Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mormons--the conservativest of the conservatives

According to this Gallup poll. Notice that those who do not attend regularly--the "lapsed"--identify themselves more frequently as liberals. Here's the chart:

As someone who believes that Mormon theology can inform various political ideologies, I'm perplexed at the endurance, intensity, and dominance of conservative politics in the faith, in spite of the official position that there is no official position. The rhetorical task of church leaders seems to be the (continued) surgical dissociation of political opinion from gospel principle, even though, as is evident by this poll, clearly there is an expectation in the culture that Mormonism leads not just to conservative opinions but to an obvious conservative identification.

1 comment:

  1. I'm coming to this like eight months late, but I am thinking Jon Haidt's work about different ways of talking about morality may be at work here.

    Liberal policies are often very reasonable from an unprejudiced LDS standpoit. But liberal discourse since the 1970s or so often positions itself as deeply skeptical of arguments that appeal to authority, sanctity, or loyalty. Since those three values are a part of official and informal church discourse, liberal Mormons have to deal with a tension between the modes of argument they hear in church and the modes of argument they are likely hearing in liberal activist discourse.

    Some resolve that tension by opting out of liberal discourse by self-identifying as "moderate" or even "conservative." Some choose to opt out of church discourse by no longer attending church. It appears that relatively few are managing to participate in both discourses effectively.

    There are certainly tensions between LDS values and staunch conservative discourse (such as the conflict between a communitarian religious heritage and a conservative discourse that's increasingly critical of public goods), but people seem to be able to resolve that tension through jurisdictional dodging: "I believe in helping the poor--I just don't think the government should be involved" or "I support education, but funding isn't the real problem with these schools."