Lous Dobbs recently wrote the following in an editorial on CNN.com:
The Mormon Church rolled out the red carpet for Mexican President Vicente Fox, embraces illegal immigrants in the state of Utah and helped pro-amnesty incumbent Congressman Chris Cannon with a get out the vote campaign.
Apparently Mr. Dobbs is living in some kind of alternate reality. The LDS church always meets with foreign dignitaries who come to Salt Lake City. It's just plain good manners. The Church has no policy on illegal immigrants and there is significant debate among members between satisfying the needs of justice and mercy vis-a-vis illegal immigration. And finally, the Church offers no support for political parties or candidates. This has been a policy that has stood for as long as anyone can remember. I don't know where Lou gets his "facts", but he might want to rethink his source.
It is Lou Dobbs' right to believe these things, but they are totally false and would have been proven so with the most basic of fact-checking. This mountain of bad reporting doesn't give him much of a foundation for the rest of his article either wherein he asserts that we need less religious involvement in politics.
Where did the flames of the American Revolution get fanned? In America's churches. Where were all of the proponents of Emancipation? In America's churches. Where did suffragists take their message? To America's churches. In the Western world, churches have been the center of both religious and political thought since the Middle Ages.
Martin Luther's protests against the Catholic Church sparked revolutions and changes in government across Europe. The Puritans and their rejection of the divine right of kings to rule served as the foundation of American republicanism. Even the LDS faith served as an important keystone of women's suffrage with the Utah Territory granting women the vote in 1870. Indeed, we owe many wonderful advances in governance to the excahnge of ideas within churches. To eliminate this cornerstone of political thought is to ignore the religious contributions to society and silence an incubator for new political thought.
Most of the proponents of the doctrine of seperation of church and state do not understand the principle in the slightest. To truly understand what it means, you have to go to the source and consider the times in which it was written instead of trying to squeeze new meaning out of it. Consider that at the time of our Constitution, England had not only an official state church, but that the monarch was at the head of it. Many of the people who had come to America were fleeing this abusive integration of an ecclesiastical body and state power. America consisted of Quakers, Puritans, Catholics, and all other manner of Christian denominations. There was even a thriving Jewish community in the colonies as they fled persecution in the old world.
This diverse group knew that they would be happiest if none of them had exclusive and integrated government control, and they understood the converse, that their free exercise of religion depended on government not interfering in their affairs. This did not, however, mean that their religion had no role in the realm of politics. To exclude religious sentiment from the realm of public policy would be government interfering in religion and prohibiting its free exercise. Where would we be if government had told the abolitionists, suffragists, and revolutionaries to keep it out of the churches? We'd be in a sorry state indeed.
Let's encourage the centuries-old tradition of encouraging new and exciting political thought through our nation's churches instead of trying to beat it into an untimely death as Lou Dobbs would propose. His ignorance and hasty generalizations do nothing to serve either side of the debate.