What I Wish They Would Say

In the last many months, I have become hyper-aware of the disparity that exists between what political action a non-profit church can take, and the actual action and words of our church. Furthermore, I am put off by claims that any tax-exempt status could be worth our silence. Across America, churches have been gathering places for political action in the face of injustice for generations; it is a feature of our political system. Churches are tax-exempt in part to protect minority opinions from the government. It was a church, after all, in which Paul Revere hung his lanterns, and Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor before he was an activist.

Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor when he helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955.
Photo Credit: Ron Cogswell of Arlington, VA via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dexter_Avenue_King_Memorial_Baptist_Church_Montgomery_(AL)March_2019(47953959898).jpg#/media/File:Dexter_Avenue_King_Memorial_Baptist_Church_Montgomery_(AL)March_2019(47953959898).jpg

Our religion should inform our engagement with the world around us. Too often I see people clutch at religious sentiment for a feeling of protection and safety instead of as a beacon or a battle cry. I understand this, but I think a life of faith calls us to more.

Here is the kind of statement I wish our church made all the time, as it organized and helped in causes that further human dignity. I admit, I mourn a little that I and my friends tend to be glad that the church stays out of politics out of a vague sense that the causes the leaders would choose to support would be a poor reflection of our values and use of resources. Still, I call for something better.

Our Dear Family in Faith,

Once in a generation, a nation’s downtrodden, together with their friends and people of good conscience, rise up to say that all is not well in Zion. To be heard by all they must speak loudly. 

We are an international church, but today we speak to the United States and hope all countries will hear apply and our words. 

Friends, it is the duty of people of faith to walk with and sustain demonstrators who are loudly protesting the frequent slaughter of black and brown folks. We urge you to listen, learn, and exert your influence to further their cause. All are alike before God, but our country is still a work in progress and there is work to be done to ensure equality before the law and systems that came before us.

In countries around the world, White Nationalism is again taking root in public discourse. It is not designed to protect White people, it is designed to enrage us. To White members of the church, we urge you to learn to recognize and always reject white supremacy. Let this be a disqualifying political platform. Do not vote for white nationalists – history teaches us that they bring war and devastation and genocide.

Remember that the earth is richly abundant. Our nation is a promised land, richly blessed, and there is enough here for us and our children and our children’s children’s children. God loves the poor, and nobody comes here without God’s guidance and protection. In the eyes and lives of immigrants and refugees, you will find God. Be generous in giving and in your political action to protect them from systemic abuse and disenfranchisement.

As a church we excel at taking care of our community. We are now faced with a global health crisis. Protect one another. Wear a face covering when you leave your home. Find ways to support your loved ones and community members that are in full cooperation with the best understanding we have of how to fight this serious disease, and know that this understanding will evolve as the Lord reveals new things to those seeking to understand through scientific inquiry. Sometimes entire families, communities, and civilizations die from raging illness. Sometimes they die because the plague has overwhelmed doctors and health supplies. Your first duty is to preserve life, and we encourage you to be courageous, creative and thoughtful in the face of solitude and disruption. 

Our strength as children of God lies in our ability to take care of “the least of these”- something we can only do adequately when we work together for a common cause. May your spiritual practices bring you strength as you pursue righteousness. May God’s spirit give you courage, wisdom and clarity. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk with humbleness before God.

Yours in faith, 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

What do you long to hear from your faith leaders? What does your heart need to hear in face of global and personal tumult? How would you like to see the church rise to support human dignity?


AdelaHope used to be a little girl with a microphone, who loved her bicycle. She is now a woman with a family, a laptop, and a ukulele, who has dreams of traveling to beautiful, interesting places. She is currently living the mom-life while she works on a Master's degree in New England

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14 Responses

  1. Bryn Brody says:

    Amen to everything you said. I wish they would also caution against any practice that teaches superiority of men or submission of women as inherently God-like. The radicalization of misogyny via groups like DezNats, Proud Boys, and incels has me concerned for all women in the US, as well as LGBTQIA folx who suffer under misogyny.

  2. Allison says:

    For all the things the church does speak out on, while insisting it’s “politically neutral,” (which is a separate albeit related topic) I wish they would actually say something about what happened this week on Wednesday, January 6th. Words not spoken can also be heard.

  3. Spunky says:

    “All countries will hear and apply our words…” and “Our nation is a promised land…” I appreciate this letter, but it is yet gently reflective of American superiority complex which doesn’t feel as encompassing as it intends. Doesn’t quite work for me, though I love the intention.

    • AdelaHope says:

      Spunky, I’m so glad you saw it because as I was posting it I thought to myself, “Spunky is going to have something to say about the American-centric nature of this post” 😂 In all seriousness, though, I do wonder what your thoughts are about the responsibilities, rights and limitations of our American-born international church in regards to political activism. I, too, am more than a little uncomfortable with the American exceptionalism that’s baked into the doctrine, and I don’t know what else to do with it except to try to use it to get American “exceptionalists” to vote against white nationalism, and I think there’s room in our scripture to make a compelling argument.
      I also am keenly aware that American politics affect the rest of the world, but the rest of the world does not have voting rights! Should the place of the church be then to act as a voice for world? (aka please yes send malaria medication to this jungle country, yes please stop x country from invading y country, no do not bomb them into oblivion, etc.). I’m also not sure the church should be getting involved regularly in non-American politics, but I don’t think this concern absolves the church of it’s moral responsibility to exert influence in its home country. I’m beginning to believe that if you have power, your moral obligation is to try to use it for good even though you will get it wrong sometimes. Overwhelmingly when I mention this to moderate or progressive Mormons, I am told that they think the church should just stay out of politics but I disagree – I think we just don’t trust the leaders to champion the right issues.

      I’m really curious to hear your thoughts here, I know these are things you think about.

      • SisterStacey says:

        That’s what hurts about the First Pres.’s silence. We are based in the US! And there is tons of precedents of prophets getting involved in government. Half the BoM is usually the prophet also being a leader of the people.
        I don’t expect much from RMN (he’s a huge part of my faith crisis right now), but jeez… something should be said when people, especially ones dressed as a BoM hero, attack the symbol of the nation’s democracy.
        AND there were protests at the Utah State Capitol! It was very scary for a bit as rumors abounded that those inside had to flee too! They did not. It was “peaceful” although they did pepper spray an SL Trib photographer. In the state that Trump won. Idiots.
        But still… this was not far away from temple square… like come on!

      • spunky says:

        So many things to say, and maybe I’ll write a post on it all. But I am bothered by this thought: “I’m also not sure the church should be getting involved regularly in non-American politics, but I don’t think this concern absolves the church of it’s moral responsibility to exert influence in its home country.” Ouch. Is the US really the “home country” of the church? Isn’t Zion metaphysically within me, wherever I reside?

        In many non-US places I have visited, the church IS a feminist space BECAUSE it offers quilting and textile making programs for illiterate women to sell goods and provide for their families *alongside* their brothers. The self-reliance programming (at least here) has daycare programs so that women can enroll in the classes and learn to budget, etc. And in many communities, the church is the primary employer (think dental and medical missions that employ locals to manage, act as nurses / assistants, clean and order supplies for the church charity.) Making political statements would undermine this. Quite frankly, because the church IS global, and the majority of church members are OUTSIDE of the US, I rather appreciate political neutrality from the church as a means of protection for church members– as in local church members.

        I do prefer the non-specific statements such as “we encourage our members to vote their conscience…” rather than selecting one political party over another. IF the media did ask the church for a statement in regard to the deluded fascists at the US capital, I’d like to read something like, “The church policy is to support the laws of the local government. When church members break laws, believe our church members are subject to arrest and prosecution as per the terms outlined by their respective governments.. In addition, to be members in good standing, the are required to engage in the process of repentance under the direction of their bishop.”

        In a nutshell– and this is the blog post I have in mind, I am SO OVER American Mormons thinking like they are Mr. Priesthood know-it-all -Brigham Young, and then thinking that the church in every other country is a plural wife that believes America/Young as our superior big boss (hint: we don’t. Revelation happens outside of America, too.)

        Thank you for your post 🙂 It was pretty distressing and humiliating to see church members destroying the US in the news.

  4. Julie says:

    I would like our church to reflect the love of Jesus Christ and extend it to the LGBTQI community.
    In acceptance, not tolerance. Allowing these individuals full rights and responsibilities in the church, not expecting them to live a half-life, in shadow and “repentance” for how God made them.
    Also, no more patriarchy coming from the church. Let it be a church of equals, neither patriarchal nor matriarchal.

  5. Di says:

    I’m not in the US but I still hoped the FP would make a statement about the riot. But am I surprised that they haven’t? Not really. I think they fear bleeding even more membership. Their silence speaks volumes.

    • Spunky says:

      I dunno. I really don’t want the First Presidency becoming a political entity– the church is political enough! I stand by my polygamy comparison. I do believe many American Mormons see themselves as the Brigham Young, and say- Canada as Eliza R. Snow, and so on.

      I love the Dialogue article by Marjorie Newton that began with, “A FEW YEARS AGO I listened to a group of American missionaries who had just eaten an enormous meal at our table and were showing their appreciation by telling us how backward Australia is in every conceivable way when compared to the Promised Land.” (https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V24N03_11.pdf)

      It seems to me that requiring the FP to weight in on political matters of every country (and why not, if it is a global church?) would create massive international conflicts. So again, I am glad the church does not weigh in on these things– I think (hope?) that the spanking the church received after California’s Prop 8 may have taught the church a proper lesson about staying away from politics.

  6. It needs to happen says:

    I am a lurker and typically don’t comment. However, I think I’ll emerge and contribute today.
    I think the church needs to make a strong statement in regard to what’s happening in the United States right now. The statement would probably best just maintain support of our democratic institutions and condemn attempts to undermine them. I say this mainly because a large majority of high profile LDS politicians helped aid Trump in his attempted coup, and the church as an institution should want to distant itself from that as quickly and effectively as possible.
    I know the church wants be seen as an apolitical international church, but they are viewed as a very Republican church in the United States and that’s a problem for them. Especially right now when Republicans are kind of imploding.
    While Mitt Romney made waves in his speech on the Senate floor. Three LDS congressman (that I know of) still voted to oppose the election certification. One of those, Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ), was one of three congressman that helped organize the crowd/domestic terrorists on 1/6/21 that marched to the Capitol and tried to kill the VP, Speaker of the House, take hostages, break into offices, steal stuff, and vandalize. His role in that is still being scrutinized.
    There’s also Ronna McDaniel who’s the GOP Chairwoman and has been instrumental in helping Trump promote his lies and undermine the democratic process.
    Sean Reyes is the Utah Attorney General and helped the Trump campaign challenge the Nevada election results.
    Then there’s Sen. Mike Lee who refused to acknowledge the election results until December.
    They are all members of the church and they all worked to install dictator.
    This doesn’t take into account the members that participated in the domestic terrorism or voted for him (70%).
    It might be helpful if they made some kind of statement.
    This is the second time in less than a hundred years that the majority of members in our church have supported a fascist uprising in their home country. The first was Nazi Germany.

    • Crystal Oborn says:

      The way I wrote that sentence made it sound like 70% voted for him and participated in domestic terrorism which isn’t correct.
      70% of the US membership voted for him.
      It seems there were a few who were at the Capitol on 1/6/21, but not many (hopefully).

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