Congressman Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) sees an even deeper connection between his faith and his economic and political views. According to Mormon tradition, God and Satan fought a “war in heaven” over the question of moral agency, with God on the side of personal liberty and Satan seeking to enslave mankind. Flake acknowledges that the theme of freedom—and the threat of losing it—runs through much of Mormonism, and “that kind of fits my philosophy.” (Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has declared, “I am a Democrat because I’m a Mormon, not in spite of it,” his is a minority view among members of the faith.)
This quote reminded me of other conversations I’ve read, arguments about the proper role of government in assisting the poor, taxation, etc. The idea seems to be that laws which require the payment of taxes, which finance things like helping the (undeserving?) poor, are an offense to our individual moral agency.Fancy that, but many who would make such an argument regarding taxes might overlook the laws restricting something like same-sex marriage. Such laws would seem problematic if the bottom line is simply allowing for choice, not coercing.
Further, tying the war in heaven to economic ideas seems most often to be geared against things like government regulation of markets. This move assumes that legislated stipulations are of utmost concern regarding freedom to make choices. How can such a view account for the problems some might point to as being inherent in a structure already reeling from inequality. There is more to coercion than can be found in written law.
Ultimately, I’m interested in a preliminary discussion about the coupling of the LDS war in heaven narrative to contemporary political conditions.
“Sounds like Satan’s plan!” is a response I’d like to see explored much more fully.
For those interested in the theological nitty gritty, aquinas’s critique of Terryl Givens is recommended. Check it out here.