Should Latter-day Saints Vote for Barack Obama?
Michael T. Griffith
October 4, 2008
We who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are free to vote for the candidates of our choice. The Church does not endorse or oppose political candidates and maintains neutrality about political parties. So the decision is ours to make. The question is, Should Latter-day Saints vote for Barack Obama? Some argue that since the Church has not told us for whom we can or can’t vote, there can be nothing wrong with voting for Obama. But this argument ignores several facts.
OBAMA VS. THE CHURCH ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND ABORTION
For example, the Church has told us that we should be actively supporting efforts to preserve traditional marriage and to prevent same-sex marriage from being legalized. Obama, on the other hand, supports same-sex marriage (also known as gay marriage), and even wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which gives states the option of not recognizing other states’ same-sex marriages. In addition, the Church has counseled members not to support abortion in any way. Obama, on the other hand, is so radically pro-abortion that he wanted to repeal all existing restrictions on abortion and has even voted against legislation that was designed to prohibit the killing of babies that survived abortion. Let’s consider some specifics in relation to these issues:
1. The Church has called for passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment. The Church even sent Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to attend a press conference for the Federal Marriage Amendment in Washington, D.C., shortly before the Senate voted on it. But Obama voted against the amendment and continues to oppose it. He argues that passing the Federal Marriage Amendment would constitute “enshrining discrimination and divisive distinctions among citizens into our founding documents” (Interview with The Washington Blade, September 10, 2008; Obama Pledges “Equality for All,” The Washington Blade, September 10, 2008). When he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama pledged, in writing, “I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying” (Obama on Marriage).
Elder Nelson said the following when he spoke at the above-mentioned press conference in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pleased to be represented in this significant cause. While those of us here today represent a broad spectrum of religious diversity, we are firmly united in our declaration that marriage of a man and a woman is ordained of God. The sanctity of marriage and family constitutes the spiritual undergirding of lasting and successful societies.
Together we share a duty to preserve marriage and family as established by God. The time has now come when a constitutional amendment is needed in this country to protect our divine inheritance. Such action does not reduce our regard for individuals who choose to live by other standards. But it confirms our conviction that marriage is the foundry for social order, the fountain of virtue and the foundation for eternal exaltation. (Elder Nelson Speaks at the U.S. Capitol to Protect Marriage)
Church has warned that same-sex marriage poses a serious threat to the family,
to religious freedom, and to society as a whole. But Obama has made it clear he sees nothing
wrong with same-sex marriage and has called efforts to ban gay marriage
“divisive” and “discriminatory” (See Obama’s Opposition to DOMA;
Promises Gays “Strongest Possible Bill”; Obama
Rejects Proposed California Gay Marriage Ban, Sacramento Bee, July 1,
Talks All Things LGBT with The Advocate; see also below). Obama not only
opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment and wants to repeal the Defense of
Marriage Act, but he opposes all bans on same-sex marriage at the state level
as well. It’s worth noting that the
Defense of Marriage Act was signed by Bill Clinton after being passed by an
overwhelming majority in Congress, but Obama claims it’s discriminatory and
wants it revoked. During a Democratic
The prospect of same-sex marriage has already spawned legal collisions with
the rights of free speech and of action based on religious beliefs. For
example, advocates and government officials in certain states already are
challenging the long-held right of religious adoption agencies to follow their
religious beliefs and only place children in homes with both a mother and a
father. As a result, Catholic Charities in
Other advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions. Public accommodation laws are already being used as leverage in an attempt to force religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public. Accrediting organizations in some instances are asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples. Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership.
Many of these examples have already become the legal reality in several nations of the European Union, and the European Parliament has recommended that laws guaranteeing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples be made uniform across the EU. Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished.
Possible restrictions on religious freedom are not the only societal implications of legalizing same-sex marriage. Perhaps the most common argument that proponents of same-sex marriage make is that it is essentially harmless and will not affect the institution of traditional heterosexual marriage in any way. “It won’t affect you, so why should you care?’ is the common refrain. While it may be true that allowing single-sex unions will not immediately and directly affect all existing marriages, the real question is how it will affect society as a whole over time, including the rising generation and future generations. The experience of the few European countries that already have legalized same-sex marriage suggests that any dilution of the traditional definition of marriage will further erode the already weakened stability of marriages and family generally. Adopting same-sex marriage compromises the traditional concept of marriage, with harmful consequences for society.
Aside from the very serious consequence of undermining and diluting the sacred nature of marriage between a man and a woman, there are many practical implications in the sphere of public policy that will be of deep concern to parents and society as a whole. These are critical to understanding the seriousness of the overall issue of same-sex marriage.
When a man and a woman marry with the intention of forming a new family, their success in that endeavor depends on their willingness to renounce the single-minded pursuit of self-fulfillment and to sacrifice their time and means to the nurturing and rearing of their children. Marriage is fundamentally an unselfish act: legally protected because only a male and female together can create new life, and because the rearing of children requires a life-long commitment, which marriage is intended to provide. Societal recognition of same-sex marriage cannot be justified simply on the grounds that it provides self-fulfillment to its partners, for it is not the purpose of government to provide legal protection to every possible way in which individuals may pursue fulfillment. By definition, all same-sex unions are infertile, and two individuals of the same gender, whatever their affections, can never form a marriage devoted to raising their own mutual offspring.
It is true that some same-sex couples will obtain guardianship over children –through prior heterosexual relationships, through adoption in the states where this is permitted, or by artificial insemination. Despite that, the all-important question of public policy must be: what environment is best for the child and for the rising generation? Traditional marriage provides a solid and well-established social identity to children. It increases the likelihood that they will be able to form a clear gender identity, with sexuality closely linked to both love and procreation. By contrast, the legalization of same-sex marriage likely will erode the social identity, gender development, and moral character of children. Is it really wise for society to pursue such a radical experiment without taking into account its long-term consequences for children?
As just one example of how children will be adversely affected, the establishment of same-sex marriage as a civil right will inevitably require mandatory changes in school curricula. When the state says that same-sex unions are equivalent to heterosexual marriages, the curriculum of public schools will have to support this claim. Beginning with elementary school, children will be taught that marriage can be defined as a relation between any two adults and that consensual sexual relations are morally neutral. Classroom instruction on sex education in secondary schools can be expected to equate homosexual intimacy with heterosexual relations. These developments will create serious clashes between the agenda of the secular school system and the right of parents to teach their children traditional standards of morality. (Official statement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Divine Institution of Marriage)
3. The Church has called on members to work with other people of faith to preserve traditional marriage and to ban same-sex marriage. But Obama wants to make same-sex marriage legal in every state, which is the main reason he wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama has indicated he believes gay marriage is a civil right. Obama’s supporters have been vocal in voicing this position. President Hinckley rejected this view:
We regard it as not
only our right but our duty to oppose those forces which we feel undermine the
moral fiber of society. Much of our effort, a very great deal of it, is in
association with others whose interests are similar. We have worked with Jewish
groups, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, and those of no particular religious
affiliation, in coalitions formed to advocate positions on vital moral issues.
Such is currently the case in
Some portray legalization of so-called same-sex marriage as a civil right. This is not a matter of civil rights; it is a matter of morality. Others question our constitutional right as a church to raise our voice on an issue that is of critical importance to the future of the family. We believe that defending this sacred institution by working to preserve traditional marriage lies clearly within our religious and constitutional prerogatives. Indeed, we are compelled by our doctrine to speak out. (“Why We Do Some of the Things We Do,” Ensign, November 1999)
4. The Church does not believe same-sex couples should be permitted to adopt children and that placing children with gay couples is not in the best interest of those children. One of the reasons the Church opposes the Equal Rights Amendment is that it would give “legal sanction to the rearing of children” in same-sex households. But Obama argues that gay couples should have the same right as heterosexual couples to adopt children (See, for example, Obama Promises “Change” for America. . . . and Obama Says He Supports LGBT Adoption).
5. The Church has condemned the recent California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state and has called on Latter-day Saints in California to support Proposition 8, which would add an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. But Obama supports the court’s decision and opposes Proposition 8.
The Church has even joined a coalition called ProtectMarriage in an effort to help pass Proposition 8. Here is the official website of ProtectMarriage:
And here is the
letter on this issue that the First Presidency sent to Church leaders in
It’s worth noting that the First Presidency
directed that this letter be read in all LDS wards and branches in
When Obama was asked about the verses in the New Testament that refer to homosexuality as unnatural and immoral, he called them “obscure” and claimed that the Sermon on the Mount supports same-sex unions.
Incredibly, Obama has claimed he’s opposed to same-sex marriage, and on a few occasions he’s even said that his Christian faith leads him to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. This has led some to call his position on the matter everything from “deceptive” to “incoherent” to “double-talk.” It should be noted that some gay and lesbian activists are telling their supporters that they believe Obama supports gay marriage but that he’s afraid to say so plainly and clearly right now: For instance, one gay rights activist recently wrote:
I give Obama a pass when he says he is opposed to gay marriage but supports civil unions because hey, he has to get elected. But I do this with the strong suspicion that Obama and a lot of other progressive politicians are leaning towards if not already inclined to support full marriage equality but are in want of some political cover. (Obama Frames Marriage Equality as Civil Right).
How can Obama claim that he’s opposed to same-sex marriage when he opposes state amendments to ban same-sex marriage, opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment, supports state supreme court decisions in Massachusetts and California that have imposed same-sex marriage in those states, and advocates the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act?
In a recent letter expressing his opposition
to the proposed California state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage,
Obama said he favors extending “fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both
state and federal law,” and that he opposes “the divisive and discriminatory
efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the
U.S. Constitution or those of other states” (Obama Rejects Proposed
California Gay Marriage Ban, Sacramento Bee, July 1, 2008). This letter was addressed to a gay rights
Finally, I want to congratulate all of you who have shown your love for each other by getting married these last few weeks. ( Letter from Barack Obama to the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Democratic Club)
Commentators have pointed out that Obama’s support for the California Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, his call for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and his opposition to all attempts to ban same-sex marriage at the state and federal level make it clear that, if nothing else, he is operationally pro-gay marriage. Rich Lowry of the National Review Online made this point in a recent editorial:
might be the first major candidate for president to support same-sex marriage.
He won’t say as much. His definition of a “new politics” is capacious enough to allow for pose and slipperiness (as long as he’s the one engaged in them). But his stance on a
In a carefully hedged statement, Obama said he "respects the decision of the California Supreme Court." He respects a decision that disregarded the will of the people in California, as expressed by a 2000 referendum that defined marriage as between a man and a woman; he respects a decision that excoriated his own position of support for civil unions and (theoretical) opposition to same-sex marriage; he respects a decision that rejects the sort of political compromise he extols. It's like a professed abolitionist in 1857 saying he "respects" the Dred Scott ruling. (Does Obama Support Gay Marriage?; see also Obama’s New Politics on Gay Marriage)
Blogger Ed Morrissey asserts that Obama’s
letter on his opposition to Proposition 8 in
Barack Obama has reversed himself yet again, but this time he has done a double backflip with a half-twist to the Left. After previously saying he opposed gay marriage and that he respected the rights of states to set conditions for marriage, Obama has now said that he opposes California’s initiative to ban gay marriage — and that he would use federal law to end such efforts. . . .
His letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club will effectively toss traditional marriage under the same bus as his opposition to FISA reform and his pledge for public financing. (Obama Flips Again: Gay Marriage)
Obama’s call for the repeal of the Defense
of Marriage Act is particularly revealing.
The act stipulates that no state can be forced to treat a same-sex
relationship as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage
in another state. The act also says the federal government may not treat a
same-sex relationship as a marriage for any purpose, even if it’s permitted or
recognized by one of the states. The act
does not prevent a state from legalizing gay marriage; it merely says that no
state can be forced to recognize or permit gay marriages performed in other
states. Yet, Obama claims the act is
discriminatory and wants it repealed. If
the Defense of Marriage Act were to be revoked, one of the consequences would
be that gay marriages performed in
6. The Church believes abortion is wrong and urges members not to encourage abortion in any way. The Church “opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.” But Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever nominated by a major political party. He supports the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, which would abolish all state restrictions on abortion and would also repeal the federal ban on partial-birth abortion. In addition, Obama has voted against notifying parents if their children get out-of-state abortions and against prohibiting the transportation of minors across state lines to obtain abortions.
As a member of the Illinois senate, Obama
even voted against a bill that merely said that if a baby survived an abortion
the doctor could not kill him but had to try to save him (Obama More Pro-Choice
Than NARAL). This was the Illinois
Born Alive Infant Protection Act. In
fact, Obama was the only member of the
In a General Conference talk, Elder Russell M. Nelson said the following about legalized abortion:
A heavy toll on
life is included among the evils of war. Data from all nations are appalling.
Regrettable as is the loss of loved ones from war, these figures are dwarfed by the toll of a new war that annually claims more casualties than the total number of fatalities from all the wars of this nation.
war, labeled “abortion,” is of epidemic proportion and is waged globally. Over
fifty-five million abortions were reported worldwide in the year 1974
alone. Sixty-four percent of the world’s
population now live in countries that legally sanction this practice.
2 In the
Yet society professes reverence for human life. We weep for those who die, pray and work for those whose lives are in jeopardy. For years I have labored with other doctors here and abroad, struggling to prolong life. It is impossible to describe the grief a physician feels when the life of a patient is lost. Can anyone imagine how we feel when life is destroyed at its roots, as though it were a thing of naught?
What sense of inconsistency can allow people to grieve for their dead, yet be calloused to this baleful war being waged on life at the time of its silent development? What logic would encourage efforts to preserve the life of a critically ill twelve-week-old infant, but countenance the termination of another life twelve weeks after inception? More attention is seemingly focused on the fate of a life at some penitentiary’s death row than on the millions totally deprived of life’s opportunity through such odious carnage before birth.
The Lord has repeatedly declared this divine imperative: “Thou shalt not kill.” Recently he added, “Nor do anything like unto it.” (D&C 59:6.) Even before the fulness of the gospel was restored, the enlightened understood the sanctity of life. John Calvin, the sixteenth-century reformer, wrote: “If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”
But what impropriety could now legalize that which has been forbidden by the laws of God from the dawn of time? What twisted reasoning has transformed mythical concepts into contorted slogans assenting to a practice which is consummately wrong? (“Reverence for Life,” Ensign, May 1985)
Obama not only wants to keep abortion legal, but, as mentioned, he wants to repeal all state and federal restrictions on abortion, including the ban on the disgusting practice of partial-birth abortion. It’s no exaggeration to say he is the most pro-abortion candidate ever to win the nomination of a major political party (Terrence Jeffrey, Obama is the Most Pro-Abortion Candidate Ever).
If Obama is elected president, we will lose a golden opportunity to overturn the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, i.e., Roe v. Wade. We are one judge away from having a 5-4 pro-life majority on the Supreme Court, i.e., one judge away from having a majority on the Supreme Court that will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. The next president may very well get to appoint a Supreme Court judge to replace one of the old and ailing pro-abortion judges. If Obama wins and is given the chance to appoint a Supreme Court judge, he will appoint a liberal, pro-abortion judge, and abortion will remain legal.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: “DISCRIMINATION,” “HATE SPEECH,” AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Obama supports the so-called Employment
Non-Discrimination Act. The title of the
act sounds harmless enough, but similar state regulations have been used by
liberal groups and judges to attack religious freedom. The act includes provisions against
“discrimination” based on sexual orientation.
Turn groups like the Boy Scouts into targets of federally funded lawsuits. While he was Vice President, Al Gore said on Good Morning America, in answer to a question about the Boy Scouts, that he hoped ENDA would do away with all “discrimination” by public and private groups.
Constitute a major expansion of federal power over the workplace and create a new way for the government to manipulate employers. ENDA’s intent is to create grounds for lawsuits. By injecting sexuality into civil rights law, ENDA opens a Pandora’s box of ways for the government to dictate to businesses.
Make people’s sexual temptations a source of material for federal lawsuits. The law properly deals with actions, not beliefs. ENDA creates a new class based on the fuzzy grounds of perception and intention. This is far removed from laws designed to end racial discrimination, because not only is race evident but also it has no moral aspect. Sexual behavior is fraught with moral consequences.
Elevate multiple-sex-partner relationships into a federally protected “right.” By including “bisexuality” in the definition of sexual orientations, the government would go on record supporting the practice of having sex with more than one person. This is a direct challenge to the intent behind the Defense of Marriage Act and other laws designed to protect marriage.
Put the federal
government in the position of adopting a view of sexuality utterly at odds with
that propounded by the major faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. All major faiths support marriage and oppose
homosexual conduct. The
Prohibit employers from taking into account sexual conduct in the hiring of education and child care worker positions. Because ENDA is so sweeping, employers could not take into account any sexual conduct, even that which might severely impact children.
Afford special protections to an already privileged group. Statistically, homosexuals do not qualify as a bona fide minority group, as determined by the U.S. Supreme Court. Homosexuals are not defined by an immutable characteristic, they are not economically deprived, nor do they suffer from a history of discrimination and political powerlessness.
Change national policy by forcing the government to abandon support for marriage – the bedrock of every healthy society. By declaring traditional morality regarding sexuality as a form of “discrimination,” ENDA will undermine the special status of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Lead to further demands by homosexual activists to force others to celebrate abnormal and unhealthy sexual behavior. Many corporations that adopted “sexual orientation” policies soon found themselves besieged by demands for outright “gay pride” celebrations. Anything less than open promotion is regarded by many homosexual activists as “discriminatory.” (CWA, Talking Points: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act. See also ENDA Still Protects Gender Identity)
Obama also supports so-called “hate speech”
laws. These laws have already been used
in some states to prosecute or harass Christians for teaching what the Bible
says about homosexuality. In
NEGATIVE ATTITUDES AND TROUBLING ASSOCIATIONS
While speaking to a gathering of wealthy
You go into these
small towns in
Needless to say, this comment caused a huge controversy. African-American author Thomas Sowell said this about Obama’s remark:
Some of his recent talk in
Speaking privately to supporters in heavily left-liberal
Like so much that Obama has said and done over the years, this is standard stuff on the far left, where guns and religion are regarded as signs of psychological dysfunction -- and where opinions different from those of the left are ascribed to emotions ("bitter" in this case), rather than to arguments that need to be answered. (“Senator Barack Hussein Obama: A Living Lie,” Capitalism Magazine, April 14, 2008)
Another African-American commentator, Larry Elder, had this to say about Obama’s statement:
Where to begin with Obama's statement about bitterness? . . .
"Cling" to religion? Obama here insults all religious Americans, 80 to 90 percent by some polls. Obama apparently believes one embraces religion out of bitterness, not due to spirituality, values, belief in or the acceptance of and submission to a higher power. Perhaps this explains why Obama clung to the Trinity Church of Christ for 20 years, with its anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-American, conspiracy-believing pastor, Jeremiah Wright. (Obama: “Bitterly” Out of Touch, Jewish World Review, April 17, 2008).
The last sentence in the above quote refers
to the fact that for nearly 20 years, until just a few months ago, Obama had a
close friendship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, attended Wright’s church, and in
fact donated tens of thousands of dollars to it. Wright not only denies that Jesus is the only
way to salvation, but he’s an advocate of radical liberation theology and a
strident critic of
is not an incidental figure in Obama's life, or his politics. The senator
"affirmed" his Christian faith in this church [Wright’s Trinity
United Church of Christ in
Many Christians and Jews worry that Obama agrees
with some of Rev. Wright’s views on Israel—and they have good reasons for their
concern (see, for example, Obama’s Controversial
Views on Israel; Barack
Obama and Israel; Obama
Keeps Hiring Anti-Israeli Advisors; Arab-American
Activist Says Obama Hiding Anti-Israeli Stance; Obama’s
Pro-Israel Stance Questioned; Who
Are You, Barack Obama?; Obama
and Israel, Continued; Obama’s
Weak Judgment on Israel). We now
know that Obama got into Harvard with the help of a radical anti-Israeli Saudi
adviser and black nationalist named Khalid Mansour (“Obama
Had Ties to Top Saudi Adviser at Early Age, Newsmax, September 3, 2008;
see also “Who
Is Khalid Mansour?,” Newsmax, September 4, 2008 and The
Mansourian Candidate). Mansour
recently said he hopes Obama wins the election (“Who
Is Khalid Mansour?,” Newsmax, September 4, 2008; The
Mansourian Candidate). In his
. . .
many of the foreign policy team members have long histories of extreme
Many Jewish groups took notice when Obama told
a pro-Israeli audience in June that he supported an undivided
presumptive Democratic nominee declared at the AIPAC Policy Conference in
Last week, he went even further, saying that what he meant by "undivided" was that barbed wire fences should not divide the city as they did during the Jordanian occupation of eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria between 1949 and 1967. (Jewish Groups Challenge Obama)
The Coalition for a United Jerusalem held a
press conference “to protest Obama’s
It means he used
the term inappropriately, possibly to mislead strong supporters of
Given these facts, perhaps it’s not surprising that a few months ago Hamas’ top political adviser in the Gaza Strip, Ahmed Yousef, declared that Hamas hopes Obama wins the election:
Each Latter-day Saint must decide for himself or herself whether or not to vote for Obama. The choice is ours to make. The Church maintains political neutrality and does not tell members what party they should join or which candidates they should or should not support. The Church teaches us correct principles and expects us to make the right decisions based on those principles. As we consider whether or not to vote for Obama, here are some questions that I think are worth pondering:
· How can we follow the Church’s counsel to support the Federal Marriage Amendment if we vote for a candidate who is unalterably opposed to the amendment?
· How can we follow the Church’s counsel to support state constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage if we vote for a candidate who has made it clear he wants to overrule or nullify all state constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage and who even wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act?
· How can we follow the Church’s counsel about not supporting abortion in any way if we vote for a candidate who wants to repeal all current restrictions on abortion and who has even voted against protecting babies who survive abortion?
· How can we vote for a candidate who supports federal versions of laws that have already been used at the state level to prosecute and intimidate religious groups and their members?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael
T. Griffith holds a Master’s degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance
University, a Graduate Certificate in Ancient and Classical History from
American Military University, a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from
Excelsior College, and two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the
Community College of the Air Force. He
also holds an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of
Civil War Studies from