance is inadvertent, but often it is a rational choice - the incentives are just too weak to get people to invest in gaining the knowledge to make more informed choices. 

I remember reading an article (don't CFR me on this, going solely on aging memory here) about how, in a previous election year, voters were asked what was the number one issue for them. The overwhelming reply was that the economy was the number one issue. Of those who said that the economy was the most important issue, more than 2/3 were unaware that the economy had grown during the previous year. 

 

Quote

If these people attend meetings where they are taught about the issues and/or encouraged to be more politically active, I suspect they may be more apt to be influenced. I see the hard left and hard right as least likely to be influenced. It's all the people in the middle who could be influenced one way or the other. So if a trusted person is teaching the political issues, even with their own natural bias', I suspect those could rub off on others.

I didn't get the impression that specialists would be teaching about issues from the article. The kind of things they will be involved with include "helping members register to vote, request mail-in ballots, attend their party caucus meetings and find their polling places." All of that seems like pretty helpful, neutral stuff. 

 

Edited by Amulek
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2 minutes ago, Anijen said:

These day, I think it is almost impossible to remain exclusively neutral regarding politics. Even the Church does not stay completely neutral. However, IMO, they do a very good job.

I for one wouldn't mind hearing a little more from the Church regarding politics. I am not a blind faith follower however, I do hold some very libertarian and conservative views, I wouldn't mind being corrected from time to time so that I don't get totally off track. Specifically, I would like to hear more clarification for abortions (I am strongly opposed, even more so than the Church), more about LGBTQ Rights when they go up against First Amendment Rights. 

So, it would not offend me at all if we see more politics in Church especially in these days when, to me, it appears that these days political lines are growing further apart and further against some gospel topics that  I grew up with.

From a neutral perspective there is no "off track" or need to "corrected".

The only time I think from a neutral perspective is when someone is misrepresenting something from the Church.

I think the neutral approach would be "Here is the document of the Church statement, it will be read verbatim; go and do thou likewise." 

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I see nothing on the Church website - until I do, I really don't believe its a Church policy.

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Posted (edited)

I would turn down this calling. I have way too many political opinions. I couldn’t be neutral. 

Edited by SouthernMo
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1 hour ago, provoman said:

 

Oh boy, I sure hope this calling comes with bold typed instructions "DO NOT ENDORSE" a specific candidate or whatever the IRS prohibited conduct language is to 501c3 tax exempt orgs and/or religious organizations.

I tend to agree that finding someone neutral will be difficult. 

Why must someone be neutral to serve effectively in this calling? Are you politically neutral? If not, do you believe your lack of neutrality would render you incompetent to serve in the calling?

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3 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

This seems like a bad idea.

We get fairly heavy messaging in church (unofficially) in Elders Quorum and Sunday School that is generally supportive of GOP politics and sometimes even mockery at Democratic politics and candidates, despite the church's official stance of neutrality.

Assigning people to help others become more politically active seems like a disaster waiting to happen. If a hardcore Republican is assigned to help others be politically neutral, is it possible that personal feelings of politics could bleed in? What if it were a democrat?

My preference would be for the church to continue to make it's statements of neutrality, and do what it can to enforce that neutrality (ie not allowing overtly political talks, lessons, statements made at church to stand without reminder of neutrality).

Like the story suggests, this kind of initiative to help people become politically active has a potential for hard feelings, and the pushing of certain agendas.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2019/05/14/lds-church-is-assigning/?fbclid=IwAR3_75HmfHr-mJNxA9NlJU_e440TyC1Atr8C3ruZZN5sAxmTEr47Kj7JS8Q

I wonder what this will do for the site rules not to discuss politics...🚫 

Is it really a Church responsibility to teach civic duty? I do think schools are not teaching about American government enough, but that I think is something best left outside of Church. The Church can certainly put its position on major political issues on its website, but I suspect a calling to give advice on how to become more civically involved will be frought with some trouble. I see the Church wanting to be a force for good in politics, but frankly I think this calling is going to be a magnet for polarization. The temptation to influence the vote will be palpable, and hence cause controversy. As I see it the Church is not going to be able to save this government - something new will be coming in the days of the New Jerusalem.

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8 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

I wonder what this will do for the site rules not to discuss politics...🚫 

Is it really a Church responsibility to teach civic duty? I do think schools are not teaching about American government enough, but that I think is something best left outside of Church. The Church can certainly put its position on major political issues on its website, but I suspect a calling to give advice on how to become more civically involved will be frought with some trouble. I see the Church wanting to be a force for good in politics, but frankly I think this calling is going to be a magnet for polarization. The temptation to influence the vote will be palpable, and hence cause controversy. As I see it the Church is not going to be able to save this government - something new will be coming in the days of the New Jerusalem.

I think you are neglecting or ignoring the scriptural injunction that “good and wise” people should be sought for public office because “when the wicked rule, the people mourn.” I don’t have a reference off hand, but it’s in the Doctrine and Covenants. I’ll find it for you if you like. 

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A few months ago, someone took the podium in sacrament meeting here in Colorado, and told us about some ballot measure in Colorado related to marijuana.  He gave a brief synopsis of what the legislation would do, and he strongly, strongly urged us to go read up on the thing ourselves and make up our own minds, and then he strongly, strongly, strongly urged us to go vote our conscience.

Then he went and sat down.

*shrug*

I'm sure some folks will want to crowbar some partisan message into that, but that's a pretty hard sell.

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I wish more people were involved in politics and hope this helps. The reality is a lot of local politics where more people can make a difference is a lot less partisan and a lot more issue based and there people can make much more of a difference.

Unfortunately many people (members and non) think being involved in politics is wasting a lot of time consuming 24 hour news sources on national politics and then making idiotic social media proclamations about it. It is not healthy when people think getting involved means parroting propaganda.

So this could go either way.

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2 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I went to the link and read the article. I dispute the statement from the Democrat that his party only wants abortion to remain “safe, rare and legal.” That may have been how Bill Clinton expressed it, but times have changed. In the national arena at least, as the Democratic Party has made a hard lurch to the left in the past couple of years, it seems like it is championing abortion rights more than ever before, calling for allowance of late-term abortion and, in some extreme cases, infanticide. At the heart of the disgusting incivility in the party’s opposition to Brett Kavenaugh’s appointment was anxiety to preserve unfettered access to abortion. 

I'm sure someone has put a political spin on this scripture, but I just see it as seeking for good men to run not only the Church but our constitutional government:

4 And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.

9 Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

10 Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.

The Church has chosen to take a neutral position on this. It does not currently advocate for any particular candidate. Rather, it has chosen to speak up on issues where politics has come into the  realm of various civic rights for the most part, and then lets people make up their mind who will best promote the Church's stand on those issues. Advocating for a particular candidate would be like having 2-3 nominees for Church president... not that it can't be done, but the Church has steered from it. Instead, rather wisely it has "befriended" the constitutional law of the land, although that interpretation has become very broad for the public at large. Our public seems to think the constitution gives the federal government unlimited power to do what it wants. If anything, the Church should steer members from such a view, but that can be done without choosing political specialists on a local level. It sounds to me like the Church is thinking about starting some grass roots movement, and that is what troubles me.   

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I like that section. It seems like the Lord is saying about the law of the land “meh, it is okay”. Deal with it as you must but follow my law.

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