I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and have been my entire life. Twice a year, my family and I spend a Saturday and Sunday watching several sessions of General Conference, a worldwide conference where we listen to prophets, apostles, and other men and women called of God speak to us regarding how we can be more like Jesus Christ through living His gospel.
We are always encouraged to prepare for Conference with a question to be answered. We are asked to pray for an answer to that question and then watch conference with an open heart and mind, listening for that answer.
This particular Conference my question was one weighing heavily on my heart: who should I vote for in the upcoming 2020 presidential election?
I knew that I would not hear a name in Conference, for my church does not endorse a particular political party. In fact, the first president just today reiterated that in a letter to American Latter-day Saints:
“Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.”The First Presidency
Regardless of that knowledge, I still wanted to hear what qualities and issues that would be most important for me to study and consider as I work diligently to choose the worthiest candidate.
I can tell you most emphatically that my prayer was answered over the weekend. I still don’t have the name, but I do know what I will be focusing on to make my decision as to who will best lead this country and change it for the good of all Americans.
These were the topics I found most poignant as I listened to conference. The question I am asking myself, and I hope you will ask yourself, is who will best take action on these important and essential issues that shape our society?
The ideal presidential candidate, based on teachings in General Conference, will be devoted to:
Rooting out Racism/Prejudice/Inequality
“As citizens and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must do better to help root out racism…This country should be better in eliminating racism, not only against Black Americans, who were most visible in the recent protests, but also against Latinos, Asians and other groups. This nation’s history of racism is not a happy one and we must do better.”President Dallin H. Oaks
“The Savior’s ministry and message have consistently declared all races and colors are children of God. We are all brothers and sisters.”Elder Quentin L. Cook
“Each of us has a divine potential because each is a child of God. Each is equal in His eyes. …Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to what IPresident Russel M. Nelson
am about to say. God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear. He invites all to come unto Him, ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33). I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your
skin. Favor or disfavor with God is dependent upon your devotion to God and His commandments, and not the color of your skin.”
Speaking of the Culture of Christ: “…. It espouses the concept of equal worth…There is no prejudice……The worth of souls is great… It is inclusive, not exclusive… This dispels prejudice and hatred.”Elder William K. Jackson
Speaking of the Culture of Christ: “In the culture of Christ, women are elevated to their proper and eternal status. They are not subservient to men…but full and equal partners here and in the world to come.”Elder William K. Jackson
Building Unity Not Division
“Unity doesn’t magically happen; it takes work. It’s messy, sometimes it’s uncomfortable, and it happens gradually when we clear away the bad as fast as the good can grow. We are never alone in our efforts to create unity.”Sister Sharon Eubank
Speaking of the City of Enoch, “They were of one heart and of one mind.”Elder D. Todd Christofferson, quoting Moses 7:19
Speaking of the Culture of Christ: “It unites rather than divides. [There is no] or us vs. them mentality…We are all ‘us.’ We are all ‘them…”Elder William K. Jackson
“The millions who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ have committed themselves to achieving both righteousness and unity. We are all aware that we can do better, and that is our challenge in this day. We can be a force to lift and bless society as a whole…We can be an oasis of unity and celebrate diversity. Unity and diversity are not opposites. We can achieve greater unity as we foster an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for diversity.”Elder Quentin L. Cook
“Unity is enhanced when people are treated with dignity and respect even when they are different in outward characteristics.”Elder Quentin L. Cook
Respecting Rather than Hating Those Who Have Differing Opinions
“In a democratic government, we will always have differences over proposed candidates and policies. However, as followers of Christ we must forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced in many settings.”President Dallin H. Oaks
Spreading Optimism Rather than Panic and Fear
“As we face challenges, we can rely upon the promise of the Lord taught by Paul: ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind’ ” (1 Timothy 1:7).Elder Kelly R. Johnson
“‘Be of good cheer’ is the commandment from the Lord, notElder Jeremy R. Jaggi
be of good fear.”
Vocally and Actively Following Christ
“Of all the zealous social, religious and political endeavors of our day, let ‘disciple of Jesus Christ’ be our most pronounced and affirming affiliation.”Elder Jeremy R. Jaggi
“As the world speaks less of Jesus Christ, let us speak more of Him…We care more about being His followers than being ‘liked’ by our own followers.”Elder Neil L. Andersen
“By following Jesus’ example, we will avoid many tragedies and undesirable behaviors that might cause family problems and disagreements, negative emotions and inclinations, perpetrating injustices and abuses, enslavement by evil addictions, and anything else that would be against the Lord’s commandments.”Elder Ulisses Soares
“I speak of the poor whom the Savior told us never to forget…”Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
“In the household of faith there are to be no strangers, no foreigners, no rich and poor, no outside others.”Elder Gerrit W. Gong
Speaking of the Culture of Christ: “There is no recognition of caste or class…”Elder William K. Jackson
Speaking of the City of Enoch, “…and there was no poor among them.”Elder D. Todd Christofferson, quoting Moses 7:18
Helping Americans Get Through All the Difficulties of COVID-19
*Our church leaders set an excellent example during conference by sitting six feet apart and wearing masks when they weren’t speaking. There was no audience. Also, Elder Gerrit Gong recorded his talk in advance because he had possible been exposed to the virus. This shows just how seriously they are taking COVID-19 and how much they respect each other’s health, as we should.
“Amid social distancing, face masks and Zoom meetings, we have learned to do some things differently, and some even more effectively. Unusual times can bring unusual rewards.”President Russel M. Nelson
“I doubt there is a person who hears my voice or reads my words who has not been affected by the world-wide pandemic. To those who mourn the loss of family and friends, we mourn with you. We plead with Heavenly Father to comfort and console you. The long-term consequences of this virus go beyond physical health. Many families have lost incomes and are threatened with hunger, uncertainty, and apprehension. We admire the selfless efforts of so many to prevent the spread of this disease. We are humbled by the quiet sacrifice and noble efforts of those who have risked their own safety to assist, heal and support people in need. Our hearts are full of gratitude for your goodness and compassion.”Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“We will endure this, yes. But we will do more than simply grit our teeth, hold on and wait for things to return to the old normal. We will move forward, and we will be better as a result.”Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Maintaining Law and Order
“[Obeying the laws of the land] does not mean that we agree with all that is done with the force of law. It means that we obey the current law and use peaceful means to change it. It also means that we peacefully accept the results of elections. We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome. In a democratic society we always have the opportunity and the duty to persist peacefully until the next election.”President Dallin H. Oaks
“Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, ‘There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.’ Redress of grievances by mobs is redress by illegal means. That is anarchy, a condition that has no effective governance and no formal police, which undermines rather than protects individual rights.”President Dallin H. Oaks
“Though Jesus’s teachings were revolutionary, He did not teach revolution or law-breaking. He taught a better way.”President Dallin H. Oaks
“Redress of grievances by mobs is redress by illegal means. That is anarchy, a condition that has no effective governance and no formal police, which undermines rather than protects individual rights.”President Dallin H. Oaks
Showing Mercy and Compassion to Those He/She Serves
“We often think of substance in terms of food or money, but perhaps what we all need more of in our ministering is mercy.”Sister Sharon Eubank
“The Lord is always looking for willing volunteers to be angels in others’ lives.”Elder Carlos A. Godoy
“To be Christlike, a person loves mercy. People who love mercy are not judgmental; they manifest compassion for others, especially for those who are less fortunate. They are gracious, kind, and honorable. These individuals treat everyone with love and understanding, regardless of characteristics such as race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and tribal, clan, or national differences. These are superseded by Christlike love.”Elder Dale G. Renlund
“Christ will enable us to see others as He does. And with His help, we can discern what is most needful…As with all gifts the Father so willinglySister Michelle Craig
offers, seeing deeply requires us to ask Him — and then act.” By asking to see others and then acting by “loving, serving, and affirming their worth and potential as prompted.”
Speaking of the Culture of Christ: “It heals rather than harms… We believe we are responsible and accountable for ourselves, each other, the church, and our world. Charity, true Christ-like caring, is the bedrock of this culture. We feel real concern for the needs of our fellow man, temporal and spiritual, and act on those feelings.”Elder William K. Jackson
“What are the fundamentals that sustain a flourishing society? One that promotes happiness, progress, peace, and well-being among its members.”Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Praying For His/Her Nation and Its People
*Conference was full of loving assurances that our leaders are praying for us. President Nelson’s below is just one of them.
“I grieve with each of you who has lost a loved one during thisPresident Russel M. Nation
time. And I pray for all who are currently suffering.”
“During the past few months I have had the impression come to me that the best way to help the current world situation is for all people to rely more fully upon God and to turn their hearts to Him through sincere prayer. Humbling ourselves and seeking heaven’s inspiration to endure or conquer what is before us will be our safest and surest way to move confidently forward through these troubling times. I invite you to pray always. Pray for your family. Pray for your leaders of nations. Pray for the courageous people who are at the front lines in this current battle against social, environmental, political, and biological plagues that impact the people throughout the world, the rich and the poor, the young and the old…No matter how you pray or to whom you pray, pleaseElder M. Russell Ballard
exercise your faith — whatever your faith may be — and
pray for your country and for your national leaders. … This
is not about politics or policy. This is about peace and the
healing that can come to individual souls as well as to the souls of countries.”
Maintaining and Building Virtue in Society
“The institutions of family and religion have been crucial for endowing both individuals and communities with the virtues that sustain an enduring society…These virtues, rooted in scripture, include integrity, responsibility and accountability, compassion, marriage and fidelity in marriage, respect for others and the property of others, service and the necessity and dignity of work, among others.”Elder D. Todd Christofferson
“…When people turn from a sense of accountability to God and begin to trust instead in the arm of flesh, disaster lurks…is to ignore the divine author of human rights and human dignity and give the highest priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world while often mocking and persecuting those who follow a different standard.”Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Speaking of the Culture of Christ: “…It is a culture… of high moral standards, sacrifice, forgiveness…”Elder William K. Jackson
“The institutions of family and religion have been crucial for endowing both individuals and communities with the virtues that sustain an enduring society.”Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Helping Americans Become Self-Reliant
“The more self-reliant we are — temporally, emotionally andPresident Russel M. Nelson
spiritually — the more prepared we are to thwart Satan’s
“In an ever-changing world, we must prepare for uncertainties. Even with better days ahead we know that the temporal peaks and valleys of mortality will continue. As we seek to become temporally prepared, we can face the trials of life with increased confidence, peace in our hearts, and like Joseph of Egypt, we will be able to say, even in stressful circumstances, ‘There was bread.'”Bishop W. Christopher Waddell
“If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”President Russel M. Nelson quoting, Doctrine & Covenants 38:30
Respecting and Sustaining the Family
Speaking of the Culture of Christ: “This culture sanctions the sanctity of the family…”Elder William K. Jackson
“Adultery, promiscuity, elective abortion and out of wedlock births are but some of the bitter fruits that grow out of the immorality sanctioned by the sexual revolution. Follow-on consequences that work against the sustainability of a healthy society include growing numbers of children raised in poverty and without the positive influence of fathers, sometimes through multiple generations, women bearing alone what should be shared responsibilities, and seriously deficient education as schools, like other institutions, are tasked to compensate for failure in the home.”Elder D. Todd Christofferson
*If abortion has caused you to feel like you have no choice in who you vote for, read my most current blog post here.
As an honorable mention, in his talk, D. Todd Christofferson took the time to speak about the United Nations: “In 2015, the United Nations adopted what was called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was described as a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet now and into the future…includes 17 goals…such as no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and decent work.” Please read this talk where he also discussed this initiative as a positive thing for our world.
Who am I going to vote for? Well, I will be studying each candidate’s (including the major 3rd party candidates’) platforms on each of these crucial principles. I believe that there are different ways to do many of these things, and I also believe that each candidate will embody some of these things. I hope to find one that embodies all, but if not, I will base my decision, after this research, on the answers I receive through fervent prayer.
I hope that my Latter-day Saint friends, or other friends who believe in these powerful principles, will do this exercise with me, having an open heart and mind. To believe one party or candidate is godly and another isn’t without truly studying and praying is doing a disservice to yourself, your country, and the candidates who wish to serve America the best way they know how.
I would love to hear your findings. I will be publishing comments from each candidate on as many of these points as I can to help myself and others choose the candidate who will embody what our church leaders spoke of passionately and frequently in Conference.
**Update: I spent the week researching each candidate’s views on the issues above. If you would like a copy of my PowerPoint presentation, just email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to send it to you. Best wishes, and God bless you!
Please vote your conscience! And please respect others’ decisions!