Dissent among Mormons in the 1980 Senatorial Election in Idaho
Keywords:Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, morality issues, Idaho politics, Frank Church, Mormons
The ecclesiastical organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons; or LDS; or Saints) is rigidly hierarchical, extending downward from the President. An important exception to the Church’s top-down approach lies in the area of partisan politics, where the Church as an organization dons the mantle of political neutrality. This official stance notwithstanding, politics does intrude itself into Church affairs, especially in hotly contested elections. The 1980 senatorial election in Idaho severely tested the Church’s commitment to political non-involvement. Church leaders extended accolades to incumbent Democratic Senator Frank Church for his support of causes favorable to the organization, but polling data and documentary evidence indicate that rank-and-file members dissented from their leaders’ positive attitudes, culminating in an important realignment in electoral behavior in the state.