I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm not shy about my religion, but I also don't try to cram it down other people's throats. We recently had a wonderful weekend of instruction from the men and women who have been called as leaders for the church. A friend of mine recently blogged about her feelings after conference weekend, and I posted a response. I decided that I really liked my response (yes, I'm a bit of a narcissist), so I thought I'd share it here. I'd link to my friend's original post, but I think her blog may be private, so you might not be able to see it anyway.
This is a great post. One thing I've always heard is that there is room in the Gospel for both conservative and liberal political thinking. The doctrines of the church sustain ideals from both sides of the political spectrum. There are many blacks and whites in the doctrine: don't murder each other, leave your neighbor's property alone, be faithful to your spouse. Love God and love others, and you should be okay. Seems simple, but people disagree on what "love others" means. For some, it means that you live the way you think God wants you to and leave other people alone to do that as well. For others, it means that although you don't force someone else to do what is right, you can tell them why you don't agree with what they are doing. And for some (and they are minority, thank heavens) it does mean doing what you can to force everyone to live by your idea of what God's laws are. Sometimes they are correct in interpreting God's laws; sometimes they aren't. But the fact is that God will not force any of us into heaven. You're right in stating that's why the war in heaven was fought: agency is the second greatest gift we have received from Heavenly Father. Interestingly, it is completely and wholly intertwined with the first. Without agency, we would have had no need for the Atonement. Without the Atonement, no choice we make will get us home. To me that's a rather simple and beautiful concept. But where are we when it comes to other people? How do we help without forcing? I think that the "every member a missionary" calling has to be handled on a person-by-person basis. Literally. We have to look at each relationship we have to decide how much "force" we put behind our treatment of that person. I have friends I talk about church stuff with all the time (most of them are members of the Church, and so that makes most of these discussions pretty simple, though at times heated); I have friends who love to talk to me about what they do religiously and spiritually, but don't want to hear anything about my spiritual journey. It can feel like "If I talk to Nancy enough about how right what I believe is, she will realize how wrong what she believes is." These friendships both tickle and frustrate me, because these are people who would completely shut you down if you told them they weren't Christians (because to them, their relationship with Christ is very personal), but have no qualms telling someone else that they aren't Christians (because to them, your relationship with Christ should be exactly the same as their, and therefore not personal). And I have friends who I don't talk religion with at all. With these people, I just live the way I believe is correct, and hope that some of the light of Christ will impact them in a positive way. When they have questions, I answer them. When they don't want to talk about religion, we discuss other things.
Sorry this got so long, but I fully understand where you are coming from. I've been on both sides of that ever-moving political line. I've had people tell me I'm not a good member of the church if I don't vote straight Republican. I've had people tell me that I'm trying to force my religion on others if I vote my conscience. But what else can we do? As members of the LDS church, does voting our conscience mean that we will vote exactly the same on everything? Of course not. We are all at differing points on our journey home. The best we can do is pray and follow the promptings we receive, not the promptings others receive.