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The Church and Political Capital


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The bad-faith, vilification of the other side, echo-chambering and other features of our current political discourse has permeated criticism of the Church. This nastiness has largely confirmed preconceived LDS notions that apostate people are bitter, fueled by jealous that prevents them from living productive lives, trying to excuse immoral behavior, etc. But LDS are largely too charitable to punch back.

One of the criticisms I've heard is that for every sociopolitical issues it's forced to take a stand on, it just summons lawyers to issue a statement that will confirm everybody's preconceived notions. That's partially true, but oversimplified. What the Church is doing is similar to what Jesus did by teaching in parables: Those who want to listen will hear the message, those who don't will think he's talking about sheep, botany, etc.

With every issue, LDS can be boiled down to three kinds.

  1. Those who are vehemently with the Church on the particular issue.
  2. Those are are either on the border, or are willing to change their position.
  3. Those who are vehemently against the Church on the particular issue.

When the Church takes a stand, the message will be clear to those in groups (1) and (2). Those in (3) will feel somewhat validated in their choice. So the effect of the statement is, (2) will get on board.

Take vaccines, for example. 

It's clear to people in (1) and (2) that the Church wants you to be vaccinated. Those undecided and open-minded will get vaccinated. Anti-vaxxers will be all, "Duh duh duh it wasn't a commandment. Duh duh duh he told you to make your own decision, muh free agency" and it won't affect their testimony.

Thereby, the Church does not expend any political capital.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/26/2023 at 11:30 AM, Hamilton Porter said:

What the Church is doing is similar to what Jesus did by teaching in parables: Those who want to listen will hear the message, those who don't will think he's talking about sheep, botany, etc…

Hi HP:  could you maybe give an example of this?  I know you talked about the vax in your original post but I’m not seeing that that connects to your statement above.

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