The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics
“How persuasive is the reading Davis puts forward? I would say ‘very much so.’” — By Common Consent
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The Liberal Soul offers something lacking in LDS culture. That is the presentation of a different way for Latter-day Saints to examine the question of how to be faithful disciples of Christ and good citizens. It shows public policy decision-making regarding government role as the manifestation of the “liberal soul” rather than as the libertarianism advocated by past Mormon speakers and writers such as Ezra Taft Benson, Cleon Skousen, or Vern Andersen. It also takes a different approach from the less radical but still traditional economic conservative attitudes of well-known politicians such as Orrin Hatch or Mitt Romney.
Davis suggests that a Latter-day Saint can approach economic policy, war, the environment, and social issues with the perspective that society is basically good and not evil, tolerance and forbearance are desirable qualities instead of bad ones, and that government can and does play a positive role as a vehicle of society in improving the lives of citizens. He describes how Latter-day Saints can apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our roles at each of these three levels—individual, group, and society—rather than assuming the societal level violates the principles of the Gospel. The result is that Latter-day Saints can help bring about a Zion society—one where all benefit, the most vulnerable are aided and not ignored, inclusion is the rule and not the exception, and suspicion and fear are replaced by love and acceptance.
Praise for The Liberal Soul:
“Richard Davis searches the scriptures to indicate the many times that Christ and prophets urge us to be “the liberal soul” when dealing with individuals and society. Suffering and need are obvious to everyone, but applying these scriptures to the value of good government brings a new dimension to its importance—both to citizens of this country and, more importantly, to the world. In this election season, with so many critical issues to be considered for our state, nation, and the world, it is important for every individual to understand the reason for government and be willing to make choices based on the premise that “governments were instituted of God . . . for the good and safety of society” (D&C 134:1).” — Former Utah Governor Olene S. Walker
“Davis provides a thoughtful exploration into the principles of generosity, equality, and Christian discipleship and their important relationship to democratic government. This book clearly explains the strong connection between liberalism and Mormonism. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever asked me, ‘How can you be a Democrat and a Mormon?’” — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
“During my years as a Democratic activist I was asked by fellow Mormons how I could be a Mormon and a Democrat. Once I was elected to Congress I was asked by other Democrats how I could be a Democrat and a Mormon. Finally, Professor Davis’s book The Liberal Soul has built a strong case based on gospel tenets to support a more progressive agenda and will begin the process of dismantling the notion that a ‘good’ Mormon must be a Republican.” — Former Congressman Richard Stallings (D-Idaho 2 1985–1993)
“The Liberal Soul is an eye-opening read, providing significant insight into the all-encompassing nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each unique chapter enhances our understanding of the inclusive mission of the Savior, through modern and ancient examples, leading to a greater increase of true discipleship.” — Scott N Howell, Utah State Senate Minority Leader (1992-2000) and 2012 Candidate for United States Senate
“Whether or not one chooses to change his or her political viewpoint to match Davis’ ideal, in studying The Liberal Soul, readers can learn about another place from which to approach politics as a member of the LDS Church.” — Karen Schwarze, Mormon Times
“If you’re a Mormon conservative who wonders how a faithful Mormon can be liberal, The Liberal Soul is worth reading. I hope you will read it, and I hope it will educate you, challenge you, and, especially, inspire you to greater charity for those who disagree with you. I just hope, in the end, it won’t persuade you.” — Alan Hurst, Patheos
“The Liberal Soul is an attempt to put forward a reading of Christianity’s call to generosity which suggests that collective political action towards greater economic and social equality and welfare is as legitimate a response as any other. How persuasive is the reading Davis puts forward? I would say ‘very much so.’” — Russell Fox, By Common Consent
About the Author:
Richard Davis is a professor of Political Science and the Director of the Office of Civic Engagement at BYU. He is the author of several books and articles on American politics, and holds a PhD from Syracuse University. He and his wife, Molina, have five children and twelve grandchildren.
ISBN 978-1-58958-583-6 (paperback)