Thursday, July 20, 2006

Choosing Candidates

By Phil Windley from Utah Politics

This post will mingle politics and religion, so if that sort of thing offends you, feel free to tune out. Still the fact that the majority of voters in Utah are LDS tends to bring that issue to the forefront from time to time.

My thoughts were brought about reading this post from Steve Olsen, who’s running against Rob Bishop for the 1st congressional district seat. Olsen is running as a Democrat and is LDS, as is clear from his post. The post is a well-written statement about the intersection of religious influence and politics.

Olsen discusses at length the irony of Utah Republicans cozying up to Christian Fundamentalists because they’re “good Republicans” when these same people often support “mean-spirited discrimination against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Olsen isn’t decrying, as some do, the proper place for the LDS Church, or any other religious denomination, to take stands on issues that are important to them. Any group has the right and even the duty to join the public debate on topics that they have strong beliefs about. That’s how we get the best decisions in a democracy.

Rather, Olsen is talking about how individual people, including Utah’s elected officials, blindly follow an idealogical path. I consider myself moderately conservative. I’m a Republican. But as I read Olsen’s piece, I couldn’t help but think that the leadership of the LDS Church exhorts members to “prayerfully consider candidates” at almost every election. I have to confess, that I don’t think I’ve put as much honest prayer into political candidates as I have other areas of my life. In fact, I’ve probably assumed I knew best on that issue and stuck to my own counsel.

What about you? If you’re the praying type, do you honestly consider all candidates with an open mind, make a selection and then go to the Lord in prayer about your choice? If so, good for you. If not, maybe it’s time you joined me in a little repentance.

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