In a recent newspaper interview, UVSC’s own and self-proclaimed Latter-day Saint Brian Birch talked about the Mormon people and their lack of political protesting. Such a point and argument provides an interesting debate.
Birch, who seems to be "liberal" or, at least, an opponent of the Iraq War, feels Saints have too much patriotism, due to the belief "the United States was divinely instituted as a covenant land between God and members of His church, and that keeps some church members from challenging the government" and "speaking out" (i.e. marching protests).
The professor’s view on speaking out and protesting is a correct one. In all my life as a practicing Latter-day Saint, I have never heard of any members contacting their home teaching families for a good ‘ole "lets go hold signs of fetus" in the street campaign. In fact, protests such as those seen at General Conference, overall, have a negative effect on Mormons.
Furthermore, the two vices and signs of the apocalypse-being a fan of Bill Clinton and/or Michael Moore-brought in hardly a protest, if one at all. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, watergate, filegate, travelgate, etc. etc., there were no marches on Washington. And even the infamous Michael Moore visit to UVSC-which supposedly showed how afraid our conservative community is of free speech-only brought out forty protesters total! That is like an American civilization class going out to protest. What a difference they would make.
As for Mormons proposed blind allegiance to America, Mr. Birch is wrong. Contrary to Mr. Birch’s view, Mormon’s loyalty to their government is not pure blindness. Certainly Brigham Young felt no allegiance when he not only abandoned Nauvoo but the country as a whole. And more recently in 1999, most Utahans and their delegates were against President Clinton’s proposed action of sending ground troops into Kosovo. Such actions are more a sign of being loyal to their party and not to their government.
As for the current debate on war, the seasons have changed a bit. Not only do Mormons support the Iraq War as a result of party affiliation, but also because of certain events preceding the invasion and, in addition, for the reason that such actions line up theologically.
Looking to themselves as the new or restored Israel-God’s chosen people-the LDS feel a kinship to the State of Israel. While Professor Birch’s view is Mormons feel they have to support their government no matter the war, it’s more that they have to defend Israel because it is part of prophecy.
And finally, most missionaries teach the reason the restored gospel of Jesus Christ was brought to pass through Joseph Smith and not Martin Luther, John Wycliffe or the random treasure digger of Europe was as a result of democracy and the widespread freedom of religion in America. Thus such beliefs, many feel, cause Mormons to believe the Middle East-the one area besides penguins of Antarctica lacking "the gospel"-needs democracy in order to plant the seeds to harvest the true church.
Yes, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the most, tend to vote Republican, but their allegiance doesn’t lie in their patriotism to country but to their faith and the hope of the future for that faith. Just don’t expect any protests.