Guns and a church's role

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ron Molen's well written "LDS and gun morality" (Forum, Jan. 6), regarding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and gun control, brings up an important question: What indeed is the proper role of any organized religion in speaking out on societal issues.

Whenever the LDS leadership has lobbied or spoken out on issues such as same-sex marriage, liquor laws or immigration, there is often an immediate backlash from those who feel the LDS Church is violating the Constitution's separation of church and state. Sometimes this is followed by petition drives and protests demanding the church remain silent or face government sanction.

At the same time, however, when LDS leadership chooses not to get directly involved on issues such as gun control or similar hot-button topics (climate change or health care reform), they are attacked for not being Christian enough or for ignoring urgent moral matters that some feel the church has the power to change.

When should churches speak out and when should they not? If speaking out on one issue is a violation of the separation of church and state, while speaking out on another issue is not, who ultimately gets to decide?

Clark Roger Larsen