The only time the Mormon Church will speak out on political issues is when there is a moral question involved. Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle in the Mormon Church, explained it this way,
- Some moral absolutes or convictions must be at the foundation of any system of law. This does not mean that all laws are so based. Many laws and administrative actions are simply a matter of wisdom or expediency. But many laws and administrative actions are based upon the moral standards of our society. If most of us believe that it is wrong to kill or steal or lie, our laws will include punishment for those acts. If most of us believe that it is right to care for the poor and needy, our laws will accomplish or facilitate those activities. Society continually legislates morality. The only question is whose morality and what legislation.
People may view this as a violation of the separation of church and state, or may feel that the Mormon Church has no right to speak out on political matters; as Dallin H. Oaks explained,
- Apparently, churchmen can preach morality and religion as long as they do not suggest that their particular brand of religion has any connection with morality or that the resulting morality has any connection with political policies. Stated otherwise, religious preaching is okay so long as it has no practical impact on the listeners’ day-to-day behavior, especially any behavior that has anything to do with political activity or public policy.
As Oaks so blatantly points out, the idea that the Church would not speak out on an issue that involves Mormon beliefs of morality is backwards. The Mormon Church believes that morality and other rules regarding behavior are for the protection of all people and that by adhering to them a person can live a happy, fulfilled life. If the Church did not speak out it would be untrue to the faith.
The Mormon Church "believes in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." Members are encouraged to be responsible citizens of their country, to be informed about issues, and to vote. The Church encourages its members to be engaged in good causes; the Church also teaches that "Governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man." So being active citizens is greatly encouraged. This means that members are strongly encouraged to serve in their communities in areas such as school boards, city councils, state legislatures and other government offices.
The Mormon Church encourages the separation of church and state. This is believed to be essential so that civic laws do not interfere with religious practice and so that religious institutions do not manipulate governments. Mormon teachings state that it is the government's role to protect the individual's freedom to worship "according to the dictates of [his] own conscience" (Articles of Faith 11).
LDS Church Political Neutrality
This is the official statement of the Church of Jesus Christ on its political neutrality:
- The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics. This applies in all of the many nations in which it is established.
- The Church does not:
- Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates, or platforms.
- Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes.
- Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to. This policy applies whether or not a candidate for office is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.
- The Church does:
- Encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections.
- Expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.
- Request candidates for office not to imply that their candidacy or platforms are endorsed by the Church.
- Reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church.
- In the United States, where nearly half of the world’s Latter-day Saints live, it is customary for the Church at each national election to issue a letter to be read to all congregations encouraging its members to vote, but emphasizing the Church’s neutrality in partisan political matters.
Relationships With Government
- Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.
- Modern scriptural references to the role of government: Doctrine and Covenants, Section 134
Political Party Participation of Presiding Church Officers
- In addition, the First Presidency letter issued on 16 June 2011 is a re-statement and further clarification of the Church’s position on political neutrality at the start of another political season. It applies to all full-time General Authorities, general auxiliary leaders, mission presidents and temple presidents. The policy is not directed to full-time Church employees.
- "General Authorities and general officers of the Church and their spouses and other ecclesiastical leaders serving full-time should not personally participate in political campaigns, including promoting candidates, fundraising, speaking in behalf of or otherwise endorsing candidates, and making financial contributions.
- "Since they are not full-time officers of the Church, Area Seventies, stake presidents and bishops are free to contribute, serve on campaign committees and otherwise support candidates of their choice with the understanding they:
- Are acting solely as individual citizens in the democratic process and that they do not imply, or allow others to infer, that their actions or support in any way represent the church.
- Will not use Church stationery, Church-generated address lists or email systems or Church buildings for political promotional purposes.
- Will not engage in fundraising or other types of campaigning focused on fellow Church members under their ecclesiastical supervision." 
A Prophetic Discourse from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, 1978
- True to the Faith (2004), 38–39.
- Dallin H. Oaks, “Religious Values and Public Policy,” Ensign, Oct 1992, 60.
- Article of Faith 12 Pearl of Great Price.
- "Church and State," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 1:281–82.
- "'No Man's Land': The Place of Latter-day Saints in the Culture War," BYU Studies 38, no. 3 (1999): 145–62.