As the 2012 presidential campaign marches on, the American people become more focussed on the Mormon Church and how its religious views may effect poll results in November.
The race for the Republican presidential nominee pushes forward and the ranks are thinning. With candidates such as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum stepping back from the forefront and placing their support behind the current frontrunner, former Governor of Mass. Mitt Romney, the nations voters are beginning to ask how influential the Mormon Church and its members may be in this election season. According to the churchs Website (www.lds.org) current U.S. membership exceeds 5.5 million. With numbers this high, some may reason that Mormons could exercise substantial influence indeed.
According to a Reuters News Agency story – “Romneys religion still an issue for many republicans.” – Mormon influence may not be quite so certain.
“Mormons make up nearly 2 percent of the U.S. population, and Romney would be the first Mormon U.S. president. Mormons see themselves as Christian, but they battle the perception by some non-Mormons that they are a cult based on their belief in living apostles and prophets, two additional books of scripture besides the Bible and other tenets.
“These views might be sapping Romney’s support in Republican primaries and caucuses, but it is not certain how they would affect him in a general election fight against Democratic President Barack Obama in November. Romney has not won the support of evangelical Christian voters in any primary or caucus so far, but this could be because many are wary over more moderate positions he took on social issues while running for office in Massachusetts, a mostly Democratic state where he became governor and lost a U.S. Senate race.” – Patricia Zengerle, March 6, 2012
Where does the Mormon Church formally stand on the issue of seperation of church and state?
While there is a strong foundation of support for Mitt Romney among many Mormons in the U.S. today, the Church itself expresses a fundamental neutrality in the political process. Members are encouraged to follow their own conscience and exercise personal choice – otherwise refered to as “free agency”.
“Especially in an election year, as we have in the United States this year, we should seek to support those we believe will act with integrity and carry out our ideas of good government. The Lord has said: “When the wicked rule the people mourn.
“Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold.” (D&C 98:9–10.)
“The Church maintains a policy of strict political neutrality, favoring no party or candidate, but every member should take an active part in the political process. We should study the issues and the candidates to be sure our votes are based on knowledge rather than hearsay. We need to pray for our public officials and ask the Lord to help them in making momentous decisions that affect us. Our beliefs regarding earthly governments and laws are summarized in section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants and the twelfth article of faith. We should support public policy that coincides with these moral beliefs.” – Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; from Ensign magazine, “Seeking the good”, May 1992
Whether or not the religious viewpoints of the Mormon Church and its membership in the U.S. will have enough influence to swing the results of the November vote in favor of Mitt Romney is still left to be seen. If, however, there remains dubious concern by a large percentage of Americans as to the potential effect the nations first possible Mormon president could have on our future, an assurance can be found in one of the Church’s Articles of Faith –
“If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (A of F 1:13.) – The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith