Nov 14 2012

The Farthest Things from Sheep

Published by at 7:53 am under General

On Monday night, we had a new person attending our monthly empty-nesters’ dinner. Carlos and his wife have been on the invitation list as long as we have had our meetings, but he hasn’t come because his wife isn’t crazy about big groups. Finally he decided to bag it and come by himself, and we were glad to see him — with or without his wife.

Carlos has been in our ward for many years, but our paths do not cross. I would imagine I’ve talked with him for less than five minutes in all those years. So I was more than a little surprised when he immediately asked me for the name of my website so he could go there. Most people in our ward, even some fairly close friends, do not even know I am a writer.

I told him where he could find Planet Kathy, and he said. “Good. I want to see how you treated the great divide between the Red State and the Blue State Mormons in last week’s election.”

My eyes opened wide at that. I said, “I haven’t even thought about opening that can of worms!”

Later I asked myself, “Why haven’t I?”

People who don’t have much experience with Mormons think of us as a cult of sheep who do exactly what we’re told to do.  Anyone who thinks of us as sheep, however, is way, way off base. If anything, Mormons are anti-sheep. The quickest way you can get a Mormon running in the other direction is to try to tell him what to think.

Mormons are so big on freedom of choice (also known as “agency” or “free agency”) that anything contrary to having that freedom is described as “Satan’s plan.” No matter how much authority you have or how noble your intentions, if you even think of telling a Mormon how to think or (horrors!) how to vote, you’re asking for a world of trouble.

Outsiders do not understand this. After the election, political journalists were shocked that more Mormons voted for George W. Bush (both times!) than voted for their own candidate, Mitt Romney.

I was disgusted that Latter-day Saints voted for Obama, but I was not surprised. It wasn’t that half our members in the United States are Democrats; that is far from being the case. But I heard a whole lot of people (even friends in our ward) get irate because the outside world just assumed they would vote for Romney. I suspect many of these Latter-day Saints voted for Obama just because they could.

I think that’s a pathetic reason for choosing a president, but nobody asked me before they voted.

We long-time Latter-day Saints have seen this phenomenon again and again. We’ll listen to the prophets and apostles all day long when it comes to spiritual things, but if those same prophets and apostles tell us where to stand on a political issue, a whole lot of Mormons rise up in rebellion.

Long ago, when we lived in Utah, the issue of “liquor by the drink” came up to a vote in Utah. Church leaders counseled their members to vote against the proposition, and the world (at least the world as defined by Utah’s borders) came to a crashing halt. I don’t even remember how the vote went. All I remember was that the moment church leaders suggested how church members should vote, there was a lot of anger and rebellion among the Saints in Utah.

The same thing came up when church leaders counseled Mormons to vote for traditional marriage in California. Immediately a large number of Mormons rebelled, some of them in very public forums, to protest what they considered a violation of their freedom.

I’m an old person. My days of rebellion are long behind me. I’m pretty sure I voted against liquor by the drink. I know that if I had lived in California I would have voted for traditional marriage. It’s not that I’m a sheep; I do think before I vote. But I’ve read The Book of Mormon often enough to know that when a prophet speaks as a prophet, it’s smart to listen.

Apparently, I am in the minority on this one — or at least I’m not in as solid a majority as I’d like to be. In fact, I suspect that if President Monson could have found a way to tell the compliant Mormons to vote for Romney and the rebellious ones to vote for Obama, all of us would have voted for Romney and we might be anticipating a new President-elect today. What a bummer! I only wish there had been a way to do it.




8 responses so far

8 Responses to “The Farthest Things from Sheep”

  1. Marinaon 15 Nov 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I’m with you, Kathy. Something that comforted me, though, was the thought that we received a lot of goodwill towards the church through Romney running. If he had become president, chances are plenty of people would be upset with decisions he made, or mistakes made, and by extension, upset with the church and its members. The Lord is bringing about his work, and it seems He can use even these rebellious ones to do it! Don’t tell them!

  2. Kathyon 15 Nov 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Ha! That’s a deal, Marina. Mum’s the word.

  3. A Sheepon 16 Nov 2012 at 11:45 am

    I have thought a lot about your post since I read it yesterday. As a member of the church, I guess you could consider me a ‘sheep.’ I have been a temple worker for a number of years, I’ve held several stake callings, and have been a member of the church almost all of my life. My children have also been raised in the church, went on missions and are all married in the temple. Your being ‘disgusted’ by me as a member of the church because myself and other members voted for President Obama, I feel is harsh and perhaps a little judgmental. Yes, you are no doubt correct that SOME members of the church did indeed vote for Barack Obama because they wanted to prove they ‘weren’t sheep’ –Just as peple may have voted for Mitt Romney simply because he is a member of the church. Having said that, I would never, ever for a moment feel ‘disgusted’ by your voting for Mitt Romney–You voted for who you felt would best do the job as President, and without question I respect that. I would never propose to question that, or judge you for it.
    I felt extremely informed on the issues on both sides and I’m thankful that church leaders let us decide for ourselves who we personally thought would be better for the job. Perhaps there may have even been members of the First Presidency or Quorum of the twelve who agreed with ‘my choice.’ And if Mitt Romney were to become a local leader, etc., without question I would raise my hand and support him–Also if he’d won the Presidential election I would have done the same. But I voted for the man who brought childhood friends home from war so that they could kiss their spouses and tuck their kids in at night. I voted for a man who loves New Jersey more than he dislikes Chris Christie. I voted for the man who honors the women in his life by ensuring them trust to make their own reproductive and health choices and opportunity to work through glass ceilings with equal pay. I voted for the man who called Sandra Fluke and told her that her parents should be proud. I voted for the man who picked Joe Biden for a VP. Joe’s love for his country, his willingness to give of himself, his smarts and experience are top notch. Most importantly, I voted for the man who will continue to place America and what is right for her first. I trust him. I did not vote against Mitt Romney, I voted for Barack Obama.

    My apologies to you if I have offended or upset you. It’s not my intention. I value your thoughts and your opinion, and agree with you most of the time. And of course this is your blog, and there is no question that you should be able to freely voice your own thoughts and opinions, and again without question, I respect that–I however am saddened that you do not have that same respect for me and other members of the church that feel the same way I do.

  4. Kathyon 21 Nov 2012 at 10:30 am

    You write a compelling letter, Sheep. I’m not offended or upset in the slightest, and I’m glad you had the courage to express your opinions.

    You’re right. I shouldn’t have painted all LDS Obama-voters with the same brush. You apparently put a lot of thought into your vote. Thanks for sharing the reasons you had for voting differently from me.

  5. Marinaon 21 Nov 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Sheep, I am always grateful for people who vote thoughtfully and carefully, no matter who they vote for. We are counseled to ponder and pray about who to vote for, and if the spirit told you to vote differently from me, I’ll have to ask Heavenly Father why when I see Him. I also appreciate the respectful tone of your letter and you sharing your reasons. I, too have reasons, would like to respectfully point out, that Obama pays the women in his cabinet 18% less than the men, and that 70% of all deaths in Afghanistan have happened on Obama’s watch, (yes, that’s MORE soldiers that have been killed and wounded during Obama’s one term than in 2 terms of Bush, who are not going to be coming home and kissing their spouses. I also pray every day for Obama’s safety so that we don’t have “top notch” intelligent Biden as a president, because I must be the only person to remember Biden’s comment on how FDR got on TV the day the stock crashed in ’29-before FDR was president and 10 years before TV was introduced to the public. This was a lie he told to score political points, and it wasn’t even an intelligent lie. Biden also said we have 650,000 troops in Afghanistan, when we only have 68,000. I guess my expectations are a little too high for our second in line to be the commander in chief over those troops.
    I have the utmost respect for you and your decision, but I want to make sure you are aware of these facts. That being said, with the gospel in our lives, we certainly have more that unites us than divides us.

  6. Maryannon 25 Nov 2012 at 7:27 am

    I, too, am amazed that the American people have chosen to re-elect a man who has us on a sure path to economic self-destruction, and who has repeatedly broken his Oath of Office by refusing to protect our borders and our citizens (most notably in Arizona). Joe Biden’s display of almost unbelievable arrogance in his debate with Paul Ryan was nauseating.

    The fact that the First Presidency does not endorse political candidates has absolutely nothing to do with interfering with our free agency. A much more likely reason is so that the church can retain its tax free status. The Prophet, Joseph Smith, was VERY vocal about his views on politics and specific political candidates, and he did not pull any punches.

    We HAVE BEEN COUNSELED by our Prophets to choose good men, which requires, YES, SOME JUDGEMENT on our part.

  7. JRon 07 Dec 2012 at 2:46 am

    I am late in posting this but hopefully someone will read it. I have never been to this site until today.
    After the Presidential election there were other LDS sites like this one where people were very vocal about how unworthy members are who voted for Obama. That is just wrong. That is NOT how we as LDS people are supposed to treat anyone. Some said that the members who voted for Obama were not worthy to hold or receive a Temple recommend. That is condemning.
    We may not agree but we are not to condemn. We must remember that each one of us has a different perspective, just like “A Sheep” and “Marina” in the above comments; they each see it differently.
    Did you forget how many troops died under Bush in Iraq, a war we had no business starting and started with lies.? See, perspective. More died under Bush in Iraq. Obama had to do a troop surge because other countries were pulling out of Afghanistan. AND Obama kept most of Bush’s policies concerning the war. Making sure you are aware of the facts.

  8. Marinaon 11 Dec 2012 at 1:04 pm

    There are many democrats in my ward. We’ve had a bishop, sunday school teacher, and young mens president who all voted for Obama. They are some of the finest men I’ve ever met. Everyone in our ward who disagrees politically with them absolutely sustains them in their callings. In fact, I haven’t heard one single person who supported Romney condemn any of these men. What a wonderful church this is, where we can disagree but still support and help each other. Maybe some feel the need to vent their frustration on a website, but hopefully, they too can see the goodness in the people they personally interact with and sustain them.

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