A letter to brother Harry Reid

Dear Harry,

As a fellow member of the saints, I wish to write a letter to you in regards to some concerns I have.  We are called of God to set a righteous and good example to the world.  In many ways over your life, I believe you have succeeded in doing this.  I do have a fear, however, that some of your statements divide, rather than unite the saints of God.

Christ has called on us to “be one, and if ye are not one, ye are not mine” (D&C 38:7).  Interestingly, this command comes as a warning regarding the evils and secret combinations that are ever growing in the world.

“Ye hear of wars in far countries, and you say that there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of men in your own land. I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (vv 29-30).

Recently you have made some claims regarding your fellow saint, Mitt Romney.  Now I understand there are political differences.  I expect the two of you to be able to speak in regards to such differences.  But it seems that some of your recent statements have gone beyond politics and into dividing the saints.

For example, “I think it is much easier to be a good member of the Church and a Democrat than a good member of the Church and a Republican.”

Given that 80% of American Mormons are Republicans, you imply that 80% are not good members of the Church.  We have had prophets, apostles, stake presidents and mission presidents who are Republicans.  Are you suggesting they were poor/bad members because they were Republicans?  Would it not have been better to say, “I think it is much easier for me to be a good member of the Church and a Democrat.”  Period.  It would have been an honest and non-divisive statement.

Next, you claimed that Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes for 10 years. This suggests that he may have broken the law and should be a felon.  Recently, Romney provided a summary of his tax returns over the last 20 years, which shows he did pay all his taxes over that time.  When it came time for you to apologize for such a statement, we heard crickets.

My problem with this is, we had 1/2 the American population thinking that a former stake president and a key representative of the Church in Massachusetts, was a criminal.  Just how is that supposed to unite the saints, bring good will towards the Church, or help missionaries get into people’s homes?  If this is your way of helping bring the Church out of obscurity, then by all means, please stop!  We get better press from the Book of Mormon musical.

Having set up a straw man Mitt Romney to knock down, you now call him “sullied” and a bad Mormon.  Really?  Just who called you to be his bishop and judge in Israel? Has he lost his temple recommend over his felonious actions?  Has the Church ever disfellowshipped or excommunicated him?  No. Rather, he is a member in good standing, just as you are.

Harry, go ahead and play in the political sandbox, but keep the Church out of it.  When you open your mouth up and make such spurious claims, you not only sully your own reputation, but that of the Church.  It shows that Mormons can lie with the worst of them, can harshly judge others with the worst of them, and are not Christ-like in their speech.

I still consider you a good member and fellow saint.  As long as your bishop and stake president think you are worthy of your temple recommend, so do I.  I do not expect any of us to be perfect.  However, it is unwise and unbecoming a Saint to make such brash statements as these.  I fear you will divide the Church as much as the nation is divided.

Remember, Jesus told the Nephites that contention is the doctrine of Satan.  We are to be one even as the Godhead is one.  We cannot build Zion if we bear false witness against our fellow saints, and divide the saints one against another.  Go ahead and speak out against Mitt’s political ideas, but when it comes to contention and dividing the saints, we should listen to President Uchtdorf, who recently said, “Stop it!”

I hope that God will bless you as Senate Majority Leader that you will be a force for good and righteousness, seeking to unite the nation and not divide it. When Americans think of Senator/Brother Harry Reid, I hope they see a quality servant of the nation, as were Mike Mansfield, Sam Nunn, and many other good Democratic and Christian senators before you.

Sincerely,

Gerald Smith

(for those who agree and would like to add their names to this letter, please do so in the comments).

52 thoughts on “A letter to brother Harry Reid

  1. You might want to take a look back in history before you start foaming at the mouth. Especially back in the days when Apostles were allowed to be politically active and there were Apostles in both parties. Some behaved abominably towards their bretheren. You also might want to look at some of the political dirty tricks some have engaged in over the years, particularly Sen. Wallace Bennett’s 1950 senate campaign against Elbert Thomas.

  2. Don, just because some have done this in the past, does not mean we should continue doing it now. The scriptures do not say, “you can do it because it has been done before.”

    Instead, the scriptures teach us faith, hope, charity, kindness, etc. The saints are to unite, not divide. This is true for both parties.

    BTW, I am not “foaming at the mouth.” I think I was rather respectful of brother Reid, even in discussing such pointed issues. He is a good LDS, even though flawed like the rest of us. That said, in his high political station, people watch him closely. They see him and judge Mormonism, just as they do with Mitt Romney. I want both of them to be a good example of what Mormonism is all about.

    That said, Mitt has not spoken much about Harry, nor sought to divide the Church between those who support Harry and those who support Mitt.

    You’ll note that I did not ask Harry to stop being a Democrat, push his ideology, etc. I just asked him to help the Church look good, and not divisive, mean, or even evil. After all, if 80% of American Mormons support Mitt, and Mitt has sullied Mormonism and is a bad Mormon, does that not suggest that most of us are bad Mormons? I disagree. It does not further anyone’s political ideology to do so. It only sullies Mormonism in the view of non-Mormons who read this bickering.

  3. He didn’t say it was impossible to be a Republican and good member of the church, he said it was easier to be a Democrat and a good member of the church. Nowhere does he say 80% of Mormons aren’t good members, they just have a more difficult time in his opinion.

    “I still consider you a good member and fellow saint. As long as your bishop and stake president think you are worthy of your temple recommend, so do I. I do not expect any of us to be perfect. ”

    Funny that you say this, because one of the very people that blogs here has made statements about Reid (along with various LDS bloggers and other people) aren’t good members of the church. Maybe you should be talking to him about being divisive, or dividing the church as you put it.

    And Guy makes a great point. You’re not going to call out Mitt for the lies he has told while campaigning? Seems a bit strange to make a whole post about Reid being untruthful and divisive when you have a candidate going for the highest office in the country doing the same thing. Or do Mormon politicians get a pass in your book as long as they are only dividing the country and not your religion? Or maybe lying is ok as long as those lies aren’t directed at a fellow saint?

  4. Rame, I think this is a well-done and rather restrained letter given the absurdities that have come out of Bro Reid’s mouth lately. I would agree that Bro. Romney has been far from perfect, but I don’t hear Bro. Romney saying that Bro. Reid has “sullied” the Church, and I don’t hear Bro. Romney accusing Bro. Reid (falsely) of not paying taxes. I am ashamed of Bro. Reid both personally and for the brand of hateful politics he has decided to adopt. I disagree mightily with Bro. Romney on many political issues, and have been pretty frank that his positions on immigration and foreign policy are wrong-headed. But it is one thing to have political disagreements and it is quite another to accuse a person of sullying the Church and being a felon. Bro. Reid’s recent behavior has been disgraceful.

  5. I understand politics are often divisive. That said, arguing over political issues is very different than maligning a person’s character or claiming he is a bad Mormon.
    I don’t claim Mitt to be perfect, either. Like Geoff, I disagree with some of his politics, particularly on immigration and foreign affairs. But policy differences are very different from personal attacks on character and religion. If Mitt were to attack Harry’s character in this manner, I would write a letter to him, as well.

  6. Brings to mind some other verses. I don’t suggest these verses are specifically about this situation, of course, but they contain a principle which we see duplicated in many areas of our personal lives, society, work, and family.

    And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.

    And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees.

  7. The totally corrupt, parasitic, military industrial complex, and the insatiable greed of Congress (Red AND Blue) scares me 10,000 times more than the pus-head Al Qaeda, or the religious freaks of Iran… imagine $420 million for 1 F22 that cuts off oxygen, to the highly skilled pilot!!! (At least 4 have crashed = poof! $1.5 billion into junk.)

  8. chris, good scriptural quote. When we are not diligent and united, the enemy can enter in. Just look at how often in the Book of Mormon the Church of Christ was teetering on extinction, because the members began to contend with one another. And what did they often contend about? Wealth and class warfare.

    I do think both Mitt and Harry look forward to the day when the lamb will lie down with the lion, and there will be no poor among us in a Zion society. They just disagree on how we can approach that day. All I know is if contentions like this continue, it may divide and weaken the Church. I don’t want us coming out of obscurity, only to fall back into obscurity over contention.

  9. Whenever I read democrats accusing republicans of something bad, it’s usually a case of where the democrats are doing it, not the republicans. It’s like they’re making a pre-emptive strike, so that when the republicans reveal the truth about the dems, it looks merely retaliatory.

    I think it holds in this case. If anything, democrats are not the face of Mormonism in the United States.

    This charge by Prince and Reid is ridiculous, because, if anything, Romney is probably one of the least conservative, most left-leaning repubs about there, almost like McCain.

    Obama is likely toast. Reid should be thankful that a left-leaning guy like Romney is on the republican ticket.

  10. And I hope Reid gets a phone call and a dressing down from one of the brethren about this matter.

  11. Did you (or your father) write a similar letter to Elder Benson when he spent the better part of two decades calling members of the Church who happened to be Democrats names?

  12. What Bookslinger said. Reid is the most angry and mean man I have ever seen in public as a politician. He is divisive and refuses to do his job. If he was the “face of Mormonism” then I wouldn’t want anything to do with this religion.

    jjohnsen, I’m not “the face of Mormonism” so what I say has absolutely zero meaning outside of this little hole called the blabbernacle. Mitt and Reid, for good or ill, are both the face of Mormonism and we have to deal with that and not make stupid comments about who is Mormon or who is not. Didn’t we have an on going argument that there is only one public measure of what makes a Mormon? Who is on the records of the Church as baptized? Not that I fully agree with that, but there we go.

  13. Guy Murray, I read the link you provided on factcheck.org, and I agree with most of the points, ie, that Romney’s campaign has made a number of factual errors. I have been politically active since the 1970s, and I cannot remember a campaign where one side of the other has stretched the truth, made factual errors, made unfair charges, etc. Most people here probably remember Willie Horton, the horrible strategy that Bush Sr. used against poor Dukakis in 1988. And then Bush Sr. went on to raise taxes after saying “read my lips, no new taxes.” And then Clinton was the master of stretching the story to cover every eventuality, and Bush Jr. Swiftoboated John Kerry, etc, etc. Is Romney’s campaign worse than past campaigns? Maybe, maybe not. And I don’t excuse him. And if you want me to name all of the problems I have with Romney, many of which I have detailed on this very blog, I would be happy to, from immigration, to flip-flopping to his ridiculous foreign policy, etc, etc.

    It is also no secret that I really do not like Harry Reid’s political postures (although he seems like a perfectly nice guy once you put the politics aside). I also understand that Mormon Democrats, in a minority, feel it necessary to defend the highest-profile Mormon Democrat. I get all of that. But Reid claiming Romney has “sullied” the Church? This really is way, way, WAY out of bounds. If Romney said such a thing about Harry Reid, I would condemn him just as roundly. You don’t bring the Church into it, and you don’t claim you have some kind of monopoly on righteousness, which was, in effect, what Reid was doing. I predict he will regret such maneuvers over the course of his lifetime, and I really am embarrassed for him. Am I embarrassed for Romney? Yes, he has also done some regrettable things and taken some regrettable positions politically (his immigrant-bashing is really despicable, imho). But I think Harry Reid has entered a brave, new world of political iniquity for modern-day Mormon politicians, and somebody needs to call him on it.

  14. Agree with these comments. Challenge policies… Do not bear false witness. Do not divide… Do not fall into the clutches of power…

  15. Please add my name to this thoughtful, and respectful letter… we need to bind together as Americans and members of the Church.

  16. I am really enjoying the justifications people are coming up with for Harry Reid’s behavior — you can only criticize Harry Reid if you (or your father!!???) criticized Pres. Benson in the 1960s. Otherwise, no criticism allowed. Sheesh.

  17. I leave this an open letter for the Internet. I am not going to send it to anyone’s bishop. Why? Because I believe Harry to be a worthy LDS, who is making some bad statements based on desperation to get Obama reelected. Secondly, it is not my business to counsel his bishop.

    As a Mormon in good standing, I do have the responsibility to encourage members to be a Christ-like example to the world, to be united in their covenants and works, and to not put the Church in a bad light. We have plenty of anti-Mormon critics out there doing just that.

    I simply want the dialogue to change. I’ve seen blog posts on LDS sites where members attack other members, claiming so-and-so is not a good member because of some stance. Well, I’m saying that we do not know that, and we take God’s power into our hands when we attempt to do so. What would Jesus have us do? Take the beam out of our own eye first. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Be ye one.

  18. I would say in regard to Elder Benson in the 1950s and 60s as an Apostle of the Lord he had the privledge and the responsibilitiy of dressing down the saints from time to time. Harry Reid is not an Apostle, but just a regular rank and file member, who happens to be in the US Senate. I’ll take the words of an Apostle over that of a Senator any day.

  19. I think Reid’s comments on this issue are unfortunate.

    However, I agree with jjohnson on his point about Reid’s quote: “I think it is much easier to be a good member of the Church and a Democrat than a good member of the Church and a Republican.”

    He’s not saying Democrats make better members or Republicans can’t be good members–he’s merely stating that, in his opinion, it’s easier to be a good member and a Democrat than it is to be a good member and a Republican. I don’t think he’s implying or inferring that Republicans are not good members of the church.

  20. There is no basis for the inference you draw from Sen. Reid’s comment about Mitt’s not paying taxes for ten years–that Sen. Reid was suggesting that Mitt was a felon.

    It’s possible (although a challenge) to avoid paying (income) taxes legally, and I suspect that that’s what Sen. Reid had in mind. Add up enough tax-free bonds and depreciation of capital assets and loss-carry-forwards to your charitable and other deductions and you might get your tax liability down to zero.

    And I think that’s the point Sen. Reid was making–that Romney is a rich guy with well-paid tax advisers who probably took advantage of every possible loophole (written into the tax code, ironically, by the Congress of which Sen. Reid has been a part for over two decades) so he doesn’t pay his “fair share”–whatever that is–of taxes.

    So, complain about his making a completely unfounded statement, but don’t accuse Sen. Reid of calling Gov. Romney a felon.

  21. Tim,
    I’m curious about what ways it’s “easier” to be a good member of the church as a Democrat? I’d like a serious discussion on that. Could you list out the ways you feel it’s easier to be a good member of the church?

    Please start by defining a good member of the church, ideally using quotes from the Lord, the scriptures, prophets and apostles.

    Personally, I think the premise of the quote entirely misunderstands the plan of salvation, so it brings into question whether or not such a one offering that opinion could actually be a “good member”.

  22. I think it’s easier to be a good member of the Church by not subscribing to any political party.

    That way I can focus on the principles of the gospel without any party lines hollering at the top of their voices and muddying up the Spirit’s attempt to communicate with me.

    And that way, your decision-making allegiance can be wholly dedicated to the Lord.

  23. chris,

    I didn’t say I necessarily agree with the quote. I just said that it was being misrepresented in the letter.

    It’s definitely easier to be a cultural Mormon and a Republican in the U.S.

    In any case, the church takes stances that contradict both parties. Gay marriage (softened somewhat by the church’s support of anti-discrimination laws), abortion (more liberal than the Republican platform but less liberal than the Democrat platform), immigration (church supports stance allowing those who are here illegally to remain and work here legally is definitely not on the Republican platform). Societies in the Book of Mormon where poverty did not exist. Issues that have been discussed in depth elsewhere in the bloggernacle, and probably shouldn’t sidetrack this conversation.

    In any case, I think you’re still misunderstanding the quote. Reid feels it’s easier to be a Democrat because he feels that Democrat ideas are more in line with being a good member of the church than Republican ideas. I’m not sure how having that opinion “entirely misunderstands the plan of salvation,” and I certainly don’t understand why someone with such an opinion can’t be a “good member.” I know plenty of people who believe that being a Republican is more in line with being a good member of the church than being a Democrat is. I’m certainly not going to start saying those people can’t be good members, even though I disagree with them.

  24. Tim,
    Your reply views quite a bit through a political lens, rather than a gospel perspective. The language is political… “Stances” “softened” “platform”.

    I’d like to see what a good member of the church is using prophetic and scriptural support.

    I do think that people who mingle their politics and religion misunderstand the plan of salvation. And I certainly don’t think those who do so are able to judge who is a good member, let a lone place themselves on that pedestal.

  25. The inferences made by others about Romney suggest he should be considered a felon. Harry Reid seems to have fed into that belief with his statements.
    That some do not read Harry’s first statement as implying that it is harder to be a Mormon and Republican, just shows that it can be read various ways. However, in having spoken with several people about these quotes (both Dems and Reps), most seem to think the implications are pretty clear. As I said, if Harry would have changed his wording to state that it is easier for him to be Mormon and a Democrat, it would have said the same thing without implying anything about Republicans.

    As it is, he clearly stated that Mitt is a bad Mormon. I think that goes along with my interpretation of his other statements. And as I’ve said, he needs to keep religion out of his politics. It divides Mormons, and makes the Church look like a band of divisive nit-wits.

  26. I don’t think that the statement about being Mormon and Democrat being easier than being Mormon and Republican crossed a line. That’s something on which we can have fair differences of opinion.

    I also don’t think that the stuff about the tax returns crossed a line. Or at least if it crossed a line its because it was false, not because Reid and Romney are Mormon.

    But that bit about Romney being a bad Mormon and sullying the faith? Indefensible. Really, really wrong.

  27. I don’t understand all this dissention about this letter and the “so and so said this”, and “so and so said that?” That has nothing at all to do with the topic of this letter. This letter is referring to Brother Reid’s slanderous behavior toward Mitt Romney and his ridiculous contention that Mitt Romney has sullied the reputation of the church. That’s it. Why can’t anyone stay on topic about anything?

    This is a perfect letter to Sen. Reid. My feelings are exactly the same. Please, feel free to add my name to this letter! I come from a family of nonmembers who look at Sen. Reid as an example of the LDS Church, then they look at Gov. Romney, and don’t quite know what to think of the LDS Church as a whole. They are two very different individuals, but Mitt Romney is far and away the best example we have of an LDS priesthood holder. I highly doubt that Gov. Romney has ever “flipped off” anybody! Let alone have the picture appear on the internet. He has way more class than that.

  28. Please add my name, proudly, to the letter. Yes, I said “proudly”. I’ll repent of the pride later.

    And yeah, I googled “Harry Reid flipping bird”. Stay classy, Harry. Stay classy.

  29. I do have a question though about Democrats who are LDS? How can you support a platform that wants to remove God as a part of their platform, and then when they try to add Him back in, they’re booed – and obviously did not have the majority. If I had been a democrat at that point, I wouldn’t be any longer.

  30. Mindi, the Democrats have a large contingency of non-believers, and they seek to have a large tent. So they sought to accommodate atheists and others, just as they sought to accommodate Muslims by not having Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. I do not fault Democrats for that, though I disagree with it. I also do not fault Harry Reid for a platform he was not involved with.

  31. Mindi, I don’t think the booing was at the idea of God in the platform generally. The booing was because of the way convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa rammed the voice vote through and announced that the measure had passed by the requisite 2/3 margin, even though – by the sound of things – it apparently didn’t.

  32. First this:

    For example, “I think it is much easier to be a good member of the Church and a Democrat than a good member of the Church and a Republican.”

    Then this:

    “Given that 80% of American Mormons are Republicans, you imply that 80% are not good members of the Church.”

    He implied no such thing. He simply said it was easier. Perhaps 80 percent of Mormons are willfully taking a more challenging path.

  33. I have heard many testimonies over the years of Romney’s goodness and charity. No one can tell me that he has sullied my religion. Harry Reid crossed completely over the line of reprehensibility.

  34. Lincoln, I hope you’ll forgive me for asking whether you were really able to type that last post without laughing out loud–or at least smirking.

  35. As a member, I cannot understand how any member can boast of being a democrat with the rejection of God among the democrat party.

  36. Please add my name to the list of those supporting this letter. Harry Reid’s behavior, at this point, is an embarrassment to the church. (My opinion, which I am entitled to have in this country where free speech is still part of the Constitution. For now, anyway.) My own conversion to the Republican party began several years ago, included an in-depth examination of the platforms and behaviors of both parties and their leaders, and prayerful consideration. I came to the conclusion that I could not, in good conscience, register as a Democrat in my state (which was a requirement). The party platform does not follow gospel principles and does not further the gospel message. Your mileage may (and for many commenting here, obviously does) vary. But that’s my experience, and I’m satisfied with the result.

  37. To a non-American member, such as myself, all of this is rather … I don’t know–weird and amusing, I guess. The American tendency to fuse religion and politics is unusual, and when you observe it happening with fellow members of your own church, it’s an unusual sensation.

    I agree with Harry Reid that in general Mitt Romney has not presented an accurate face of the church. But I also believe that it’s inappropriate for him to even bring up church membership in political discussions.

    I for one look forward to the abolition of politics and the establishment of the Kingdom of God during the Millennium

  38. “I do have a question though about Democrats who are LDS? How can you support a platform that wants to remove God as a part of their platform, and then when they try to add Him back in, they’re booed – and obviously did not have the majority. ”

    I’m a Mormon Democrat. The reason I’m not upset over this is, because, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, I believe in a God who is not so insecure that he gets upset that his name doesn’t appear on the Democratic Platform. He has much more important things to worry about, because… you know… he’s God.

  39. The vote at the convention was a farce. The claim of majority was a(nother) guy who didn’t know how to get off teleprompter and just kept trying to read the ASSUMED result.

    Stephen, I don’t think the issue is whether or not God would be upset. It’s the fact that our rights only exists BECAUSE we have an agreed collected belief that they can’t be taken away BECAUSE they are from God.

    If the dems believe, as it seems, that we only have freedoms because King Barrack said so, we have a problem. YOU have a problem.

  40. “Stephen, I don’t think the issue is whether or not God would be upset.”

    So then what’s the problem?

    “It’s the fact that our rights only exists BECAUSE we have an agreed collected belief that they can’t be taken away BECAUSE they are from God.”

    Not really. There are plenty of atheists in the United States who don’t believe their rights come from God, but from our collective desire as a society to have the freedom to, in John Locke’s words, “life, liberty, and property”. Believers are free to believe their natural rights come from God, just as atheists are free to believe that the same rights come not from God but from our natural human desire for freedom.

    The common denominator between American theists and American atheists is the idea that our natural rights are just that, from nature. Whether you take it a step further and believe they originate from God is a different discussion.

    “If the dems believe, as it seems, that we only have freedoms because King Barrack said so, we have a problem.”

    This is a massive straw man. I am not aware of any Democrat who seriously believes our rights originate with President Obama. And if there are any that do, I would strenuously disagree with them.

    “YOU have a problem.”

    Well, I don’t believe my rights as an American citizen come from President Obama. So, I guess I am off the hook. (Whew)

  41. Sure, they are “free to believe that the same rights come not from God but from our natural human desire for freedom.” Because, after all, we generally believe the freedom is an inalienable right.

    But if those rights only come from some supposed collective “natural human desire for freedom” they are at risk, because they can be taken away by any other desire that is either from the collective or just the powerful.

    There is a reason that our country is founded on the idea of rights granted by a creator not Mother Nature of some other whatever. Any other grantor can too easily be changed or trumped.

    If your rights don’t come from God, they come only from some other human. (Whether you think it’s Obama, the leader of the free world, or someone else is of no matter.) And if they come from a human, then any other human has just as much claim on them as you do. And you do have a problem.

  42. Stephen is correct that there are many atheists who believe in natural rights and that these rights come from their “basic humanity,” not from God. The problem these days is primarily a lack of understanding that our Constitution was founded on the idea of natural rights, which apply to all people. I would add that it is easier to understand natural rights if you are a theist.

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