In case you haven’t heard by now, Jon Huntsman Jr. is running for president. Now that Huntsman has joined fellow Mormon Mitt Romney, you’re probably going to have more than one conversation with a neighbor or co-worker about these prominent Mormon candidates.
Here are some tips for talking to your neighbor about a Mormon candidate.
1. Be informed about Mormon candidates. Your neighbors and co-workers who are not Latter-day Saints may assume that you support political Mormons because you are one, and they may use a candidate’s policies or promises to start a conversation. If you do endorse a Mormon candidate, it’s a good idea to be able to defend him or her on political merits and not just religious affiliation. And if you’re not supporting them, you’ll probably still want to know where Mormons who are running for office stand on the big issues. Often this goes beyond just knowing their political party.
2. Separate politics from religion. Take a lesson from the Church’s stance of political neutrality. Remember that a Mormon politician plays many roles, just like anyone else. The duties of an elected official are separate from the responsibilities of a member of the Church. While some political topics overlap with moral issues—abortion, defending marriage, stem-cell research—all candidates ultimately take their own stand on these issues. Church leaders do not “make them” vote a certain way or defend a certain side.
3. Know your own views on the issues. Any political conversation you are a part of should be a place for you to express your own views, not just to reiterate someone else’s. Newspapers and web pages are a good place to start, but look to a variety of sources because every source has a little bias. To compare your views with those of a specific candidate, look at official websites or watch recent speeches so you’re taking the words straight from the candidate’s mouth.
4. Listen as much as you talk. This is no time for a filibuster! A sure way to keep someone from hearing your opinion is to not offer them a chance to share their own. A good way to avoid this is to know your stance and be able to state it quickly. Also, don’t plan your next statement while your friend is talking. If you listen courteously, your friend will likely do the same.
5. Be civil. There’s a reason discussing politics is a taboo topic: people tend to have strong opinions about it, and yours could vary widely from your neighbor’s. Remember to be respectful of the opinions of others and refrain from throwing insults. Instead, ask questions about your concerns with a particular policy or stance to prompt more discussion with your friend. If a topic gets heated, politely change the subject.
Think we missed something? Leave a comment below to tell us your tactics for talking Mormons and politics. Not everyone loves discussing politics—some people even avoid it—but with these tips hopefully your next political conversation won’t be a painful one.
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