The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially says it does not support any political campaign, party or platform. In 2008, according to news reports, the Mormon Church was a factor in passage of California's Proposition 8, which limited marriage to a man and a woman. The Mormon Church's position is that it does not have a role in dictating the political contributions of its members, but encourages Mormons to be politically active as part of their civic responsibilities.
Mormon Church's Official Position
During major election seasons in the United States, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints releases the same statement defining its position of neutrality, according to the church's website. The statement originated from Elder Marlin K. Jensen, member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a 1998 issue of "The Salt Lake Tribune." The statement indicates that some positions in both the Democratic and Republican parties correspond to some of the teachings of the Mormon Church, and encourages Mormons to participate in the democratic process on their own as part of their civic responsibilities. The church says it offers no guidance or direction on how members cast their ballots. The statement also indicates that it does not endorse political candidates, platforms or positions.
In the 2008 California election, the Mormon Church endorsed and provided contributions to passage of Proposition 8, according to a 2009 article in the "Los Angeles Times." Proposition 8 banned same sex marriages in 2008, after the California Supreme Court had upheld gay marriage rights. Top church officials supported the campaign by spending $180,000 on flights and accommodations for proponents of the marriage ban, according to the "Los Angeles Times." According to a 2008 issue of "The New York Times," Mormon Church leaders composed a decree stating the church's opposition to gay marriage; church leaders read the statement to their congregations and encouraged members to become politically active on the issue. Mormons traveled to specific neighborhoods to shore up support in favor of the marriage ban.
Proposition 8 Repercussions
The Mormon Church agreed to pay $5,000 in fines over its donations to the Proposition 8 campaign, according to a 2010 article in "Deseret News." The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) levied the fine on the church for failing to detail in a timely manner the in-kind campaign contributions, or donated time by employees, in support of Proposition 8. The FPPC levied a 15 percent fine on the church for each of its late filings. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints agreed to pay the fines, and did not lose its tax-exempt status as a nonpolitical religious organization.
2012 Presidential Election
The 2012 presidential election pitted incumbent Democrat Barack Obama against Republican Mitt Romney, an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to "The Salt Lake Tribune," the Mormon Church issued an edict on June 28, 2012, instructing top officials not to make political contributions or endorse a candidate. The edict did not include all employees of the Mormon Church, and practitioners were allowed to support candidates of their choice. Top officials did not participate in the election as official representatives of the Mormon Church after the edict's implementation.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Endorse Political Parties?
- Los Angeles Times: Mormon Church Reports Spending $180,000 on Proposition 8
- The New York Times: Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage
- The New York Times: Mormon Church Agrees to Pay Campaign Finance Fine
- The Salt Lake Tribune: 2 Top Mormon Leaders Donated to Romney; PR Manager Gave to Obama
- Deseret News: Mormon Church Agrees to Pay Small Fine for Mistake that Led to Late Report of Contributions in Prop. 8 Campaign
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: General Auxiliaries
- George Frey/Getty Images News/Getty Images