Guest post: Harry Reid fireside canceled because of politics

This is a guest post by John Fowles.

I was shocked today to read a description of the behavior of our fellow Latter-day Saints in Nevada who call themselves political conservatives or Republicans.  From what I gather, a Stake Presidency in Nevada invited Harry Reid to speak at a “Why I Believe” fireside (Harry Reid has spoken at other such firesides in other stakes and at other functions).  Members of that stake were apparently outraged at the suggestion that a Mormon with a different political viewpoint than their own might bear testimony.  A member of the stake described what happened in her personal blog, The Backordered Life. (note: The link to the blog has been removed at the request of the blogs’ author.)

Members of her stake apparently threatened to protest with signs and to heckle Harry Reid from the audience (in a fireside about a person’s testimony! — I would guess that these same people are the type who would strongly discourage clapping after a musical number at a fireside). It seems that Senator Reid even received some threats of violence causing concern for his safety that ultimately got the fireside canceled. Members of the stake allegedly sent emails to the Stake Presidency saying that Harry Reid was the most evil man on the planet and that the Stake Presidency must be evil too to have even considered letting him bear his testimony:

One man said, “If I see Harry Reid in the temple, I’m going to hit him.” Another told our stake president, “Harry Reid is the most evil man on the earth, and you and your counselors are next.” . . .

There were even people weighing in from out of state. One woman called from St. George, Utah; my husband took the call, and she gave him a message for our stake president: “You’re a wicked man for allowing this to happen.”

(Imagine, apparently, as the blogger points out, some suburban Nevadans who oppose health care reform think that Harry Reid is more evil than President Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-il, or human traffickers in Africa, Latin America or Asia selling young girls into sexual slavery, or owners of African or Indian gold mines forcing ten year olds to slave for crusts of bread, or street bosses in Asian cities crippling children to make them more effective armies of beggars, or militias in Africa hacking entire villages to pieces and making the children of those villages eat the flesh of their parents. It makes reason stare and causes one to ask whether these Nevadan Latter-day Saints at issue are really so uninformed about the broader world and its real evils that they could actually think that advocating a certain health care policy in the United States is evil, as opposed to just misguided from a policy perspective.)

News of this should be extremely distressing to all Latter-day Saints. This, and other antics that we are seeing more and more of from Latter-day Saints who call themselves conservatives or Republicans has the potential to be a public relations disaster and unwinds a lot of the careful, methodical work done by President Hinckley during his tenure to improve the image of Mormons from the damage done in the Civil Rights and ERA political fights. As a Latter-day Saint looking at such horrible behavior and mean-spirited antics from afar, I can confirm that from my perspective this is damaging to the Church as a whole and opens us to unnecessary and harmful ridicule.

This also tarnishes the Church’s long-standing commitment to political neutrality. The membership of a stake in Nevada has shouted down a Latter-day Saint and prevented him from bearing his testimony of Jesus Christ and telling of the power of the Atonement in his life (Reid was to bear his testimony and describe his conversion to the Gospel). They have put a fellow Latter-day Saint in fear of his safety such that the fireside was cancelled and he was silenced. This treatment appears to have been purely motivated by politics. Mormons in Nevada who have allowed themselves to get so riled up by certain pundits and personalities have evidenced their character in how they have treated this fellow Latter-day Saint. It was Harry Reid’s political policies that made him unworthy to bear his testimony at a fireside in the eyes of these Latter-day Saints. How dangerous that is for the body of the Church and for the welfare of Zion.

What is wrong with us as a people that this could be possible? How does Reid’s involvement in drafting health care policy possibly make him “evil”? (Answer: It does not and cannot reasonably be conceived to do so.) Why can’t the Latter-day Saints doing this just view Reid as wrong from a policy perspective rather than claiming that his testimony is invalid or calling him evil? Do we have such little understanding of the world and the Gospel? My best sense from the scriptures is that God does not really care about the particulars of political policy in different governments, even on health care. He has left it to us to set up governments and to use our best resources, reason and intellects in crafting policies that we deem beneficial for ourselves. I would think that an honest reading of the scriptures teaches us that God is indeed interested in seeing us make efforts communally as a society to alleviate each other’s suffering and to care for the poor and needy, etc. Whether a society chooses to do this through a policy such as the current health care reform in the USA or through a single payer system like the NHS in the UK (or nothing at all, although I think God would expect accountability on how we as a society had the means to help those suffering without adequate access to medical care and chose not to do so in that scenario) is, I would think, entirely irrelevant to God.

Moral Agency as a doctrinal concept or principle is also completely irrelevant to this debate. Nothing that a government does can take away someone’s Moral Agency in the Gospel sense. Liberty as referenced in the Book of Mormon is not at issue in any of these debates. Nothing about King Noah has any applicability to health care policy in the USA in 2010. Latter-day Saints in the UK or Germany are not less morally free than Latter-day Saints in Nevada. From the perspective of this Latter-day Saint living in the United Kingdom, Latter-day Saints in Western European democracies that have implemented socially beneficial systems of equitable health care access are in fact evidencing Christlike attributes by paying their dues into such health care systems (and also of course reaping the benefits of those systems) without raising an insurrection or shouting down their fellow saints for having alternative political viewpoints.

I would venture a guess that the same people in Nevada who have behaved in this manner toward Harry Reid would welcome a fireside in which Glenn Beck bore his testimony and related his conversion story. This is despite Glenn Beck’s very uncharitable and un-Christlike manner of presentation and content in his sensationalistic and ideological show.

I am very troubled by hearing of this development in Nevada. As Latter-day Saints we need to value the discipline of demonstrating moderation in all things, including political viewpoints. Each of us needs to play a role in toning this mess down, in helping Latter-day Saints who define themselves as political conservatives or Republicans to come to their senses and most of all, to chastize the Latter-day Saints involved in such an embarassing and despicable display against Senator Reid. We each need to take a reality check on how we are contributing to building upthe Kingdom of God by allowing different viewpoints about something as petty as a particular political or policy debate to cause us to act in an unChristlike manner toward our fellow citizens or Latter-day Saints. It is counterproductive to our covenants to build up Zion. This is especially the case in our representative democracies — a political system that allows Zion to flourish in a context of pluralism, diversity, harmony and prosperity. As members of such a polity, our actions should be guided by principles of civic republicanism in accepting the responsibilities of citizens, including by obeying the rule of law once enacted by the party winning an election, even if that is not the party a particular individual prefers.

Let us press forward as Latter-day Saints, not sullying ourselves with the political acrimony of the world around us. Harry Reid is just as much a Latter-day Saint as Glenn Beck. Each has a meaningful testimony of the Restored Gospel. We can and should take strength in that fact and appreciate each of them for that testimony.
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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

177 thoughts on “Guest post: Harry Reid fireside canceled because of politics

  1. John, we really thank you for this guest post and for bringing this apparently alarming situation to our attention. A few points:

    1)If the report is accurate, it is completely unacceptable for a fireside to be canceled because people don’t agree with the speaker’s politics, especially when it involves a person giving a testimony of the restored Gospel. If this report is true, shame on our fellow Saints in Nevada.

    2)A lot of the claims in the linked post are hearsay. Personally, I would take them with a grain of salt. But the larger point, that a fireside was scheduled and canceled because of Sen. Reid’s politics, appears to be accurate (unless the whole post itself is a complete fabrication, which I doubt).

    3)Sen. Reid, if you’re reading this, I don’t like your politics, but I love you! You are a great family man and a credit to your community. I would love to hear you give your testimony at my stake in Colorado.

  2. Perhaps it is a general malaise among the British (and it may just be my perspective) but I find it hard to believe that this would happen in the UK. I just don’t see how members of the Church can get to this point. I just want to be clear that I am not saying that the members of the UK are somehow more righteous, as I said, it could be due to political malaise among British people generally. I am curious regarding how this association of political position with righteous occurred and why it is has not (seemingly) transferred to other parts of the Church.

  3. Thanks Geoff! The behavior described in the post definitely shows a lack of awareness of President Monson’s recent talk about curbing anger and controlling emotions.

  4. Aaron, I think you mean political apathy or indifference, don’t you? I haven’t observed any particular level of political malaise among British Latter-day Saints in the years I’ve lived here.

  5. I would venture a guess that the same people in Nevada who have behaved in this manner toward Harry Reid would welcome a fireside in which Glenn Beck bore his testimony and related his conversion story. This is despite Glenn Beck’s very uncharitable and un-Christlike manner of presentation and content in his sensationalistic and ideological show.

    If the situation were reversed, would it be fair to say that Harry Reid supporters would have condemned Beck and welcomed a fireside from Harry Reid?

    I’m not a Beck apologist by any means, however, I can see this situation playing out in similar fashion in liberal areas of the country.

    The political discourse in America (if you can even call it that), is filled with vitriol, hate and name calling. I find myself uncomfortably lodged in the middle of reprehensible political dialogue from both sides of the aisle.

    What happened to the civility that used to accompany political debate? Gone are the days when Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Reagan would disagree during the day, but were cordial and friendly after 6pm.

    Frankly, I am extremely disappointed with the current political climate and behavior in America.

  6. Gone are the days when Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Reagan would disagree during the day, but were cordial and friendly after 6pm.

    From what I hear, this is still the case generally speaking in Washington D.C. wards where you can have members of different political parties participating together in the same ward.

    I imagine that a Fireside at which Glenn Beck were invited to speak would raise a lot of controversy but I can’t really imagine emails being sent to the Stake Presidency calling them evil for having the Fireside.

  7. Aaron R, you raise some interesting questions. I think it is worth pointing out that there have been other times when politics have gotten pretty heated inside the Church. President Grant hated FDR’s politics and scolded Saints for voting for him. President McKay had to deal with all kinds of issues controlling ETB (you should read Greg Prince’s book on Pres. McKay — you will not believe the kinds of political fights apostles and other Church leaders were having with each other in the 1960s).

    This in no way forgives the behavior of the people in NV suppressing Sen. Reid’s fireside, but it is worth pointing out that passions are very high right now. Many conservatives and Constitutionalists really feel that this health care reform should never have passed in the way it did. If you think about it, the NHS was created with widespread support among all political parties — so was Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This measure was passed when most polls show the majority of people oppose it. It should not be suprising that people are up in arms (again, dear readers, this does not excuse the behavior of people drowning out Sen. Reid giving his testimony — it is just informational for our British commenters).

  8. I’m not sure if it is a wise thing to ask a politician to be a fireside speaker during a campaign. In some sense politicians are always campaigning, but there are TV ads being broadcast in Nevada by senate candidates right now. The Republican candidate will be selected in the primary election on June 8, a little more than two months from now.

    On the other hand, BYU sports teams roll into town to compete and hold firesides at the same time.

  9. Please don’t place Senator Reid in the same boat as Glenn Beck. Senator Reid, whether one likes his politics or not, is a duly-elected public official. Beck is a shameless self-promoter who has never done anything significant in his life except voice his opinions. If Mormons aren’t turned off by his nightly hate speech, they ought to be offended by his frequent creepy sex references. I just hope he isn’t slated to speak at my stake.

  10. Just an interesting side note on the topic of seeing politicians in the temple. Former Arizona Governor and member of the Church,Evan Mecham, was a polarizing figure in Arizona politics. He was also a temple worker.

    I saw Brother Mecham several times in the temple and never once observed anyone hit him, nor did I ever have the desire to hit him. ;-)

    I would hope that Brother Reid could also walk the halls of the Nevada temple, or any temple, for that matter, without the threat of injury from another member of the Church.

  11. I would hope that Brother Reid could also walk the halls of the Nevada temple, of any temple, for that matter, without the threat of injury from another member of the Church.

    Uhhh, yes, I would hope so. It is inconceivable to think otherwise.

  12. Aaron,
    Alas, I have it on good authority that some British LDS were very angry that the British Isles Ensign insert included an interview with Terry Rooney MP (Labour).

  13. Support like this?

    ” Ronald Reagan: “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” [1961]

    George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as “socialized medicine.” [1964]

    Every attempt to extend healthcare benefits in this country has been called “socialist.” Strange that no one on the right cries foul when we nationalize banks.

  14. Oh I hope I hope I hope I pray that the leadership of the Church addresses the state of political discourse in the Church at General Conference. It is shameful that it would require a prophetic weigh-in on this kind of thing to settle everyone down, and it is horrifying to consider the very real possibility that even a prophetic weigh-in might prove ineffective.

  15. Kristine,

    Medicare (the 1965 vote) received yes votes from Republicans in the House and Senate. The recent health care legislation passed, as I understand it, without any Republican votes. Republicans did describe Medicare as “socialized medicine,” but some actually voted with the Democrats to enact the program.

  16. My impression is that Saints in other parts of the world do not imbue local politics with such morality and lack thereof because they do not imagine Church leaders to do so. In the US, however, general-level Church leaders have (mistakenly, IMO) occasionally opined openly about politics. This leads some members to believe there to be a right and wrong to every political question church-wise.

    The most recent example is, of course, same sex marriage. The Church made it a moral issue (of eternal importance!) in California. How it was not previously considered a moral issue in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Canada, and The Netherlands, I’ll never understand.

    I think a more apt comparison, if we are getting into “what ifs” is Mitt Romney being invited to share his testimony in a fireside. I am very liberal and, here in NY, we probably have a relatively liberal LDS population for the US, but there would be plenty of people in my stake who would want to attend, and, as always, anyone uninterested could stay home. I trust that Mitt could stick to the Gospel. Harry too. Glenn, I don’t know, but maybe.

    Firesides–no problem. Now if someone decided to have Glenn or Mitt come to town, rented out an auditorium, and publicized the event as “Come hear the greatest Mormon ever tell you how very wrong your politics are”–sure, that would be a problem.

    FWIW–it seemed to me in the linked post that this woman’s husband may be in the stake presidency–they received e-mail accusing them of being evil. Based on that, she seems a relatively well-informed reporter, but sure, nobody knows everything.

  17. Kristine, a lot of people on the right cried foul when we nationalized banks, including me. In fact, this is one of the primary rallying cries of the tea party movement, which, I can tell you from personal experience, is opposed to TARP, the stimulus, cap and trade and the health care bill.

    As for Medicare, as I commented on another thread, it is a shame that we did not think about it eventually going bankrupt when it was enacted. But my point is that it DID have bipartisan support. The health care bill does not.

  18. I know the point of the post was to express outrage at the behavior of Nevada members toward both Reid and the stake president. I totally share that outrage.

    But John Mansfield has a point, too. It was not wise to schedule a Why I Believe fireside featuring somebody actively running for office in the same jurisidiction. Even a fair-minded Republican who views Reid as merely misguided could wonder whether attending such a fireside could be perceived as boosting his campaign. Similarly with Glenn Beck. He’s not running for anything, but he is trying to get as many people to watch his show as possible. Since I find his show deplorable, do I really want to be a part of something that would promote his commercial success? No, I wouldn’t attend, but I wouldn’t picket either.

    For the record, I have attended a Why I Believe featuring Orrin Hatch, whose politics I generally disagree with, but that was in Virginia. My only regret was that he had nothing better to offer than “We’re right and you’re wrong and I’ll prove it to you from the Bible.”

  19. Kristine–I too heard plenty of conservatives complaining about the bank bail-out. That’s pretty much their MO these days, hadn’t you heard?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpOUctySD68

    I think it is a fair point that it might have been wise to avoid this invitation during a campaign. Although, you may not be able to find a time when a politician is NOT campaigning.

  20. Nice post, John F. The linked post reflects a pretty sad state of affairs, but I can’t really say I’m all that surprised given the current level of political discourse.

  21. Ugh, threaten to hit someone in the temple? I wonder how much longer until someone is violent toward brother Reid or his family?

  22. The author of the post says all that needs to be said toward the end of her post.

    “I don’t want to know why you feel justified in declaring another member of this church unfit to hold a temple recommend when his bishop and stake president say otherwise. I really could not care less about your definition of “hypocrisy” or “worthiness” or even “right” or “wrong”.”

  23. John F. – Thanks. haha.

    Ronan – I’m genuinely surprised. I guess it must just be my malaise/apathy???

  24. Reid is a mobbed up thug who represents everything that is wrong with American politics. It turns my stomach that the church excommunicates scholars but is perfectly happy to have Reid stand as a representative of Mormonism.

    This is not a free speech issue — it’a an issue concerning whether Mormons want to grant him a venue to speak. I’m proud to hear that my fellow saints in Nevada decided not to grant him such a venue.

  25. I don’t like Harry Reid, my reasons are my own. I think if you don’t like him, don’t go to the meeting. I would not have gone. No one makes you go to firesides — and your salvation does not hang in the balance if you stay home.

    I have a feeling that a fireside with Glenn Beck would have been just as divissive and this stake presidency was very naieve to think that a polarizing and political figure such as Harry Reid would not cause a stir right after one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to ever pass in this country passed. And I think it was Last Lemming, up thread, who mentioned he is a current candidate for office right now….inapproporate to have him speak just for that reason alone.

    And here is the thing too, I have seen plenty of members of the Church be nasty about Glenn Beck. So to say that people on the right are the only ones acting in bad form is not true or fair. Acting out is not acceptable on either side. But like I said, if you don’t like the speaker stay home. If you really have a problem, talk to the leadership in private.

    This situation is unfortunate on all sides.

  26. Well, we’re certainly getting all sides represented in this discussion, which is a good thing. Just a warning to commenters: don’t insult the author of this post or other commenters, or your comments will be deleted.

  27. I’m not sure Glenn Beck is a good comparison; I’d certainly be unhappy if Michael Moore or some of the even more divisive political commentators on the left were to join the church and be invited to speak at a church fireside, and I consider myself fairly liberal. I wouldn’t picket the fireside, but I’d probably politely discuss my concerns with others. Same with Beck.
    A better comparison to Reid would be Mitt Romney. And I would have no complaints with Romney speaking at a fireside (even during campaign season, as long as his talk was apolitical), even though I despise many of his current political views.

  28. Tim, I don’t disagree with your overall point. I think people (like myself) bring up Glenn Beck because a lot of people on the left love to declare their tolerance and virtue and then in the next breath point out their eternal hatred for Glenn Beck. I increasingly disagree with him, and find his show virtually unwatchable, but that doesn’t change the fact that he seems to be a good member of the Church and has a nice testimony.

    I have never heard of Mitt Romney speaking at a fireside, btw, but he obviously must have given his testimony a lot when he was stake president in Mass.

    So, the larger point is that people need to separate politics from the people. We are all Heavenly Father’s children, and we should try to offer love to everybody. We can disagree on politics but still try to be kind and loving to one another. This applies equally to Glenn Beck and Harry Reid.

  29. Harry Reid is despicable and evil. Those who call Glen Beck divisive and then give Sen. Reid a pass because he has been “elected” really have ignored Reid’s tactics and name calling toward those who oppose him. I agree that physical threats are uncalled for and should be repented. However, I think his words and behavior as a national leader should make him that much more scrutinized by the Church for discipline. Think about it, he called the Church out for their actions related to gay-marriage and not in just a simple “I disagree” way. That right there should have brought on ecclesiastical questioning. My only hope is that he will be out of work come next year. He is a disgrace and you libs can have him.

  30. Harry Reid is a good person trying to do his job in the face of extraordinary adversity.

    It is obvious that you disagree with his political philosophies and policy choices.

    As Latter-day Saints we are better off when we do not allow differing political priorities to form the basis of a judgment about someone’s worthiness. The Church stated that having a different political opinion on Proposition 8 would not be the basis for church discipline. Bishoprics and Stake Presidencies are responsible for determining whether a church member under their stewardship is worthy of temple attendance. This determination is based on a very specific set of questions relating to one’s beliefs in the principles of the Restored Gospel and one’s adherence to certain community-defining behavioral standards. One’s political preferences do not figure into the assessment. If they did, then the critics who opposed Mitt Romney’s candidacy would have been correct that his political priorities and policy choices would have been dictated by Salt Lake City.

    Harry Reid has a strong testimony of the Restored Gospel and of the power of the Atonement in his life. No requirements are imposed on someone sharing their testimony of these things. To the contrary, in the Church we encourage all members, regardless of the background, political affiliations, past wrongs, past righteousness, etc. to bear testimony frequently to strengthen the saints and to minister to those not of our faith ni an outreach effort.

    Those who judge a fellow Latter-day Saint unjustly, in my view, will be judged according to the same measure with which they have judged.

  31. Jettboy–I did the same thing upthread; do you really think that comment calls for Church discipline?

  32. Those who judge a fellow Latter-day Saint unjustly, in my view, will be judged according to the same measure with which they have judged.

    Well said, John!

  33. Can I just say that I really don’t think people should be suggesting other people should be subject to Church discipline. This happens a lot regarding political issues (on both sides), and this is why the Church in general allows people a variety of political beliefs (including opposing Prop. 8, btw). Nobody but your bishop, stake president and then maybe the High Council are qualified to make such judgements.

    I oppose Harry Reid’s politics with all of my breath, but I also would like to point out that part of what he does is the nature of being majority leader. I wonder sometimes whether he regrets taking that position.

  34. “Those who judge a fellow Latter-day Saint unjustly, in my view, will be judged according to the same measure with which they have judged.”

    My judgments are not unjust, but based on what I have seen and heard of the man in public. That is unless you believe what happens in private is to be judged differently than in public. Harry Reid is a liar and a bully and NOT a good Latter-day Saint. He will be judged for such in the next life if not in this one.

  35. Geoff B: Just a warning to commenters: don’t insult the author of this post or other commenters, or your comments will be deleted.

    So your comment draws the line about what is and is not appropriate for this forum. How ironic that you make this comment on a post that objects to other’s drawing a line concerning what they deem appropriate for a forum organized to represent them.

    My takeaway: your prejudices are fine and dandy, but other people’s are suspect. That pretty much sums up the liberal mindset in this country today.

  36. DKL, we have different standards here than on many other blogs. Not better, not worse, just different. The point is that we don’t want insults back and forth from commenters. I understand the purpose of your comment on prejudices, but that is not the point of the editing.

  37. Geoff, I’m not attacking your prejudices. I’m attacking your lazy and uncritical reliance on them in a thread centered around a post that uncritically attacks the prejudices of others.

  38. john f, when Jettboy runs for public office, then how he will be judged will be relevant. Harry Reid ran for elected office and became a public figure. He aspired to and became majority leader in the US Senate, thereby becoming a national political figure. By becoming a national political figure, Reid is subject to moral criticism from the public in ways that other members of the citizenry are not. There’s no parity here.

    Jettboy is entitled to his opinion, but you think that because you deem it to be wrong, you can simultaneously deem it to be illegitimate. That’s certainly a convenient argumentative move, but it’s also an unfair way to argue.

  39. “Jettboy, how will you be judged?”

    What is that supposed to mean? I will be judged according the way all people will be judged; by my faith, my heart, my words, and my actions.

  40. Btw, DKL, I think it’s hilarious that you think I’m representative of the liberal mindset. Would you please inform the rest of the Bloggernacle so I don’t get so many rude comments calling me an evil conservative? Thanks.

  41. “by my faith, my heart, my words, and my actions.”

    That is also how Harry Reid will be judged.

    To my mind, your words on this thread condemn you as unChristlike and judgmental and exemplify some of the worst characteristics that Mormons have become known for. You have judged Harry Reid but I don’t see anything in your words that distinguish your behavior from what you allege Harry Reid’s words and behavior to be.

    DKL, this post is about Latter-day Saints objecting to a person bearing his testimony because of his political preferences and choices. The people who did this behaved in a very unseemly way to a fellow Church member in this context considering that the Fireside was not about politics but about the Atonement and conversion to the Restored Gospel. You have expressed your opinion that those Latter-day Saints acted appropriately and that Geoff B. is prejudiced in calling for civility in this thread. From your comment it appears that you also believe that there is an inherent contradiction between the original post and Geoff’s call for appropriate discourse. Others have expressed agreement with the idea that the Latter-day Saints in Nevada were out of line and that one can disagree with Harry Reid’s politics and political actions without accusing him of being evil or worse. It appears there is legitimate disagreement on this point but I find it more rational to go with appreciating Harry Reid’s testimony of Jesus Christ regardless of his personal political preferences.

  42. “To my mind, your words on this thread condemn you as unChristlike and judgmental and exemplify some of the worst characteristics that Mormons have become known for. You have judged Harry Reid but I don’t see anything in your words that distinguish your behavior from what you allege Harry Reid’s words and behavior to be.”

    Well, good for you. At least you can’t take the high road and say you don’t judge.

  43. Geoff B.,
    May I be the first to say that I don’t think you’re an evil conservative.
    In fact, I almost always respect your opinions, even though I often disagree with them. I don’t envy your position on the bloggernacle–as a respectable conservative, you’re in a tight spot between the moderate/liberals that run most of the bloggernacle and the crazy far-right-wingers that troll the place. Tough spot to be in.

  44. I only learned this morning that my post had been linked over here. Thank you, John and Geoff, for what I feel was an accurate restatement of my concerns.

    I am so non-political it’s almost embarrassing. Don’t get me wrong: I like to stay informed, and have always taken to heart the admonition to prayerfully consider the candidates and the issues and then vote my conscience.

    But I loathe controversy, which is why I delete political rants from my e-mail and stay away from people who seem to be sporting for that kind of discourse. Some people love it – thrive on it, in fact. I do not.

    I was amazed at how hard it was over at my blog for many people to keep their opinions about Harry Reid out of the equation, even if only to say, “I hate the guy’s politics but I respect him as a Latter-day Saint”. For the most part, everyone made a real effort to be civil, but I knew it was killing them!

    I’ll clear up a couple of matters for anyone interested:

    My husband is the stake clerk, but is also an FBI agent. Therefore, from the very beginning, he was involved in all of this – the suggestions from a visiting GA that we have this fireside, the phone calls and e-mails, the meetings with Reid’s security people – he participated in all of it. It’s true, this still qualifies as hearsay. I heard it from the most honest man I’ve ever known – my husband.

    But I’ve seen some of the “tamer” e-mails myself. E-mails calling for Reid’s excommunication and similar poisonous suggestions for our stake presidency. Read. Them. Myself.

    Finally, I have to say that we walk a perilous line when we start saying that people running for election should not be permitted to speak in firesides. How many of us, right now, are serving under church leaders who are also politicians? Do we prohibit them from saying anything in a church setting other than carrying out the administrative duties of their callings? Who gets to decide what occupations make a speaker worthy to bear his testimony and which do not?

  45. That’s really terrible if true. I’m not a Harry Reid fan, but what I can recognize is he has divided his life into two (or more) spheres like many of us have to.

    He has to play politics. He can’t come out and try to bring the other side together. That’s just not how politics works. It’s political maneuvering to defeat the opposition. I don’t even know how much it’s about passing “the right” agenda. Witness Obama about to open up offshore drilling, which Bush was pilloried for. Witness an individual mandate bill pass by the Dems, which the Dems were against in Clinton’s time and the Repubs were for. It goes on and on. Certainly there is nuance to each of these examples. But generally, what one side proposes, the other side opposes. Knowing that, it becomes political theater.

    I don’t know if Reid cognitively recognizes this, or if he’s really convinced that he’s the good guy and the Repubs are the bad guys. I’d assume it’s a mixture of both.

    I’d say the same about, say, Glenn Beck. Perhaps even more so, because his job is not to defeat a political opposition but to win ratings for his employer.

    The difference for the rest of us, is not to get wrapped up in the game the politicians have to play to preserve the power of their parties. But to look at the policies that make sense and vote for those who support them whatever party they belong to. The only unfortunate thing with that theory, is that in this day and age of 2000 page bills, you end up supporting a guy who voted for 3 pages worth of good and 100 pages worth of not-so-good.

  46. One thing people seem to have missed is that the idea for this fireside did originate with the stake presidency, but was initiated by the First Presidency, who were concerned about fellow church members’ judgments of Senator Reid’s personal worthiness. They thought that if members could just hear his testimony, they would lay off the vitriol in that regard, though they may well continue to disagree with his politics. In light of this provenance of the fireside’s conception, this outcome is that much more sad and tragic.

    I have to admit that, as a liberal, I would be irritated by a fireside by Mitt Romney during a political campaign, or by Glenn Beck. For example, I thought it was unfortunate that Beck appeared at BYU’s “Stadium of Fire” 4th of July celebration, because some may take it to imply church endorsement of his political views, and because it may make those who disagree with him feel unwelcome to attend. In the reverse fireside situation, I would probably grumble about it to my family and internet pals, and if I thought I couldn’t refrain from having an attitude that isn’t conducive to the Spirit then I would stay home. But would I send emails to my ward email list complaining about it, make threats of violence (including in the temple) against them on a ward email list, call up the stake president and call him evil, bring picket signs to a church building, heckle them from the audience, etc? I can’t see ANY of these things happening in the reverse situation. Glenn Beck could be asked to appear jointly with John Bybee and the ghost of Cleon Skousen with artwork by McNaughton at a fireside in Berkeley, CA, and you wouldn’t have seen any of these things.

  47. er, make that “…the idea for this fireside did NOT originate with the stake presidency…”

  48. DeNae, why would you be privy to emails given to the stake president?

    I think in someway, this is just gossiping to prop ourselves up and demonstrate how bad others were. I’m not sure why some things
    (“so-and-so said X,Y,Z and it’s totally wrong”) need to be discussed in such an open forum.

    If someone makes an offense, usually it’s between the offender and the one offended right? Why should we all sit around and pass judgment doing exactly the same things those we’re condemning are doing — albeit to a lessor degree.

  49. Who gets to decide what occupations make a speaker worthy to bear his testimony and which do not?

    There are no such restrictions. We even encourage recently baptized members who are still smoking to bear their testimonies when the occasion arises if it can support the missionaries, etc. A testimony about one’s convictions about the Restored Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a noble expression and does not depend on someone’s political preferences.

  50. Pingback: Tweets that mention » Guest post: Harry Reid fireside canceled because of politics The Millennial Star -- Topsy.com

  51. Danae, thanks for showing up and for your original post. I think you were right to bring this up as an area of concern. Speaking as a fiscal conservative and Republican, I would like to say that if “my side” cannot be civil, especially to other Latter-day Saints, we are in deep, deep, deep trouble.

    Everybody, I’m really, really sorry about our software wrapping the first 50 comments. As a computer illiterate, I don’t know how to fix it.

    Ardis, please restate your comment in milder terms. I’m really trying hard to keep things under control here. You know I admire and care for you very deeply (as deeply as you can care for somebody without knowing them in person), but please, give me a hand and keep it nice.

  52. Geoff, you single me out for reproof when you allow the despicable comments of Jettboy and DKL to stand? I guess it depends on the political slant of the comments as to what is acceptable and what is not.

  53. (I mean, as someone who knows him from a Church context — unless I’m mistaken but I believe I’ve seen you mention somewhere before that you had been in his ward.)

  54. THANK YOU John Fowles for bringing this to our attention. I appreciate it.

    In my reply I’d like to first off state that I’m a Centrist. I believe both sides of the political spectrum have both good and bad in them (mostly bad :grin:). For me, it seems to be the only reasonable response to politics, especially considering how partisan it has become. I am also very much opposed to extremism. It doesn’t matter who is the extremist; if it be the leftist activists in the ’60s or the current surge of the radical right – I oppose them all and believe they should be denounced and vilified by all God loving and rational people.

    It’s my view that the group of LDS members mentioned in the original post are extremists. And yes, there are a few Mormon extremists on the left as well (as is mentioned above in the comments) who would protest Glenn Beck. Neither of them are following the commandments of God in their actions and they all should be called to repentance. Extremism in any form and for any reason does not belong in the Lord’s church. It is anathema to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Any view (political or not) that makes you hate another person because of their opposing views cannot belong in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints without eventually causing severe repercussions for both the individual and for the reputation of the Church itself.

    In addition to this, I’d also like to point out that a small tendril of extremist political philosophy has begun to creep into the culture of the church recently. (Not the Gospel, let me be clear! The Church is true! But the *culture* of church members is created by man and is very flawed at the best of times.) As an example of this I’d like to point out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtA9ztEujdQ

    The video was found & posted by an old friend of mine on Facebook who thought it was very inspiring. When I watched it my blood ran cold and chills went up my spine. This video is, in simple terms, blasphemous. It uses our Church leaders to create propaganda for a political position. Yes, Ezra Taft Benson definitely had those political views, I’m not discounting that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. A simple, unmodified video of his speech would not have been at issue at all with me. Everyone has the right to express his or her views.

    It is the use of out of context words out of conference talks from President Monson and President Hinkley and ESPECIALLY the use of the Christus statue at the end that makes this a blasphemous video. It may be possible that Hinkley did and Monson does have these same political views. I don’t know if that is true or not, but that is entirely besides the point I’m making. Their speeches they gave in conference that are used in this video had nothing to do with the specifics of what Benson was talking about. They are taken out of context to deliberately lend the impression that all Prophets of God have this political view. And the use of the Christus statue is a profane attempt to say that God Himself, or His Church has these political views.

    Yes, the majority of LDS members are Republican and there’s nothing wrong with that. A **moderate** Republican platform has some very good ideas. But this video, and attitudes of the members who view their religion as strongly tied to their politics creates an antagonistic and hostile culture in the Church for those who don’t have the same political views. It is basically saying to those who simply disagree with this video, “you don’t belong.” It is saying that Democrats and even Centrists like myself aren’t welcome in the Church of Jesus Christ. It is saying that Jesus will not accept you if you are not Republican.

    Obviously, this is not what our Lord teaches. And neither do our Church leaders: http://tinyurl.com/y8fesbq http://tinyurl.com/y8tbgkz http://tinyurl.com/ycampp8 Please, those of you who strongly tie your religion to your politics, I ask of you to please reconsider your actions. There are many whom you disagree with who also needs the Lord’s blessings. And there are many who’s lives would be bettered by being active and welcomed members of our Church.

  55. Ardis, I would love to hear that as well. I have heard others who have gone to church with him comment on what a nice guy he is and how nice his family is. This might be a good time for that.

  56. Wow. I’m astonished and embarrassed that we would exclude someone from sharing testimony because of his employment.

    Whatever happened to that old Mormon mantra “moderation in all things”?

  57. I don’t know Brother Reid myself, but I have attended Church with Brother Beck. He’s a fantastic human being, very loving and attentive to his family (my uncle is his home teacher), and DH says his EQ lesson was great.

    I’m certain the same can be said of Brother Reid.

  58. We live in an era of uncertainty and fear. The uncertainty is understandable, but the fear is unbecoming of those who profess to have faith. Though I personally believe Senator Reid’s political ideas are not good for the country, I personally can’t understand the personal hostility towards this man among Latter-day Saints. If Reid truly is the Gandianton robber bogeyman he is made out to be by some, why not attempt to reclaim him than drive him out?

  59. And let’s put this tempe recommend thing to rest: You can’t claim that because a bishop and stake president are the only people able to extend or withhold a temple recommend, that they’re the only people who are qualified to assess worthiness. Just to choose an easy example, if I happen to know that someone is a deadbeat dad because he’s divorced from my sister, then I can say so no matter what the bishop or stake president do. You lose that argument, too, john f.

    Geoff, just because you’re conservative doesn’t mean you haven’t bought into liberal lunacy. Your allegiances might be convenient cover, but they don’t actually answer the substance of my accusation; viz., that you’re clinging to your own prejudices concerning where lines should be drawn when it comes to utilizing someone else’s forum, while condemning other people’s prejudices concerning the drawing of those lines.

  60. DKL, I respect your opinion, but let’s explore it a bit. If I am following you, people should be able to decide who speaks at a fireside. So, would you support people using any criteria they want to suppress a fireside? My criteria is simple: any person who wants to present a testimony of the Restored Gospel should be able to speak. This was Harry Reid’s topic. I feel that he or anybody else who wants to stick to this topic should be able to speak, if chosen by the stake presidency and especially if supported by the first presidency, as in this case.

    Note, I am not saying people don’t have the right to protest. I am saying these people are wrong and hypocritical — they would presumably support somebody speaking with whom they agree.

    How is this different than the liberal loons who shout down conservative speakers at a campus event? To my mind, it is exactly the same inability to tolerate a difference of opinion that causes people to suppress speech with which they disagree.

    If you are OK with people suppressing a fireside because they hate Harry Reid, you are also presumably OK with people suppressing a speech by Ann Coulter at a college campus because they disagree with her. My position is consistent: I think people should be able to speak out as much as possible, regardless of whether or not I agree with them, as long as they use accepted standards of decency and stick to the topic at hand.

    Regarding my supposed hypocrisy regarding my prejudices on what is acceptable speech on this blog, I will admit it is necessarily subjective. It is based on a loose consensus of the permabloggers here that we don’t want ugly comments and insults back and forth. Too many threads on other blogs have people insulting each other for 30 comments, and we simply don’t want that here. My first point is that we can and should have the right to regulate speech on a private blog, just as a stake president should have the right to regulate what type of fireside takes place. A stake president should not have a fireside on “Why Joseph Smith was Wrong” or “Pornography in the Bible.” It is not suppression of free speech to control the TYPE of discussion that you want to take place, especially on a private, Church-oriented blog.

    So, DKL, I actually think my position and the position of this blog is pretty consistent. And, if you disagree, well, you always have the freedom not to read this blog anymore. One thing you learn when you run a blog is you can’t (and definitely will not) please everybody.

  61. I don’t we have all the facts. Put money down this gets addressed in Conference indirectly, if it’s true.

  62. Geoff,

    If this went on as described its bad news. However I would want more information about this before posting it like this. Your only source is a personal blog.

    I have had interactions with both the Reids and Gibsons in LV. Both families are good examples of good LDS folks even though they have different politics then most active members.

    This stuff happens. Remember the reaction at SMU when GWB a fellow Methodist announced his presidential library would be housed at SMU? Or the reaction to conservative blacks by their community?

  63. Bbell, we felt there was enough corroboration to post this. Take a look at Danae’s comments farther up on this thread.

    Interesting you use the SMU example — look at my comment to DKL. Saints trying to prevent Harry Reid from speaking at a fireside are exactly like liberal maniacs trying to prevent conservatives from speaking on college campuses.

    I agree that there are a lot of facts missing here, but I will stand up for free speech any time.

  64. Actually, I really wish this weren’t true. I would be sleeping better tonight if it weren’t. Unfortunately, I am afraid that is it true.

  65. Geoff, your idea that the anyone should be able to hold a fireside it silly. What if Charles Manson converted to the gospel. Would you favor holding a fireside for him?

    Furthermore, Ann Coulter only speaks at colleges that invite her. The difference between a college that doesn’t inviter her and one that rescinds it’s invitation based on the behavior of its students is mere timing. Thus, your point about how sad it is that ̨Ms. Coulter’s speaking engagements are sometimes cancelled only holds water if you wish to argue that no college should decline to let Ann Coulter address its student.

    Again, once you’ve admitted that it’s acceptable to draw the line somewhere, it won’t do for you to paint those who draw the line elsewhere as crazies.

  66. Geoff,

    I agree with the concept of free speech in the public square and seriously believe that US universities are probably the biggest offenders when it comes to violating free speech in the US. That being said there is no free speech rights in private churches. The SP or Bishop can throw you out or end your testimony at will.

    That being said I support the idea of the majority leader of the US Senate bearing his testimony or giving a fireside at an LDS chapel. Active prominent LDS people do this all the time. Reid is a sincere active member with RM sons and has spent a lifetime doing HT and serving in callings.

    The alleged reaction by folks in this stake seems over the to to me. I wonder how widespread amongst active LDS people who actually reside in this stake it really was based on a lifetime of active membership. Emailing the SP that they are evil? Those are the actions of somebody on the way out of the church

  67. Amen, John. FWIW, Glenn Beck gave one of those Why I Believe firesides at my stake in New York a couple years back. I don’t like him (or, at least, his public persona), and frankly, given that it was supposed to be a missionary fireside, it was a horrible idea (that is, there are very few Manhattanites who will become interested in the Church because, it turns out, Bro. Beck is a member). But, other than muttering to friends (about what a bad idea it was, not about what a bad person Bro. Beck is), there was no outlandish reaction. I didn’t go, but others did. Nobody protested or heckled, and I’m sure he bore testimony of the Gospel of Christ to the best of his feelings and understanding.

    Although I’m not a fan of Glenn Beck, he doesn’t cause me to be ashamed of the church membership. Apparently, though, a number of Nevadans do make me ashamed. Not of the Church, not of the Gospel, but of being called by the same name as such hateful and knee-jerk persons.

  68. Bbell, agreed.

    DKL, wow, Harry Reid is Charles Manson? I understand your point, but that is a pretty big stretch. If Charles Manson had a sincere conversion and the stake president invited him to give a fireside on his testimony, and he was apparently invited by the First Presidency, which has spoken well of him, then I guess I’d be OK with it. Btw, would you attend a fireside given by Paul (who helped kill Christians) and Alma the Younger (who persecuted the Church)? I’d trust a stake presidency to make a good decision on whom they choose for a fireside. And if I really didn’t like it, I guess I could choose not to attend.

    As for Ann Coulter, the situations are pretty similar. Harry Reid was apparently invited to speak and when people protested, the speech was canceled. That’s exactly what has happened to Ann Coulter at at least one college campus recently.

  69. I didn’t compare Harry Reid to Charles Manson. You made an assertion to the effect that anyone should be able to host a fireside. I demonstrated that was false by offering a counter-example. It’s exactly this sort of failure to understand the basic nature of argumentation that makes this thread so vacuous.

    And you should know that 3/4 of the people saying “tsk, tsk” over this are the kind of people who high-five each other when they succeed in overcoming the opinions of church leaders.

  70. Somebody earlier mentioned that they hoped the Brethren would address our current political climate this conference. I bet they do, but I bet it’s nothing more than a watered-down, “everybody play nice” obligatory statement. I, for one, pine for the days when a GA would speak his political mind. Then I’d either be bolstered in my views or face some serious time on my knees. I tire of the lukewarm platitudes of recent years.

    No, I don’t really like GAs and leaders delving into politics (in fact, on the local and regional level, I’d like never to know my leader’s politics). But we’re no longer dealing with the status quo. For better or worse, our country is moving quickly. I find it tough to believe these very real political changes have no implications, good or bad, for the church and its membership. I’d love some good discussion about this on the apostolic level.

    As to Harry Reid, I can’t stand Harry Reid the politician. But I can’t speak about Harry Reid the man. I’ve heard some stories that are no more verifiable than the allegations made in this post, but I am unqualified to judge Harry Ried on a personal basis.

    I will say that on my mission I had a companion with whom I vehemently disagreed politically. I honestly hated the guy and he hated me. But I loved hearing his testimony because, for those brief moments, I was able to see him for who he was- not what he believed. I’d like to think it was the same for him.

    So yes, I’d go to Harry Reid’s fireside and shake his hand afterward. Then I’d go back to campaigning for his political defeat the next day.

    Geoff, I’ll echo a few posters’ concern about the hearsay nature of this post. My BS meter spiked pretty quick. Even if a decision was made, for security reasons, to cancel the appearance, the vicious emails and threats of violence sound pretty fishy. You could have brought this issue to the table in a more responsible way. I’m disappointed.

  71. Tossman, as I say you can’t please everybody.

    What would have made this more reliable for you? We had a person who gave her name and said she took calls and saw the e-mails herself. As I say, there are certainly more details on this out there, but it seemed enough for us.

  72. I do not often come publicly to the defense of Glenn Beck. I think if he were treated this way by “so-called” Mormons, I would be just as embarrassed as I am of the “so-called” Mormons who treated Harry Reid this way.

    It is a struggle to detach feelings about a person from feelings about his or her politics. I suppose that is why common practice is to avoid discussion of politics (and religion) at polite events. It was a struggle for me to detach my abhorence of the policies of GWB from my regard for him as a human being. I think I have largely succeeded in that; next I will work on doing the same with respect to Cheney.

  73. Well then you’re threshold is lower than mine. If I were you, I would have opted not to publish this guy’s post in its entirety, but to write your own post introducing the scandal and preface it with the disclaimer that, while you find it credible enough, you can’t in good conscience post it as is because of its hearsay nature. I’d excerpt the post and perhaps discuss it along the way, adding more disclaimers to deserve some integrity. We could be discussing the concept of the story, not the grapevine accusations themselves.

    No, you can’t please everybody. But other than those biased for Harry Reid or those who take gossip at face value, you don’t seem to have pleased too many here.

  74. Ann Coulter was in the middle of a three-speech tour of Canadian universities when, in response to a question by a student of Middle-Eastern descent about a previous comment of Ann’s that all Muslims should be banned from flying in airplanes and should instead use flying carpets, she told her to “take a camel.” People were perturbed, and interpreted this as not very nice on Ms. Coulter’s part. The Ann Coulter incident happened in Canada, which, last time I checked, was not part of the US, and doesn’t have the same legal system as the US.

    if you (posters invoking Ann Coulter) can name a “Take a camel” incident in the lifetime of Harry Reid, then you have a point, otherwise, not so much.

  75. Ann told the Muslim student to “take a camel.” Therefore, Ann stood by her previous statement that Muslims should not be allowed on airplanes.

  76. Chris, I saw two e-mails because they were shown to me by the recipient. They were sent to their personal e-mail addresses, not to the stake offices. But you’re right; I didn’t need to tell you I had seen them personally. I hate the gossipy feel to that as much as you do.

    Everyone, while I see that the comments have kind of swung away from the central message of my post (which is just fine with me; I’m not comfortable with all of this attention on what was, for me, an unusual kind of entry) I do want to reiterate that my original point was that we do not have the right to tell another member of the church – who has been vetted by two common judges in Israel as being in good standing and worthy of his temple recommend – that he can not express his faith before a congregation of fellow church members.

    And I’m sorry, I don’t support the idea that somehow public figures, even those running for election, are exceptions to this rule. There are a lot of Latter-day Saints who have to make unpopular, difficult decisions in their public or professional lives, and when we start saying “this profession is acceptable” but “that profession is not”, regardless of the individual’s standing in the church, we are on a slippery slope that makes me just the least bit nervous.

  77. My opinion isn’t far from tossman’s – can’t stand the politician, and consider his public statements needlessly combative and insulting – see “evilmongers” – but consider his church membership, temple recommend status, and eternal trajectory to be none of my business.

    I listened to Reid’s address at BYU from a few years back. I found it overly political at times, and at least one statement wildly inappropriate for the forum. (I felt the same a few decades earlier when Sen. Hatch joked unkindly about Democrats in a Marriott Center address.) I doubt I’d attend a fireside that featured him. But neither would I picket the chapel or express my displeasure to the fireside organizers.

    I can get whipped into quite a lather when it comes to Reid. But I try to check myself and remember the Lord’s caution against contention. Stand up in defense of the truth, but don’t give in to anger. Nobody wins when that happens.

  78. I’m sure that everyone is aware of the New Testament story of Jesus and the rich young man. In the story the rich man asks Jesus what he needs to do to go to heaven. After hearing that he has kept all the commandments, Jesus tells him that he lacks one thing: the rich young man must sell all he has and give it to the poor. The young man is grieved because he has many possessions and walks away (presumably he does not do what Jesus instructs).

    Now imagine this: When the rich man walks away, Jesus uses his divine power to rid the man of all his possessions and Jesus then distributes them to the poor so he can go to heaven.

    Does that sound wrong and un-Christ-like? That’s because it is. I believe some members sincerely believe that “progressives” are promoting the form of charity outlined in the second paragraph, and that Harry Reid is facilitating such an attack on free agency and genuine Christ-like charity.

    By the way, I support free speech for everyone, and I don’t condone threats; but I believe there may be a lot of hyperbole in the descriptions in John Fowles’ post.

  79. Pingback: Harry Reid fireside canceled because of politics - LDS Mormon Forums

  80. As someone who does regularly attend church with Sen. Reid, I can attest that he is a kind and wonderful person. He makes insightful comments in class and speaks with humble conviction. He patted my 5 month-old on the head and was asking about him as we visited briefly after sacrament meeting recently. He’s gracious in the way you would expect anyone at church to be. The most staunchly conservative people I know in the ward will say the same.

    It’s an easy temptation speak ill of someone that you don’t know. People who hold different political opinions may resent that he shares their faith, but that’s unfortunate, because it shows that we’ve missed a piece of the gospel.

    The Temple Visitor’s Center and BYU’s DC center for interns both hold firesides regularly, and various Mormon politicians are frequently on the bill. I’ve certainly disagreed with some things Jason Chaffetz or Orrin Hatch have done, but it certainly never crossed my mind that their speaking at recent firesides was somehow inappropriate. Zion is full of lots of different people and thank goodness! If variety beautifies the world, I think the same could be said of the Church.

  81. How sad when we reject or criticize others because of their political or religious beliefs. This intolerance and contentiousness seems to go against everything the Savior taught. When the Church leaders wanted statehood, they were required to make certain that both political parties were well-represented before Utah was allowed to become a state. Sadly, Church members seem to infer that only one party–or the other–has a monopoly on truth, when there are flaws and strengths in each party.

  82. I do not condone anyone disrupting a fireside either before or during. If the behavior described is true, the people acting as such should be called in for a long interview with the Stake Presidency. The conduct alleged, if true, is not Christlike. To the contrary, it is evil.

    On the other hand, I have grown tired of hearing how great a person is because he or she is nice in church, makes insightful comments, regularly does his home teaching, etc. I make my living as an attorney. In my 18 years in the business I have become somewhat jaded about “great mormons” who are quote doctrine with the best of them on Sunday and have no problem with doing anything necessary – lie, cheat, steal – to get to the top in business Monday through Saturday. This applies to some mormon attorneys – but just as much if not more so to mormon businessmen. I once was told by a client that he would have never have hired me if he knew I was a mormon because he had been “screwed over” by every mormon businessman he had ever dealt with.

    Hearing many of these people bear their testimony would do little to help me see them in a positive light. To the contrary, hypocracy is the greatest threat to advancing the gospel.

    On a political level, I have been pretty unimpressed by Sen. Reid. I have heard him repeatedly make statements on television which were at best gross distortions of the truth and more likely outright lies. He deliberately misrepresented both what is contained in the “Health Care Reform” bill and the positions of those that opposed it. Unfortunately, this type of conduct is not limited to Sen. Reid. I have seen similar conduct by Republican mormons as well. I do not agree with looking the other way because they live their religion well on Sunday. I am for all of them being voted out of office based on how they conduct themselves outside of church.

    I think having Sen. Reid give a fireside would be a very bad idea. A poll released today shows that 53% of the public believes that the methods by which Congress passed “Health Care Reform” was an abuse of power. Congress violated the rules which are supposed to govern it, and Sen. Reid was right at the front of the charge. I also cannot understand mormons voting for a bill which provides federal funding for abortion. It is one thing to take a libritarian approach and argue that it is none of government’s business, it is quite another to force all Americans to fund a procedure that most Americans believe to be immoral. (It is unlikely that Pres. Obama’s executive order will stand up in court).

    Ultimately, the decision to invite Sen. Reid to give a fireside was for the Stake Presidency to make. While I would not attend, I would not interfere. I hope the reports are untrue of greatly exaggerated.

  83. Pingback: “If I see Harry Reid in the temple, I’m going to hit him.” | Main Street Plaza

  84. This is a great post, John, and troubling indeed. Conservatives would HOWL if the same thing were done with a conservative speaker on a non-political topic.

    You should have posted this at abev instead of guest-posting it here at M*… :)

  85. Jordan, were the same post written about a similar incident with a polarizing conservative LDS member, would you still have called it a “great post”?

  86. Tossman, from my perspective, Jordan is a right-leaning moderate, actually. I think you’re off the mark if your implying hypocrisy on his part. The short answer, therefore, is (1) I would still have written this post if it were a similar incident with a polarizing conservative LDS member and (2) my hunch is that my bro Jordan would still have said it was a great post. But he does that all the time for my posts — he’s sort of obligated to since he’s my big brother.

  87. First, let me preface my remarks with my extreme dissapointment over people protesting Senator Reid speaking by invitation at a fireside. We can all be strengthened by anyone’s belief in the restored gosple and their belief in our Savior and Redeemer. I would never question the sincereity of anyones testimony or object to their expressing it. All that said, however, Harry has made “take a camel” remarks. The time he said tourists visiting the DC area suffered from body odor comes to mind. But I would love to hear Senator Reid speak, he has taken positions on certain issues seem to indicate some interesting reconciliation with the testimony he was asked to bear.

  88. Tossman, it is clear what your question implied. That’s not controversial and not even worth arguing about. It’s fine though. I understand the post irritated you. I think that is probably clear to the rest of the people reading your comments too.

    By the way, my “categorization” of Jordan might be off — he might actually describe himself as solidly conservative. In 2004, when I was struggling to figure out who to vote for between Bush, with his disastrous and dishonest policies about Iraq and his incompetence in Afghanistan or John Kerry with some of his, to my mind, questionable philosophies and policies, Jordan argued strongly for voting for Bush. That is a sign of his conservatism. He also argued strongly in support of McCain this last time around.

    It’s too bad that one has to list conservative credentials to be credible in endorsing a plainly obvious condemnation of the behavior described in this incident. As Latter-day Saints, we should strive to be better, to be above the fray on these corrosive political issues, taking our responsibilities as citizens seriously by voting and campaigning and holding public office but never by denying fellow Latter-day Saints an opportunity to bear their testimony about the Restored Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ because of their political preferences. That puts us in dangerous territory that literally impedes the establishment of Zion.

  89. Congratulations on your excellent essay, John. Harry Reid is a convert with an inspiring story.

    It is also quite romantic. It is the love story of a young man and a young woman who are in love but are separated by communal boundaries. Unlike Romeo and Julia, the Reids do not suffer tragedy because their Mormon neighbors step up and help them to start a family.

    Reaping tragedy from a happy end, the mob has shouted down a story that would have cast their own community in the best light. These people are blinded by hate. It’s a shame.

  90. John F, my beef isn’t with the point of your guest post. My beef is with Geoff for publishing it, as-is, with no disclaimer. The post’s tabloid nature and Geoff’s to mitigate that dilutes the core argument. He would have been wise to handle it a different way, that’s all.

    I didn’t ask you to list any credentials, but I can think of quite a few conservatives that would take issue with your assertion that anybody who likes Bush or McCain is automatically a ‘solid conservative.’

  91. The sentence in my previous post should have read “The post’s tabloid nature and Geoff’s failure to mitigate that dilutes the core argument.”

  92. Thanks for the great essay. I agree 100%! I think this is one of the most distressing things in the Church these days in the US. That somehow ultra-conservative US politics has been intertwined in the Church and loyalty to it and the Church are expected. I have to bite my tongue during the lessons I teach and specifically say that we are NOT going to go there when someone makes a political comment during a Gospel lesson.

    What amazes me most is that this hard line position is antithetical to what Joseph himself taught and preached. Social Justice (a currently popular phrase)was certainly taught by the Savior and concern for our fellow man is a paramount tenet of the Church.

    The 13th Article of Faith alone should have prevented this kind of display by members. The SP in Nevada should be review the Temple recommends and calling of these people who were so virile in their objections to Senator Reid’s appearance.

    A sad time for the Church in Nevada. Perhaps the influence of living in one of Satan’s playgrounds has affected them adversely.

  93. “Jordan, were the same post written about a similar incident with a polarizing conservative LDS member, would you still have called it a “great post”?”

    Absolutely, without a doubt, Tossman. That is because at a “why I believe” fireside, the person’s political affiliation does not matter a single whit.

    I remember being upset at the reaction of my more liberal LDS brothers and sisters to Cheney speaking at BYU’s commencement exercises in 2007 – and he was not even there just to share his testimony! Cheney was the sitting Vice President of the United States – what an honor to have him speak – but people on the left were upset that he would be speaking there because of his politics. It was ridiculous, just like this is. Only this is more so because Reid was coming as a fellow Latter-day Saint to share his convictions about the gospel.

    If you knew me, you would know how I feel about “ObamaCare.” But how I feel about that does not matter when it comes to a sincere testimony of the Gospel shared by one who bears it.

  94. I also recall – and I am somewhat surprised that John did not mention this – that BYU Law School invited Senator Reid to speak at its 2004 commencement exercises. I attended that to support John, who was graduating in that class, but I was not at BYU to see the reaction when it was announced that he would be the speaker. Was there any such reaction there?

    And I am still kind of disappointed that you did not put a good post like this at our home on ABEV!

  95. So I’ve watched all these comments over the last couple of days, and frankly I’m pretty disappointed. I’m disappointed in several regards. First, most have jumped to condemn the Saints in the Nevada stake who brought their concerns and worries to their stake presidency about Bro. Reid talking at a fireside. To whom are we supposed to address our concerns about the church if it is not the leadership? I do not live in NV, nor do I know the details to this story, but there are some very significant tidbits missing from this post.

    – It is implied by the post that these comments all came in to the Stake Presidency or stake clerk, either through personal email addresses or through stake contact methods. Were any of these complaints aired publicly?

    – How well was Bro. Reid’s topic publicized? The original blog posting indicates that his topic was “Why I Believe.” Yet then goes on to state that many of the complaints were about the political nature of the proposed fireside. Either the members complaining were unaware of the topic, or did not feel the topic would be adhered to.

    I agree completely that Bro. Reid’s personal worthiness is none of my business or anyone else’s outside his church leadership. I have enough other concerns in my life to keep me busy. That said, I can understand why some LDS people would get upset about Bro. Reid coming to talk at a fireside and question his conviction to church principles given some of his politics. (Abortion, gay marriage, etc come to mind given the generally conservative nature of the US membership) If I had a concern or a worry about someone speaking in my stake I would definitely address it with my Stake Presidency. To whom else should a member address these concerns?

    While I will state emphatically that no one should hit Bro Reid in the temple, there is a big difference between writing it in an email and doing it in person. People often allow their emotions to run over in emails and internet postings. This article provides a second great example of this in the quote calling Bro. Reid the most evil person on planet and the stake presidency running 2nd place. I strongly suspect that the comment was either made as hyperbole or that the author of the statement would have rephrased it after a few minutes sober recollection.

    Clearly the members of this stake have a right to free speech and to address their concerns. Bro. Reid has a right to free speech to share his faith and opinions. In this case the two rights collided and it was left to the Stake Presidency to decide what to do, since this would have proceeded at a church building and not in the public square. Much of the bad behavior that the members are being condemned for, disrupting a fireside, picketing, etc. never happened. We will never know if they would have followed through with the actions or if after venting their frustrations via email to the Stake leadership they would have calmed down and just stayed home.

    Without considerably more information regarding these events, I am unprepared to say that a majority of those complaining were wrong. We know that at least two outrageous things were said to the stake presidency in emails. We do not know how many complaints were made, or what the nature of most of them were. I suspect that the fireside was not canceled due to just a few complaints. I would encourage all of us to take a step back, a deep breath, and consider our positions carefully before condemning any of our fellow men.

  96. Was there any such reaction there?

    No such reaction at all that I can recall. I remember some fellow law students expressing distaste for his political affiliation and I distinctly remember some eye rolling but that was about it.

  97. Doug D, good points.

    Tossman, I would encourage you to read comment #1 where I ask for people to be careful what they buy.

  98. Geoff, the text of comment #1 would have best been placed at the top of the post itself, not in the comments thread. It’s sort of like a legitimate newspaper reprinting a National Enquirer article and adding a disclaimer as an afterthought in the comments section.

  99. “but people on the left were upset that he would be speaking there because of his politics”

    No – people (and not only those “on the lefr”) were upset because by that time it was clear that he was a torturer and war criminal.

  100. I was living in Provo when the Cheney thing went down. Some of my friends were protesters. I don’t think they would have protested had it been someone less controversial (say, President Bush), or at an event less important than graduation. Personally, I think it’s in poor taste to have any controversial speaker speak at graduation–if it’s someone you strongly disagree with, and you’re graduating then, that important day will be forever scarred in your memory. Same goes if that main graduation speaker is Reid. Especially at BYU, where we have such a great selection of General Authorities (not to mention other prominent members) to choose from.
    I’m not sure that there’s a real comparison to this current incident, however. Certainly the protesters at BYU didn’t threaten physical violence, nor did they call BYU administrators “evil” for having Cheney speak.
    In any case, some of the posters here remind me of one of the reasons I’ve slowly changed from conservative/Republican to liberal/Democrat over the past ten or so years. I appreciate that reminder.

  101. Tim, in the interest of fairness, I would point out that some of the posters here have reminded me why I hae slowly changed from liberal Dem to conservative Republican/libertarian (on fiscal issues at least) in the last 10 years. So it works both ways.

  102. Tossman, the accusation that John F’s essay has a tabloid character is without foundation. John presents a careful and balanced argument.

  103. Given that Tossman has decided to become the “blog police,” I am hesitant to defend him. However, I think his point is that we should be very careful to automatically assume we know all of the details regarding this case is a very good one. We have all been involved in events where people on one side will make sensationalistic claims regarding something that has happened and when you investigate it turns out the situation is a bit more complex and nuanced than originally portrayed. I’d be willing to bet that there are some circumstances regarding the cancellation of the fireside that, were they to come to light, would make the situation appear more complex than it seems right now.

  104. Off subject a bit, but I’m intrigued by the concept of the evolution of political views, as mentioned in a few posts in this thread. A decade or so ago when I was a pro-UN, progressive-leaning Clintonite. Over time I’ve evolved to a somewhat less compassionate and more curmudgeonly version of Geoff. It would seem I’ve done a complete political 180.

    Still, I wonder if a person’s political views really change or if political perspective is innate, and if that repositioning over time can be more attributable to us discovering and easing into our true views? I’m leaning toward the latter.

  105. Pingback: “If I see Harry Reid in the temple, I’m going to hit him.”

  106. Geoff, you asked me (comment #32) what would have made this more reliable to me. I’ve done my best to answer.

  107. Tossman, good point. I was just joshing with you about the blog police thing.

    In my case, I have changed because I’ve simply seen more of the world. I lived in two socialist countries and one semi-socialist one. Things don’t work. People don’t have incentives. The underclass stays the underclass. The super-rich stay super-rich. People can’t open official businesses without visiting dozens of different govt agencies and paying outrageous taxes, so they open unofficial black market businesses, which means anybody trying to earn a buck and support his or her family is a criminal. Graft and bribery are huge problems.

    I think your typical liberal’s intentions are good. He/she truly feels that inequality is a problem and that the poor should be helped. But the reality is that, based on my experience, the best way to help the poor is to create a free-market society with as little government as possible. The poor will help themselves (which is really what we should want) if allowed to get ahead without government barriers.

    The best examples of this is Hong Kong, a place I have come to know pretty well. Most Hong Kong immigrants came there in the last few decades with literally nothing except a desire to work hard. And if they do work hard, they can, very quickly, get ahead and make a decent living. Government does not interfere with their progress and allows them the freedom to keep most of the money they earn.

    So, to answer Tossman’s question, I have changed because I have learned that the nostrums often proposed by those with good intentions simply don’t work, and that in fact people are better off if you give them freedom to succeed with as few impediments as possible. Government should be a backstop to help the most helpless (the handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly). Otherwise it should stay out of the way.

  108. As someone who is much closer to Bro. Reid politically than to the U.S. Church as a whole, I’ve had to wonder how I would react if I found that Glenn Beck were speaking at a fireside in my stake, a fireside in which he would share his testimony.

    My conclusion: I probably wouldn’t attend, and I suspect that some of my reasons are similar to those who protested Reid had: I don’t think that what he does is very Gospel-like, and I find him an embarrassment to the Church.

    And, frankly (I’m trying to be honest here), I wouldn’t care to be with a large group of people who think he’s hot stuff.

    But I wouldn’t threaten anybody. I wouldn’t question the judgment of my stake leaders. In fact, I’d probably pretty much keep my opinions to myself (well, and maybe my Facebook wall).

    Whether that’s a good approach or not, I don’t know. But that’s probably what I would do.

    (If the speaker were Bro. Mitt Romney, however, I would attend. I disagree very strongly with him politically, but I don’t think he has been a bad role model in areas outside of politics.)

  109. I wonder how Moroni was seen in his day by those who opposed his summary execution of Kingmen (arguably the leftists and elitists of the time “of high birth” who wanted to set up a charismatic king and to oppose the cause of individual freedom).

    And I wonder how Moroni’s policy of execution of traitors during a wartime crisis would be looked upon today by members of the Church who hail from the left, or even the fence sitters, and who would be just as likely to picket a Glenn Beck fireside as these extremists on the right did with Reid.

    You see, in my mind, LDS conservative folks didn’t pick this fight. It was picked with us. Here we were, following President Benson’s and President Hunter’s and President Hinckley’s and President Monson’s admonitions to support peace, to stay out of debt, to vote for honest leaders who do right by the voice of the people. And then in come Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, and the whole lot of them (yes, Bush too) spending ours and our childrens’ inheritance (both freedom, peace bought with military blood, and temporal resources) as if they were teenagers with whiskey and car keys. Bowing to dictators, blowing off Israel, and appeasing the likes of Ahmadinejad while ignoring his plan to blow up the free world.

    As for myself, I have wondered how I would feel meeting Sen. Reid face to face in Sacrament meeting or in a fireside like this. Knowing he favors the public financing of the continued slaughter in the womb of innocent unborn children. Knowing that he has just cut Medicare for my mother, who has cerebral palsy, who paid into the system working 80 hour weeks as a single mother and librarian, who was instrumental in teaching half my generation in town to read, and now when she needs it most won’t have it because of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid’s socialist power grab.

    I would attend such a fireside because I’d be curious as to what he could say that would reconcile his political beliefs with his religious ones. If nothing else, it would be an entertaining thing to watch.

    I am not a violent man, unless someone attacks me or my family physically at which point I will defend them physically. I would simply sit through it and listen. Then, I would write about it in my journal and teach my children to avoid wolves in sheep’s clothing, the leaven of the Pharisees, the man who built his house on a foundation of sand, the wheat and the tares, the ten virgins, Lazarus and the rich man, and all those other things the Savior warned us would happen in the last days.

  110. If you find yourself in a state of chronic agitation and moral panic, that’s a bigger problem than the one you just read about in the latest scary article or email.

  111. Geoff, what helps and does not help the poor is an empirical question. It is true that markets generate wealth and opportunities, which are a necessary precondition to reduce poverty. However, at some level poverty reduction requires nurture and markets do not nurture because they operate on self-interest.

    That is why unregulated markets will help the poor less than markets that are regulated on the margins where the government sees to it that every resident has access to education, pensions, and health care.

    With respect to Hong Kong, I doubt that an urban economy on the edge of a totalitarian country provides many generalizable lessons. Notice, however, that even in Hong Kong 50 out of 62 hospitals are public.

    Finally, “liberals” are not socialists nor do “liberals” support socialist policies. Notice, that it was conservatives who introduced social security and workers’ rights. Conservatives also introduced universal health care.

    I am afraid that your conflation of liberal with socialist betrays a troubling lack of perspective about political economy.

  112. Pingback: Circle or Noose? « Course Correction

  113. The apparent endorsement of unregulated free markets reveals a very troubling lack of understanding of the fruits of free market capitalism absent proper regulation. Hint, none of the following are compatible with the Restored Gospel, even if each of them makes the “enterprising” class rich: Victorian-style child labor in factories and mines, robber barons, wanton environmental destruction and negligence, fraudsters and charlatanism and a myriad other societal evils that are the natural fruits of truly giving way to the invisible hand. The invisible hand is not benevolent; it does not care about the welfare of mankind because it is entirely neutral. It is an idea, a theory, not an entity. It does not condemn or combat evil. Moreover, it is not a trustworthy principle because it works through the selfishness of the natural man, which is an enemy to God.

    We as a society in our representative democracies can and must act to protect ourselves from the worst characteristics in human nature that are unlocked by inadequately regulated free markets. The appropriate level of regulation is fair game for debate; whether to regulate is not reasonably open for debate.

    Having said that, to my mind the free market is indeed one of the essential pillars of a free society. With the appropriate levels of regulation to curb and prevent the abuses that immediately stem from unregulated market capitalism, society paves the way for its growth, peace and prosperity — but not on the back of the misery of the unfortunate in society. A strong middle class is only possible in a free market with appropriate levels of regulation.

    In response to Rob’s comment above, it is characterized by inappropriate alarmism, fear-mongering and actual dishonesty in a number of points (stemming from casting actions and policies of certain elected officials in false or unduly negative light) that is truly unbecoming of us as Latter-day Saints who, by virtue of having become children of Christ through our baptismal covenants, should be seeking amelioration of political passions and looking for ways to make peace with fellow citizens and society as a whole. Rob’s comment also reveals a lack of appreciation for the significant differences between a modern constitutional republic (which is based above all on the principle of representative democracy) such as the United States and an ancient, rudimentary political system governed by hereditary judges. This is further reinforced by his selection and praise of a period during that hereditary judgeship in which martial law was imposed and secessionists were summarily executed for fostering rebellion in order to restore what they felt were their rights. Liberty as discussed in this portion of the Book of Mormon is not at issue in the USA in 2010. The attempt to cast it as such is dangerous for our polity and our health as a faith community. The constitutional republican system of the United States as established in the Constitution already protects the Liberty of each individual far better than the theocratic hereditary judgeship in place during Book of Mormon times. It is true that as good citizens we should be guided by principles of civic republicanism and as such should always be vigilant in monitoring our freedoms to protect them from inappropriate infringement by a government or other institution. But these kind of references to the kingmen in the Book of Mormon aren’t applicable we do not see ourselves in a position of defending a hereditary judgeship against the power grab of a segment of the population that wants to restore an ancient monarchy. (We are not and will not be in a Civil War unless those who oppose the constitutional government of the United States start it. If that is the case, then the comparison would run the other way, wouldn’t it? The secessionists would be more comparable to the Book of Mormon’s kingmen, wouldn’t they? I pray it won’t be Latter-day Saints such as Rob who would support such an insurrection. Of course, this is all fanciful and far-fetched. It was a different political system under an entirely different social and historical framework in the Book of Mormon.) From my study of the scriptures and modern history, the United States does a much better job of protecting Liberty, essential freedoms, pluralism, peace and prosperity than did the troubled hereditary judgeship described in the Book of Mormon.

    The question then becomes how do Latter-day Saints fit into the polity that exists in the United States in 2010 and how can Latter-day Saints play a productive role in improving society at this time? Latter-day Saints living their covenants to build up the Kingdom of God on earth should not be participating in politically radical events or supporting such ideas or exhibiting such behavior influenced by the former, particularly where these things lead to demonizing fellow citizens of our country and even barring a Latter-day Saint from bearing testimony, as in this case (and of course this goes for the both the left and the right but what is at issue right now in this situation is the behavior of the radicalized right). That seemingly many Latter-day Saints, as exemplified by Rob above or by the Latter-day Saints at issue in Nevada, are now affiliated with such radicalized discourse on the far right (stoked on by pundits and personalities who do what they do for ratings purposes and to earn more money — not much different from priestcrafts and certainly afoul of the prohibitions on the exercise of unrighteous dominion in latter-day scriptures) is an expression of a dark undercurrent in our church culture that worries me. They seem to view their involvement in such contentious and destructive discourse as a badge of honor, of patriotism (comparing themselves to Captain Moroni?), when it is setting up contention within the Church and is restricting communication of testimony and religious doctrine; they seem to be proud of their strident views and “bold” denunciations without any appreciation of the consequences of their actions in destroying the peace of the community. This trend is also co-opting religious doctrine in certain circumstances, forcing a view that true adherence to the Restored Gospel requires support of the American Evangelical Right’s social agenda and policies. This would be news to Latter-day Saints in the UK and Germany, including those who are General Authorities in these countries. We might yet see the alienation of Latter-day Saints in the rest of the world from the suburban US Church if this trend continues and the extremist element that seeks to conflate doctrine and politics in this manner holds sway among the members (mind you I view the Brethren as above this fray, as should we all be). This would stem from a blind-spot of such suburban US Latter-day Saints thinking that their concerns and situation are somehow relevant for any meaningful proportion of the earth’s inhabitants, which of course they are not.

  114. Thank you, “john f.” That was very well said and I agree completely. It was very similar to what I was attempting to say with my previous post about the blasphemous video I described.

  115. Talk about putting words in my mouth. I don’t know where you got the idea from my comment that I was for unfettered, completely unregulated markets. That seems to be your own argument with your own straw man. I pointed out a similarity in the Book of Mormon to events in our day (kinda the point of Mormon’s/Moroni’s writings when they say, at the end, that they have seen our day and are writing specifically to us). Suddenly I’m labeled a secessionist, a fear-monger, and a supporter of unfettered free markets that exploit children. Do I also kick kittens for fun? That would be news to my beloved cat, Max.

    We are supposed to liken the scriptures to ourselves and our day. I’m not alone in doing this, nor is it heretical to do so. We’re constantly counseled by leaders at all levels in the Church to do so. I’m just following the lead of various apostles and prophets who have publicly held up the Book of Mormon as a mirror and told us to consider the events of our day in that context. Not that I want to put words in your mouth as you have done with me, so correct me if I’m off base here, but it seems to me that it could equally be said that you also are selectively reading the bits of the Book of Mormon and the Bible that agree with your worldview.

    Fine, nobody’s alone in that. We all do it. That’s why we have leaders to give us God’s intended meaning. The trick in these wheat and tares times is to compare what someone says with what they actually do. That’s why I said (but apparently you didn’t read) that I wouldn’t be opposed to going to Reid’s fireside. I don’t put my faith in any man’s flesh. Not even Glenn Beck (which suddenly I’m also a worshipful fan of, unbeknownst to me). I’ve no doubt Reid’s got a testimony and that his conversion is genuine. By the same token, I’ve no doubt that Glenn Beck or Mitt Romney or Orrin Hatch do either. I do have doubts about how he can reconcile his testimony with his more recent actions and statements as a public official. Why am I suddenly a heretic for questioning that? He’s a senator, not an apostle.

    Why do my political beliefs about the problems of socialism brand me an apostate in your eyes when they are clearly in line with President Benson’s? Because he’s dead and we’re somehow supposed to completely erase those statements from Church history? Are those statements now false? Has President Monson made some statement in favor of secret backroom deals in the house and senate to pass entitlements that a clear majority of Americans oppose? Help me understand.

    Some things that, while they sound good to your point of view, could equally be turned against you as you use them against those you disagree with:

    “Latter-day Saints living their covenants to build up the Kingdom of God on earth should not be participating in politically radical events”

    I know you can’t be serious with this statement. Who gets to decide what is radical and what is not? I’ve been told I’m a radical by my own president’s DHS appointee because I vote pro-life and carry a copy of the constitution in my pocket. Does that make me a radical in the Lord’s eyes?

    “That seemingly many Latter-day Saints, as exemplified by Rob above or by the Latter-day Saints at issue in Nevada, are now affiliated with such radicalized discourse on the far right (stoked on by pundits and personalities who do what they do for ratings purposes and to earn more money — not much different from priestcrafts and certainly afoul of the prohibitions on the exercise of unrighteous dominion in latter-day scriptures) is an expression of a dark undercurrent in our church culture that worries me.”

    Here is my point exactly. You have cast aspersions on my motives (and, indeed, have even unjustly blamed me for contributing to dark undercurrents) for drawing a parallel to events and situations of Book of Mormon times. Yet you use the same book to support your own arguments. I actually don’t disagree with you that punditry is a form of priestcraft. It is! But there are two points to make: 1) your words seem to indicate that you believe the only people who qualify as priestcraft pundits are those on the right and 2) even a stopped clock is right twice a day…some pundits actually make true statements. On both sides! Imagine that!

    “They seem to view their involvement in such contentious and destructive discourse as a badge of honor, of patriotism (comparing themselves to Captain Moroni?), when it is setting up contention within the Church and is restricting communication of testimony and religious doctrine; they seem to be proud of their strident views and “bold” denunciations without any appreciation of the consequences of their actions in destroying the peace of the community.”

    Stop. Please. I did no such thing as to compare MYSELF to Captain Moroni. I compared OUR DAY to situations recorded in his day. I do aspire to be LIKE him in the sense that I want (and who wouldn’t) to follow the example of a man who is described thusly: “if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” The “peace” you are describing is where I think you’re wrong and where we will always differ. Sure, there is a certain temporary peace in stopping up one’s ears and pretending there aren’t real problems with a government that disregards the free agency of its citizens. If you feel comfortable in that, fine. The world is full of people who “don’t do politics”. They’re called “refugees” or “the oppressed people of [insert country here]”. The Austrians thought the “peace” they were getting by joining Germany’s bid to rule the world was just the thing…until they woke up one morning to find that the price of such compromise was their free agency.

    “This would be news to Latter-day Saints in the UK and Germany, including those who are General Authorities in these countries.”

    Can you please cite me one instance of Elder Uchtdorf speaking out in favor of federally subsidized abortion? Are you speaking for General Authorities and members of the Church in other countries now? Please provide substantial documentation of your knowledge of where they stand on the issue of abortion. I want sample sizes, margins of errors, and standard deviations.

    “mind you I view the Brethren as above this fray, as should we all be”

    Were the Brethren “above the fray” on Proposition 8? Those who opposed it would disagree with your assertion. On the acquisition and control of more property near Tabernacle Square? Again, two gay men who were recently removed from Church property for kissing on a bench there would also disagree with you. I agreed with the Brethren on those highly contentious political issues. Or should I reject their involvement in such “political matters” as being out of step with the Gospel?

  116. And then we get upset when people hate us! Whether its prop8 or Mitt Romney is a scary cultist, we can’t understand why we would be criticized by people who don’t understand us. It’s all around isn’t it? why should I think any group was immune. I just want to hold Mormons to a higher standard of avoiding contention or not being overbearing or following the spirit of Christ.

    Before I read through the comments and laughed at Rob’s equation of kingmen to the modern left, I was actually going to compare the contents of the Title of Liberty to the modern fuzziness of what “country” means now-adays. I guess if anyone gets to define when our county is under threat, then any preemptive strike at any threat is justifiable.

  117. Happened to notice this comment over at the SL Trib:

    “There’s a lot more going on here than either you or Rolly knows or is reporting. Apparently former Henderson mayor, Democrat, and LDS Area Seventy Jim Gibson was organizing the firesides as a re-election campaign prop for Sen. Reid. Using your official church capacity for partisan activities is a big no-no and Gibson crossed that line. I would bet the cancellation of the firesides has a lot more to do with that than it does any protesters.”

    Would that be a safe bet? Or just more calumnious speculation?

  118. Several years ago, when Senator Reid was facing a difficult reelection bid (in 1998, I think), a regional conference of the church was held in Reno, Nevada. Senator Reid was seated on the stand with President Hinckley and invited to address the congregation. I was present for that meeting, and I do not remember anyone saying anything about it. Why, just 12 years later, has this become such a contentious issue?

  119. Yeah, as interesting as it is to hear local POVs on the nature of Reid’s fireside, I’m not buying the negative characterization of an event that could more simply be described as an opportunity to hear a prominent LDS member in good standing speak to fellow Mormons about his faith. If we accept the premise of those protesting this fireside, wouldn’t that require banning all Mormon politicians from ever speaking in church? Wouldn’t the local candidate running for school board also need to keep quiet rather than stand and bear testimony in F&T meeting? Wouldn’t bishops need to avoid assigning talks to members with publicly-held political opinions? In other words, my sense is that this is still all about members who disagree with Reid’s politics looking for any justification to cast Harry as something other than a full-fledged Mormon who has as much right to act like a Mormon as any other LDS member. What’s next? Characterizing Osmond firesides as ploys to prop up record sales? C’mon. Bearing testimony is not a “partisan activity” … Members of the Mormon church are surely grown-up enough that they can handle hearing a testimony from a fellow believer without feeling the need to align their tastes in music or politics with whoever happens to be speaking.

  120. There is a comment numbering bug here, i.e. several different comments show up as comment number one, depending on which page they are on. Of course I think it would be preferable if there were no comment paging at all, because it is confusing.

    As to the main issue here, I think Brother Reid speaking at fireside is unexceptional, as long as no mention is made of controversial political issues. It would also certainly be a good idea not to do this the year one is up for re-election.

    A Mitt Romney fireside during the heat of the Republican primaries would be somewhat objectionable for the same reason.

  121. The best way to protest Reid would have been for no one to show up! People most likely were angry because we are tired of Reid degrading our Prophet in his comments about how the First Presidency was wrong in their efforts agains Prop 8 and did not want to listen to a hypocritical testimony.

  122. I would like to reemphasize some recent comments. While many Members have acted inappropriately, to say that their rancor is indicative of the entire opposition is unfair.

    As a student of political science, I am skeptical when any LDS political figure is invited to speak at a Church function during a tough election year. It also sends the wrong message to the politician’s opponents.

  123. Rob, the comments about endorsing unregulated free market capitalism were in response to Geoff B. so they weren’t directed at you at all or labelling you anything.

    Likening the scriptures to ourselves is an enriching excercise that we should all be doing but it only works if applied to comparable situations. The Civil War recorded at the beginning of Alma and the secession of the Kingmen and the defense made of the theocratic hereditary judgeship at that time, both in substance and method (the summary execution of the Kingmen) are not applicable to legislative policy debates about health care in the United States in 2010. It is a bad analogy and therefore greatly diminishes the appropriateness and effectiveness of the excercise of likening the scriptures unto ourselves that Nephi exemplified when likening the experiences of his ancestors in relying on the Lord during a years-long exodus through the desert or that Mormon and Moroni invite us to do when they state that they are writing with the descendants of the Lamanites and the remnant of Christian gentiles in the last days as an audience.

    I am very grateful for President Benson’s leadership as President of the Church during which time he prophetically made a renewed emphasis on the theological fundamentally Christian importance and message of the Book of Mormon the center of his ministry, together with a call for all Latter-day Saints, rich and poor, to check their pride and humble themselves before God. If I am not mistaken, he did not continue emphasizing his political preferences after assuming the prophetic mantle. However, I am also grateful for his guidance on such issues before his tenure as President of the Church. His pronouncements and positions were situated in a particular historical context that is no longer particularly relevant today in a practical sense. The Soviet Slave Empire has fallen; it is no longer seeking to spread its ideology of Godless communism — an effort that the West correctly needed to combat vigorously.

    Not only is the global geo-political situation fundamentally different than when President Benson made certain pronouncements that seem to continue to animate the radicalized political discourse of many Latter-day Saints on the far right in contemporary American politics (which in the context of the international Church truly is localized to certain areas of the United States), but also the policies at issue in the US legislative debates of the last 18 months or so are not “socialist”. That term is a very bad fit for the proposal at issue in the health care reform given that it utilizes the private sector to accomplish the goals that the winning political party has seen as having priority. (An even worse term for it is “fascism” but unfortunately I have seen too much misapplication of this term by the radicalized right to the policy preferences that are being implemented as the natural result of an election in which a party with those preferences received a mandate by their constituencies to take this road. This is proper in our constitutional republic where the democratically elected representatives of each constituency are charged to act in the interests of their constituencies using their discretion and not mindlessly implementing everything their constituencies say through referendum on each issue, as would be the case in a true democracy, or in the polls.) I

    There are still many reasons to oppose “socialism” correctly understood and many strong arguments that can be made in opposition to it as a principle and polical tool. The point is that quotes by Elder Benson the Apostle taken from teh context of the Cold War in which he issued them and transplating them to a time where the Evil empire to which he was referring no longer exists (and during a time in which “socialism” as implemented in many equitable Western European democracies and republics, which are the legitimate peers of the United States in economic, political and educational terms, is often just as much relied on by Christian parties as by religiously neutral or atheistic parties, which was not the case in the Soviet Union or its satellites, where atheism was mandated and was part and parcel with the communism that was centrally enforced) are not the strongest way to make arguments against socialism in 2010. The arguments will need to go to specifics such as funding, ultimate goals and social priorities held by the communities at issue.

    In short, “socialism” in 2010 does not actually mean what Glenn Beck says it means or what politically conservative and moderate (and even liberal) Church leaders described and rightly denounced in the latter half of the twentieth century. In any event, the preceding sentence, although true, is actually irrelevant to the issues here because the current health care reform that has been pushed through does not rely on socialist methods and is not socialist given that it is effected through the private sector. But that is the whole point about teh dysfunctional aspect of current LDS political discourse. We are doing ourselves no favors by allowing ourselves to be radicalized by pundits and personalities who stand to enrich themselves based on the level of sensationalism that they can bring to their subject matter.

    It is eminently reasonable for Latter-day Saints to debate with each other about political policies and their implementation. What is not reasonable is tying one particular political platform to the Restored Gospel and saying or implying that the latter requires adherence to that political platform.

    The reference to Latter-day Saints in the free market democracies of Western Europe that have already implemented socially beneficial systems of universal health care was meant to point out that our brothers and sisters in these countries are not beholden to a particular political platform that is currently relevant in certain circles that appear culturally dominant in some of the suburban American Church. They might as well vote conservative, liberal-democrat, social-democrat, Christian democrat, green or any number of other parties, none of which carry any implication that they are contributing to evil by casting their vote for one party or another to be the one to implement the mundane governmental tasks that are the subject of legislatures in developed Western economies.

    As a people, let’s apply the religious doctrine of the Book of Mormon — specifically its messages about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and our need for it — to ourselves. We will be the better for it. Focused more solidly on that, we will hopefully not be distracted by the radicalized political discourse that captivates the world around us in certain places, including certain areas of the United States.

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  125. I used to attend a ward in Provo where almost every Sunday the Sunday School class discussed Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, and how Fox News could only be trusted. It was wholly inappropriate and sad. Needless to say we changed wards.

  126. As a lifelong member of the Church and a Nevadan for forty seven years, I would first like to ask who is John Fowles and how long has he lived in Nevada? This piece was very biased and needed more research. Did he contact anyone in Nevada concerning their concerns or reasons why many objected to Sen. Reid speaking. This was the second fireside that had been scheduled, one had already happened. It was the timing of these firesides. There are many other members that have wonderful conversion stories and great testimonies. As a young girl growing up in Henderson, NV, the only time we ever saw Sen. Reid was when he was campaining. He would come to my parents home and in his hand would be a membership directory. He knew we were LDS before we even spoke. He would always make sure that we knew that he was LDS and where he attended church. If any of us had openingly critized the Church, Prophet, and Apostles such as he did, none of us would have our membership now. (Such as his comments about Gay Marriage) I hope that those who read this article will look into it a little more than what was presented by Mr. Fowles.

  127. When I first moved to Nevada I actually voted for Harry Reid. Since then I have seen him use profanity, make obscene gestures, and support legislation that is not in harmony with the gospel. I have seen him criticize members of the church and church leaders in California for supporting the protection of marriage. IMO, when he did this he crossed the line into apostasy. I trust the leadership of the Church to decide whether he is a member in good standing or not and sort that out.

    I don’t wish Harry Reid any harm. I sincerely hope he has a happy retirement. The sooner the better.

  128. Quoted:

    “I would venture a guess that the same people in Nevada who have behaved in this manner toward Harry Reid would welcome a fireside in which Glenn Beck bore his testimony and related his conversion story. This is despite Glenn Beck’s very uncharitable and un-Christlike manner of presentation and content in his sensationalistic and ideological show.”

    There is major problem with your comparison. I would venture to say Glenn Beck is not up for re-election. Enough said. If Mr.Reid would like to give a fireside I am more than willing to attend…after the next general election. I am sure he has some good words to say. Would I be pleased to hear Mitt Romney? Yes I woul. Again right after an election. There is no place for this kind of grandstanding of testimony in church buildings when the politics are a flame.

    “Perception is reality”.

  129. Well, I’m sure that makes Harry Reid the only Mormon who has ever used profanity or made obscene gestures!

    What would you do if you heard the prophet use “hell” or “damn” in a colloquial way, say, for example “To Hell with that”? Would that leave you running for the exit?

    I’m also curious what legislation it was that was “not in harmony with the gospel.” Was it the bill authorizing Pres. Bush to start a war against Iraq? Or is “renounce war and proclaim peace” one of the optional parts–you can vote your conscience on that?

  130. Mormons helped elect Harry Reid. Now they’ll help him to retire. He’s not the first man to abandon his constituency after an election. I write Harry Reid often and am usually disappointed by the response I get back. When he became majority leader, Reid stopped representing Nevadans and started representing a political party. When you put your faith in a political party instead of the teachings of your church you are making a serious mistake. He’s not the first to go astray and certainly not the only prominent Mormon politician who perhaps has need to repent of some things. As I said let’s let the leadership of the Church deal with him. I trust them to do what is right.

    As I said. I wish him well, but he does not represent my views on many matters. It’s time for another senator to get elected – in fact it’s time for two new senators for Nevada, but that’s another discussion.

  131. John F., I’ve made this point here in the past, and I’ll make it again with perhaps more context. While I think the Right’s tendency to immediately label everything that comes out of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi machine marxist or socialist is oversimplistic and unhelpful to the dialogue, the Left’s response to those claims is less than impressive.

    At the root of this is perception. When most people think of “socialism,” they think of Stalin. When they think of fascism, Hitler comes immediately to mind. The stark historic impressions seared in our minds have trained us to focus on the MEANS of implementing a philosophy, not its ENDS.

    When a tea partier calls Obamacare socialist, he isn’t refering to the manner in which Soviet or Nazis governed, but the core economic principles that Stalin and Hitler justified their actions. The tea partier, or conservative, or Glenn Beck fan- whatever- is refering to a philosophical END, the long-term outcome. What could (and historically usually does) grow from this seed.

    The Left (and well-meaning but misguided moderates) responds, whether out of deceit or genuine ignorance, in two ways: a) they play on the collective mental images of the MEANS, pointing out the obvious, that Obama ain’t Stalin or Hitler.

    b) they focus only on the snapshot of an evolvable policy, ignoring that potential (and historical tendancy) for evolution and to socialist/fascist/marxist ends. Is Obamacare, as it is constituted today, socialist? Fascist? Marxist? Technically no. A home with only the foundations laid isn’t a home yet, but any honest glance at the foundation and there is little doubt (despite the general contractor’s insistance that he’s not building a house) about what can and will result if contstruction continues.

    Obamacare and other recent policies may not technically fit the Wikipedia definition of socialism or fascism at the moment, but their foundations are eerily similar, their ENDS the same.

    This begs the question- when it comes to defining political philosophies, which deserves more focus- the end goals of the philosophy or the means by which different rulers have implemented it. Obama’s critics lean toward the former, his proponents irresponsibly prefer the latter. We’re talking past each other.

    So increasingly frustrated participants on both sides of the debate resort to blanket generalizations and ad hominem attacs, and at best the discussion stagnates.

    In short, I believe that my president, who surrounds himself with self-proclaimed marxists and socialists, who brags about “spreading the wealth” and pined on tape for a “single-payer” healthcare system, has just that in mind.

    He know’s he couldn’t sell the tree, but he could sell the seed under the guise of helping the downtrodden (and even then they had to resort to subversion and arm-twisting to scrape this by)

    Just like Dem. Sen. Harkin said, “think of this as a starter home, but we can build additions as we go.”

  132. It’s an even more serious mistake to believe that one’s political preferences are the equivalent of “the teachings of the church” and therefore to brand as heretical someone whose politics are different from your own.

  133. Very interesting,

    I was just having a conversation with a Recent Convert who is very much into politics, he considers himself Independent and was asking and wondering how can Mitt Romney be a good Mormon and play politics, meaning Lie and cover-up, and gave me a few examples of things that he has been saying and how he has contradicted himself.

    On the same note, I’ve had the same conversation about Harry Reid and Glenn Beck ( Who in all honesty I don’t know how a decent person can deal with he’s sometimes vulgar talk shows and radio show but to each he’s own… )

    My personal view?
    On my mission I learned that we are all raised different, with different Ideologies and share a common ground, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having said that we all have different opinions on politics that can crossover which is how I personally feel, and is how I responded.

    Anyways, back to the original topic, I’m sadden to what happened in Nevada, Name calling is never appropriate especially labeling someone as been “evil” even when in anger, especially when insulting those chosen by our dear Prophet.

  134. Tossman, I think your comment #146 makes a decent point. Ie, if somebody promotes Socialist policies but says he is not a Socialist, is he one or not. Obama has promoted single-payer and said this is his ultimate goal. Many Dems have said the same thing. Single-payer is socialized medicine. So, are they Socialists or not? Would Harry Reid have voted for single payer? I would guess yes. Does that make him a Socialist?

    Worth considering.

  135. John F., I’ve made this point here in the past, and I’ll make it again with perhaps more context. While I think the Right’s tendency to immediately label everything that comes out of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi machine marxist or socialist is oversimplistic and unhelpful to the dialogue, the Left’s response to those claims is less than impressive.

    At the root of this is perception. When most people think of “socialism,” they think of Stalin. When they think of fascism, Hitler comes immediately to mind. The stark historic impressions seared in our minds have trained us to focus on the MEANS of implementing a philosophy, not its ENDS.

    When a tea partier calls Obamacare socialist, he isn’t refering to the manner in which Soviet or Nazis governed, but the core economic principles that Stalin and Hitler justified their actions. The tea partier, or conservative, or Glenn Beck fan- whatever- is refering to a philosophical END, the long-term outcome. What could (and historically usually does) grow from this seed.

    The Left (and well-meaning but misguided moderates) responds, whether out of deceit or genuine ignorance, in two ways: a) they play on the collective mental images of the MEANS, pointing out the obvious, that Obama ain’t Stalin or Hitler.

    b) they focus only on the snapshot of an evolvable policy, ignoring that potential (and historical tendancy) for evolution and to socialist/fascist/marxist ends. Is Obamacare, as it is constituted today, socialist? Fascist? Marxist? Technically no. A home with only the foundations laid isn’t a home yet, but any honest glance at the foundation and there is little doubt (despite the general contractor’s insistance that he’s not building a house) about what can and will result if contstruction continues.

    Obamacare and other recent policies may not technically fit the Wikipedia definition of socialism or fascism at the moment, but their foundations are eerily similar, their ENDS the same.

    This begs the question- when it comes to defining political philosophies, which deserves more focus- the end goals of the philosophy or the means by which different rulers have implemented it. Obama’s critics lean toward the former, his proponents irresponsibly prefer the latter. We’re talking past each other.

    So increasingly frustrated participants on both sides of the debate resort to blanket generalizations and ad hominem attacs, and at best the discussion stagnates.

    In short, I believe that my president, who surrounds himself with self-proclaimed marxists and socialists, who brags about “spreading the wealth” and pined on tape for a “single-payer” healthcare system, has just that in mind.

    He know’s he couldn’t sell the tree, but he could sell the seed under the guise of helping the downtrodden (and even then they had to resort to subversion and arm-twisting to scrape this by)

    Just like Dem. Sen. Harkin said, “think of this as a starter home, but we can build additions as we go.”

  136. I have repeatedly expressed concerns about the Church’s affiliations with political extremists. Each year, BYU rents Cougar Stadium for a wonderful fireworks show. It used to be a favorite family event for many Utahns. The last few years, it has been hosted by Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, TV/Radio personalities who are frequently unkind and uncharitable to those who don’t share their political views.

    I, for one, didn’t think it was appropriate for children to be exposed to Sean Hannity because of his support of water boarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” and because he jokingly refers to his audience, “Timothy McVeigh Wannabes”. There is just something unfunny about jokes about torture and bombing of innocent people. Hannity is NOT entertainment, Hannity is sadism.

    The Church also knowingly allows Radical Right Wing Extremist Hate Groups to use Church copyrighted materials to promote anti-gay agendas and conduct anti-government and anti-immunization programs. Just let me give you one example of why I refer to them as “Radical Extremists”: We were talking about home food storage in Church. One of the sisters mentioned that she prepares homemade pancake mix using aluminum-free baking powder and brought in a recipe. One of the Mormon men jumped in with, “all you need for food storage is a loaded gun and a bottle of water”. “If you have a loaded gun, you can get everything else”. Many Mormons are now stockpiling guns instead of earthquake preparedness supplies. I think that if we had an earthquake, we would have a lot of panicking people, lots of loaded guns, and very little food storage if this radical, right-wing group prevails.

    I have complained that these radical groups should not be using Ward Phone Directories, Relief Society Visiting Teaching lists, BYU Student directories, etc. to get recruits or raise money. The Church has ignored my concerns. I could go on and on.

    I’m so discouraged. I’m a fifth generation Mormon, mother and grandmother. I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. To confess, my entire family, 3 generations worth, (myself, my sister, my children and grandchildren) have all left the Church and started attending a Church that is run by former LDS Church missionaries. We leave politics and hate at the door as we enter the Church. Yesterday, my 5 year old granddaughter came home from Church and talked for 1 hour about Jesus. She was beaming with joy. I never thought I’d say this, but I think we did the right thing leaving the LDS Church. We have joined with other Christians and we are making and storing our pancake mix and yes, if there is an emergency, WE ARE GOING TO SHARE, even with the right wing extremists.

  137. Former-Sister Wallace, congratulations on forming a church where your family is free from right-wing extremism. I guess some people have experiences such as yours (the author of this post seems to when he is in the United States), but your former fellow ward members preparing to become armed marauders, even when teaching five-year-olds, are not recognizable to me.

  138. I was a bit busy this weekend with my fellow right-wing extremists cleaning homes, planning a temple trip, planning scout camp and performing other service projects. Former Sister Wallace, good luck with your new church. Meanwhile, I hope you show the same tolerance toward others who decide not to follow your example that you insist we have of you.

  139. First, I find this behavior on the part of this stake distressing and concerning. I condemn it. I makes my mad that they, representing the name of Christ, could behave so un-Christlike.

    I may not agree with Harry Reid’s politics much, but I would *love* to have him come to my stake and discuss politics in a fireside and give us his legitimate point of view. We need exposure to all sides of issues politically.

    That being said, I’m appauled that Harry Reid was kept from attending a *non-political* fireside. It makes my feel sick inside. I can’t even begin to express my disappointment to those that caused this through, apparently, crimes like threats of violence.

    We all need to take responsibility to “police our own.” When we are members of a group, we exert a stronger influence over that group then those that are outside the group. This is a theme I’ve implicitly (but not explicitly) drummed ever since I found the Bloggernacle. If I am going to be critical of the NOM community for not calling out bad behavior amongst their community, I sure as heck need to call out bad behavior like this as strongly as I can.

    I’m hesitant to add a “however” to this because then it’s going to seem like all the above wasn’t sincere. But I do think saying this goes too far: “What is wrong with us as a people that this could be possible?” Isn’t this comment directly at odds with this one: “Harry Reid has spoken at other such firesides in other stakes and at other functions” Broad stereotypes like this are hurtful. Let’s keep the condemnations with those that have earned it.

    I also feel just as strongly against comments like this: “I, for one, didn’t think it was appropriate for children to be exposed to Sean Hannity…”

    Granted, I personally will never expose my children to Sean Hanity for exactly the reasons Melinda outlines. But she isn’t making a statement only for herself and her family here, so I find it a bit concerning. I would have prefered if she hadn’t painted with such a broad brush stroke here. (I suspect this was actually a mistake in wording, not an actual intent.)

    I think we all need to avoid political extremes like this. The other guys just isn’t as bad as we claim he/she is and typically has a lot we can learn from them.

  140. Good luck and God bless to all of way who remain faithful. Most of you are “honey bees”. Bees are said to be the hardest working animals on the planet. They go about their business, stopping at the most beautiful flowers, drawing the sweetest nectar, returning to the hive and producing nature’s liquid gold. For such a little creature to produce one of the sweetest delights of this earth is amazing.

    But, there are also the sad tales of “Americanized honey bees” who invade the hives, kill the Queen, mother-bee and take over. These bees will sting you to death. They attack people and animals for seemingly no good reason. They live as little beast who always feel threatened, always feel they must be ready to attack at the slightest provocation.

    Just as there are two types of bees on this earth, there are two types of Mormons. Most are the sweet-honey bee type. God bless them. I used to believe that all Mormons were sweet, honey bees. I served a mission and did all I could to bring others into this Church. Things have changed. Someday, some of you may come to understand. That time is not now for you. You have to see it, you have to live it. You have to see what it does to people. Perhaps one day, God-forbid, you will have someone you love who falls into the radical, right-wing extremist camp. That loved one may be arrested on a gun crime. A young woman may be dead, a young man in jail, then and only then will you ever understand what radical, right-wing extremism is, what it does. Until then, please don’t judge me and my family’s reason for going to a more moderate church.

  141. Melinda,

    At a personal level I understand why, if your personal experience with LDS community politics was bad, that you felt the need to leave. And we do tend to judge a whole community by our limited associations with it. That’s just human nature. Don’t we get mad at a whole company if one clerk mistreats us?

    But no one is going to mistake me for a right wing extremist. And while they exist within the LDS church, my experience suggests it’s no where near as widespread as you are suggesting. (My experience also suggests that it’s less widespread in LDS culture than it is in Christian culture overall.)

    All points of view have their extremists. I don’t blame atheism for Hitler, Mao, or Stalin. They have to take responsibility for themselves.

    I’m afraid your comments just leave me a bit uneasy in that they stereotype a whole community inappropriately.

  142. Dear Bruce,

    I sincerely apologize if I stereotyped you or any other Latterday Saint. Oh, course you ARE RIGHT, of course the vast majority of Saints are responsible, reasonable, wonderful people. I call them the “honey bees” of the desert. Remember that John the Baptist ate honey in the desert. How hard is it to find sweet nectar in the desert? Water is scarce and plants have to struggle to survive. Those little honey bees that find the nectar in the desert and make honey are some of God’s most amazing creatures. Most Mormons are just like those little bees.

    But. . . . . radical, right wing extremist are here. Like you, I just didn’t think they were here, not in MY church, not in my community, no, it couldn’t be. My reality check came with the bang of a gun, a friend who was killed, a loved one (member of my ward in jail), a friend who was severely injured and a loved one who lost a pregnancy due to high blood pressure and stress over the incident – she lost one twin and gave birth to the other twin prematurely. This little infant fought to live, he struggled.
    I’ve seen the fruit of hate – its death. Spiritual death, physical death, dreams destroyed. I promised myself that I would never let myself hate like that. I don’t want to hate Mormons. I actually have many friends who are LDS. I prayed about this for over two years. I cried every single day, every day, hours at a time. I prayed more. I begged and pleaded with the Church heir achy to distance themselves from radical, right wing extremists hate groups by forbidding those groups from using LDS Church copyrighted material to promote their agendas and by disallowing them from using Ward directories and visiting teaching rosters for political promotions. Some of these groups are anti-gay and against gay marriage so the Church formed alliances with them during the California Proposition 8 campaign. This type of thing has happened before.
    You will remember that during the Equal Rights Amendment Opposition in the late 1979s, the church sent Relief Society delegates to a woman’s convention of those opposed to ratification of the ERA. There were three groups there, the LDS Relief Society, the Eagle Forum and the Klu Klux Klan. Yes, the KKK fought against ERA. I was serving an LDS mission at the time. Many of the sisters expressed concern about having to sit with the KKK in order to oppose the ERA. My recommendation then was that the Church NOT form coalitions or alliances with ANY HATE GROUP. They could join with other churches, but NO hate groups. I have maintained that position all along. I won’t back off, I won’t back down. I am terribly sorry that it has come down to my entire family (3 generations) leaving the Church, but we haven’t left Christ. We still read the Book of Mormon, we still practice the law of chastity and word of wisdom. But, we are MODERATE in our political views and cautious in our associations. We want to teach our children to be good Christians and good citizens.

  143. Melinda Wallace, we have given you ample space to express your views. This blog is about building up the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please confine future comments to that subject. There are many other blogs where you can tell your story to others. Thank you.

  144. I think of the commandment to “be one”, and how strange it would be if the Lord really meant we all had to think and act exactly the same way. I imagine what it might be like to, say, construct a temple: The woodcarvers would have very different priorities than the stone masons; the electricians would use different tools and bring different skills and experiences to the project than the excavators. But as long as everyone agreed that the most important thing was constructing some place worthy of the presence of the Lord, it would be all right that everyone came at it with a different “point of view”.

    Where things would break down would be if the stonemasons began shouting down the electricians, or the carpenters suddenly thinking that the entire project should use only their skills and expertise.

    This is what I feel happens when good people – people who have taken upon them the name of Christ and who strive to keep their covenants with Him – begin shouting down one another about things that are not nearly as important as building a kingdom worthy of its King.

    Politicians come and go, and eventually we are all going to have to repent and drink deeply from the Atonement. Let Caesar have his day; we have a Temple to build.

  145. Melinda,
    I sympathize with your position, but if you have a testimony of the gospel and then leave, and take generations with you, the nuts win and Satan wins. The scriptures warn us of wolves who devour the herd. For me, this means, members of church can be the “wolves” and the “sheep’s clothing” is the temple garment, and the “herd” is us. It does not matter how horrible they have been, if you leave, you let them win. DO you really want them to have this victory over you and your posterity?

    Believe me when I say, I have been where you are now. What I have learned is, when horrible bad things happen, hate is an acceptable feeling. God gave us feelings and it is ok to feel them. Working thru your hate will teach you truths you would have never learned otherwise, do not run from it. Hate can be a blessing. It may take years, but working thru this horrible situation will bring you wisdom. If you run from your trial, it will come back to revisit you eventually. At sometime you will need to face this demon and fight it. You want to leave a legacy of endurance, not cowardice. Show your posterity THIS is our gospel, NOT theirs. Say to them, “we will super-glue ourselves to the rock which is Christ’s gospel, turn and face the howling wind and beat it by enduring to the end. GIving up is not an option, standing for truth and righteousness is”.

    DO not let them win. DO not let Satan win.

    God bless you on your life journey.

  146. Melinda,
    Why do you still read the Book of Mormon? If it’s scripture, then Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the church he organized) is the ONLY church with God’s authority (even if the members are imperfect – gee, I guess you’re saying the members in your “moderate” church are perfect). If you believe the Book of Mormon and still join some other moderate church, you are that much more accountable to God for leaving his priesthood. How ridiculous!

    Stop blaming other people for your choice in leaving the church. I’m glad to sit next to anyone in church, however imperfect. Let them be right-wing radicals, pot-smoking junkies, or child-molesting felons. Christ came to heal the sick and desires that they come to church. Your job is to realize that we go to church to lift one another up, and your abandoning of the church is no different than your abandonment of Christ (of course, that only makes logical sense if you believe in the Book of Mormon).

  147. Dear Dennis, it is easy to say that one believes in the Book of Mormon. It is quite another thing to embrace its teachings and try to live them. The scriptures have admonished us, “at all times and in all places, stand as a witness for Christ”. I believe that is what members of His Church should do. You can be in the most strange situation and still make a choice to act and behave the way Christ would have you act.
    In the end, the Book of Mormon won’t be judged on DNA evidence, anthropological accuracy or any other of men’s tests. It will be judged by the men and women who read it. Do they live it? Do their lives reflect the Light of Christ? That will be the test, the only test. That will also be the test as to whether or not the Church is true, “By their fruits, yea shall know them”. Christ will be our Judge, not me, or you.

  148. I just heard of this. I too am saddened that some members of the Church seem to think that GOP stands for “Gospel Ordained Party”, and that it is approiate to threaten a member of the Church. To actually not allow a fellow Latter-day Saint the right to bear his testimony in a fireside.

    Since the 2008 election I have been called – by members of the Church – a coward, a traitor and an anti-Christ. Members refused to sustain me to a calling. Not because of some sin I had committed, but because I am a member of the democratic party. Because I supported the election of Barrack Obama. I truly do not understand why some members think it is appropriate to claim – during testimony meetings – that only “conservative values” matter. Or that only “conservatives” love their country.

    I pray that President Monson will soon address this, and instruct the Church that political diversity is not a sin.

    Personally, I will not allow some members of the Church to dictate to me who I should vote for, or which political party I should belong to. I will not leave what I know to be true because some have chosen to forget what being a Disciple of Christ really means.

  149. I agree that Harry Reid is a child of God and so is Glenn Beck However, we cannot exclude the fact that one’s politics is in harmony with church doctrine and principles and the other is in contradiction with church dogma. The one in contradiction must be loved but he should never be allowed the church pulpit as a venue to further such evil. I call evil what it is and righteousness what it is. Glenn Beck should never be compared with anyone choosing to follow satan. Those proponents of Harry Reid need to study and ponder the scriptures and get in harmony with church teachings. Glenn Beck is called of God as a proponent of what is good. We are taught by Jesus Christ to love one another. Also, we should be certain that we understand his gospel before we preach his gospel and quit the hateful speech toward God’s servants. Begin to reconize when one is speaking evil and when one is speaking good. I love all of you Aloha

  150. I don’t imagine any of the SAINTS that Paul wrote to in the New Testament would behave in such atrocious manner, as is shown here. How dare any of you call yourselves Saints / latter-day or otherwise.
    John B.

  151. Harry Reid has the right to his views as well. I disagree with about all he says and do not like what I see when I view his persona. He carried the Presidents water to well and to the exclusion of what the electorate was sharing. I would not vote for him if he was running for the Mexican Border.
    However, he still is a person and has his rights as well. …stinker he is. :)

    Don in Vegas

  152. You people who subscribe evil to Harry Reid ought to look at the beam in your own ideas. Harry Reid’s progressive views are not in anyway anathama to the restored Gospel. He simply believes that government in for and by the people is not the evil presence that some of you think that it is. What shames me is that you on the LDS right believe in your heart of hearts that your political views are God Sanction. May I remind you that God is not spelled GOP.

  153. Coerced “charity” is not only an anathema to the gospel, it is undermines the motivation and necessary for real charity born of individual love for your neighbor as well. Now, I’m not saying HR or his proponents don’t love their neighbor and view that as the reason for some of their bills which take from one and give to another. But it’s not my right to compel someone to be charitable. God may do that, but I don’t believe he’s given that power to me, and if he hasn’t given it to me, it’s not mine to yield to government.

  154. “Hello pot, my name is kettle”
    Look, Any threats of violence are just stupid, on either side. For anyone to protest him at a church event or in the temple is absolutely ridiculous. What should have happened is anyone who disagrees with him being a presenter simply not show up. Allow him to speak to an empty chapel. That being said, the political climate, propagated by the leftist rhetoric I might add, has left many people on the defensive and scared. Don’t tell me it’s not spawned on the left, Harry Reid, Pelosi and Obama have called me a nazi, racist, an enemy of this country in whose military I served, and many other offensive terms in order to ram their policies down our throat. “You have to pass it to find out what’s in it.” This country is not a dictatorship, yet, but many are working hard to make it so, and Harry Reid is absolutely one of the chief architects. If we speak against their socialist ideology, and what they are working for is socialism or a form thereof, we are deemed evil. “It’s not socialist! You are a conspiracy theorist”, read the definition of socialism, “A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole”. Taking over GM, Financial institutions, working hard for “redistribution of wealth” (and don’t forget that Obamacare is not only socialized medicine, but in Harry Reid’s own words is another method to redistribute wealth” are all steps and progression towards socialism.

    The argument of the “political neutrality” of the church excuse is an abomination in the way you use it. What that statement means is that the institution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will not in any way dictate a vote by it’s members, it does NOT indicate tolerance for evil and evil philosophies. Remember, Christ himself did not teach acceptance or tolerance for evil, (“let him who is without sin cast the first stone….. go and sin no more”) only for the man. Those who favor socialism, government controls, government schools, licensing, etc. hope to convince the vast majority of the membership of the Church that neutrality means the prophets have no political principles. They hope to convince you that neutrality means your political principles are a separate part of your life and there is no need to turn to the prophets or their scriptures to obtain your political principles.

    Allow me to quote several LDS prophet’s (and these are quotes from them while they sat as president and prophet of God) and you decide for yourselves what is evil and what is not. Based on the words of the prophets, I do not believe that Harry Reid is an evil man, but everything for which he fights absolutely is, and he should NOT be invited as a speaker at any function.

    “No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction.” Ezra Taft Benson

    “No one has the authority to grant such powers, as welfare programs, schemes for redistributing the wealth, and activities which coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning.” Ezra Taft Benson

    “We must keep the people informed that collectivism, another word for socialism, is a part of the communist strategy. Communism is essentially socialism.” Ezra Taft Benson

    “But it is not the Government’s duty to support you. That is one reason why I shall raise my voice as long as God gives me sound or ability, against this Communistic idea that the Government will take care of us all, and everything belongs to the Government. It is wrong! No wonder, in trying to perpetuate that idea, they become anti-Christ, because that doctrine strikes directly against the doctrine of the Savior…
    No government owes you a living. You get it yourself by your own acts! — never by trespassing upon the rights of a neighbor; never by cheating him. You put a blemish upon your character the moment you do.” David O. McKay

    “Consider the condition in the world, the number who are determined to take from the rich man not what belongs to themselves, but that which belongs to the others. God has permitted men to get wealth, and if they obtained it properly, it is theirs, and he will bless them in its use if they will use it properly …
    We must not fall into the bad habits of other people. We must not get into the frame of mind that we will take what the other man has. Refer back to the ten commandments, and you will find one short paragraph, “Thou shaft not covet.” That is what is the matter with a good many people today.
    They are coveting what somebody else has, when as a matter of fact, many of them have been cared for and provided with means to live by those very ones from whom they would take property.” George Albert Smith

    “We heard Brother Taylor’s exposition of what is called Socialism this morning. What can they do? Live on each other and beg. It is a poor, unwise and very imbecile people who cannot take care of themselves.” Brigham Young

    “Among the Latter-day Saints they speak of their philosophy and their plans under it, as an ushering in of the United Order. Communism and all other similar “isms” bear no relationship whatever to the United Order. They are merely the clumsy counterfeits which Satan always devises of the gospel plan.” Heber J. Grant

    “Communism debases the individual and makes him the enslaved tool of the state to whom he must look for sustenance and religion” Heber J. Grant

    “Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies. They will prove snares to their feet.” Heber J. Grant

    “By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by the people. The creature cannot exceed the creator.” Ezra Taft Benson

  155. Gorgeous lady and beatiful doll! She wore that outfit for her american idol performance which she then stripped down from and rocked a dazzling one piece number w/ louboutin boots. She smashed that performance and I cant wait for the Queen Of Pop to go on world tour, a once in a lifetime must see event that I will be present at. I doubt she’ll do one again. Same with Prince & Sade. P.S. Everybody knows a MJ doll bid would go threw the roof cause he is loved, King Micheal Lives Forever!!!

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