Of all the reasons given for why a person can't be a good Mormon and liberal, the one used most often is that liberalism takes away free agency. This is the one conservative Mormon activists tend to favor. I attempted to refute this argument in my post "Agency and Democracy," wherein I argued that as long as we live in a democracy where we are allowed to vote, we retain our agency. I also pointed out that conservatives have taken a lot of my money and used it for things with which I disagreed, such as torture, the Iraq War, illegal wiretaps, and tax cuts for the wealthy, thereby highlighting the hypocrisy of this accusation.
I continue to encounter the liberals-as-anti-agency accusation, though, and so have thought a little more about it and want to take a different angle. The conservative Mormon activist argument, by the way, is that liberals want to take away our agency by raising taxes to pay for government programs. The person, then, has less agency because she has less money in the bank.
This argument says way more about the conservatives that put it forward than the liberals they are accusing. What it says is that they only think of agency in economic terms, whereas the idea of agency in scriptures and religion is in entirely clothed moral terms. Our eternal progress is dependent on our using our agency to make good decisions morally, not good decisions with our temporal wealth. Do we treat our families well? Do we honor our covenants? Do we live Christ-like lives? The use of our agency in these important areas has nothing to do with taxes, government regulation, or any other temporal, man-made, economic consideration.
Under a system where capitalism is regulated in order to level the playing field just enough to get people out of poverty and have health security, we are still able to exercise our agency completely, fully, unfettered. We are still able to make those most important decisions that will enable us to receive the gift of eternal life.
To suggest that liberals deprive individuals of the full range of their free agency based purely on economic motives reveals, in my mind, a fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of agency and the very purpose of this life. It is time we (including myself, of course) spent less time worried about our money and temporal possessions and more time worried about living Christ-centered lives.
I have no problem with an argument about taxes, social programs, and government regulation in terms of public policy, there is legitimate room for debate there, but I cannot see merit in opposing liberal ideology in terms of deprivation of free agency.