This Op-Ed was originally published at The Salt Lake Tribune (Link)
By Brian King and Suzanne Harrison
As we pull into the home stretch of a brutal presidential election, Mormons in Utah are wondering whether anyone in politics reflect their values. While Republicans have traditionally relied on Mormons as some of their most reliable religious supporters, this cycle has seen that party champion a man who passionately opposes almost everything Mormons hold dear. The Utah Republican Party, placed in the unenviable position of either opposing their party’s nominee or opposing their state’s values, has decided on their party. The GOP seems to be going out of its way to alienate Mormons.
Under these surprising circumstances, the two of us recently participated in a public forum about our faith and our politics. The event, organized by the ABU Education Fund and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, provided us each an opportunity to explain how our profound faith in the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has led us to the Democratic Party.
We are living in a state with one of the worst education systems — adjusted for demographics — in the nation. Our teachers are given some of the very biggest classes and then provided fewer resources per-pupil than almost anywhere else in the country. We hold sacred the words criticizing a society that distinguished people “according to their riches and their chances for learning.”
This prophetic author describes the effects of such a misguided system: “some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches” (3 Nephi 6:12). This rings true to us on a spiritual level. As Mormons, we believe that helping children should rank much higher on our state’s list of priorities.
Similarly, Utah’s air quality is so bad that our children often can’t go outside for recess. The toxins in our air can cause asthma, cancer, pregnancy complications and, in some cases, even death. One recent estimate suggests that the deaths of hundreds of Utahns per year can be directly attributed to our criminally dirty air.
Our Mormon faith urges us to be wise stewards of the environment — not just because we’ll breathe toxins if we don’t, but also because, in the words of an official church website, “making the earth ugly offends [God].” Caring for creation shows respect for its Creator. It’s as simple as that.
These are just two of the issues that matter to us. We are Democrats because we are Mormon. We invite you to take another look at what we stand for. There is room for you here.
Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, is House Minority Leader. Dr. Suzanne Harrison is the Democratic candidate for House District 32 in Sandy.