I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am also a Democrat. I see that many principles taught in my church and the principles of various Democratic platforms go hand in hand. Yet the vast majority of my fellow church members in Utah don’t hold the same political ideals that I hold. This is not a problem to me. This country was established to encourage freedom of thought and the expressing thereof. I am proud to live in this country where I can voice my opinion and worship how I choose. Most of my fellow Mormons hold these rights close to their hearts.
I had the opportunity of attending the Democratic precinct caucuses on March 13. There I saw many Tooele citizens come together to choose people to represent them. It was true democracy at work. Shortly thereafter, word got out that I attended the caucus. Not two days after the caucus, I began to be approached by a number of fellow Church members who expressed concern that I had attended the Democratic, and not the Republican, caucus. This, to me, is quite the conundrum, considering the First Presidency of the Church issued a statement urging Utah members to attend political caucuses stating that, “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of the various political parties.”
The LDS Church is not the Republican Party. Neither is the church the Democratic Party. The moment one equates any party with the LDS Church is the moment one defines a theorized theological falsity: that God dictates all political policy that we propose. There is not one political party that holds a monopoly on principles compatible with the teachings of Christ. Various political parties support efforts that, when compared to the gospel of Jesus Christ, are Christian in nature.
I believe that many Christian principles are found in the Democratic Party. I believe in lifting up the poor and blessing their lives through programs that help them get on their feet and teach them to be self-reliant. I believe in peace throughout the world, and doing all we can to achieve it without going to war over every excuse we can get. I believe that the strongest part of our economy is our youth, and we must teach them the skills and values necessary to build Utah and America. I believe in putting them first, in making them a priority. I believe in common-sense approaches to politics. I don’t support extremism on the left or the right. This is the essence of why I am a Democrat.
Unfortunately, the standard Utah view of the Democratic Party is that the party is only the party of gay marriage and abortion. This, however, is a misconstrued view. Not every Democrat is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. The Democratic Party is the People’s Party, and takes in everyone that the GOP leaves out. This leaves many different ideas to be discussed in the party.
I believe in my faith and I believe in America. It is through these two beliefs that I have come to find my political home in the Democratic Party.
Benjamin Kiser, a Tooele resident, is chairman of the Tooele City 11th precinct for the Tooele County Democratic Party.
Note: This Op-Ed ran originally in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin, it was printed here with the permission of the author.