Straining at Political Gnats, Swallowing Doctrinal Camels

Note: I’m sure I will lose some readers over this. I kinda understand. I’ve been at this for over a decade, and would hope that you know me by now.


Here we are: Election time. What a mess.

I have been a political junkie my entire life. At one point, I even thought seeking political office might be in my future – which lead me to degree in Political Science in college. Thank heavens I didn’t choose that path! It has become such a toxic wasteland that I’m glad I did not subject myself or my family to that corrupt world.

Now we find ourselves at the brink of what many, myself included, feel is the most important presidential election of our lifetime. Never has the contrast between sides been more obvious, contentious and dishonest. It is a sad, stressful time, and it is doing great damage to our Nation, communities and even families.

At the top of the two major party tickets we find two very flawed men. Many have dubbed it “choosing the lesser of two evils,” and there is some truth to that. One candidate spent his life becoming wealthy by exploiting business practices and tax laws. The other spent his life enriching himself by leveraging his elected office.

One has a terminal case of narcissism, the other a case of cognitive decline. One has vulgarity issues, the other has anger management issues. Both of them lie. A LOT. One spent his private life as a philandering playboy, the other spent his professional life at the public trough, advocating for wars and pushing racist legislation.

Both have troubles with the truth. Both have their extremists supporting them. Neither is what I would call a “noble” man. The “Virtue” that our Founding Fathers called for is simply not on the menu this go-around.

Because of this, we all seem to spend our time demonizing our “opponent” by cherry-picking facts and quotes to bolster our “side.” In the new world of memes, tweets and sound-bites, passions are enflamed, truth and logic are suppressed. Too much anger, too much passion, too much hate.

What to do?

In my opinion, this election is about much more than two flawed men. Personally, I find that the only way I can even look at it is to step back and take in a much larger picture than what the personalities and character of the candidates represent.

Why? I believe that the influence and/or consequences of a President’s tenure far outlive the term of office. For example:

• We are still litigating Obamacare that was put into play by President Obama ten years ago.

• We still have troops in Afghanistan that were sent there by President Bush twenty years ago.

• The impact of President Trump’s SCOTUS picks will still be felt when my grandkids are voting thirty years from now.

I feel that fixating on a single four-year term without looking at the “long-game” is myopic and can lead to short-term solutions that lead to long-term problems. Sure, it would be great to be able to pick a “nice man” to be President, but to me, that is hopelessly naïve and short-sighted.

This requires a broader view than just the men at the top of the ticket. It requires me to step back and look at the Vice-Presidential nominees as well, and what they believe in – since there is a very good chance than either might be called to step up. Equally important are the party platforms, the groups they endorse, and the policies they advocate. Basically, who, and what the candidates surround themselves with. It is about much more than two men – especially when they are in their 70s.

Fixating on who has the worst personality and character when there is so much at stake is, to me, the ultimate example of “Straining at gnats, while swallowing camels.” I saw a quote that summed this up perfectly, “I’m ready for a no-drama president again, and I really don’t care which party he comes from.”  Seriously? No-drama, but at what cost?

So where to go for answers?  Some look at the world through an international prism, some through an economic prism, others through a social justice prism. Me? I tend to look at politics through a religious prism, because that is where my deepest values are held.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have an advantage when it comes to analyzing politics. I subscribe to what the Lord taught when he said, all things unto me are spiritual.” I believe this includes politics as well.

Personally, my political decisions are heavily influenced by holding them up to the light of the gospel to see how they line up.

While some like to cherry-pick old out-of-context Ezra Taft Benson quotes to justify a position, I would rather rely on established Doctrine.

(I define doctrine like the Church does: “This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith.”)

When I look at a political or social issue, and hold it up to the doctrines that the Lord has revealed, it helps me to see it from a less passionate, long view – even an eternal view.

I do believe what is taught in the Book of Mormon, that this, “is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them.” (Ether 2:9) I think we are already seeing the fruits of a nation that is gradually abandoning God.

I also believe that when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 130:21) This goes for anyone – inside the Church, or out. A society which draws closer to God will be blessed whereas a society that sets God’s laws aside will be punished. (The entire Book of Mormon in a nutshell)

While I agree with the Founders that we should not have an established State-run church, (Like the Church of England) I believe that religion plays a key role in society and has a place in the public square. (Religious virtue is really the only true cure for the political and societal woes we are experiencing.)

Another important thing I believe in is the Gift of Agency. I can believe what I want to believe, you can believe what you want to believe. You have every right to make the choices you do, as do I. The following is how I view the political/doctrinal challenges before me. You might disagree, and that is fine.  You do you.

Note: Please do not misconstrue MY opinions as anything other than MY opinions. Everyone is entitled to their own, and use different methods of how they arrive at them. If your takeaway from this article is that you cannot be a worthy member of the church if you disagree with me, then you are mistaken. That kind of judgment is well above my pay grade. (And yours.)

That said, here are eight examples of how doctrine, (not memes, passion or biased media,) impacts my political decisions:

Note: These are not general things like “Jesus said love everyone, and Trump is mean.” Again, this is not about the men, it is about policies and doctrine.

Here we go:

1) I cannot support a ticket or platform that supports the #BLM organization and their stated goal to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement…”

…unless I distance myself from the doctrine taught in the Family Proclamation: “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”

2) I cannot support a presidential candidate who just this week said he supports allowing  eight or ten year-old children to undergo gender transition…

…unless I distance myself from the doctrine in the Proclamation that says, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

3) I cannot support a candidate whose party supports Sanctuary Cities and turns a blind eye to immigration laws…

…unless I distance myself from the 12th Article of Faith that states, “We believe…in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.”

4) I can’t align with a party or candidate who supports elective or late-term or partial-birth abortion…

…unless I distance myself from the simple doctrine, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it.” (D&C 59.6) and literally decades of prophetic warnings about the evils of unfettered abortion. President Oaks recently summed it up this way, “mortal life is sacred to us. Our commitment to God’s plan requires us to oppose abortion and euthanasia.Pretty clear.

…or unless I distance myself by going beyond the Church’s quite liberal abortion stance, “when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.”

5) I can’t vote for candidates or a party who feel that the founding of our Nation is illegitimate and immoral, and condones the defaming of those who did that heavy lifting …

…unless I distance myself from the Lord’s involvement: “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (D&C 101:80)

6) I can’t support parties, groups or candidates who foster dissent and advocate for the “Defund the Police” movement and unfettered “peaceful” protests that damage billions in personal and public property and kill and injure so many people…

…unless I distance myself from the doctrines found in D&C 134:5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly.”

7) I can’t support an administration or party who would support the decriminalization of marijuana…

…unless I distance myself from the Word of Wisdom – especially in the context of the Church’s recent push against legalization.

8) I can’t support those who encourage a giveaway culture. (Reparations, income redistribution, guaranteed income, etc)…

…unless I distance myself from the 2nd Article of Faith, “that men will be punished for their own sins,” (reparations.)

…or unless I distance myself from one of the lord’s earliest directives, all the way back to Adam,”to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him.”as well as the basic concept of individual accountability and responsibility. Summed up by President Oaks here: “The growth required by the gospel plan only occurs in a culture of individual effort and responsibility. It cannot occur in a culture of dependency. Whatever causes us to be dependent on someone else for decisions or resources we could provide for ourselves weakens us spiritually and retards our growth toward what the gospel plan intends us to be.” (guaranteed income – not to be confused with earned entitlements or welfare) 



That is eight. There are a lot more, but you get the idea. To me, it is pretty clear who I need to vote for to maintain what I consider personal “doctrinal integrity.”

Is being a “Political Doctrine-ist” a thing?

Others obviously have different value systems, and they are entitled to them. For me, doctrine outweighs individual personality or character. I believe that the Lord’s wishes for His voice to supercede the politics du jour.

There are tons of other issues and policies that I feel strongly about, but they don’t belong in this missive. I acknowledge that most of the preceding examples are social in nature, but there is a case to be made for looking at other areas with the same filters.

For me, voting for the Biden/Harris ticket would require me to distance myself from many doctrines I hold dear. Too many.  Part of my responsibility here on earth is to draw near unto Christ, but I can’t figure out how to do that if I am distancing myself from His doctrines. Personally, I am not willing to swallow doctrinal camels in order to strain at political gnats.

Note: This is written with a simple hope that you will understand what is in my heart. These are some of my deeply-held religious beliefs, please treat them with respect. I am not afraid of discussion or disagreement, and believe that our ideas and ideals can stand on their own. Feel free to engage – or not, but keep the vitriol to yourselves.

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Comments

  1. I am behind in many things in my life, including reading your blog. This post and the comments have been an interesting read. I appreciate that you spelled out how you reached your “personal” decision as to how you would vote, and I (hopefully) recognize the post as you intended it to be received. I also appreciate your openness in allowing the discussion through comments. One of the things most interesting to me is the difference between those who vote for or against the leader vs. those who vote for/against the issues/policies. I, like you, looked at what direction our country would be headed and voted accordingly. My daughter, on the other hand, voted against the leader, believing that it was the most important criterium. Although, as a Christian (Baptist), she said it was hard to vote for the party that had opposing values. We both believe it is important to love and care for others no matter what their choices are. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows our hearts, who knew what this time would bring, and will guide us as we turn to Him in these latter days. Thank you for your insightful thoughts and opinions, as well as your humor. May we all continue in mighty prayer for our country, for freedom, and to see clearly through any deception from the Adversary.

  2. I agree, me and many others. Know that you do not stand alone in your search for truth and to uphold it.

  3. As a follower of Jesus Christ and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
    1) I cannot support a ticket or platform that supports white supremacists, and tells the Proud Boys to “Stand back and stand by.” I support Elder Oaks in saying, “Black Lives Matter,” as he just did. Take it up with him.

    rest deleted—

    Note from TWS: I deleted the rest of this comment, because it is more of the same. If you google it, you can find when Trump denounced white supremacy over 30 times. (Obviously the commenter is passionate, but geez!)

    Next, he takes President Oaks’ excellent talk out of context and conflates saying” Black lives matter” with support for the BLM organization which he did not do.

    So, with two strikes in the very first point, it isn’t worth posting the rest…

    Brad

  4. Love this article!
    It’s so sad to see so many good members of the church get fooled into justifying supporting sin, by judging another persons sins- Which is also a sin isn’t it?
    It’s so clear The left is slowly taking God out of the equation with everything. Its not God thats the judge of a persons sins it’s now us. It’s not God deciding if we live or die anymore it’s masks. It’s not God deciding genders it’s each of us. It’s not God we are asking for help From anymore, it’s the Government.
    We’ve been warned of pride being our downfall I see now how that can mean living a superficial life that looks nice and good on the outside, putting check marks next to things that don’t really matter to God but to other men.
    All of the church’s recent changes make sense to me now! No more superficially doing things to appear as well polished good people.
    WE NEED TO ACTUALLY DO GOOD!!
    We aren’t supposed to be home/visit teaching one message that doesn’t apply to everyone. We are supposed to look deeper And find out what another person needs and also help them discover and recognize what they have to offer this world, we are supposed to look deeper into our own God given talents and discover how to use them to bring others unto Christ.
    We need to be better than we ever have been before, we need to look past sins and mistakes and find the good in each and every person, we need to look upon fruits of labors, policies and principles that have a higher chance of bringing people unto Christ!

  5. I agree wholeheartedly. And those who dismiss your arguments out of hand hopefully will appreciate your careful and serious approach to the topic. Our brothers may disagree. But, they shouldn’t have room to belittle and demean our stance.

  6. Well,I agree with your …….reasoning ,and you have to look at everything through Spiritual eyes! I’m voting for President Trump ,this time and I voted for him in 2016 . Like I told some people last time,we are voting for the President of the United States ,not the Church! Thank goodness that doesn’t happen! Anyway,the Democrats have been drifting further left for 50 years! The 60s did more damage to this country ,that we are still dealing with the horrible decisions of those peaceful,loving hippies that just took mind altering drugs,free love,ect. When the democrats were taken over by that generation ,it really started to go socialist leftist ………utopia! I was in a heavy Metal band and was not active in the church,but I have been on both sides,and after almost 20 years in the music industry,which is full of evil ,and it’s right in your face! I went into the T.V and Film industry ,and was really given a hard time for being conservative,and when I came back to church,that just made it worse! I had very few people to look to ,Charlton Heston was a great person to look to ,but that industry was even worse,and talk about Secret Societies………..I was approached several times,I lost several jobs because of being Republican and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints ! So,……….what was he question? Oh yeah,it really is what you come to believe is right through prayer ,scripture study and your free agency. I agree with McBride,he could be a realative,I have an Uncle Jim McBride ,who actually was a democrat up until Cllinton,then he changed and saw the light! This is a good place to talk out your reasoning with this and every election. But,it is up to everyone and what they feel is right,but to me it is so obvious,but others feel ……….well,that is enough for a small book! JUST MAKE SURE YOU VOTE!

  7. First of all, thank you for being so brave to put your well reasoned opinion out there. I agree with you, for a number of reasons. Most of all direct personal experience. How many of those supporting Kamala Harris have actual experience with her as a district attorney, attorney general and as a senator? We have lived in the California Bay Area since the 1990s and have experienced her as all three. I don’t believe her words because her ACTIONS have consistently shown a disregard for everything that I value including life, religion, the rule of law etc. Please check her record, don’t take my word for it. For one small example, she refused to defend proposition 8 even though as the California attorney general she was legally required to because the majority of Californians had voted it into law. (By the way, I don’t know how many members outside of California realize this, but the church took a strong stand in favor of that law at the time and members were asked to go door to door to campaign for it. Many California Saints, especially in the area where I live, became the target of persecution because of this. I personally experienced this, I was there.) She refused to follow the law because she didn’t personally agree with it. Not my words, her words. Why should I believe that she will respect the Constitution? By their fruits you shall know them. I feel so many base their votes on what they hear in the media instead of their own research and wishful thinking that divisions will just disappear without Trump. The different visions for the future of the country will not disappear.
    How many of those that support BLM have experienced an out of control mob coming for their home and their business? I have experienced both over the last 6 months. I have also been in downtown Portland several times, most recently on the same day that a man was killed there.
    I have more thoughts, but I think I will end it here. Again, thank you to everyone that has been polite here in giving their opinion. In spite of constant pleas from our ward, stake and regional leaders to be kind to one another, I have recently seen far too many viciously attack one another within the church and I think we can all agree that that type of hatred can never be inspired by the Savior or the Spirit, it makes me very sad to see so many friendships and even families torn apart.

  8. Well said. I appreciate your comments. They mirror mine exactly! Would that all members of the Church be as rational and astute about this election as you are in this post. May the voice of this nation vote the same way.

  9. Mike Brinson,
    One need not hold the moral high ground to understand any member of the church who would vote for Trump is in essence voting against the values of patriotism, truthfulness, justice, honor, decency and respect for the law deeply ingrained in LDS culture. Not to mention they’ve lost sight of the history of the Church and how it came to be headquartered in Utah.

    1. Freddy, you’ve obviously lost touch with reality and chosen to be one of the many that become deceived in the latter days and Pretend to be a member of the true church of Jesus Christ. Seriously my brother, may God help you because you truly need it, as do us all, especially those who have lost their way in this crazy world!

  10. Thank you for posting this very important blog! I believe you are right, in that this is one of the most important elections in the history of our country! I believe we all can see where this country is headed, given the kind of things that are going on. I am an 86 year old widow, and among my 9 children, I have both active, and totally inactive children, and they are on both sides of the political isle. I keep peace with not talking about politics with those whom I know do not believe as I do, simply to keep peace in my family. So far, we have made it through the complicated maze of staying on at least speaking terms with each other. I truly know that you are right, and it took courage to post this! I hope you don’t mind, often I re-post an article such as yours on my own blog, with total credits for who wrote it, and where they can see where it came from. You have said it so much better than I could. I would love to put it on Facebook also, but I know some of my children who would disagree would have a heyday with it. I don’t think they even read my blogs! One daughter who is very skilled, as a retired debate teacher, finds “facts” to quote to support her beliefs, and no one who is wise will begin any kind of an argument with her, as her debate groups won many debates over the years. But THANK YOU for having the courage, skill in writing, and knowledge of the Church’s doctrines and scriptures to put together such a timely blog. If you are interested, my blog is :
    http://www.grandmapalspocket.blogspot.com.

  11. Fabulous post!! I was surprised at one lady who said that Biden was so kind in his personal life. I guess it depends on what news sources you follow. I have seen many stories about kindly acts by Trump including his many loyal employees (some in fairly lowly positions) who say he asks them questions about family members. He has a really good memory for names and details and has spent a lot of money quietly going around doing good works. I held my nose to vote for him last time but then I found out more about him and was surprised at how good he can be even if he is an arrogant braggart. Our country desperately needs a very STRONG President with the hide of a rhinoceros. There is too much evil in this world to have a weakling in office. I’m having a difficult time figuring out how church members are justifying their support for Biden and Harris. You were brave to post this and were perfectly clear that it was your personal opinion. I feel bad that people in Arizona and Utah are being bombarded with such hate and contention as recent letters. We are so “red” here in Alaska that I can only think of 3-4 in our ward who are Democrats. They are outnumbered in a huge way.

  12. I encourage people to be careful of being constitutional originalists, or in believing in the inerrancy of the founding fathers.

    I do believe the Lord did exactly what he said he did with those men. But the document and some of it underlying intent as stated in places like the Federalist Papers are seriously flawed. Inspiration does not mean perfection.

    A true originalist would say women should not vote, and that owning other humans is an acceptable economic practice, or that people so owned are not full humans (2/3 humans). The amendment process was written, not to justify judicial activism, but to allow us as a people to evolve without having to resort to civil war. (Oops)

    We no longer believe slavery is acceptable. Women SHOULD vote.

    Justice Scalia was right in his observations that those concepts rightly belong with the people, not with judges. While I personally abhor the documented behaviors of these candidates, I have to wonder who will most closely protect the fundamental institutions of the nation, while allowing the people themselves to be accountable for their decisions.

    My personal struggle with this, and many elections, is the lesser of two evils is still evil. I mourn for my grandchildren.

    On a happier note… surely this election brings the Millenium that much closer!

    1. Layne, your last line: “On a happier note…surely this election brings the Millenium that much closer! – – – Yippie!!!

    2. Trump! As evidenced by his handling of the pandemic, Where he gave more control to the states. He has made so many great things happen in DC, policies that ultimately give people more choices and rights. He’s not a perfect person but he is paving the path that allows people to come unto Christ, whereas Biden and Harris want people to come unto Government.

  13. Thank you for not being silent at this important time. I think your observations are accurate. I quit supporting candidates a long time ago. Candidates come and go but policies and the way they affect freedom last beyond the person. If people are looking for a George Washington or Captain Moroni they won’t find one that wants to be in politics. One thing is sure these men did not aspire to their positions. Biden and Harris have nothing but aspirations. That is not a good sign. Alma 47 offers some insight as to how aspiring politicians act. Seems to fit our day well.

  14. I am so surprised by your application of doctrine in this instance. I love the comment that says I’ve disagreed with my wife more than you – so I’m gong to just lean into your good intention and years of spreading light to the world. I honestly didn’t think there were faithful church members that could openly justify voting for Trump and appreciate that at least your vote is well considered/researched. Maybe it’s my ignorance or youth – but assumed LDS voters were only closet Trump supporters. You do you is so true. The comment you reference about BLM is not on their website. I do think your white privilege allows you to disregard his moral character, treatment of women, racism, anti-Semitism and repeated abhorrence for Muslims and only be concerned about policy. For your readers looking for an LDS perspective on why voting for Biden/Harris makes economic and moral sense there is a series of videos by an LDS BYU Economics professor on YouTube called the Ramble by Ben. He clearly states that his views are his own and then goes on to dive into several deep and confusing topics like the economy, nationalism, abortion, moral character, immigration, voting 3rd party, etc.

    1. I am always a little surprised how eager people are to create God in their own image instead of the other way around. We wrest the scriptures to make them match our biases and prejudices and beliefs. We cherry pick individual verses and stories that support our opinions rather than looking at a synthesis of the whole body of scripture and we do it so we can shape the scriptures to match what we believe rather than shaping what we believe to match the whole body of sacred works. I love the Abraham Lincoln approach that he was not so concerned that God was on his side but rather that he was on God’s side.

      In short, though I agree with you completely that this is an easy choice to make (and that Trump is the easy choice), I reject the entire premise of you trying to enlist God and his prophets onto our side of the discussion. That, to me, is very unseemly and invites the very contention you claim you want to avoid. I reject the idea that we try to use God as an endorsement of our political leanings. I reject the idea that we, in essence, put him into a political advertisement for our chosen candidate. I endorse the idea that we learn the gospel more fully and then allow that enlightenment, confirmed by revelation through the Holy Ghost, be our personal guide. The things you put on here should be a guide for you but not for the world. It shows a lack of humility on your part to tell the world that God and his prophets are on your side.

      I already voted. I did not vote for Trump in 2016 but I whole-heartedly voted for him in 2020. There were many things, including my personal religious beliefs, that went into that decision. If someone wants to debate the political reason, policy reason, personality reasons, social reasons, or other reasons why I made that choice. I’m all for having that discussion in civility. But there are so many rational reasons for my choice that I don’t need to stoop to putting doctrinal or spiritual pressure on others to capitulate to my point of view.

        1. I appreciate your words, and to Joe above you clearly state these ARE YOUR WORDS, He must have missed the first part ?? I don’t see how connecting the doctrines and scriptures to the policies of the political parties can be construed to ‘wrest’ the scriptures. Being a former seminary teacher I always taught my students to adhere to the guidance to liken the scriptures to your daily lives and decisions, I use the Scriptures and the Constitution, along with the words of our leaders to make my decisions, and have come to the same conclusion as you, with one caveat. We keep saying Trump is the lesser of evils, who are we to judge, do we not allow him to repent to become a better man ? The Lord has used imperfect men throughout the ages to do His work, why He even uses me !!! I am so glad my past hasn’t become what people judge me on today, and I’m not going to presume I should telling the Lord who and who doesn’t qualify for His forgiveness and atoning sacrifice.

    2. Heidi, BLM website used to say exactly as written above. I bet if you tried to search past content you would be able
      To, especially the comment about the nuclear family. They just took that down recently.

    3. You said the comment he made about the BLM is not on their website. It was on there up until 4 weeks ago. After so many people like myself were using their own website against them, they realized the negative publicity they were getting and they removed it. It was on their website for the last few years.

    4. It most definitely was on the BLM Site.
      I have a screenshot of it. .
      Nearly EVERY LDS faithful member I know is voting for Trump. The only people I know that aren’t have one foot out of this church anyways and have always sought man’s approval over God’s. There are a few that are trusting their own understanding (news sources) or the opinions of their learned professor’s over their own God given intuition
      It is easy to see now how in the last days Many will be deceived.

  15. Brad,thanks for this post. I have found it hard to understand why many in my immediate and extended family are willing to vote for President Trump. I am voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris BECAUSE I’m pro-life…which to me, means much more than just being anti-abortion. If we want to prevent abortions, we should increase access to contraception and provide support for new parents (like paid family leave). I am voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris because they treat others with respect, unlike our current president.

    I found this article helpful: https://jonogden.medium.com/a-letter-to-trump-supporting-latter-day-saints-8094ed648f57

    I love your content, and I appreciate your candor. But I cannot, in good conscience, support the reelection of Donald Trump.

    1. Hi Janie,
      Agree with you. It is so sad that some I know voting for Biden have been the subject of ridicule, out and out hate emails, name calling, throwing stones on their membership in the church…by members of the church.
      I know at least three members of the church who have been persecuted so much they will not go to church any more. Hopefully that will change after the election, but…
      That is between them and the Lord, no “brother or sister” should ever feel that kind of pain caused by another “brother or sister” in the gospel. I would never, EVER to that to another voter inside the church or out for that matter. It is still a democracy…I have shown kindness in replying to emails better than the filth I’ve gotten (one email from a well respected, even by me, Priesthood holder in our stake was riddled with cuss words, and the calling of candidates of the other party by the most vulgar names I’ve ever heard) I’ve said that I may not agree with them, but fully support their right to vote as they decide and would appreciate that they do the same, and think carefully about sharing such emails with anyone, much less any sister/brother in the church. I’ve seen other lists similar to yours Brad, but not showing the same result you have. VOTE, for whomever you want…no one has the right to tell you who to vote for (and I’m not saying you have) and I will support anyone’s right to participate in the democracy by voting for your candidate….xoxo to you all. God Bless us and God Bless America…though we know the rocky path that is coming 🙁

  16. Thank you for moderating the comments. You mentioned you do that somewhere on your blog and I really appreciate it. I can’t imagine how many posts you get on a topic like this that are filled with hate or fear or are just plain nonsense. Ths is one of the only blogs where I read the comments because I know they will be meaningful and respectful even on a topic as heated as this one can be.

    1. Chad,
      Trump has done so many great things. Even the New York Times had to admit that most of these were true. He gets credit even when they try and give it to congress.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/11/opinion/fact-check-trump.html

      He’s negotiated peace in Israel.
      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-23/trump-says-israel-and-sudan-reach-peace-accord-after-uae-deal

      I feel that the tariffs in China Prove that he hasn’t been blackmailed or bought by China like so many of our other elected officials and businessmen.
      https://www.newsweek.com/how-americas-biggest-companies-made-china-great-again-1445325?fbclid=IwAR0k5c_CwkrRyZEZ-H0y53CCKU-bFhkXeMQS1TIEO3RmLK_bUK1My-gkPC4

      I think another clue that he is disrupting the usual corruption in DC is the absolute hate he is getting from everyone in the media and by so many in DC and anyone that has ties to China or backroom deals. There are many People worried about getting exposed or are losing their power because of an outsider.
      Newt Gingrich and Huckabee are two politicians that have admitted that Trump is the first politician that hasn’t sold his soul to either party and they genuinely seem amused/impressed to see what he can accomplish without having to. I wonder if they are impressed by him Ending wars in Israel?
      It seems obvious When you think of the hate level and the discrepancy in reporting of Biden. If you are going to give those sexual assault accusations against Trump the benefit of the doubt than why aren’t you giving BIdenS accusers the same benefit?
      I don’t know the sins of my Uber drivers or pilots or doctors, and I put my very life in their hands. It should always come down to fruits of labor and job performance over sins. I think that God wanted us to leave the judging of sins to him.

  17. I believe that we all approach things from an initial point of view. For instance point number 6 about fostering dissent. Biden has said his approach to recent protests would be to talk to the protestors to understand their grievances – a very peaceful approach. Trump has fomented dissent time and time again, and sending troops in to quell protests is a violent response. Many protests have been peaceful and are part of our rights (as highlighted by Elder Oaks). That is just one example of your initial bias and my initial bias.

    I could highlight issues with many of your eight points.

    I believe that the only way to save our country is through righteousness. Trump has a known history of molesting women, cheating in business, suing contractors instead of paying them, making racists remarks, etc, etc. He has shown himself to be incredibly dishonest in all aspects of his life.

    I’m not saying Biden is perfect, but the measure of a man is what he does when no one is looking. Story after story exists of Biden being kind and considerate – when there were no cameras present. The stories of Trump in the same situation are not so pleasant.

    Our country has become incredibly divided. Trump has fomented this. My hope is that Biden wins and brings people together, but as you point out, it can be hard to undo a great damage once it has been done.

        1. The challenge with JUST focusing on Just VP Biden is an apparent decline in his mental capacity. He is a very different public persona than just 10 years ago. His penchant for “sniffing” women or touching them in public was not an issue when he Campaigned for President Obama. Mr Biden is not the same man he used to be. (Go back and watch the Clarence Thomas hearings – the difference is striking.) The reality is, if Mr Biden is elected, there will be a real chance his own party will push a 25th Amendment process, and put Senator Harris in the White House.

          So it is perfectly fair and reasonable to include Senator Harris in any comparison.

  18. There are other options… my ballot has 7 candidates for president on it. I will not be voting for either major party because I don’t believe either of them is the best choice. Reducing it to a false dichotomy is unnecessary.

  19. It’s dangerous to publish this type of thing. There is a very good reason that the church is politically neutral. https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/official-statement/political-neutrality. Pray, ponder, study, then vote. That is what is required. Who you vote for may not be who I vote for, but neither of us is any less an active, good member of the church. I don’t feel it’s right for any member of the church to share doctrine in this manner, it is an attempt to persuade others to vote a certain way, its uses the doctrine in a way that it is not meant to be used.

    1. I disagree AJ Lewis… it’s not dangerous at all.

      Brad is not a Church Leader, nor does he claim his views or reasoning to be anything other than his own. He is engaging in the political process by declaring his reasoning openly.

      The challenge for “us” is to respectfully agree or disagree. A challenge for fellow members who disagree is to be careful to not assume Brad is calling you unfaithful or bad as a Church member just because he uses scripture to support his reasoning.

      He did his homework, if we disagree, we should do ours.

      Not that Brother McBride needs me to defend him. 🙂

  20. I think we all see what we want to see. I’ve always admired your ability to share your testimony in a way that resonates and inspires me. Your thoughts (and the comments already here) make me think you’re preaching to the choir.

    While I respect your thought processes, I don’t agree with you. I think Democrats want many of the same things Republicans want, just in a different way, and focusing on party lines just pushes us further apart, not together. Personally, I think Democrats are focused more on people, especially those without privilege. I feel Republicans are focused more on their perceptions of saving money.

    You can say you’re not voting for the ‘person’ and that Joe Biden is ‘declining’, but I don’t buy it. I think character always matters, especially from our leaders. Corrupt leaders corrupt. Those without empathy have little compassion, especially for those with no wealth or power of their own.

    My dream is that we see things from a viewpoint of working together to help everyone get as much of what they need as possible. I think our Savior would be more concerned about helping the weak and lowly than insisting that we follow the letter of the law. He had compassion for people’s individual circumstances. As the 11th of Article of Faith states, I believe in “worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

  21. I have spent this political season searching for and genuinely seeking understanding about people who were going to vote for Trump. I wanted to know what they saw and how they could vote for “that man”. You have given a reasoned and very well thought out explanation and I appreciate what you have written. I love your blog and your deep love of the gospel and ability to express doctrinal concepts.
    I am with Steven, however, and cannot in good conscience vote for Trump. As a female member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I think that the role of women is too important to overlook. Trump’s denigration of women and his general misogyny are too far a step backwards. For Trump it all seems to be a means to an end and if his base suddenly flipped and was pro abortion, he would absolutely go right along with them. There is no integrity to the words he speaks. So although I appreciate your love of the Proclamation and the Doctrine, I don’t think there is any guarantee that Trump is the man to enforce such ennobling concepts. It is all for his own benefit. I will be working on those 8 points of doctrine as well. I’ll get back to you.
    Thank you again for helping me to see that there really are good people with good intentions and great hearts voting for “that man.”.

    1. @Jill, thank you for voicing my thoughts well and my trouble with McBride’s article. It helped me understand what I’ve sincerely struggled to understand–how latter-day saints whom I know, love and respect can see “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” in Trump (or many of his policies). Because of how well I know these Trump supporters (label), I know their honest and good intent. This is despite still not understanding it–and not being able to effectively engage with them in conversation about it–probably mostly due to my own communication shortcomings and my strong rejection of that vile man and those he surrounds himself with. So, this article helped me see what other conservatives see in the Trump’s policies. I can at least assume they represent some of the ideas that my good Trump supporter friends see in him. But as a believer, I can’t let words and “whited sepulchers” of policy trump character and what a leader truly believes and who he is. I’m not defending the democratic ticket, or presume they are “without sin” or their policies are all desirable. Biden and his approach to our shared national concerns do, however, have my support for the next 4 years. I am hopeful that in the next presidential election, there will be a conservative on the ticket worthy of my support again. In the meantime, there are many decent, tolerant, conservatives with integrity to support locally–who share and espouse my values as one who, like many of McBride’s readers, tries to follow the Master as best we know how.

    1. WITHOUT agreeing with either side…I just thought I would share the rebuttal letter to Brother’s Fox’s letter… It came through my feed yesterday and I found it interesting. (Yes I wish it had signees but I can respect their reasons for not doing so.). https://tinyurl.com/y4le8po8

      1. In my previous comment I inadvertently inputted the incorrect URL for the Fox Letter Rebuttal and I cannot find a way to edit my comment. Here is the correct URL: https://tinyurl.com/y5lp57jm. I like learning both sides of an issue so I thought I would share the other side since the Fox Letter (Or Letter to Arizona Mormons) URL was shared by an earlier commenter.

    2. I’ve also read / watched that presentation by Professor Fox. For me it was telling that he led out with “name dropping” and tying his opinion to that of the brethren. Also, to end with “I will bet my eternal salvation against that” was concerning and seemed to reveal his effort to establish himself as having the moral high ground and that any member of the church who would vote for Trump are in essence voting against “the values of patriotism, truthfulness, justice, honor, decency and respect for the law are deeply ingrained in LDS culture.”

      Here’s a video response by Darin Southam for your consideration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEN1GmPRJIY

      Also some other thoughts to consider on a point-by-point basis: https://www.facebook.com/LDSFactChecker/posts/112488057300709

  22. In another election a few years ago, I was talking with a friend about who to vote for, honestly not knowing who the best choice for our country was, not wanting to just stick to the usual party lines, willing to try the other side’s ideas for several issues, etc. But I decided that it ultimately came down to a few key things that I DO know, and they are identified in the Proclamation on the Family- marriage between a man and a woman, the sanctity of life, and gender identity being eternal, and that I would need to vote the party that represented those, even if I disagree with other policies it promotes. I feel the same way in this election: I do not respect Trump and wish I had better choices, but I think I’ll have to go with him. That said, I’d also be interested in Steve’s list about the application of the doctrine to other platforms and parties.

  23. Thank you for your good analysis. Another way to look at it is through the lens of following the Constitution of the US. Which candidate and party (all the way down the ballot) adhere more closely to the original intent and current laws of the Constitution? Which puts the USA first? Which believes in law and order? Which allows for personal liberty and responsibility? Which promotes dependence and sloth?

    Many don’t like Pres. Trump because of his past, which I find surprising because we believe in repentance and forgiveness of sins. I didn’t vote for him the first time around because after being a lifelong democrat I didn’t trust his change to the republican party. But he has proven to me, by his fruits, that he loves America and wants to preserve our liberties at home and our standing in the world. He has strengthened relationships with allies, and stood up to our enemies. He has worked to preserve our liberties and decreased the strangling regulations that hampered our economy. No, he’s not perfect, but I sure think he’s the man for the hour. And anyway, which of the past presidents was perfect? None of them! They are mortal men, but by their fruits we can know where their heart is. The Book of Mormon tells us that a righteous leader makes it easier for us to obey God’s laws and promotes righteousness. Look for that in the candidates.

  24. You’ve written your thoughts with such clarity and civility–your reasoned positions truly resonate with me.
    One recurring thought that I have had is this: which VP would make the best president?
    Living in CA for 25 years, I am very familiar with Harris’ track record. Alternatively, Mike Pence’s character is above reproach.
    Though the choice for whom to vote this time is obvious, it is not easy.

    Thank you for writing this.

  25. Fair introduction, but once you get to the main part, you could just as easily find 8 points against Trump that would also require you to “distance yourself” from doctrines you knowingly ignored here.

    Also misleading quote from Black Lives Matter: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” you “forgot” the rest of the sentence which reads : “by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

    It has nothing to do with breaking up marriages, quite the opposite, it wishes to create stronger bonds between families and community instead of selfishness.

    Wish you would both sides more fairly and give a chance to people to make their own opinion.

    1. Steven, if you’re going to include more context to the Black Lives Matter quote, you should provide the couple of paragraphs just before, the paragraph itself and the one after. In context, it is abundantly clear that BLM, the organization not the idea, believes nuclear families are a western prescribed requirement that should be disrupted. Its organizers are against the notion that a nuclear family with a mother and a father is something to be aimed for.

      1. From their, now deleted, web page: – you are free to verify at:

        https://web.archive.org/web/diff/20200901043957/20201001035806/blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe

        We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.

        We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

        We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.

        We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.

        We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.

        We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

        We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

  26. I have read your blog for several years because I love your view on gospel issues and how they apply to life. I can always trust that your thoughts have a good doctrinal background to them. It is interesting to me how we are all taught the same gospel, but we don’t all live and understand it the same way. I guess that is what happens when we all have agency and are growing in different ways at different times in our life. I think this is the first time that I completely disagree with you! Not the doctrinal part of course, just the application of it. That’s a pretty good track record. I disagree with my own wife and kids more often than that. Keep up the good work. It is hard to find bloggers who try so hard to align with the bretheren and Christ.

  27. Well stated with the doctrinal backing to support your decisions. Love and tolerance to allow each to believe and hold opinions as they wish. However I agree, this is indeed a very difficult time to have confusing noise from all sides – especially that from those who declare good as evil and evil as good. All this while we see justification and rationalization of actions and subversion of facts throwing more confusion into the world. We see how easy it is to be led away by the enticements and “pleasant talk” of man with small tidbits of information micro focused or taken out of context. When we are only given a one-sided slanted view of things it is very difficult to understand and comprehend reality without the grace of God and the gift of truth through the Holy Ghost’s influence. So many people have decided to become dependent on others and push responsibility away from themselves that it has now become difficult for them to even make rational decisions with that long-term view you talk about…. let alone an eternal viewpoint. The only thing that will prevent those power-hungry from retaining and taking more power over our lives and destroying our liberty is the same as what will prevent evil from triumphing in general — good people standing up for righteousness and goodness. We can only hope and pray and work towards supporting what is hopefully a righteous/good majority of the population that is being overshadowed and shouted down by an unrighteous minority (fewer numbers, not race!) of the population.

  28. Excellent explanation. I plugged my noise when I voted for Trump in 2016 but am amazed at what he has done for the American people. America first!! What a concept. He is not a politician and for that I am grateful.

  29. Brad, I am looking for some honest advice, from you particularly,as you have summed up things so well in this post, but I am still unsettled about some things in this election. I am honestly hoping you can give me some direction here.

    My question is if you have looked into any of the other candidates for president, beyond the two primary parties. Here in Utah we have 9 choices on the presidential ballet, the two primary, one libertarian, one green, one constitutional, and 4 unaffiliated. Now discounting Kanye West as a viable candidate, solely on the fact that after his first rally, nothing else happened with him, Have you done any level of research into the other candidates, their parties, and how they filter into this same metric? I have done some research, but all I have managed is to confuse myself even further, not really being able to find cohesive statements for the smaller parties or the unaffiliated candidates.

    Let me know if you can, I appreciate it,
    Brian.

  30. Yes—a million times yes! Vote for POLICIES not the person.

    The brutality of the belief in abortion is not the only issue but one of many to not vote for Biden and Harris (folks, you gotta know what an abortion entails. It’s the most evil thing that someone can legislate for!)

  31. Thank you for putting into (well spoken) words what I tried to explain to my daughter last night as I was filling out my ballot. I was explaining to her that while I have about zero respect for Trump as a person, his behavior and lack of personal filter when he speaks or tweets or anything else he does…, I cannot in good conscience vote for candidates who so boldly believe in things that I believe are in direct opposition to God’s plan, commandments, and instructions.

    1. Kamala Harris stance on abortion is that it is ok until birth. BIRTH. There is NO way to get around that. A vote for Biden is a vote for her and her policies too.

      1. Here is the result of my extensive research on that subject…I’m very careful not to repeat things I’ve not checked out in their entirety…here is the statement…Harris has not explicitly stated that she supports abortion until the moment of birth, she has advocated for policies that allow for late-term abortions, when the mother’s life is at risk.

        This issue was presented to Harris back in February 2019, when conservative news outlet The Daily Caller asked various Democratic senators “if there was a point at which [abortion] would be considered immoral.” Harris did not offer a direct answer, instead saying: “I think it’s up to a woman to make that decision, and I will always stand by that […] I think she needs to make that decision with her doctor, with her priest, with her spouse.”

  32. Thank you!
    You have expressed true doctrine through the scriptures!
    I have tried to say these same things, but get bogged down with too many unnecessary thoughts.

  33. Again, dear Brad, your points are well taken. I have studied all of this out as well and I believe we are on the brink of losing our freedom if we choose to. Pres. Trump is fighting a Deep State evil that is the Secret Combinations that have never disappeared. Satan worshippers, people who abuse children and such dark evil things. It is all coming to light and we should be grateful one man and his team are standing up against these horrible things. The media tries to cover for the evil-doers and it is disgusting. Listen to Pres. Trump’s words. Listen to his love of America and the American people. He is fighting for our Christian values, our love of God and Country. I hope everyone can see this. It is deeper than we can all imagine. Thank you for your distinct thoughts.

    1. Brad, you agree with Rebeca Dean’s highly contentious falsehoods promoted by QAnon followers?! When you suggest there are scriptural reasons for voting for Trump, you open up the floodgates for all sorts of conspiracy theories that have “the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof” as they attempt to invoke scriptural parallels. Further, any reply that foments anger and contention (upon which the emotional tirades of QAnon followers thrive), is strongly condemned by the Savior Himself: “. . . He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me.” Do your homework, please. QAnon has been thoroughly debunked. These comments are a reflection of the fright and anger too many of Americans cling to. Nevertheless, your own blog here was an appropriate use of scripture and doctrine without emotional diatribes. I thank you for writing points that help me understand why my friends and neighbors voted for Trump even though I did not. Understanding heals; angry conspiracy theories poison.

  34. Exactly my position. Thank you. For me, for many years, it has been about so much more than just the person that is in place at the head of the country, but the direction that the country is going. I believe that righteous leaders do much good and that unrighteous leaders do much bad, but since those are not our choices at the moment (as much as I would love to believe that a third-party or dark-horse candidate could appear and save the day), I have to look at the reality of the things that you listed and use that as my motive for voting as I do.

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)

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