One of my favorite Mormon traditions is that our Sunday service includes mini-sermons from 2-3 members of the ward (congregation). We take turns, assigned by local leadership. It’s typical to have people who just moved into the ward include a short introduction when they speak. In that tradition:
I grew up the youngest of six kids in the college town of Newark, Delaware (go Blue Hens!), where I was the only Latter-day Saint in my high school class. Senior year, our world lit teacher focused the discussion on the problem of evil: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I was impressed by the commitment to values my classmates–Baptist, Buddhist, Methodist, atheist, Hindu, agnostic, Catholic–brought to our discussions. My own high school days started at 6 a.m. for Seminary (scripture classes), and I found many areas of overlap between my LDS values and those of my school friends — an initial taste of the power of coming together in common purpose.
Brigham Young University (where I went in search of dates and an undergraduate degree) came as a shock, as I found myself for the first time truly immersed in conservative politics. I learned a new language for talking about my political values–finding shared interest in being good stewards for the Earth, supporting parents in earning a living wage, empowering people to get a quality education. These conversations have continued through marriage, graduation, a move to Florida for grad school and the birth of our first child. Several years of talking about Mormonism with my fellow Democrats and the Democratic Party with my fellow Mormons ending up being great preparation for the 2012 election. I got involved in organizing Mormons for Obama, which grew into a grassroots campaign of more than 2,000 members, many of whom used to be members of the Republican Party. I started working alongside the great folks in the LDS Democrats caucus of the Utah Democratic Party. Mormon Democrats exist!
During and after the campaign, many, many people expressed an interest in having a long-term organization to identify, support and mobilize Mormon Democrats. Even though there are least 400,000 of us in the U.S., in the past it’s been far too easy for individual Mormon Dems to believe things such as:
1) They’re the only Democrat at church;
2) They’re the only Mormon (or person of any faith) in the Democratic Party.
To combat these perceptions, and to better organize politically, in early April, I helped launch LDS Democrats of America. Our membership includes conservative, moderate, progressive Democrats, Mormons, friends of other faiths and friends without religious affiliation. But we’re all committed to confronting and solving the challenges facing our country. I find YDA’s Faith & Values Initiative to be in line with what we’re doing with LDS, and I’m excited about the conversations that are happening here: speaking out for values, building on common ground, and solving problems together.
Faith and Values Leadership Committee Memeber