Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Debate

I have not wanted to use this space to discuss the recent health care debate in the United States, primarily because that conversation is outside the parameters of this blog. But comments on another blog (sorry I can't link to it; I've been unable to find it again) have pushed me over the edge, so here I am. The blog itself discussed questions of the present healthcare debate and the blogger offered his view. I had no issue with that, since that's what we bloggers do.

What got me more troubled was a comment from a reader who suggested those who favored any government involvement in healthcare reform must not be good members of the church. (She asked, "How can you call yourselves good Mormons?") Her argument suggested that government involvement limited our agency because it used tax dollars, "forcing" us to subsidize healthcare for others.

This commenter is not alone. I've read similar comments from other politically conservative church members. Now, I am not intending to discuss the pros and cons of the present health care plan approved by Congress, but rather the notion that there might be a political litmus test of faithfulness.

There is not.

Faithful church members periodically declare their worthiness to their ecclesiastical leaders. This happens as people prepare for specific ordinances, and in bi-annual temple recommend interviews. It's a chance for members to report to their direct ecclesiastical leader their own faithfulness in keeping the covenants they've made as members of the church. The temple recommend interview contains specific questions, and there is no political litmus test as a part of that interview.

Further, there are faithful Latter-day Saints all around the world (more outside the US than in these days), many of whom live happily and faithfully in countries that have some level of socialized medicine (far more socialized than what is presently under debate here). Their faithfulness is not compromised by their living in those countries, or supporting those governments.

If we have strong and opposing political views, that is fine. Let us debate those vigorously, openly and honestly. But let us not suggest that supporting one view or the other is a matter of worthiness in the church. Except for a few notable exceptions, the church remains politically neutral, and faithful church members are on both sides of the political aisle.


  1. This has happened to me; occasionally, other members tell me I'm not worthy to hold a Recommend, because I support equal marriage.

  2. It's good that "other members" don't get to decide. We have those recommend interviews in private for a reason.

  3. I remember several families in a congregation who went in active when my father was called as their bishop because he was both a union business agent and also a democrat. I may not always agree with my father on politics but I have no doubt about his testimony and faithfulness to the gospel and the church. I am grateful for such an example.

  4. Mike, thanks for your comment. I also have known outstanding bishops and stake presidency members who were also registered democrats.

    (Of course there are some members who always exit at the call of a new bishop, and others who come back; that says at least as much about those members as it may about the bishops.)