Sometimes, if an elected official is a member of a religion or other organization with clearly stated beliefs, there is an anxiety among some that he or she will do whatever that religion or organization dictates. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds to the idea that church and state are separate entities. We believe that religious authority must not interfere with political matters and that elected officials or civil servants are absolutely free to perform their duties. If there has been any conduct by Mormons that goes against these principles, it has been in violation of the well-settled principles and policy of the Church.
The Lord has "given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves" (Doctrine and Covenants 104:17). Elected officials and civil servants who are Mormons make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with publicly stated Church positions. The Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other leader, but it recognizes that these men and women must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies they represent.
GOOD CITIZENS OF THE EARTH
Besides being citizens of a city and a country, we are all citizens of the earth. God created the beautiful world we live in, and we have a responsibility to respect it. We can show our gratitude for His amazing creation by being aware of the natural resources we consume and working to reduce, reuse, and recycle them—God gave us"dominion over all the beasts of the field," but with that dominion comes the expectation to act responsibly (Moses 5:1). We are entrusted to take care of the earth, not only because it is a gift from God, but because we depend on it for sustenance. Not as many of us grow our own food now as people did before the industrial revolution, so it can be easy to forget how tied we are to the land we live on (All our food comes from the grocery store, right?). We would do well to remember where our bread comes from today. To show our gratitude to God, we try to work to preserve the sustainable use of the earth's beauty and bounty for the generations that follow.
RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTS A NATION
Whether you're an elected official, a public school teacher or an average voter, how you handle your civic duty contributes to the growth or decay of your part of the world. A country, a state or a community is like a family—inevitably imperfect, but as good as the people who make it up. The integrity of a state is built by the hands of its citizens. Just because you can't make your country perfect doesn't mean you're exempt from responsibility. If people of character fail to participate in the political decisions that shape their lives, others with more selfish designs will rush in to fill the void.
PAY TRIBUTE TO CAESAR AND TO GOD
When one of the Pharisees asked Jesus what he thought about giving a tribute of money to the government, He said, "Render… unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). We owe a debt to our government for the roads we use, the schools our children attend, the law enforcement that keeps us safe and the other services it provides. We owe a debt to God for our very existence and eternal opportunities. We repay these two debts in different ways, and we must honor both of our creditors in order to be worthy of the blessings we enjoy in this life and the ones we are promised in the life to come.