Dallin H. Oaks:
The Savior taught that contention is a tool of the devil. That surely teaches against some of the current language and practices of politics. Living with policy differences is essential to politics, but policy differences need not involve personal attacks that poison the process of government and punish participants. All of us should banish hateful communications and practice civility for differences of opinion.
Ezra Taft Benson:
I refuse to become like my enemies in order to oppose them, and while I hate what the communists say and do, I will fight for the rights of the communists to speak and organize even as I will fight for my own rights.
Stephen L. Richards:
Men may entertain honest differences of opinions with reference to governmental policy. In America, and in many other countries, an orderly system has been devised for the determination of issues arising out of such differences. With such methods available, why should any men, particularly those in the brotherhood of Zion, permit themselves to entertain personal animosities against their opponents. There is surely nothing Christian in impugning motives merely because of a difference of opinion .. I have been going about this Church for nearly thirty-five years, filling assignments to install officers in stakes and wards and missions, and I have never yet asked a single person about his politics, and in very few instances have I ever had any knowledge on the subject. I think my own experience has been comparable to that of my brethren. We have been fair with you, my fellow members of the Church. Now we ask you to be fair with each other.
Russell M. Nelson:
Repeatedly the Lord has said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour.” (Lev. 19:18 Matt. 19:19). Opportunities to listen to those of diverse religious or political persuasion can promote tolerance and learning. And a good listener will listen to a person’s sentiments as well.
At the October 2017 General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf mentioned a recent study, investigating the conflict between rival groups, Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East and Republicans and Democrats in the United States.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
As part of the study, researchers interviewed Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East, and Republicans and Democrats in the United States. They discovered that “each side felt their own group [was] motivated by love more than hate, but when asked why their rival group [was] involved in the conflict, [they] pointed to hate as [the other] group’s motivating factor.” In other words, each group thought of themselves as the “good guys”—fair, kind, and truthful. By contrast, they saw their rivals as the “bad guys”—uninformed, dishonest, even evil. In the year I was born, the world was immersed in a terrible war that brought agonizing grief and consuming sorrow to the world. This war was caused by my own nation—by a group of people who identified certain other groups as evil and encouraged hatred toward them. They silenced those they did not like. They shamed and demonized them. They considered them inferior—even less than human. Once you degrade a group of people, you are more likely to justify words and acts of violence against them. I shudder when I think about what happened in 20th-century Germany. When someone opposes or disagrees with us, it’s tempting to assume that there must be something wrong with them. And from there it’s a small step to attach the worst of motives to their words and actions. Of course, we must always stand for what is right, and there are times when we must raise our voices for that cause. However, when we do so with anger or hate in our hearts—when we lash out at others to hurt, shame, or silence them—chances are we are not doing so in righteousness. What did the Savior teach? “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44-45). This is the Savior’s way. It is the first step in breaking down the barriers that create so much anger, hatred, division, and violence in the world. “Yes,” you might say, “I would be willing to love my enemies—if only they were willing to do the same.” But that doesn’t really matter, does it? We are responsible for our own discipleship, and it has little—if anything—to do with the way others treat us. We obviously hope that they will be understanding and charitable in return, but our love for them is independent of their feelings toward us. Perhaps our effort to love our enemies will soften their hearts and influence them for good. Perhaps it will not. But that does not change our commitment to follow Jesus Christ. So, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we will love our enemies. We will overcome anger or hate. We will fill our hearts with love for all of God’s children. We will reach out to bless others and minister to them—even those who might “despitefully use [us] and persecute [us].” (Matt. 5:44).