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The Mormon Women Project is a continuously expanding digital library of 
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tiring peace to Ine lives of women around the world. Both 
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The things our ancestors leave us are much 
more than aesthetic objects. They are physical 
reminders of our ancestors' legacies to us - 
identities that descend as deep as our DNA, 
cultural surroundings as brittle and as beautiful 
as fine china, and thoughts as complex as 
Continental philosophy. A family Bible, an 
heirloom recipe, or a treasured quilt each carry 
stories that can influence our way of being and 
thinking for generations. 

Order Hour 


online at 



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THE 2012 



"In the Room- 
Anne Gregerson 
Provo, Utah 

David Hawkinson, 


The purpose of Exponent II is to provide a forum for Mormon women to 
share their life experiences in an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. 
This exchange allows us to better understand each other and shape 
the direction of our lives. Our common bond is our connection to The 
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and our commitment to 
women. We publish this paper as a living history in celebration of the 
strength and diversity of women. 



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f/v Praib& of Potdicat Biver/uty, 





1fyJ!jiure£$AatcAer Vfrich 

Today, most members of the Church find it almost impossible to imagine 
a time when Latter-day Saint families were stigmatized as both non- 
Christian and anti-American. But the politics of family has not gone away. 



Skeri^t £y. (WLarv 

Her following appeal for bipartisan cooperation is especially relevant in 
the current political climate. 


Do Mormon men and women differ politically? 



Mormon women of all political persuasions are needed to speak from a place 
of faith in setting a new course for American politics in the 21st century. 


Writing suffrage verses and setting them to well-known melodies that 
they would sing at their suffrage meetings was common among Mormon 
women in the 19th century. 


Hart^rv Uixdt JLewm- 

We will certainly form a more perfect union as we choose leaders whose 
priority is the welfare of the people, who will work towards a goal of having 
"no poor among us." 




14 Syfarui Ccdwb- 

My view of church life in the District is filtered through the political 
lens inherent in the nation's capital. Surprisingly however, my ward is a 
staunchly apolitical space. 


ffy THartu TLefmrv 

As the campaign for the 2012 presidency goes forward, Canadians will 
hotly debate the various goings-on in U.S. government. 


People forget politicians are people. They forget that they have lives, have 
families, and are just women and men who are trying to come up with 
solutions to the country's problems. 

FALL 2012 

Editorial Staff 


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cfudith CurtiA 


Rachel Albertsen, Susan Christiansen, Thomas Clyde, 
Lisa Hadley, Rebecca McLaverty Head, Mary Kremer, 
Kendahl Millecam, Chloe Moeller, Emily Mosdell, Elisabeth 
Lund Oppelt, Dayna Patterson, Natalie Prado, Karen 
Rosenbaum, Chelsea Shields Strayer, Suzette Smith, Jessica 
Steed and Heather Sundahl 



Kirsten Campbell 

Suzette Smith 


Emily Clyde Curtis, Emily Gray, Margaret Olsen Hemming, 
Aimee Evans Hickman, Denise Kelly, Linda Hoffman Kimball, 
Caroline Kline, Margaret Moore, Jana Remy, Anja Shafer, 
Heather Sundahl, Barbara Taylor 


Linda Andrews, Cheryl DiVito, Nancy Dredge, Judy Dushku, 
Karen Haglund, Deborah Farmer Kris, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich 

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Anne Gregerson, David Hawkinson, 
The Bancroft Library; U.C. Berkeley, Sophie Soprano/Lynn 
Farrar, Abbigail Knowlton Israelsen, Pat Langmade, Melissa 
Leaym-Fernandez and Patrick Macaulay for the use of their 
artwork in this issue. 

Exponent II (ISSN 1094-7760) is published quarterly by 
Exponent II Incorporated, a non-profit corporation with no 
official connection with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- 
day Saints. Articles published represent the opinions of 
authors only and not necessarily those of the editor or staff. 
Letters to Exponent II or its editors and Sisters Speak articles 
are assumed intended for publication in whole or in part and 
may therefore be used for such purposes. Copyright © 2012 
by Exponent II, Inc. All rights reserved. 


We welcome personal essays, articles, poetry, fiction, and 
book reviews for consideration. Please email submissions 
to or mail them to Exponent II, 
2035 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217. Please include 
your name and contact information. 

Submissions received by mail will not be returned. 

We are always looking for artwork and photography 
to accompany our writing. Please send jpegs or gifs 
of art submissions to our email. If you are interested 
in illustrating articles, please contact us for specific 



Letter from the Editor 

"Hey, Red Aimee! Have a great summer. Stay cute and cool." This sentiment, or something closely resembling it, fills the pages 
of my eighth-grade yearbook. At the time, I tried to think of it as a term of endearment, hoping that it meant I was at least 
interesting enough to have been given a nickname. But the truth was, as an inactive Mormon girl growing up in Provo, Utah, in 
the 1980s, the last thing I needed was to also be considered a Communist! 

Growing up, I had always been vocal about various social causes. At age eight, I joined Greenpeace and circulated a petition 
through my elementary school to "help save the whales." In the sixth grade, I chose to research the Soviet Union for our 
school's World's Fair. As a child of the Cold War who'd spent sleepless nights wondering when the "star wars" would begin, 
I wanted to learn about the children of the U.S.S.R. and whether or not they shared my fears. At age 12, I was too young to 
be interested in Communism— I was interested in world peace— but my teacher was uncomfortable with me researching 
this "godless nation." In this politically conservative environment, my burgeoning progressive viewpoints were often seen as 
radical at worst and marginal at best to many of my peers and teachers. Staged debates in middle and high school on topics 
including women serving in the military, capital punishment, climate change, and the welfare system often left me standing on 
my own. The fact that my progressive positions could be labeled "Communist" by my peers speaks to how unacceptable and 
threatening even a baby Democrat could be to some in this bastion of conservatism. 

All of these dynamics were complicated by my outsider status as it related to the Church. While I had developed my political 
point of view in Provo, I had done so apart from the LDS Church itself. Because all of my peers and teachers, as far as I knew, 
were active Mormons who also appeared right-leaning in their politics, I became convinced that the Church's teachings must 
appeal exclusively to conservative Republicans. I resolved that I could never participate in such a religion. 

And yet, for the past 18 years, I have been a practicing member of the Mormon Church. While in college at the University of 
Utah, I began to engage with LDS history and theology and in that study discovered that the political values I had seen in Provo 
were only one possible expression of this religion's rich and complex teachings. Where one LDS practitioner can read Mormon 
scripture as a call to personal agency and responsibility, another can read it as a call to social justice where individual salvation 
is dependent on the collective spiritual and temporal equality of society. I have found a spiritual home and community in 
Mormonism that has not forced me to compromise my political point of view. I wish I had heard more of that political diversity 
while growing up in Provo. As it turns out, many of those good Mormon peers and teachers that my eighth-grade mind had 
assumed were unflinching conservatives don't happen to be as conservative or intransigent as I'd once supposed. As a religious 
community, I wish we would do more to celebrate the diversity our rich theology and history can produce in its members, 
rather than finding strength in empty displays of conformity. 

In this historic political moment, Exponent II is focused on putting to rest the notion that Latter-day Saints are one monolithic, 
Christian Conservative voting bloc. A recent Pew Research poll shows that around 17% of American Mormons consider 
themselves Democrats. As a feminist magazine, we know that our writers and readership tend to lean more progressive, yet 
the rich diversity of political thought within Mormonism can also be seen on the following pages. From a call to bipartisanship 
from former Republican Utah House Representative Sheryl Allen, to Marina Capella's sacrament meeting talk on progressive 
environmental stewardship, to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's historical perspective on Mormon politics, we can experience a small 
and diverse sampling of Latter-day Saint women's political perspectives. 

Though it's sometimes tempting to create an identity for ourselves and others around a label, we know that real people are 
more complex, interesting and wonderful than a single word can encompass. For evidence of this fact, we invite you to keep 
reading . . . 

FALL 2012 3 

©VOL 7 



ree Troublesome Children," a cover illustration from 
\e, 1881; courtesy the Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley. 


Today, most members of the Church find it almost impossible to imagine a time when Latter-day Saint 
families were stigmatized as both non-Christian and anti-American. But the politics of family has not 
gone away \ By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich • Cambridge, Massachusetts 

//few years ago, I attended a conference in Boise, Idaho. 
l/t/f)uring a break in the meetings, I decided to visit the State 
Historical Society to do a little family history. Although I hadn't 
lived in Idaho for more than 50 years, I was born there and had 
deep roots in the state. I knew exactly what I would say when I 
got to the information desk. 

"I am looking for information on two of my great-grandfathers. 
One served in the territorial legislature and the other in the 
territorial prison. Can you help me?" 

The man at the desk laughed, and pointed me toward the 
relevant records. I quickly found evidence confirming the family 
legends. John B. Thatcher served a term in the Idaho legislature 
in 1882 and Jeppe Folkman in the state penitentiary in 1886. 
His crime— "unlawful cohabitation," or polygamy. 

With other Latter-day Saints, my great-grandparents migrated 
into southeastern Idaho from Utah in the 1870s. For a time, 
Idahoans tolerated the Mormon presence, but after the passage 
of the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882, federal marshals 
began arresting polygamists and the Idaho legislature passed a 
law disenfranchising Mormons. That is why Great-Grandfather 
Thatcher served only one term in the Territorial Legislature 
and why my Great-Grandfather Folkman was fined and sent to 
prison. Great-Grandfather Thatcher might have gone to prison 
too, but his first wife died in 1882, leaving him with only one 
spouse. The Idaho Test Act of 1884 went beyond the federal 
law in making it illegal for anyone to vote, stand for office, 
or serve on a jury who belonged to an organization "which 
practices bigamy or polygamy or plural or celestial marriage, 
as a doctrinal rite." In essence, it stigmatized belief as well as 
action and made affiliation itself a crime. 

"Over the years, Mormons have been both 
citizens and outcasts, participants and 
pariahs in the body politic. " 

The stories of my two ancestors suggest the larger history of 
Latter-day Saints in politics. Over the years, Mormons have been 
both citizens and outcasts, participants and pariahs in the body 
politic. From the 1830s onward, people disdained Mormons 
because of their habit of hiving together, their clannishness, 
their propensity to vote as a bloc, their belief in revelation, and 
their supposed intention to take over the country and turn it 
into a prophetic dominion. Only later was polygamy added to 
the list of charges, but when that happened opponents of the 
Church acquired a powerful weapon. 

19th century Americans, like Americans today, knew how to 
practice the politics of family. Critics of the church portrayed 
the church as a den of immorality and licentiousness and a 
danger not only to conventional morality but to the democratic 
process itself. In the Congressional debate over passage of the 
Edmunds Act, Representative Charles Williams of Wisconsin 
charged that such a practice "not only disrupts and destroys 
the family, but it makes the family impossible. It banishes the 
sacred word 'home'. . . It blots out the sweetest phrases in 
this world, 'parent and child,' 'father and mother,' in any sense 
worth repeating. It does more: it loosens the foundations of 
civil government; it takes away the corner-stone of republican 

FALL 2012 


It has been more than a century since the Church abandoned 
plural marriage. Given the Church's explosive growth, fewer 
and fewer members have any reason to remember our 
polygamous past. Today, most members of the Church find 
it almost impossible to imagine a time when Latter-day Saint 
families were stigmatized as both non-Christian and anti- 
American. But the politics of family has not gone away. For 
that reason alone, Latter-day Saints might want to consider the 
anti-polygamy crusade of the late 19th century. 

For my part, I cannot forget it. My great-grandparents died 
long before I was born, but my father's father, Nathan Davis 
Thatcher, was a great story teller, and he made sure that his 
grandchildren knew the family history. As a child I loved to hear 
him tell how he outran the U.S. Marshal when he was arrested 
for attempting to vote in Idaho in 1888, the year he turned 21. 
Grandpa wasn't a polygamist. He wasn't even married. But the 
Idaho Test Oath made him an outlaw. As I remember the story, 
the United States Marshal found him working in a field on his 
father's farm, presented him with a summons, and told him to 
show up at the courthouse in Blackfoot the next day. When 
Grandpa got to Blackfoot, he found the court house, the jail, and 
even the box cars along the railroad siding so full of Mormons 
that he knew it would be hours, maybe days, before his case 
could be heard. He also knew that if the judge ruled against 
him, he too might end up in jail and would have no chance to 
vote. So he decided to defy the law and hop a train for home. 
As he took a seat, he looked up to see the U.S. Marshal entering 
the same car. He quickly slipped into the next car. The Marshal 
followed, but Grandpa stayed one step ahead of his pursuer 
until he got to the end of the train. Then he jumped off into the 
night and walked the rest of the way home. He went to the polls 
and cast his vote the next day. 

"Grandpa's lesson in civil disobedience didnt 
teach me to disdain government. It taught 

me to cherish my right to vote. I think it also 
prepared me to identify with others denied 
the rights of citizenship as I grew older. " 

Grandpa's lesson in civil disobedience didn't teach me to 
disdain government. It taught me to cherish my right to vote. 
I think it also prepared me to identify with others denied the 

rights of citizenship as I grew older. I was in high school when 
the Supreme Court ruled school segregation illegal and in 
college when the Church's denial of full membership to African- 
Americans became an issue. Later, I discovered the history of 
Mormon feminism and learned that the same federal legislation 
that sent Jeppe Folkman to jail banned women suffrage in the 
Territory of Utah. As I researched and taught American history, 
the story broadened. 

I sometimes tell my students that the history of the United 
States is a terrible/wonderful story, an account of a sustained 
struggle by ordinary people to help the United States fulfill ideals 
often violated in practice. The United States wasn't created by 
a small group of "Founding Fathers," however important their 
work might have been, but by generations of Americans who 
cared enough about their country to vote, stand for office, 
protest, demonstrate, and sometimes go to jail. 

Some of my Idaho relatives weren't happy when I defended 
Martin Luther King in the not-infrequent debates that took 
place around the family dinner table in the 1960s. They 
thought he was a Communist. But they had forgotten their own 
history. An especially poignant part of that history was the 
association between Latter-day Saints and suspect racial and 
ethnic groups. Benjamin B. Ferris, a federal official who spent 
six months in Utah in the 1850s, argued that although God 
had allowed the ancient Jews to practice polygamy due to 
the "hardness of their hearts," such a system now belonged 
only "to the indolent and opium-eating Turks and Asiatics, 
the miserable Africans, the North American savages, and the 
Latter-day Saints." The only solution to polygamy, he argued, 
was the "ultimate disorganization of the Mormon community." 

In 19th century novels, newspapers, political speeches, and 
even in academic journals, Mormons were linked with Muslims, 
Jews, African slaves, American Indians, and with heterodox 
ideas like socialism, mesmerism, mysticism, and even feminism. 
Writers simply couldn't make up their minds about Mormon 
women. In 1857, one writer lampooned polygamous wives for 
dressing in a kind of bloomer costume and for being "strong- 
minded." More commonly writers portrayed them as victims 
of patriarchy, an assumption that allowed the abrogation of 
female suffrage. Ironically, Mormons didn't differ a great deal 
from other Americans in their racial assumptions. In his 1852 



defense of polygamy, Parley P. Pratt assumed that in distributing 
pre-existent spirits God favored the mostly Caucasian converts 
to Mormonism over "the Hottentots, the African negroes, the 
idolatrous Hindoos, or any other of the fallen nations that dwell 
upon the face of this earth." 

On both sides, such arguments were promoted as defenses 
of "the family." Mormons wanted to preserve what they 
considered to be the true blood of Israel. Their opponents 
wanted to keep Mormons and other 
minorities from tainting the American 
polity. The same congressional jj 
session that passed the Edmunds 
Anti-Polygamy Act passed a Chinese 
Exclusion Act that banned further 
immigration of Chinese laborers 
and the naturalization of those 
already here, and that, through court 
interpretation, prevented the wives 
of already resident Chinese laborers 
from joining their husbands. To do so, 
one judge explained, might allow the 
Chinese to bring their minor children 
into the country. The goal was to 
reduce the Asian population, not 
expand it. 


we should be proud 


can become standard bearers 


that once disdained them. 


both men are descended from 

A cartoon published in a San Francisco 
newspaper in 1881 shows how the so- 
called "Mormon question" intersected 

with concerns about other minorities. It portrays the United 
States as a household inhabited by a negligent "Uncle Sam" and 
his harried wife "Columbia." Distracted by politics, Sam is unable 
to assert his authority over his family, leaving his obviously 
overwhelmed spouse to cope alone with "Three Troublesome 
Children"— a Chinaman, an American Indian, and a Mormon. 
Although the cartoon is crudely racist, it wouldn't take much 
to shift the labels to convey some of the more extreme forms 
of present-day political rhetoric. While Congress dithers, some 
argue, Americans are left to cope alone with threats from illegal 
aliens, Muslim terrorists, and gay activists. 

I do not mean to suggest a one-to-one correlation between 19th 
century issues and those that animate political debate today. 

Nor am I condemning those who oppose gay marriage, worry 
about terrorism, or favor stricter immigration laws. I do mean to 
question simplistic notions about the nature of the "American 
family." In the heat of contemporary politics, I think it might 
be worth remembering that Latter-day Saints, too, were once 
considered a danger to the body politic. 

It says something about the strength of our democracy that in 
this year's presidential election, an African-American will face 
a Mormon. The two men have a lot 
in common. Both are graduates of 
Harvard Law School. Both have lovely 
wives and impressive children. Both 
have reputations for honesty and hard 
work. Both want to make the country 
stronger, encourage economic 
growth, protect the environment, 
and preserve liberty. It doesn't make 
sense to demonize either one of them 
in the name of religion. I have no 
more use for partisan commentators 
who use Romney's Mormonism as 
a charge against him than for those 
who use Obama's Muslim heritage 
or his membership in a militant black 
church as a reason to mistrust him. 
Neither man is a racist. Both men 
represent the ascendancy of once- 
stigmatized minorities in American 
political life. As Americans we should 
be proud of the fact that an African-American and a Mormon 
can become standard bearers for political parties that once 
disdained them. And for the record, both men are descended 
from polygamists. 

Second LDS Church leader Brigham Young had 55 wives 

FALL 2012 7 

Anne Gregerson ■ "In the Same Boat" • Provo, Utah | Photographer, David Hawkinson, 


Sheryl Allen served for 16 years in the Utah House of Representatives. She also served as President of 
the Women's Legislative Network of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Americans for the 
Arts honored her in 2006 with the National Award for State Arts Leadership. Her following appeal 
for bipartisan cooperation is especially relevant in the current political climate. 
By Sheryl L. Allen \ Bountiful, Utah 

/lyj yKy would a lifelong Republican 
VV and 16-year veteran state 
legislator run with a Democrat for 
Lt. Governor in America's reddest 
state, Utah? I am that Republican, 
and I don't ask myself why. I know 

The seed was planted when I was a 
student at the University of Utah. A 
sorority sister, Jodi King, invited her father to come speak one 
Sunday night at the sorority house. Everyone came. How often 
do college girls get to listen to a U.S. Congressman? Democrat 
David King from Utah packed the room and spoke eloquently 
about the need for balanced government. "The United States 

needs the compromise demanded by a balanced government 
between not only the executive and legislative branches 
of government but between political parties. It's what the 
Founding Fathers intended." 

Compromise! Balanced government! Forty-five years later 
that still resonates, and I ache for it. Republican commentator 
and speechwriter Peggy Noonan agrees. In Patriotic Grace 
she writes, "We're going to get through the difficult times as 
Democrats and Republicans together, as Americans together. 
We knew this in our bones after 9/11. But time passed, things 
happened, and we forgot Our pointless enmity must end." 

I entered the Utah House of Representatives in 1994 when 
Republicans dominated, but the split between parties was 


64 percent Republican and 36 percent Democrat. Democrats 
had enough votes to block controversial amendments to the 
state constitution, an act that requires a two-thirds majority. 
Democrats could join with moderate Republicans, of which I 
was one, to demand compromise or force amendments to bills. 
As a freshman legislator, balanced government seemed to be 
working even with majority Republican governance. Utah had a 
strong Republican governor who was moderate in his approach 
to public policy, and he worked with members of both political 
parties. He understood that his office was co-equal to the 
legislature. I didn't have to give much thought to Rep. King's 
remarks of so long ago, and enmity did not reign. 

But things began to change. Through a combination of 
redistricting, the sheer power of political money, and political 
savvy, Republicans won an even larger majority in the Utah 
legislature. The moderate wing of Republican members 
became ineffective as the Patrick Henry Caucus, an offshoot 
of the Tea Party, expanded, wielded considerable power, and 
demanded loyalty from other Republicans. If a legislator didn't 
"go along," she often found herself not "getting along." Her bills 
were frequently defeated, held (a legislative maneuver to bury 
a bill), or they were lost in sifting during the last days of the 
legislative session. I know a lot about that. It was not unusual 
for me to be the recipient of these not-so-subtle techniques. 
Compromise not only suffered; it was practically extinct. 

The demise of cooperation between political parties or political 
philosophies within the same party is often gradual. However, 
in Utah, a big shift came in 2007, the year of school vouchers. 
Vouchers allow parents of students who attend private schools 
to use public money issued via a voucher to pay all or part 
of student tuition. It's a big part of the national movement to 
privatize public services such as prisons, school lunch, and even 
some social services. 

The battle to pass school vouchers in Utah started in the 1980s. 
Conservative Republicans supported the idea while moderate 
Republicans and Democrats typically did not. Candidate 
positions on school vouchers became a topic in every Utah 
legislative election, and it often became the defining issue in 
Republican primary elections. If a candidate supported school 
vouchers, they could depend on significant political donations 
and campaign assistance from pro-voucher supporters. If a 
candidate opposed vouchers, they could depend on modest 

campaign donations and campaign assistance from educators. 
Most legislative districts in Utah are not competitive between 
political parties, but legislative seats are competitive in intra- 
party campaigns. 

A legislator's position on school vouchers influenced everything 
from her election to membership in caucuses within both the 
Utah House and Senate, but particularly in the House. By 2007, 
legislative leadership was determined to pass a school voucher 
bill. There was backroom arm-twisting and offers of political 
rewards for a vote switch to support school vouchers. After 
weeks of tense debate and by a 38 to 37 House vote, the Utah 
Legislature passed the nation's first state-wide school voucher 
bill to allow the use of state money for students to attend 
private schools— even religious schools. For years I had worked 
to rally the Republican moderates to oppose school vouchers, 
but it was legislative leadership that had the muscle. 

Immediately after legislative adjournment, opponents of the 
bill organized to conduct a rare referendum, a public effort to 
recall the bill. The referendum required getting the signatures 
of 10 percent of the electorate in 15 of Utah's 29 counties within 
45 days, a Herculean task. The effort was led by dedicated 
individuals primarily affiliated with the Utah Education 
Association and the Utah Parent Teacher Association. 

Along with thousands of volunteers, I assisted this work, and 
the petition drive miraculously succeeded. In the November 
election, after a campaign that totaled $8 million in expenditures 
from both sides, school vouchers were defeated by a 62 percent 
majority, a mandate in political terms. 

However, the political war was not over. To marginalize the 
influence of public employees, the legislature has since 
banned payroll deductions to public employee political action 
committees, and there have been legislative attempts, some 
successful, to minimize the membership and influence of the 

Magnified by the recession, there has been a significant decline 
in the effort for public education funding. I believe that had 
there been more balance between political parties, the voucher 
fight would have been avoided, and education funding would 
likely be healthier. 

FALL 2012 


Political rhetoric in Utah is not as harsh and divisive as we 
hear coming from Washington. Utah Democrats are such a 
small minority that their oratory is necessarily and frequently 
tempered in order to be admitted into political discussions. 
But more balance is needed to ensure that public policy more 
accurately represents the general public interest. At present, 
public policy often represents only political conservatives. 

Edmund Burke, the Irish statesman and author who bravely 
supported the cause of the American Revolution while serving 
in the British House of Commons, wrote, "All government— 
indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and 
every prudent act— is founded on compromise and barter." 
Yet what we are hearing in both Washington and the halls 
of our state capitols is overheated 
rhetoric for the purpose of electoral 
dominance rather than prudent acts 
for the benefit of the general public. 

When retiring U.S. Senator Olympia 
Snowe from Maine was asked why 
she was not seeking reelection, she 
responded, "Unfortunately, I do not 
realistically expect the partisanship 
of recent years in the Senate to 
change over the short term." Extreme 
partisanship soured her willingness 
to serve. What a tragedy to lose an 
experienced Senator who was willing 
to work across the aisle in an effort 
to solve the challenges in America. Will her replacement be 
another partisan purist and serve a political party or serve our 
country? Whom will your elected representative serve? 

In the 2010 Utah election I ran for Lt. Governor on the 
Democratic ticket with Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon. 
I did not change my party affiliation. I am still a registered 
Republican. One does not run for any office without a spark of 
optimism, but I well understood the Republican dominance in 
my beloved state. However, I recognized the need for balance 
and for working together for the common good. In my opinion, 
the incumbent Governor initially bowed too frequently to 
the demands of the Legislature rather than standing as a co- 
equal branch of government. Bills were often passed without 
due consideration to the minority party or even the obvious 

sentiments of the public. Balance and compromise were 
needed, and I wanted to be part of that message. 

Peter Corroon was not only a proven, capable administrator, 
he was a practicing Catholic. LDS Church members dominate 
in Utah. When the Church has a political interest, the Church 
influences legislation by working directly (and quietly) with 
legislators to sponsor, amend, or defeat bills. For example, 
Church lobbyists are known to have been repeatedly involved 
in liquor control legislation. Liquor is sold only in liquor stores 
owned by the State, and liquor licenses for restaurants and bars 
are strictly limited, perhaps to the detriment of tourism. 

A wise, pragmatic Catholic governor would have been 
a refreshing change to the LDS 
dominance in Utah and a balance to my 
active LDS faith. Think Mitt Romney. 
He selected an active Catholic, Paul 
Ryan, as his vice-presidential running- 
mate. LDS members recognize the 
importance of religious balance on the 
national level. Shouldn't that balance 
exist on a state level in Utah? 

The Democratic ticket of Corroon/ 
Allen was soundly defeated during 
the Republican conservative surge 
that swept the country in 2010. Utah 
became even more conservative. We 
accomplished little in altered public 
policy, but we pointed the way toward improved, balanced 

It's time for a rebirth of political cooperation and negotiation. I 
hope the message of a Democratand a Republican campaigning 
together will resonate in the future. I hope we elect more 
Olympia Snowes who will reach across the aisle and then 
persevere in that endeavor. Partisan enmity must end if we are 
going to effectively resolve this country's challenges. 

... what we are hearing in 
both Washington and the 
halls of our state capitols 
is overheated rhetoric for 
the purpose of electoral 
dominance rather than 
prudent acts for the benefit 
of the general public. U 


Women's liberation march from Farrugut Square to Layfette Park 

Mormon women have been active in politics since the beginning of the Church. In the first piece from The Woman's Exponent, Laura 
Miner emphasizes the importance of women taking their recently won voting rights seriously. Judy Dushku reflects on the impact 
of Sonia Johnson's excommunication of Mormon women in the wake of the fight for the ERA in the winter 1980 issue of Exponent II. 
Meghan Raynes' final piece from The Exponent blog describes the potential impact of current proposed legislation on women's health 
and reproductive freedom. 


Loura A/I. Miner \ Salt Lake City, Utah \ March 8th, 1874 

The election has come and gone, and how often has been 
heard from women the remark, "Oh! No thank you, I did not 
vote, I am not strong-minded." Poor, silly things! Did you not 
know that by such a speech you called forth pity for yourselves 
and the male members of your families, from every thoughtful 
person? Acknowledge, if you will, that you are indifferent to the 
interests of the community in which you dwell, or, that you are 
too ignorant to understand the social and political questions 
involved, but do not say it is because you lack moral strength to 
express those opinions in public. 

There is no misery entailed on the other sex by marriage so 
great as that of being united to a weak-minded woman. Fancy 
what a safeguard the counsels of a woman would be to a man in 
the temptations that beset him in his youth, what a comforter in 
the hour of adversity, how unflinchingly she could bear poverty 
by his side and help him to meet, with indifference, the scorn 
that the world heaps upon failure. Better! Ten thousand times 
better be strong minded, the true companion of your husband 
and brothers, the guide and promoter of your children's welfare, 
than the puny, inane creature who has not the strength to think. 

I do not advocate the claims, of a masculine woman, to 
admiration. On the contrary, I think she should be sweet, 
and womanly, and not flaunt her opinions in every one's face 

because she knows enough to form them; no more than a man, 
though he be an athlete, should attempt the role of a bully and 
prize fighter, yet who sometimes might realize that strength 
was a Godsend to him for the defense of those he reverenced or 
loved. So should we consider and guard the elective franchise, 
using it conscientiously, as a God-given privilege, and when 
men are placed in nomination, of rulers or delegates who would 
rob us for our rights, our united ballot should be against them. 

But, methinks, I hear the gentlemen say, "We will restore the 
right of dower." Sirs, are you so ignorant of the doings of the 
Utah Legislature that you do not know that at the same session 
during which they took away the right of dower, they gave us 
the right to hold property exclusive of our husbands' control? 
So that an industrious woman, with a trade or business, though 
tied to a thriftless man, need not be despoild of her earnings 
to supply the needs of his lazy existence. And the heiress, 
who would fain be loved for herself alone, need not fear the 
advances of the fortune hunter, for her possessions are still hers 
after marriage, if she chooses to retain them; it is only through 
her affections that she can be reduced to beggary. 

But here is where Legislatures, Congress and Presidents have 
failed to repeal the flat given to women by the great Law Giver, in 
the day of her creation, "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and 
he shall rule over thee"; and every loving wife feels the force of 
it as strongly now as she could the day it was promulgated and 
she would not have it otherwise. But for any upstart demagogue 

FALL 2012 


or unprincipled libertine to claim the right to legislate for, and 
govern a woman's heart and conscience, simply because he is a 
man, is what no strong-minded woman will concede. 

Should such men succeed, however, in disfranchising us, we will 
continue to study the art of self-government and the principles 
of religion and so instruct our children that it shall not be said 
of Utah: 

"Her pride was crushed, 
Her sons were willing slaves, nor blushed 
In their own land, no more their own, 
To crouch beneath a stranger's throne. 

Where slaves, converted by the sword, 
Their mean apostate worship pour'd, 
And cursed the faith their sires adored." 

simply long for clarity. 

But of all the groups that concern me, I have thought most about 
the impact of this event on LDS women. Women have indicated 
by their intense curiosity, by their tearfulness in discussing 
the subject, by their often fierce reactions to Sonia, or by their 
own statements, that the excommunication of Sonia Johnson 
means something to them personally. Even those who insist 
that this is a singular and specific case outside the stewardship 
of all onlookers often comment that perhaps it should be taken 
as a warning to other women in the Church to more closely 
follow Church leadership. One friend wondered if she would 
be forced to curtail her activities in behalf of daycare centers. 
Another half-jokingly warned me that she might one day be 
excommunicated for protesting the absence of changing tables 
in the men's rooms of LDS chapels. I smiled at her statement, 
but at the same time it occurred to me that many of us have 
taken this situation personally. 


Judy Dushku \ Watertown, Massachusetts \ Winter 1980 \ Vol. 6.2 

The excommunication of Sonia Johnson is a complicated event 
and will continue to affect the lives of many. Much has been 
said about how Sonia and the Mormons for ERA have negatively 
affected potential converts to the Church by exposing the 
Church's political activities. It is a sad irony, however, that 
many more might be discouraged by the now widespread 
image of the Church as anti-feminist, or as unsympathetic to 
women. Many of my women friends who had never heard of 
Sonia Johnson and probably perceived the Church— especially 
since its highly successful TV ad campaigns on family life— as 
the great American family-centered church, now have a new, 
more negative view of the Church. For the first week after Sonia 
was excommunicated, I felt defensive and embarrassed by 
all the comments from these friends. But now I just feel sad, 
and I pray heartily that women will have successes in teaching 
the Gospel to other women as President Kimball, in his recent 
Women's Fireside address, said they would in these last days. 
It will require the support and efforts of many of us to counter 
the effects of the Church's bad image caused by the current 

In addition to potential converts, Mormons themselves have 
been affected by Sonia's excommunication. For some 
people, what they perceive as the "calling on the carpet" of 
an outspoken LDS feminist has been a comfort. They see in 
Sonia's excommunication an affirmation of the traditional 
family style and clear-cut sex roles. Still other Mormons are 
concerned about church/state questions. Many members 

Without forgetting the seriousness of the problems this issue 
has created, I have had some very good feelings, too, about 
what all this means for LDS women. Official statements have 
urged well-informed action by Church members on matters 
political. Many of us have paid only lip-service to this notion 
with regards to the ERA. The current publicity has found many 
of us unprepared for the questions being asked of us by our 
friends. Several women have told me that because they have 
been asked tough questions about why the Church has taken an 
anti-ERA stand, they are seriously reading and thinking about 
these issues. I believe in this process of gathering information 
and thinking through our position on issues which have become 
important nationally and in the eyes of the Church. 

In the Gospel Doctrine class which I teach, I have been struck 
with the example of Joseph Smith as the truth-seeker. So often, 
beautiful revelations came to him only after he struggled with 
a problem and faithfully questioned the Lord. For the last 10 
years, people have raised rhetorical questions about what 
the women's movement means for LDS women and what the 
special challenges are for women in these last days. Because of 
the events of this past month or two, such questions have been 
treated with a new seriousness which I find very reassuring. 
I am excited by the fact that this new 
decade seems to be dawning with 
these questions clearly before us. 

I personally have had some very 
meaningful discussions with 
LDS women over what Sonia's 
excommunication means to each 

of us. I have also talked more with my non-LDS women friends 
about differences and similarities in Mormon and non-Mormon 
perceptions of women's roles, callings and goals than ever 
before. I feel good about having been forced to consider my 
own views on the ERA. All the confusion I have experienced 
over this issue has brought me more frequently to my knees 
than has been my recent custom. While I cannot report that 
this has brought me the clarity of insight that I had sought on 
the specifics of this case, communion with the Lord has its own 
sweet rewards. 

Despite my fluctuations of feelings about the subject, right now 
I sense that it is worth the frustration and turmoil to see this 
crisis through— to pray, to continue our usual Church service, to 
have faith in the process and in the outcome. Perhaps this is all 
just part of our own special refiner's fire. Surely great challenges 
and great rewards await us. 


Meghan Raynes \ Denver, Colorado \ Combined from two blog posts 
originally posted on March 26th and April 4th of 2012 

I was seven months pregnant in October of 2010 when my 
midwife alerted me to the fact that my chosen post-pregnancy 
method of birth control, a copper IUD, might not be available. 
A proposed amendment to the state of Colorado's constitution 
was seeking to codify the rights of the unborn at the moment 
of conception. If Amendment 62, or the "Personhood" 
Amendment, was passed many forms of birth control, including 
the IUD, would no longer be available for fear that they would 
prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's uterus. 

The Personhood Amendment had already been defeated by the 
people of Colorado in 2008, yet the backers of this initiative had 
the hubris to believe that they knew better than the electorate 
and that they had the right to make women's reproductive 
choices. It wasn't enough for these people to not use those 
forms of birth control themselves; they actively sought to take 
away my right to make medical choices regarding my own body. 
For a variety of reasons which I won't explain and shouldn't 
have to explain, the copper IUD was the only form of birth 
control that would work for me. But those who support policies 
like the Personhood Amendment don't care about individual 
circumstances. They don't care about medical realities. They 
don't care about a woman's quality of life. They believe that 
protecting even the remotest possibility of life is more important 
than all of the collateral damage it does to those lives already 
in existence. 

I have heard some argue that the term "war on women" 
is overblown and irresponsible political rhetoric. Such an 
argument is the privilege of those who have full control over 
their bodies. Had the Fetal Personhood Amendment passed in 
my state I would not have had full control over my body. I can 
tell you, that felt like an attack. I felt like my very life was being 

Research has consistently shown that women's empowerment 
and reproductive freedom are inextricably tied. With the advent 
of affordable, easily accessible and reliable contraception 
pregnancy is no longer the defining fact of a woman's life. 
Control over reproduction has opened worlds for women that 
were formally dominated by men. Threatening reproductive 
freedom also threatens the gains women have made and once 
again, biology may become our destiny. 

Peer-reviewed research shows that the status of women, 
which includes women's autonomy and reproductive freedom, 
dramatically predicts the incidence of violence against women. 
States that have the highest number of restrictions on abortions 
and contraception also report the highest rates of violence 
against women. The message society sends when women are 
given full bodily autonomy is that we are fully human and have 
the right to physical integrity. There is legitimate fear that this 
sustained "conversation" about reproductive freedom has cast 
doubt in the minds of some on whether women have the right 
to bodily autonomy and are thereby, fully human. 

Indeed, America is already seeing the consequences of this 
play out in legislation that threatens the physical security of 
women. It is no coincidence that what started as a coordinated 
effort against reproductive rights has taken the country to 
a place where the decriminalization of domestic violence in 
Topeka, Kansas, is seen as an appropriate mean to solve fiscal 
problems, and where the Violence Against Women Act can 
go un-renewed because of the opposition and posturing of a 
mainstream political party. 

We do not have data yet on whether there has been an uptick 
in violence perpetrated against women, but it will be surprising 
to no one if there is. While male pundits and politicians have 
been arguing over whether women have the right to control 
their own bodies, perpetrators have already decided that they 
don't. And the fact that this is even an issue up for debate only 
validates the misogynistic worldview of abusers and rapists. 
This fight is about so much more than reproductive freedom. 
This war is about our humanity and it is personal to us. If we 
lose this war, we will have lost everything. 

FALL 2012 



Do Mormon men and women differ politically? \ By David Campbell • Granger, Indiana 

/s there a gender gap among Mormons? Every election season, 
pundits remind us all that there is a gender gap among 
American voters, as women favor Democrats over Republicans. 
The root cause of the gap is the Republicans' women problem. 
It is not that men have flocked to the Republicans, but that 
women have left their ranks to join with the Democrats. With 
Mormons in the national spotlight like never before, this raises 
the interesting question of whether we see the same gender 
gap among Latter-day Saints. Do Mormon men and women 
differ politically? 

The short answer is: Yes, they do. But the gender gap is less 
in the party they support than the positions they hold on the 
major issues of the day. While Mormon women are mostly 
conservative, they have a more moderate— one might even say 
compassionate— flavor of conservatism than Mormon men. 

All of the results I report here come from a nationally 
representative survey of 500 Mormons that I conducted in 
January of 2012, along with my colleagues Quin Monson (BYU) 
and John Green (University of Akron). Five hundred people 
may not sound like a lot, but for a scientific poll of a smallish 
group like Mormons, this is a large enough sample size to have 
statistical confidence in our findings. (Eventually our findings 
will be published in a book, tentatively titled Seeking the Promised 
Land: Mormons and American Politics). 

The first thing to note about Mormons is that they are heavily 
Republican— more so than any other religious group in America. 
In 2008, of those Mormons who cast a ballot for either John 
McCain or Barack Obama, 83 percent chose McCain. There 
was a hint of a gender gap, as 85 percent of LDS men voted for 
McCain compared to 81 percent of women, but that difference 
is obviously minor. Similarly, Mormon men are slightly more 

likely to identify as Republicans than are women, although 
the difference is mostly in the strength of their attachment 
to a Republican affiliation. Forty percent of LDS men describe 
themselves as strong Republicans, compared to 29 percent of 

The gender gap is slightly more pronounced among Mormons 
who believe that women should have more say in the Church, a 
question meant to gauge attitudes toward gender roles among 
Mormons. Among women who would like more say, 30 percent 
voted for President Obama. Among men who think women 
should play a greater role in the Church, 20 percent voted for 
the President. 

While these results suggest a whisper of a gender gap, the 
headline story is the overwhelming Republican-ness of Latter- 
day Saints. This is not to say, though, that LDS women and men 
always share the same political views. On virtually every issue 
that might matter in the 2012 election, Mormon women are to 
the left of Mormon menfolk. And unlike the differences in party 
preference and the 2008 presidential vote, these gender gaps 
do not vary according to one's opinion on the role of women in 
the Church. 

For example, LDS women are more likely than men to approve 
of abortion, although the differences are slight. Borrowing 
from a standard question used by other pollsters, we asked 
our respondents whether they would approve of abortion in a 
series of circumstances. On two situations in which LDS policy 
approves of abortion — rape and endangerment to the mother's 
health — men and women are equally, and overwhelmingly, 
likely to approve of abortion. When "there is a strong chance 
of a defect in the baby," women are eight percentage points 
more likely to approve than men (37 versus 29 percent). 


While the level of approval is markedly lower, there are similar 
gender differences for the other situations polled: the woman 
is unmarried, she is poor and cannot afford another child, she 
is married and does not want more children, or she wants the 
abortion for "any reason." 

The story is similar for the other "sex and family" issues in the 
current political ether. I suspect no one would have predicted 
that we would be debating birth control in 2012, but between 
the health care reform law's contraception mandate and 
Rush Limbaugh's subsequent comments on the matter, the 
issue is on the table. Virtually all Mormons approve of birth 
control for married couples, but LDS women are more likely 
to approve "strongly" of contraception. While Mormons as a 
whole express strong opposition to same-sex marriage, LDS 
women are slightly more likely to approve (15 percent) than 
are men (eight percent). Mormon women are also more likely 
to agree that gay couples should be allowed to adopt children. 
Gay adoption is an especially interesting issue, since unlike 
marriage, LDS leaders have not taken a visible public position 
on the subject. Presumably this is the reason that Mormons are 
more supportive of gay adoption than gay marriage. Among 
LDS women, 40 percent approve of adoption by gay couples, 
compared to 27 percent of men who approve. 

However, the biggest gender differences are not on issues that 
deal with sex and family, but guns and butter. LDS women 

are more likely to favor the Palestinians over the Israelis and 
support government help for the needy. They are more likely 
to support environmental regulation and to believe that 
immigrants strengthen the U.S. They are less likely to favor 
the death penalty and repeal of the new health care reform 
law. But the widest gender gap is on the central issue of 
the 2012 presidential election— the size, scope, and purpose 
of government. While 74 percent of Mormon men completely 
agree that "the government should be smaller and offer fewer 
services," only 56 percent of women do. This difference of 
opinion mirrors the gender gap in the answer to the statement, 
"most people who want to get ahead can make it if they're 
willing to work hard"— 48 percent of women agree, compared 
to 60 percent of men. LDS women, it appears, are more likely to 
favor a publicly provided safety net for those who are met with 

What does this all mean for election night in 2012? Republican 
candidates are certain to win big among Mormons once 
again. This will be the case whether candidates have the last 
name of Romney or if the voters are Mormons that have a Y 
chromosome. Yet at the same time, LDS women are much 
less supportive of the sharp turn to the ideological right that 
the Republican party, including Governor Romney, has recently 
taken. Republican candidates, especially those running in 
districts with many LDS voters, would be wise to take heed, lest 
they end up with a Mormon women problem. 

The Mormon Gender Gap 


Dave Campbell is a 
professor of Political 
Science at the University 
of Notre Dame. He is the 
co-author of American 
Grace: How Religion 
Divides and Unites 
Us. His current 
project, Seeking the 
Promised Land: Mormons 
and American Politics, is 
forthcoming in 2013. 

Voted for John McCain in 2008 (%) Most people who want to get ahead can make it if they're willing to work hard (% Agree) 

FALL 2012 



As the campaign for the 2012 presidency goes forward, Canadians will hotly debate the various goings- 
on in U.S. government. Those of us in Alberta will likely hear a lot of support for Romney and Republicans. 
By Marta Nelson ■ Calgary Alberta, Canada 

/recall having an argument about politics with my father 
when I was 16. I had just learned about the Vietnam War 
in school and was outraged. Back and forth we went, he the 
conservative political philosophy scholar and I the starry-eyed 
feminist left-winger (well, as much as you can be at 16). We 
reached a point in the argument where we had gone over the 
usual suspects of 20th century atrocities enacted by the United 
States government. By then I doubt we knew what the original 
fight was even about. I don't recall the context this comment 
came from, but I remember taunting my dad by saying, "Well, 
who was Joseph McCarthy, then?" He responded by turning a 
dark red, then sputtering and shouting, "A loyal American!" 

One factor that makes American politics so fascinating to us 
is the conflation of religion and government. It rarely happens 
in Canada. In fact, religion is considerably downplayed. Our 
current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is an active Christian, 
but I can't even imagine him or another prominent Canadian 
politician admitting that his or her decisions are based in 

theology. There's no doubt it does influence his or other 
politicians' motives, but it's far more subtle. The majority of the 
country simply wouldn't stand for it. And when I say majority, 
I am of course excluding the southern portion of the province 
of Alberta. 

Southern Alberta houses the largest concentration of LDS 
people in Canada. A group of Latter-day Saints were sent from 
Utah to settle in Canada in the late 1880s and 30 years later 
they built the first temple outside of the U.S. As a result, the 
rural communities and larger towns and cities in the area have 
a very high Mormon population. As religious people often fall 
on the right side of the political spectrum, it's no coincidence 
that the politics in that region tend to 
run more conservative than the rest 
of the country. For example, Alberta 
recently held a provincial election. 
A colour-coded map showing how 
each region of the province voted 
was marked by a pocket of bright 
green in the southern-most part of 
the province, indicating the more 
extreme right-leaning party, the 
Wildrose. To most people, especially 
Mormons, this was not a surprise. 

' the U.S. presidency has undoubtedly 
Dfile worldwide, and in Canada this will 
g Mormonism with conservative politics 
of Alberta. Being the most conservative 
ntry's financial powerhouse, thanks to 
tends to be Canada's political whipping 
help to think of Alberta as the Texas 
of the north.) People already associate Romney with the more 
negative or unusual aspects of Mormonism. In Canada those 
feelings will likely be transferred to Mormons and consequently 
Alberta in general. 

The fact that Mormonism is an American-based religion, 
combined with a Canadian preoccupation with U.S. politics, 

variations on this scene have likely 
played out numerous times in U.S. 
cities between other naive children 
and their jaded parents. The only thing 
different about my scenario is that 
we weren't in the U.S. Our argument 
took place in Canada. So why were we 
passionately arguing about American 


Canada is of course affected by the 
United States; there's no way around 
it. We get a lot of American media and 

it would be impossible to block it out entirely. But Canadians do 
pay a lot of attention to American politics. Despite the fact that 
we have our own rich political history, a completely different 
system of government, and our own cherished celebrities and 
scandals, it's a relatively benign (read: dull) political climate 
compared to the U.S. American politics are simply more 
salacious and exciting. Sorry, Canada, but you know it's true. 


with a history of passion and 
action, and I would love to see 


in their country's 


Mitt Romney's bid foi 
raised the Mormon pr 
mean further identifyin 
and again the province 
province with the col 
the oil sands, Alberta 
post. (Americans, it m 


means that Canadian Mormons tend to especially latch on 
to American political topics. There are of course Canadian 
Mormons who are interested and active in Canadian politics, 
but in my experience, they are not the majority. I find it 
discouraging that when discussing political issues with 
other LDS Canadians, we are far more likely to debate about 
personhood arguments and health care rulings in the U.S. than 
similar concerns affecting our own country. 

I wonder if this is due to the fact that a lot of the "hot button" 
issues such as universal health care, abortion, and gay marriage 
are not up for debate in Canada. Everyone has medical 
coverage, women can have at least partially if not fully-funded 
abortions, and gay marriage has been legal since 2005. (That 
sentence is of course subject to a lot of "yes, but" arguments, 
but that's a much longer discussion.) And even if there's a hint 
that someone is stirring the pot, it's usually ignored. Recently, 
Motion 312 went through Parliament. This bill was to introduce 
a study to determine when life begins, and it was assumed the 
findings of this study would be used in future abortion debates. 
The motion was quickly dismissed and struck down, but even 
among Mormons of my acquaintance it wasn't a big topic for 
debate. However, had it happened in Montana, I imagine such 
an event would have made national waves. Perhaps Canadian 
Mormons become interested in such topics because, given 
current Church teachings, they already have strong views 
on issues like gay marriage or abortions, and in the U.S. the 
possibility exists that the rulings could change the laws to their 

liking. In Canada, Mormons already understand there's little 
chance of that happening. 

In my experience, conservative LDS Canadians are very 
enthusiastic about having a Mormon in the running for the U.S. 
presidency. It raises our profile, for better or worse, and there 
is an assumption that an LDS president would lead the U.S. 
according to his religious beliefs (aka the "right" way). I would, 
however, be surprised to hear anything about any developments 
in Canadian legislation. I do like that Canadian politics don't find 
their way into our church meetings very often, but as Canadian 
Mormons I think our disinterest and apathy toward our own 
government is a failing. 

I don't care that Canadian and specifically Albertan Mormons 
are more conservative; that would be an exercise in futility. 
However, I do care that we focus more on what's happening 
next door instead of in our own backyards. Because we tend to 
focus on our American-based church and a large portion of our 
media is from the U.S., we come by our obsession honestly. But 
we do ourselves a disservice. 

Mormons are a people with a history of passion and action, and 
I would love to see Canadian Mormons getting more involved 
in their country's direction and future. I eagerly await the day 
when I have heated political arguments with my future children. 
I'll discuss any topic they wish, so long as we make sure to 
include Canada. $\ 

FALL 2012 



wunbt& &aw duri 


My goal is broader: to argue that Mormon women of all political persuasions are needled to speak from 
a place of faith in setting a new course for American politics in the 21st century 
By Joanna Brooks • San Diego, California 

/Js I sit to write this, the two most powerful Mormon 
wtyjboliticians in the country are engaged in very public verbal 
fisticuffs over a set of tax returns. One man refuses to release 
a full set of his returns, as has been customary for presidential 
candidates, and the other refuses to let the issue drop. In the 
course of the exchange, the men and their political operatives 
have called each other "liars" and "cowards" and "henchmen" 
and even "pederasts." I wish I were kidding. 

But the interests of children are hardly setting the public 
agenda. In the state where I live, there is not enough money to 
properly staff and run the public schools. The college students 
I teach at an affordable public university (now largely defunded 
by the state) are facing terrible employment prospects. And 
40 percent of American children live beneath the poverty line. 
These are the things that worry me, as a Mormon, a feminist, 
and a mother, every day. I know they are on the minds of other 
Mormon women too— across the political spectrum. 

It is a moment of jarring disconnects in American political life. 
Serious challenges face this nation on every front, from financial 
to foreign policy. Our old assumptions about plotting prosperity 
and our old American models for interacting with the rest of 
the world are in need of retuning. The fruits of failed policies 
of intervention and neocolonization in Iraq and Afghanistan 
are incredible debt and maimed and disabled young men and 
women. These are bitter fruits to leave to our children. This is 
precisely the kind of historical moment— a time of realignment 
and reorientation of our priorities— when faith should play a 
role in helping us find our moral and political bearings. This 
year, Mormons have the historic opportunity of seeing a 
member of the LDS Church run as the presidential candidate 

of a major political party, and perhaps even winning the office. 
But as someone who has watched this race in the making 
closely— every day— for the last three years, it feels to me that 
Mormonism and faith in general are deeply disconnected from 

Yes, LDS people have lined up to support Governor Romney, 
and they have donated handsome sums to his campaign. 
But as I scrutinize his policy positions, I find that none of 
Governor Romney's stances— aside from his opposition to 
civil same-sex marriage— bear any special imprint of Mormon 
doctrine or values. In fact, on matters like Islamic relations 
and immigration, Governor Romney stands to the right of the 
dispositions modeled in official LDS Church statements and 
reiterates positions taken by his Republican predecessors, 
such as George W. Bush. His policy on foreign relations is 
hawkish and neoconservative, and his chosen advisors have 
indulged from time to time in open anti-lslamism. The Church 
has called for comprehensive federal immigration reform that 
supports the needs of families and encourages neighbors 
to love one another, but Governor Romney supports self- 
deportation by undocumented immigrants, an unrealistic 
answer to a complicated problem. His policy on economics is 
not just aggressively anti-regulation, but anti-state, a legacy of 
the political lobbyist Grover Norquist, who famously quipped 
that he'd like to shrink government to the size where he could 
"drown it in a bathtub." 

I say these things not to attack Governor Romney, though it 
is true that as a long-time Democrat I won't be voting for him 
this fall. Nor do I wish to claim that political stances associated 
with the Democratic party on issues like foreign policy and the 



environment and health care are inherently more aligned with 

My goal is broader: to argue that Mormon women of all political 
persuasions are needed to speak from a place of faith in setting 
a new course for American politics in the 21st century. 

The most Mormon thing I've identified about Governor 
Romney's campaign is the nervous and defensive way in which 
he has conducted it. Governor Romney is notorious among the 
press assigned to follow him for refusing to engage directly, 
to entertain open questions, or to 
dialogue. This, I strongly believe, stems 
in part from his longtime experience in 
LDS hierarchy and his fear as an LDS 
person that his faith will be ridiculed 
if he opens himself to more robust 
exchanges. That's a 170-year reality 
for Mormon public figures. Indeed, the 
political history of the Mormon people 
often finds us voting defensively 
against an array of perceived threats— 
to establish and protect our autonomy 
and security during the 19th century, 
to make sure our families had enough 

resources to survive during the Depression, and then, in the 
later 20th century, to defend what we were led to believe were 
secular assaults on Mormon concepts of home and family. 

Among Mormon women, though, I find the capacity to think 
more grandly and courageously about the role of our faith in 
politics. In May, visiting a Mormon feminist retreat in the Rocky 
Mountains, I asked the women gathered what was the most 
important political message Mormon women had to convey to 
the world. After a few minutes discussing amongst themselves, 
they were univocal and firm: We believe that every human 
being is a child of God and deserves a chance for a decent, 
healthy life. That's a message that resonates deeply with me, as 
a Mormon, a feminist, and a mother. 

The role of faith in politics has been narrowed over the past few 
decades to a few hot-button social issues, such as reproductive 
choice and same-sex marriage. While these are important 
issues, there are much broader questions that we've lost our 
footing on as people of faith. Political think tanks who follow the 
Grover Norquist school of thought have been on an extremely 
aggressive mission to defund and destroy government, arguing 

We believe that every human 
being is a child of God and 

deserves a chance for a 
decent, healthy life. That's a 
message that resonates deeply 
with me> as a Mormon, a 
feminist, and a mother. n 

aggressively that no government is good government, even 
though the historical record of the 20th century clearly shows 
that government has played a crucial role in fostering economic 
development, improving living conditions, developing 
infrastructure, providing education, and offering health care to 
seniorcitizensand the poor. Government hasalso been receptive 
to the influence of faith communities, who have been able to 
interface, lobby, and exert influence to advance civil rights, 
human rights, environmental justice, and women's rights. How 
successful have people of faith been in convincing corporations 
to pursue these values? Yet Grover Norquist and his anti-tax 
allies have manipulated people of faith 
to believe that government opposes 
our interests and is hostile to religion 
in general. They've focused all of our 
energy around a few narrowly defined 
hot-button issues and left us fighting 
with one another over fiercely personal 
choices. Meanwhile, on much broader 
political landscapes— landscapes 
that determine the movement of 
resources and the distribution of life 
opportunities— our voices are muted, 
if not absent. 

I love the courageous global vision of the Mormon feminists who 
told me that our message should be that every human being is 
a child of God and deserves a shot at a decent life. This is a 
clarifying, reframing vision that transcends the futile fistfights 
of partisanship and draws from our deepest commitments as 
women and mothers. 

This is the kind of vision that's missing from politics in this 
Mormon moment. Perhaps when Mormon women have our say 
... or, rather, perhaps it's time for Mormon women to just say 
that we can— and we must— do better. 

*********** £ 

VX*> % -J; 

* * ★ ★ 

FALL 2012 

Sisters Speak 


Since Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Mormons in their 
many varieties have received unprecedented attention from the media. A recurring question 
Exponent II has received from numerous media outlets concerns how Mormon feminists feel 
about Romney as a representative of their religion. Now is the time to make your voice heard! 

How do you feel about Romney's nomination and the fact that he and his family will become the most 
recognized representatives of Mormonism in the United States? How do or don't his policy positions 
represent core Mormon values you cherish? 


From a non-American perspective, I am quite excited to 
have a Mormon president. Prior to this year, the majority of 
Mormon content in the media was based on male American 
missionaries. This year, however, with Romney in the spotlight, 
I have seen quotes by Ardis Parshall, Margaret Toscano, and 
other Mormon scholars discussing women's issues. I personally 
cherish Mormon academia and smart women, and as Mormon 
historians and academics are being asked for their thoughts 
on Romney, their media presence has delighted me to no end. 
So with Romney comes an entourage of academia that to me 
represents a component of Mormonism that speaks to me. As 
such, Romney and his family are a powerful vehicle for Mormon 
academic and feminist values I cherish, even if these values are 
not necessarily represented by the Romney family. 


Although I'm socially liberal, I'm a fiscal conservative. I am 
ecstatic about Romney's nomination. I don't want our country 
to follow down Europe's path to bankruptcy driven by socialist 
principles and the entitlement mentality. For me, it's all about 
the economy. I do care about pro-choice issues and marriage 
equality, but I don't believe Romney is as conservative on those 
issues as he would like the Religious Right to believe. I was a 
resident of Massachusetts when Mitt was governor. He's an 

astute centrist on most social issues. Unfortunately, playing up 
conservative social values is a necessity for any Republican on 
the national stage. 

I believe Romney's economic policies will represent the 
economic principles taught to me by my parents: hard work, 
self-sufficiency (whenever possible), ingenuity, living within 
your means, etc. I consider these values to be as much American 
as Mormon. 


Part of me loves the idea of having a Mormon in the presidency. 
From many stories I've read quoting people who actually 
know him, Romney seems like a decent enough person, and 
sometimes even a surprisingly giving person when it comes to 
real relations and real caring service. Those articles make me 
proud, and the attributes they describe are attributes I would like 
in a president. I feel less proud, however, when I read Romney's 
statements about the poor, and how he is not concerned about 
them. I understand that the snippet shared everywhere was 
just a snippet and belongs to a greater context. But, some of his 
policies, including those to weaken "safety nets" that he says 
the poor may rely upon, are part of that context. Deep down 
I think he is a true moderate, and I would find it much easier 
to whole-heartedly embrace him if he let those colors show. 


Sophie Soprano/Lynn Farrar • "Broody Hen" • Spring City, Utah 

Unfortunately, he has not acted or spoken like a moderate as 
of late. 

On a final note, I do like that he is running, if only because 
the increased scrutiny on the Church resulted in the clearest 
statement from the Church against harmful folk beliefs 
concerning blacks and the priesthood. If it could bring additional 
examination with additional positive changes, then I am all for 

my interests. And that is okay; that does not make him the 
villainous caricature often portrayed in the media. I'm not voting 
for Mitt, but I think he is a good person. He proved as governor 
of Massachusetts that final results were more important than 
partisan politics. Mitt is a product of his generation, education, 
gender, and socioeconomic status. I don't share his same 
economic, social, or foreign policy opinions, but I do think that 
many people in the nation do and that he will represent their 
interests well. 


In the near decade that I have gotten to know him, Mitt has 
proven time and time again his generosity, pragmatism and 
fierce loyalty. His entire life is service-oriented, from his 
religious dedication in volunteer leadership to his commitment 
to public service in state and federal government. It is difficult 
to watch someone who has volunteered so much of his time 
and energy to making the world a better place be criticized in 
the public eye. That said, I'm not voting for him in November. 

We live in a liberal democracy, which means that rather than 
voting on every issue individually we elect people to represent 
our interests. As a middle-class feminist, woman, mother, 
scientist and academic, who has spent significant time living in 
developing nations outside of the U.S., Mitt does not represent 


This is the second presidential campaign in which I have 
volunteered for him, and most of the people I work with aren't 
Mormon, so rarely does his religion come up as a topic. Instead, 
what comes up is the fact that Mitt is a man of character, inner 
strength, and tremendous ability. My coworkers see him as a 
man who loves the United States, believes its best days are 
ahead, and wants every individual to have the freedom to mold 
their own life according to their choices. I have had the privilege 
to sit in strategy sessions with Mitt and have been so impressed 
with his leadership abilities. He is an amazing listener, and he 
especially takes note of what women have to say. Not only does 
he listen to women, he is well known for appointing women 
to high positions, such as his Chief of Staff while Governor of 

FALL 2012 


Massachusetts. No candidate is ever perfect, but in my opinion, 
Mitt Romney it the right person to be president at this very 
turbulent time. 


As Mormons, we should be confident enough in 'The World's" 
ability to sort out what each of us stands for that we should 
not fear that one man's image will destroy the good reputation 
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But it is 
understandable why we feel self-conscious about the new 
high-profile of Mormonism because Mitt is running for public 
office. After all, before this year our fear had been that we 
were unknown to everyone around us. Our wish was for people 
to notice and understand us. Now we feel that everyone 
"understands us," but in my opinion the understanding is not 
"us" at all! I have known Mitt personally for decades and to 
me Mitt represents materialistic, elitist privilege— his behavior 
with regards to tax-paying goes beyond being disreputable but 
also mocks any purported LDS support for respecting the law 
of the land. Why would any loyal citizen urge wealthy outsiders 
to not pay taxes when we are in a widely-publicized deficit? 
Actually, why would anyone running for President admit he 
wanted others to be tax evaders even if we did not have a 
deficit? Whose side is Mitt on anyway? And for those I know 
who are passionate about reproductive freedom and other 
women's rights, Mitt is problematic to say the least. Bishops 
in LDS wards do not question couples about birth control 
choices, so why is Mitt willing to bring the government into that 
conversation? Any Mormon woman who is concerned with 
advancing women's rights and protecting their health choices 
would justifiably be expected to criticize our fellow Mormon for 
such political positions. 

I grew up with my parents' shame at publicity about polygamy. 
I fear my children's generation will grow up feeling shame for 
being presumed to be arrogant, self-centered, and oblivious to 
the conditions of the lives of most Americans because people 
got acquainted with Mitt Romney and associate his actions and 
policies with Mormonism. I feel burdened and sad. It is not just 
that I want to distance myself from Mitt Romney's candidacy 
and what he has come to represent, but I want to speak up for 
Mormonism among decent Americans who love this country 
and want to see it thrive and return to a day when we felt 
optimistic about our future as a nation. 


As a Mormon woman I have been raised to believe in certain 
core beliefs, not the least of which is the importance of 
honesty, hard work, family, and service to our fellow man. As 
I look at Mitt Romney and his life's history I see a man with 
the integrity to be bishop and stake president for obviously no 
monetary gain. He opted out of two years of college to serve 
a mission for no remuneration. He was governor for the state 
of Massachusetts and accepted no salary. Although his service 
record is exemplary and his financial feats nothing short of 
amazing, the real value of his character is shown in the love he 
has for his family and the fact that he helped raise his children 
with the help of his wife who suffers from MS. The fact that he 
has brought Mormonism under the spotlight is only a bonus for 
our Church as thousands more will be interested in investigating 
further into Mormon beliefs. Truly a win-win! 


When I first heard he was running, I was glad because I felt like 
he was a candidate I could live with, unlike many others in the 
field. I'm still not going to vote for him, but I thought if he won 
I could be okay with it. I was thinking of old Mitt, the one who 
was more tolerant, who could appeal to middle-of-the-road 
voters. However, the more I hear about his economic plans for 
the country, the less appealing I find him because I believe that 
his program would drive us deeper into the recession, if not into 
an outright depression. 

I don't feel like his ideals are particularly in harmony with gospel 
principles. I don't see much compassion (as manifested by 
action or plans of action) from him for the poor or marginalized 
in our country. I see his economic programs as contrary to our 
obligations to the poor. I think he has it somewhat backward 
from King Benjamin— he would enable people who already 
have riches to seek more riches, and claims that this would 
somehow help the poor and everyone else. 

In general I think the Romneys' lifestyle is a bit of an affront in 
these deeply depressing times. I recognize they have a perfect 
right to spend their money how they choose, but to me it 
underscores how out of touch he is. I realize that a president is 
never going to have the same kind of intimate awareness as a 
bishop might about his flock, but I can't help but feel he is so far 
removed from my life he can't begin to imagine how his actions 
help or hinder it. 


Flannel board 

I minding editor of Woman's Exponent, Louisa Greene Richards, wrote this song to the tune of "Hope of Israel," 
(/ which was included in the Utah Woman Suffrage Songbook, published in 1870. Writing suffrage verses and setting 
them to well-known melodies that they would sing at their suffrage meetings was common among Mormon women 
in the 19th century. Today, Exponent II continues the tradition of singing this song at our annual retreat and we 
proudly stand together each time we sing the chorus. 

Louisa Greene Richards 

Woman, Arise 

William Clayson 

Piano < 





See the cur - tains 
Temp - 'ranee lib - e - r 
Through long suff - 'ri - ng 

are with -drawn 
y and peace, 
wor - thy proved. 

Which so long thy 
Light shall shine and 
With the fore - most 

mi - nd h - as shroud - ed 
da - rk - ne - ss van - ish. 
cla-im th - y par - don, 

Lo! Thy day b - e 
Love shall reign, o 
When earth's curse sh - all 

gins to dawn, 
pre - ssion cease 
be re - moved. 



Abbigail Knowlton Israelsen • Bloomington, Indiana • 

Urn tk& TfUfitarip 


/ came home from Iraq with widened eyes and an open mind. \ By Genevieve lore • Tempe, Arizona 

/T)n January 3, 2001, 1 took an oath to defend the United States 
v/against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I was nervous, 
excited, and completely unprepared for the culture shock that 
would come as I broke free from my insulated LDS world. It 
was the last thing my ward and my family expected of me. The 
adults in my ward were convinced I would become an apostate 
if I joined the military. I didn't listen to them. 

During basic training (six weeks of folding t-shirts perfectly, 
learning to march, and qualifying on the M-16), I met people 
from all over the country. There were conservatives, liberals, 
Jews, Protestants, atheists. Everyone was different. I spent a lot 
of time trying to do missionary work. 

I trained as an Arabic linguist, which meant spending 63 
weeks in California at the Defense Language Institute. All of 
our instructors were native-born Arabic speakers from the 

Middle East and Africa. These teachers often expressed strong 
opinions on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. I watched 
a lot of Al Jazeera, one of the largest news networks of the Arab 
world. Israeli retaliation for a suicide bombing often took the 
form of large-scale arrests or even the destruction of entire 
Palestinian neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the Israeli government 
continued to expand their own neighborhoods onto confiscated 
Palestinian land. I couldn't understand how Americans could 
justify supporting Israel while they were committing atrocities 
against the Palestinian people. 

On the other hand, I had grown up with a strong belief in the 
"chosenness" of the Israeli people. Didn't God give them that 
land? My cognitive dissonance was resolved only when I came 
to the personal realization that God would never have approved 
of such retaliatory tactics, and that promised lands were 
reserved for the righteous. I jokingly proposed to my family then 


that the best solution to the Israel/Palestine problem was to 
send a bunch of missionaries there and just convert the whole 
place to Mormonism. My conservative family usually talked 
about Arabs using terms like "raghead" or "camel jockey," and 
proposed that the best solution to the problem was to launch 
nuclear warheads and turn all that sand into glass. I realized 
that my politics were starting to stray from my family when for 
the first time I really began to think about their "solution" and 
see the utter horror of it. 

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 


"Genevieve! Are you watching TV? Do you see what's 

"What are you talking about?" 

"One of the World Trade Center towers just collapsed!" 

I hung up the phone and ran to the common room to turn on the 
news while I finished getting ready for class. And there it was: 
a smoking pile of rubble, with inset video of a plane crashing 
into the enormous building. My heart seized when I realized 
how many people must have been killed. Even the reporter 
lost control and started crying. I walked to the CQ (Charge 
of Quarters) hallway, and stood outside an office where my 
superiors were watching the news. I got there just in time to 
see the second tower collapse. 

The following days, weeks, and months were a patriotic revival. 
I had every intention of getting revenge on the bastards who 
attacked us, and I couldn't understand why anyone was hesitant. 

I held on to my sanity enough to realize that not all Muslims 
are terrorists— after all, most of my language instructors 
were Muslim and they were just as horrified at the death and 
destruction as I was. 

JANUARY 1,2006 

I arrived in Tikrit, Iraq, in the middle of the night. It was cold 
and dusty and I was nervous about creepy crawlies. I got five 
hours of sleep that night, huddled on an army cot and listening 
to distant explosions. I was there for six months. I spent most 
of my time on military bases, shrieking at camel spiders and 
diving into bunkers if some of the explosions got too close. 

Most of the soldiers around me despised the Iraqi people. They 
had all lost friends in the violence that rocked the country during 
those years. I tried to remain objective and look at my job as 

protecting coalition troops. I didn't think too deeply on the fact 
that my job was contributing to the deaths of real people— they 
were just insurgents, lackeys of the big-name terrorists who 
wanted to hurt us. I was a patriot! 

MARCH 16, 2006 

Five minutes after a friend left our work station to wait outside 
for transportation to the mess hall, a mortar round hit the 
cement barrier in front of the building I worked in. The entire 
building shook, and I remember looking up and wondering if the 
ceiling was going to collapse. My OIC (Officer in Charge) came 
running in and looked at me with a pale face. "They got Pinson." 
My friend and another co-worker had both been killed. 

The next few weeks were somewhat blurred with grief and 
anxiety, and I found myself truly understanding how hatred for 
another nationality worked. Too many of the Iraqi people were 
facilitating the activities of the insurgents without standing 
up for themselves. We were fighting their fight for them, and 
people were dying. I hated them. 

It took me months to come to a mental and emotional place 
where I could stop actively hating Iraqis. The teachings of Jesus 
on forgiveness and love worked on me slowly, but surely. His 
words on love and forgiveness sank deeper than they ever had, 
because I had never needed them so much. Those words stayed 
with me and made me truly question the nationalistic values I 
had grown up with. 

FALL 2012 


JULY 2006 

I came home from Iraq with widened eyes and an open mind. 
I married a registered Independent. I lived in the southern 
United States for a while, and heard the rhetoric of staunch 
Conservatives both within and outside of the military 
community. At the same time I was making politically liberal 
friends who were vocal about their political views. I started to 


"Hi, my name is Genevieve and I was just wondering which way 

you intended to vote for Prop 8 So I can put you down for a 

yes, then? Thanks so much for your time." 

tailor-made for leadership positions in the military. 

I also began to consider politics from the perspective of the 
teachings of Jesus: "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell 
whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have 
treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." 
(Mark 10:21) He didn't say "Go thy way, keep all of thy things 
and create jobs," or "Go thy way and keep thy things because 
thou hast earned them and it is theft for the government to 
tax thee," or "Judge the homeless and poor, for they have not 
pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, and therefore have 
not earned a place with thee at thy table." 


I hung up the phone, feeling numb. 
Why wasn't I feeling the same 
soaring inspiration that seemed to be 
glowing from the faces of the callers 
around me? We sat in the bishop's 
small business, using his phones 
to "collect data" on public opinion 
while also encouraging people to 
get out and vote. Priesthood leaders 
had come to the ward and strongly 
encouraged us to become active 
politically. I had several gay friends 
at the time, and I could not support 
any of the arguments that claimed 
that if my friends got married it would 
somehow destroy families. The only 
thing I used to justify my participation 
was the philosophy that government 
shouldn't interfere with marriage. 

Only churches should have the right to marry people, and the 
government could perform civil unions. I felt sick to my stomach 
while I manned those phones. I couldn't muster a smile to my 
face. My heart was literally hurting. I really believe now that the 
Spirit was telling me not to facilitate this hateful law. 

JULY 2009 

I separated from the military to have my son. My heart and 
mind were full of the things I had learned while in service to 
my country, and had left me ready to learn about feminism and 
equality. I had worked with several excellent superior officers 
who were not only female but mothers and wives. They didn't 
destroy their families by going to work. In most cases, they had 
enough money to stay home if they wanted to. But they were 
very good at their jobs. Their personalities and talents were 


on forgiveness and love 

worked on me slowly, but surely. 


sank deeper than they ever had, 
needed them so much. 


with me & made me question the 



I went back to school. Because I had 
already been studying tribal cultures 
of the world, I chose to major in 
anthropology, and thus seemed to 
seal my fate as a liberal. My eyes were 
opened to the suffering and crushing 
poverty experienced by people in 
my own country. It wasn't laziness, 
greed, or a poor work ethic that kept 
them living in hovels or violence- 
ridden areas. It was politics. It was 
a lack of opportunity and education 
resulting from mismanaged or 
insufficient funding. Small charities 
and philanthropy are not enough. 
One starving child is one too many. 

JULY 2012 

Today I am a registered Independent 
with strongly liberal views. I am a feminist and an intellectual. 
Every chance I get I try to repent for my actions during Prop 8. 
My Facebook page is peppered with links to websites reporting 
on feminist, pro-gay marriage, and environmental issues. 

The military has my eternal gratitude for pulling me away from 
my emotional and physical dependence on my conservative 
family and for introducing me to the bright and colorful world 
of diversity. I thank God/dess that my insulated world was 
destroyed and I could finally see the precious humanity around 
me without the blinders of righteous bigotry or privilege. )£. 


women's Theology 


Z£h& Qmi&tt tiv CLctwrv 

We will certainly form a more perfect union as we choose leaders whose priority is the welfare of the 
people, who will work towards a goal of having "no poor among us". 
By: Karlyn Hiatt Lewis ■ Fairfield, CA 


In today's political debates, we hear a lot of banging on the 
"Constitutional drum." 'That's unconstitutional!" or "We need 
to return to the origins of the Constitution!" Of course, these 
statements imply that "they" know what the Founding Fathers 
really intended. 

Unfortunately, the Founding Fathers aren't here to take 
sides. Even if they were, they had a pretty hard time agreeing 
amongst themselves back in their day, so it's unclear if they 
would help or hinder modern-day disagreements regarding 
constitutionality. And what about the definition of "Founding 
Fathers"? Are we talking about those who signed the 
document, those who helped write it, those who influenced 
its tenets, those who fought for the independence that made 
it possible, or all of the above? Regardless of who's a Founding 
Father or what one's stance is on the Constitution, it really 
boils down to a political interpretation. 

As Latter-day Saints, we learn that our Founding Fathers were 
inspired by God to create a framework for our nation that 
would establish a state conducive to the restoration of the 
Gospel. The LDS Church's First Presidency has counseled its 
members to study the Constitution: "[We] should be familiar 
with its great fundamentals: the separation of powers, the 
individual guarantees in the Bill of Rights, the structure of 
federalism, the sovereignty of the people, and the principles 
of the rule of the law. [We] should oppose any infringement 
of these inspired fundamentals." 1 

In addition to learning its fundamentals, if we as Church 
members believe that the Constitution was "suffered to be 
established" by the hand of the Lord (see D&C 101:76-80), 
then we also ought to understand its purpose. President J. 
Reuben Clark declared, "The Constitution was framed in 
order to protect minorities. That is the purpose of written 
constitutions." 2 

What we do not believe is that the Constitution is perfect. 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has stated: 

Reverence for the United States Constitution is so great 
that sometimes individuals speak as if its every word and 
phrase had the same standing as scripture. Personally, I 
have never considered it necessary to defend every line 
of the Constitution as scriptural .... President J. Reuben 
Clark, who referred to the Constitution as "part of my 
religion," also said that it was not part of his belief or the 
doctrine of the Church that the Constitution was a "fully 
grown document." "On the contrary," he said, "we believe it 
must grow and develop to meet the changing needs of an 
advancing world." That was also the attitude of the Prophet 
Joseph Smith. He faulted the Constitution for not being 
"broad enough to cover the whole ground." 3 

The idea that "We believe [the Constitution] must grow and 
develop to meet the changing needs of an advancing world" 
is anathema to many "Constitutional Drummers" who call for 
a rollback of the Constitution to the end of the 18th century. 
So what do we need to know in order to continue "form[ing] 
a more perfect union?" As members of the Church of Jesus 
Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a wealth of information 
contained in our teachings. Serious scripture study can help 
us learn about what makes righteous and effective leaders or 
societies, and that study can aid us as we prepare to cast our 


A single leader can have a profound effect— for good or for 
bad— on any group of people. As we evaluate candidates for 
leadership, the Book of Mormon can serve as a guide for our 

President Ezra Taft Benson once stated: 

The Book of Mormon was written for our day .... Not only 
should we know what history and faith-promoting stories 
it contains, but we should understand its teachings. If we 

FALL 2012 


really do our homework and approach the Book of Mormon 
doctrinally, we can expose the errors and find the truths to 
combat many of the current false theories and philosophies 
of men. 4 

The Book of Mormon presents us with two prominent leaders 
who were polar opposites: King Noah and King Benjamin. 

King Noah "placed his heart upon his riches." His only goal 
was to accumulate riches for himself and his cronies. These 
were not noblesse oblige aristocrats; they were lazy and 
idolatrous, they spent their time "in riotous living," and used 
lying, flattering words to deceive the people. To pay the taxes 
that funded his extremely lavish lifestyle, King Noah's people 
had to "labor exceedingly" (see Mosiah 11). 

King Benjamin, on the other hand, "labored with [his] own 
hands that [he] might serve [his people], and that [they] 
should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing 
come upon [his people] which was grievous to be borne . . . 
." He did not seek "gold nor silver nor any manner of riches" 
from his subjects (Mosiah 2:12, 14). In fact, he saw himself as 
a servant to his people, and emphasized their commonality 
by asking, "are we not all beggars?" (Mosiah 4:19) He further 
taught them that in order to "walk guiltless before God," they 
"should impart of [their] substance to the poor, every man 
according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, 
clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to 
their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their 
wants" (Mosiah 4:26). 

For King Noah, it was all about money— money for him 
regardless of its effect on others. His lack of concern for 
the welfare of his people set them up for destruction. King 
Benjamin viewed himself as no different and no better than his 
people. He saw the welfare of others as the most important 
concern they should have. By promoting a broad social welfare 
program to meet the temporal and spiritual needs of his 
people, he led them to prosperity and happiness. 


The concept of an ideal society has been widely discussed 
through the ages. Both ancient and modern scriptures call 
a perfect society "Zion." When Zion is mentioned in the 
scriptures, it doesn't say anything about individual liberty, 
free market economy, or limited federal government. Instead 
we read, "there were no poor among them" (4 Ne. 1:3, Moses 
7:18), and "they had all things common" (Acts 2:44, Acts 
4:32, 3 Ne. 26:19, 4 Ne. 1:3). 

In addition, the Doctrine and Covenants continually cautions 
against inequality within a society. Two examples are: "For 
if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in 
obtaining heavenly things" (D&C 78:6); "... in your temporal 
things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise 

the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be 
withheld" (D&C 70:14). (See also D&C 49:20, D&C 51:9, D&C 

If we take these passages at face value, what are the first 
steps to eliminating societal inequality? Let's begin with the 
question, How much should the poor receive? Minimum wage, 
poverty wage, a living wage? No, according to the scriptures, 
they should receive "according to their wants." I have heard 
discussions regarding whether "wants" in this context 
means the poor's desires or their needs. Perhaps we should 
ask ourselves, "What does it really matter, as long as I have 
enough food and raiment?" If we are content with that (see 
1 Tim. 6:8), there is no need to be caught up in a semantics 

Then, How do we go about acquiring the funds to lift the poor? 

"... by humbling the rich and proud." (D&C 84:112) 

"... the poor shall be exalted in that the rich are made low." 

(D&C 104:16) 

These scriptures suggest a redistribution of wealth, and I don't 
see any "free will" constraints to the concept as outlined in the 
Doctrine & Covenants. In fact, the verb choice in "humbling 
the rich and proud" not only gives the sense of being contrary 
to the will of those people but also a blow to their self image. 

Richard E. Johnson, formerly a professor of Sociology at 
Brigham Young University, makes the case that socioeconomic 
strife may well be the "unprecedented evil" that plagues the 
last days, even more so than obvious sins like crime, violence, 
sexual immorality, and drug abuse. He states: 

It seems to me that the most powerful and consistent 
scriptural warning given to those who live in the "last days" 
(as found particularly in the Book of Mormon) center around 
a single set of interwoven evils— the evils of materialism, 
consumerism, worldly vanity, and socioeconomic 
inequality. These traits and conditions are unequivocally 
condemned throughout the Book of Mormon. Moreover, 
they are generally described as the root from which the 
more commonly viewed "sins" take nourishment and as the 
ultimate cause of both personal and social destruction. In 
short, the prevalence of selfish striving for the "lifestyles 
of the rich and famous" (by both those who succeed and 
those who fail), and the consequent inequality that results, 
appear to be the most appropriate as criteria for assessing 
a society's moral climate. 5 

This is certainly supported by what students of the Book of 
Mormon know as the "Pride Cycle," the course a society follows 
from righteousness and prosperity, to pride and wickedness, 
to destruction and suffering, to humility and repentance, and 
then back around to the beginning. We get so outraged over 


the problems we feel surround us today— sexual immorality, 
crime, governmental malfeasance, a decaying educational 
system, illegal immigration— but talk little about poverty. 

Our government defines poverty as "lacking the resources 
to meet the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient 
income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to 
preserve health." 6 And each night we sleep soundly while 
one in seven American citizens, many of them children, 
live in poverty. 7 We do exactly that which King Benjamin 
cautioned us not to do: We shake our heads, assume that 
people have brought their predicament upon themselves, 
and stay our hands (see Mosiah 4:17). We have also allowed 
our government to create policies that exalt commerce while 
undermining the economic stability and therefore the general 
stability of families. 

My family does what we can to help out others. But I also 
want my tax dollars to be used to help those in need. In fact, 
the welfare of others is the highest priority "moral value" 
that I consider in determining my vote. When I vote, I want 
candidates (and laws) that will support families and work 
towards eliminating poverty. Policies that support families 
and the poor include, but are not limited, to: 

■ wage structures that assure that those who work will not live 
in poverty 

■ tax law structure that places the greatest burden on those 
who have the most and closes tax loopholes that allow the 
wealthy to avoid paying their fair share 

■ consumer protections that include not only product safety 
but re-regulation of credit (mortgages, credit cards, payday 
loans, etc. that are designed to entrap) 

■ affordable, universal healthcare that will prevent illness from 
ruining families financially 

■ education reform that values and recruits the best and 
brightest teachers 

■ governmental spending on items that have demonstrated 
ability to promote economic growth (e.g., infrastructure 
projects, unemployment benefits, food stamps) instead of 
those which do not (e.g., corporate tax cuts, tax cuts for the 
wealthy, eliminating capital gains taxes) 

■ changes in aid to the poor that would 1) allow workers to 
transition back into jobs without losing their benefits until 
their employment supplies a commensurate amount, and 
2) allow mothers with preschool children to stay at home if 
they desire 

When I read the scriptures, I am led towards liberal attitudes 
and ideas. We have a God who gives to "all men liberally" 
(James 1:5), and we have His son, who ministered to the poor 
and the needy, the sick and afflicted, and who gave His life in 
atonement for others. I'm taught that I should beware of pride 
and its socioeconomic consequences, that I should be content 
with "food and raiment," serve others, succor those who stand 
in need of succor, and impart of my substance to the poor. 

Nowhere in the scriptures do I find any passage that says 
promoting the welfare of others can only be accomplished 
as individuals or as religious groups and should never be 
attempted by a government. Nowhere in the scriptures do I 
read that a "free market" is God's true economy. 

On an individual's Facebook profile, one can state his or her 
"political views." For mine I have used Alma 1:30: 

And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not 
send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or 
that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been 
nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; 
therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both 
bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the 
church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to 
those who stood in need. 

Each of us decides on our own whether we are in prosperous 
enough circumstances to share with others. Years ago my 
husband said, "I think I would consider us independently 
wealthy if, when one of our kids needs new shoes, we could 
just go out and buy them." And the time came when, by our 
own definition, we were "independently wealthy." We should 
be careful to not define "prosperous circumstances" as an 
income bracket we never attain. 

Remembering to count my blessings rather than numbering 
my needs is a daily struggle, and I wonder if I might not be 
better suited for a Law of Moses regimen. I do know that from 
the Ten Commandments to the Law of Moses to the Law of 
Consecration, God's laws address the shoulds and shouldn'ts 
of our socio-economic circumstances. To me it follows that a 
God-inspired United States Constitution not only supported 
the restoration of the gospel, it also supports putting the 
restored gospel into action through government program^ 
that serve the social welfare needs of a growing and diverse 
population. We will certainly form a more perfect union as we 
choose leaders whose priority is the welfare of the people, 
who will work towards a goal of having "no poor among us." 


1. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "The Divinely Inspired Constitution," Ensign, February 1992, 

2. J. Reuben Clark: Selected Papers on Religion, Education, and Youth, ed. David H. 
Yarn, Jr., Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1984, p. 165. 

3. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "The Divinely Inspired Constitution," Ensign, February 1992, 

4. President Ezra Taft Benson, "First Presidency Message: Jesus Christ— Gifts and 
Expectations," Ensign, December 1988, p2. 

5. Richard E. Johnson, "Socioeconomic Inequality: the Haves and the Have nots," 
BYU Today, September 1990 

6. Since the 1960s, the United States Government has defined poverty in absolute 
terms. When the Johnson administration declared "war on poverty" in 1964, it 
chose an absolute measure. The "absolute poverty line" is the threshold below 
which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet 
the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient income to provide the food, 
shelter and clothing needed to preserve health. 

7. Erik Eckholm, "Recession Raises Poverty Rate to a 15 Year High," The New York 
Times online, September 16, 2010, 

FALL 2012 



Pat Langmade • Paradise Valley, Arizona 


A/Iy view of church life in the District is filtered through the political lens inherent in the nation's capital. 
However, surprisingly, my ward is a staunchly apolitical space. \ By Sylvia Cabus • Washington DC 

/live in Washington, D.C., and feel lucky to belong to a diverse, 
urban ward. I first came to the District as a graduate student 
in international relations, and had recently returned to the 
United States after working in West Africa. My view of church 
life in the District is filtered through the political lens inherent 
in the nation's capital. Surprisingly, however, my ward is a 
staunchly apolitical space. 

Like most members with families, the majority of Mormons 
involved in politics live in the suburbs, but our inner-city ward 
still hosts quite a few political connections. For example, our 
bishop is the Chief of Staff for a member of Congress from Utah, 
and the Congressman himself attends our ward. Our ward is 
also the longtime home of the widow of another prominent 
member of Congress. Her children attend the ward as well, and 
one of them is a senior policy advisor to Hillary Clinton. Senator 

Reid's chief lawyer has been a member of our congregation, 
as well as a brother who works for CNN Espanol. The ward 
also boasts a large contingent of Arabic speakers working in 
academia and the public sector. 

The 2010 Congressional elections brought a slew of presumably 
Tea Party visitors to the ward who had won their local contests, 
but none of them seem to have made their home within the 
ward boundaries, perhaps because finding affordable "family- 
friendly" real estate in the District is more challenging than in 
the Maryland or Virginia suburbs. Ward attendance ebbs and 
flows with the Congressional calendar; some members absent 
themselves during campaign season, and every summer the 
congregation seems to double due to the influx of interns, 
pages, and graduate and law school students. Like other wards 
with transient populations, the question is always, "How long 


will you stay?" rather than what brought them here. 

One of the most remarkable aspects of our ward is that 
the "political" members include both progressives and 
conservatives. For example, my visiting teacher works for 
the National Council of La Raza, which is the largest national 
Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United 
States. The conservative members are open-minded enough to 
commit to living in the District, which is not the easiest place 
for Republicans because of the city's liberal tendencies, or for 
larger families due to the limited housing stock. 


Despite the ward's location in the 
most political city in the country, and 
despite the fact that a large number 
of people in the congregation have 
some sort of political connection, 
partisanship rarely seeps into talks, 
lessons, or testimonies given in our 
ward. Perhaps partisanship does not 
surface in these areas because ward 
members tend not to display political 
affiliations except in incidental relation 
to their work, such as in 2008 when 
one of my teachers excused himself 
from the ward to volunteer on the 
first Romney campaign, or when 
one of the compassionate service 
opportunities was to help a sister pack 
up her apartment before she moved 
to Nevada for her new position as the 
deputy state director for the Obama 
campaign. When a political speech 

writer and his wife spoke in sacrament meeting, the bishop 
introduced the brother and said that he "writes talks for a living" 
without mentioning who his boss was. 

Whenever a politically charged statement is made, it's usually 
via one of the missionary couples who are only assigned to our 
ward for a short period of time and are unaware of how diverse 
our congregation's political views are. Shortly after President 
Obama's inauguration, when one half of a missionary couple 
implied that Obama's administration was an impending sign 
of the apocalypse, a collective shudder of unease seemed to 
pass through our congregation. As politically active as our ward 
membership is, we know better than to talk politics at church. 

In order to function as a 
cohesive religious body, we must 
all come together and offer 
our talents and resources to 
one another for the benefit of 
the whole community. Failing 
to contribute or to accept the 
contributions of others because 
we dont share the same political 
point of view is trumped by our 

Because of the physical distance, the discussion on California's 
Proposition 8 did not seem to publicly divide opinion in 
the same way it did on the West Coast. Probably the most 
contentious event to take place in our ward was when Glenn 
Beck came to visit. As far as I know, no one said anything 
confrontational to him, although some members told me that 
it was difficult to think charitable thoughts. One sister actually 
bore her testimony the following fast Sunday, saying that his 
visit was a real exercise in self-control and compassion for her. 
The day of his visit, everyone who blessed and administered 
the sacrament was African-American. I'm not sure whether 
or not this was a deliberate choice, but I felt it was the ward's 
statement, and by extension, the 
Church's, regarding diversity and 
tolerance. Brother Beck's reaction was 
not recorded, but I imagine that he 
focused on the sacrament itself, and 
not so much on the priesthood holders 
- like any good Mormon, regardless of 
political affiliation. 

commitment to each other and 
our shared faith. 

My overall sense is that politics in 
the ward is somehow subsumed 
by the great needs of members in a 
diverse inner-city congregation and 
by our primary goal to build a strong, 
cooperative religious community. 
Our ward membership is not only 
comprised of politicos but academics, 
artists, actors, and people who work 
for the government and non-profits. 
The ward is also distinguished by a 
high number of members who live in 
subsidized housing and benefit from social programs from the 
Church or the government. Some of our members lack basic 
job skills, and speak English as a second language. In order 
to function as a cohesive religious body, we must all come 
together and offer our talents and resources to one another for 
the benefit of the whole community. Failing to contribute or to 
accept the contributions of others because we don't share the 
same political point of view is trumped by our commitment to 
each other and our shared faith. One benefit of a geographically 
assigned ward structure is that people of many socioeconomic 
backgrounds are forced to cooperate and support each other 
in a way that's blind to color, money, or politics — just as the 
Gospel intends us to live/v- 

FALL 2012 


Caroline, John, and Jackie Kennedy in March 1958 • LIFE George W. Bush and Family Barack Obama and Family • Election Night, 11/04/08 

(Front Rmr PoiitLay 

People forget politicians are people. They forget that they have lives, have families, and are just women 
and men who are trying to come up with solutions to the country's problems. 
By Heather Bennett Oman • Williamsburg, Virgina 

/was 17 the first time I saw my dad's face on a bus. I knew 
the campaign was kicking into high gear, but nobody had 
ever actually said, "Hey, Heather, guess what? We're putting 
your dad on BUSES now." I was driving somewhere in Salt Lake 
City, and the bus pulled up right next to me, leaving me face to 
face with my father. He was huge, larger than life, and I had a 
hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that other people 
would be meeting him like this, too. 

It's not that I minded other people meeting my father. I like my 
dad. He's a good dad, and a good man. But to see Dad on a 
bus— well, it made me feel kind of naked. Like that dream when 
you are at school and you forget your pants and everybody is 
looking at you. When my father decided to run for the United 
States Senate, suddenly everybody was looking at us. 

Tje~alhe^ma^a~n~d her son on stage before Obama's inaugurate 


I have often been asked what it was like to grow up with a 
Senator for a dad. I'm never quite sure how to answer that 
question. What exactly do they want to know? What am I 
supposed to say? What kind of life do they think a Senator's 
family leads? All I can really do is shrug and say, "Pretty normal, 
I guess." 

I suppose there are some things that happened in my family 
that don't happen in other families. During the 1996 presidential 
election, for example, I had to say to a friend on the phone, 
"I've gotta go, Bob Dole is calling." I've had a conversation with 
Michelle Obama about her arm workouts. But on the whole, I 
feel like our family is a normal family who does normal things. 
People are always surprised when they run into my father doing 
things like grocery shopping. I can't tell you the number of 
people who say, "I saw your dad in Smith's buying dog food. 
Just like a regular person!" Other people ask me how my dad 
gets around town. When I tell him that he drives himself to 
work in his own car, they are a little disappointed that it's not a 
more dramatic story. And on 9/11, when the entire family was 
calling him, frantic to know more information, Dad simply told 
us that he was learning everything from CNN, same as us. 

People forget politicians are people. They forget that they have 
lives, have families, and are just women and men who are 
trying to come up with solutions to the country's problems. 
I'm constantly amazed at the demonization and deification 
that happens to politicians. I'm not sure why people think that 

Mitt Romney and Family President Bill Clinton and 

a certain somebody is the devil, or conversely, that the other 
person is the country's would-be savior (and sometimes I think 
the deification is a little scarier). They're just people, and don't 
have nearly the amount of power we think they have. 

Also, people forget that they aren't getting the whole story if 
they are getting it from the media. I'm not talking about specific 
media outlet biases (although those exist); I'm saying all media 
has an agenda: to get the story out fast and keep the message 
simple. Dad used to tell me that the negative impact of a 
political mistake is directly related to how easily the mistake 
is understood. For example, remember Whitewater? Yeah, 
nobody else does, either. It was a complicated real estate 
scandal surrounding the Clintons that involved loans and the 
SEC. And while it's possible that the Clintons actually did 
something illegal, the details don't easily fit into a 30-second 
sound byte, and so the story didn't have much staying power. 
They caught some backlash for that, but compare Whitewater 
to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Not everybody understands 
or really cares about complicated real estate transactions. But 
everybody understands and cares about sex. 

People also forget that politicians have to work with other 
politicians. The year my father was voted out of office, a lot of 
people were mad about a lot of different things. One constituent 
said to him, "If you had worked harder, you could have defeated 
Obamacare!" My father tried to point out that his wasn't the 
only vote that counted— there are 99 other people in the Senate 
who have a say in how things go, not to mention the nearly 450 
folks in the House. Politics is a team sport, and sometimes, no 
matter how hard you try, your team loses. 

And sometimes, if you want to get anything done, you have to 
compromise. There's a saying in D.C. that if everybody is mad 
when the bill passes, it means that the job got done right. But in 
politics, compromise has become a dirty word. It suggests that 
people are selling out, laying down their principles, giving in 
because they don't have the moral strength to stand up for what 

Family • 1993 • by Alfred Eisenstaedt Richard Nixon and Family 

they believe. But in everyday life, real people compromise all 
the time. When I buy a car, I expect the transaction to be one of 
compromise, where the seller and I can come to an agreement 
that suits us both. I compromise with my children— if you want 
to watch this movie until bed, then no TV time in the morning. As 
a nation, we make deals all the time with our friends, our family, 
and in business. Why are we so upset when our politicians do 
it? And we do get upset, because nobody votes for the guy who 
says, "I'll look at the issues from all angles, see how I can get 
the best deal in the end that most benefits our state, and then 
vote accordingly." Nope, we want ideological purists, and are 
constantly disappointed when ideological solutions don't apply 
to complex situations. 

But for all the media hype about dishonest politicians, and the 
end of the world as we know it, I still believe in our country, and I 
have a hard time believing that our public servants want to hurt 
it. Having a father for a senator means that I've had a front row 
seat to a lot of political maneuverings. I have met the people 
the country vilifies up close, and it has taught me that while 
there is more than enough ego to go around, I don't believe any 
of them are out to hurt America or the American people. Sure, 
politicians pander and they flirt with the camera and some of 
what they say is motivated by gross egomania. But at the end 
of the day, most of them vote how they vote because they think 
it's the right thing to do. You may disagree with them, you may 
think that they are picking the wrong battle or the wrong way to 
fight it, and in some cases, you may be right. But I have yet to 
meet a politician who hates America. 

My father lost his re-election bid in 2010. That's the way the 
system works— if you don't like the guy who is in, you vote 
him out and let somebody else take a turn. His life in politics 
is over, and that's okay. Our family will continue much as it did 
before, with perhaps fewer trips to the White House. And with 
fewer buses with his face on it. For the first time in almost two 
decades, nobody is looking at us.$£. 

FALL 2012 




My goal is broader: to argue that Mormon women of all political persuasions are needled to speak from 
a place of faith in setting a new course for American politics in the 21st century. \ Given in the San Pedro 
Ward on September 11, 2011 \ By Marina Capella • San Pedro, California 

I have been moved to speak on a topic near and dear to my heart, 
and which I feel is somewhat neglected over our pulpits and in 
our lesson manuals. The topic is environmental stewardship. 

As a pediatrician I have chosen to dedicate myself to the health 
of children. As such, it is my responsibility to care for children 
suffering from the effects of pollution and environmental 
degradation. It is well established that children living in 
agricultural areas are at high risk of exposure to pesticides, 
and therefore at higher risk of diseases like asthma. Closer to 
home, according to the American Lung Association, the city of 
Los Angeles has the worst air quality of any city in the United 
States. Although things have improved during the past decade 
in L.A., based on current levels of pollution, 310,000 children 
will develop asthma before the age of 10, and over 1 million over 
their lifetime. Overall in this country, the percentage of children 
with asthma has doubled over the past two decades. 

I not only care about children, but about all living creatures. My 
husband Christian is a marine biologist. Part of the research for 
his dissertation involves studying the 19th century otter trade. 
If you have ever seen a sea otter then you know how intelligent, 
playful and charismatictheseanimalsare. Someof you may also 
know that in the 19th century, American fur traders snuck into 
Spanish California and illegally killed hundreds of thousands of 
these beautiful creatures (the equivalent of 300 Exxon-Valdez 
disasters). They only agreed to stop 40 years after the otters 
were believed to be extinct. This problem extends to practically 
everything large and awe-inspiring in the ocean: Of the 256 
species of ocean fish and mammals that are more than three 
feet long, their numbers have declined an average of 90 percent 

in the last 50 years. At the current rate of fishery collapse, there 
will be no wild-caught fish in our markets by 2047. 


I think most people would agree these are all bad things, but 
are environmental issues relevant to our salvation? I believe so, 
and that God has made it clear in the scriptures that we have 
obligations to be good stewards of our environment. 

In Section 59 of the Doctrine & Covenants, the Lord teaches us: 

Yea, all things which come out of the earth, in the season 

thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of [humankind], 

both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; 

Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to 

strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. 

And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things 

unto us; for unto this end were they made to be used, with 

judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion [emphasis added]. 

In Section 104, this theme is expounded upon: 

For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every [person] 
accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I 
have made and prepared for my creatures. 
For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I 
prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men 
to be agents unto themselves. 

These scriptures exhort us to be responsible stewards of our 
physical environment. This is not some general duty we have 


Melissa Leaym-Fernandez ■ "Mother & Calf in Tall Grass/' "Love, Etcetera," "Mother & Calf in India" • Fort Gratiot Michigan • 

as good citizens, but a commandment for us as Christians, 
a key part of our soul's progress back to heaven. Just as our 
adherence to the Word of Wisdom is tied to our spiritual well-being 
and our worthiness to enter the temple, I believe that our responsible 
stewardship of this earth has profound implications for our souls. 

Indeed, all ordinances are, by definition, physical acts that 
change our spirits in some way. Why is this? Because "the 
spirit and the body are the soul of man" (D&C 88:15); as Latter- 
day Saints we believe that there is nothing we do to our bodies 
that we do not also do to our souls because our bodies are 
our souls. This is true not just of our individual bodies, but of 
also collectively as a Church. In D&C 103, God explains the 
conditions under which we can return to the promised land 
of Zion (Missouri, not Salt Lake). He says, "I have promised 
[you] the land of Zion. . . . Nevertheless, if [you] pollute [your] 
inheritances, [you] shall be thrown down; for I will not spare 
[you] if [you] pollute [your] inheritances" (D&C 103:13-14). 
And how are we doing as stewards of our inheritances? Well, 
we haven't been asked to gather at Missouri; draw your own 


Many modern-day prophets and Church figures have sought 
to teach us about environmental stewardship. The Church has 
a long history of being engaged in particular environmental 
issues, and many leaders have spoken on the subject. Speaking 
in 1988, Ezra Taft Benson taught us: "Physical and spiritual 
laws are interrelated. Pollution of one's environment and moral 
impurity both rest on a lifestyle which partakes of a philosophy 

of 'eat, drink, and be merry'— gouge and grab now, without 
regard to consequences. Both violate the spirit of stewardship 
for which we will stand accountable .... The Church has urged 
its members to be efficient users of resources, to avoid waste 
and pollution, and to clean uptheirown immediate environment 
or that over which they have control." 

Speaking just a few years earlier in 1984, Gordon B. Hinckley 
warned: "This earth is His creation. When we make it ugly, we 

offend Him Let us live with the certain knowledge that some 

day 'we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even 
as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt' 
(Alma 11:43)." 1 President Hinckley, who frequently encouraged 
members to live within their means, also liked to remind us of 
the old pioneer adage, "Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do 
without." 2 

Many Church leaders have also been staunch advocates of 
kindness to animals, including domestic animals, wildlife and 
even insects. In the earlier days of the Church, Brigham Young, 
Wilford Woodruff, and George Albert Smith (among others) 
frequently admonished Church members to treat animals with 
kindness and mercy. Speaking in a General Conference, Wilford 
Woodruff told the Saints: "My soul has been pained a great 
deal by the treatment which man extends to the beasts of the 
field. The Lord has given us horses and cattle and other animals 
for our benefit. Not one of these animals can talk to us, and 
I therefore look upon their ill-treatment as a great evil and a 
sin." Treatment of animals was at one point such a concern that 
the Church held annual "Humane Days" beginning in the 1890s, 

1 "What Shall I Do Then with Jesus Which Is Called Christ?" Liahona, Apr 1984 

2 "I Believe", Ensign, Aug 1992 

FALL 2012 

and in the 1950s the Children's Friend 
sponsored a "Kindness to Animals" 
club. In 1947, Joseph Fielding Smith 
wrote a lesson for Sunday School 
classes in which he condemned hunting 
for sport. David O. McKay argued 
against wearing fur and feathers, and 
in the 1951 General Conference said, "A 
true Latter-day Saint is kind to animals, 
is kind to every created thing." Heber 
J. Grant and George Albert Smith took 
their humane treatment of animals to 
yet another level— they were virtually 
vegetarians and encouraged members 

to heed the Word of Wisdom by eating meat sparingly in 
General Conferences. 


Knowing all these things, how can we become better stewards 
of our environment starting today? There are countless books, 
websites, and entire organizations devoted to answering this 
question. I encourage you to seek out information from any and 
all of these. Here, I will mention just three basic ideas, in no 
particular order, for how to be a more responsible steward. I 
don't think these are necessarily the most important things you 
can do; they're just three ideas. 

1. Consume less: I'm not talking about calories here. I'm talking 
about anything and everything. Remember what D&C 59 
taught us? "[God] hath given all these things unto us; for unto 
this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to 
excess." Picture the average American woman's shoe closet. 
A survey of American women in 2007 found that women, 
on average, own 19 pairs of shoes. The survey also found 
that women, on average, bought four pairs of shoes per year, 
wear only four pairs of shoes regularly, and have worn one 
quarter of their shoes only once. Where do these shoes end 
up when their owner decides to make room for a new pair? A 
minority end up being recycled or given a second life as part 
of someone else's shoe closet, but the vast majority end up as 
non-biodegradable waste in landfills. 

Shoes are just one example of a product we could easily do 
with less of, but there are countless other things that we 
probably have filling our homes that we could stand to do 


is kind to animals, 




without. The concept also extends 
to non-material things like energy. 
We can turn off the lights when 
we're not using them. We can 
choose more fuel-efficient cars and 
even bike and walk places when 
feasible. We can turn off the faucet 
while we brush our teeth. We can 
wash a fork or cup instead of using 
a disposable one. There are a million 
little things we can do to cut down 
on our consumption of material and 
energy resources. 

2. Be a conscientious consumer. Once in a while, we all do need 
a new pair of shoes. When that happens, there are various 
things we can do to ensure that our purchases are responsible 
in terms of environmental impact. I've recently adopted a few 
simple strategies when it comes to buying shoes: I search for 
well-constructed, comfortable shoes that will last me at least 
a few years. I buy shoe polish in various colors to try to keep 
them looking presentable. If the lining gets torn or worn, I try 
to replace it instead of tossing the entire shoe. 

In this regard, I think discount stores and retail sales are a great 
thing in that they make needed products such as clothing 
and furniture affordable for everyone. However, it pains me 
to see cheap items lining store shelves that will inevitably 
end up filling a landfill within a matter of years, or months, or 
sometimes even days. It's easy to pick up an item that costs 
only 99 cents and think, "I don't care too much if this gets 
dirty, or torn, or broken, because I can throw it away and buy 
another one." And thus our landfills continue to fill up, and 
more material resources are used and more energy is used 
to make the things that will replace the ones we threw away. 

I think we can do a better job of thinking through the impact 
that our choices have on our world. Where does an item 
come from? Was it made using methods or chemicals that 
pollute the air, soil, or water, even if that air, soil, or water 
happen to be in China? Did it have to be shipped all the way 
from Indonesia to get to me? Does the company I patronize 
treat and pay its workers fairly? Am I going to use the item 
long enough to justify the purchase? Where will the item end 
up after I'm done with it? Is it recyclable? 


3. Eat less meat. Yes, as a vegetarian and animal lover, I am 
undoubtedly biased in this regard. Nevertheless, I do invite 
you to review and seriously consider what Doctrine & 
Covenants Section 89 has to say on the topic. "Yea, flesh also 
of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained 
for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to 
be used sparingly. And [this is the part we often ignore] it is 
pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times 
of winter, or of cold, or famine [emphasis added]." 

For me, I decided to eat less meat, and eventually abstain from 
meat entirely, after learning about factory farms, which keep 
animals in fairly gruesome conditions before the slaughter, 
but can also exploit their human workers to a shocking 
degree. Another reason to consider abstaining from meat is 
how inefficient it is to produce: Every pound of meat requires 
many pounds of grains and/or vegetables and hundreds of 
gallons of water to produce. (In fact, it accounts for eight 
percent of all human water use.) If everyone ate less meat 
there would be more food for everyone, more wild space, and 
less environmental pollution in the form of nitrogen runoff. 

I mentioned earlier that President Grant was a near- 
vegetarian. In 1937, at the age of 80, he said this in a General 
Conference: "I think that [a] reason I have very splendid 
strength for an old man is that during the years we have had 
a cafeteria in the Utah Hotel I have not, with the exception 
of not more than a dozen times, ordered meat of any kind. . 
. . I have endeavored to live the Word of Wisdom, and that, 
in my opinion, is one reason for my good health." President 
Grant remained strong and active until his death in 1945 at 
the age of 88. 

Even if you decide vegetarianism isn't for you, you can strive 
to have the same kind of loving regard for animals and wildlife 
that our prophets demonstrated and advocated. 


I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not consider myself a 
paragon of ecological virtue. But, this is what we do in Church: 
encourage one another to become better. I pray that we will 
all take seriously the call from scriptures and prophets to be 
responsible, caring stewards of our earthly environment.)!^ 

Melissa Leaym-Fernandez • "Pool Play" • Fort Gratiot, Michigan • 

FALL 2012