Sen. Harry Reid dies. He was a supporter of the Church, a good family man and terrible politician

This Des News profile does a very good job summarizing the life of Sen. Harry Reid, who passed away today at 82.

To summarize: Sen. Reid was a good family man, a quiet but faithful supporter of the Church and an awful politician.

This is the man who never apologized about lying about Mitt Romney’s taxes and even bragged about it. But at the same time I would like to point out that Church officials were always appreciative of Sen. Reid’s work to promote the work of the Gospel behind the scenes:

Ralph Hardy Jr., a lawyer and past chairman of the church’s public affairs advisory committee in Washington, D.C., said in 2017 that Reid’s leadership roles in Congress and his commitment to the church made him a natural person to turn to. He called Reid’s efforts on Latter-day Saint issues extraordinary.

“In my personal experience, Sen. Reid has extended himself and been willing to help and roll up his sleeves and get us introduced to the right people and speak well for us,” said Hardy, who served as an area authority and stake president.

If there is one lesson we can learn from Sen. Reid’s life, it is that good men who get involved in politics often end up very dirty. But yet we latter-day Saints are encouraged to get involved in political affairs. It is one of the many balancing acts we carry out as imperfect human beings on this Earth.

On M*, we have long been critical of Sen. Reid’s ugly politics, while also recognizing he was a faithful member of the Church. Here are some of the posts we have written over the years:

NOTE: I have never believed there is any value in saying only nice things about politicians who pass away. Harry Reid decided of own free will and choice to go into politics and to become a leader of the Democrats in the Senate. It is fair, and I would say expected, that we would review his political career, which in the case of Sen. Reid was mostly an embarrassment to Church members. But I want to make it completely clear that I do not pretend to judge Sen. Reid’s worthiness to stand before God — I have neither the authority nor the interest in doing so. By most accounts Sen. Reid was a loyal Church member who was a good family man, regularly went to the temple and supported the Brethren. At the end of the day, that is much more important than his politics.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

15 thoughts on “Sen. Harry Reid dies. He was a supporter of the Church, a good family man and terrible politician

  1. I think his problem was that he liked the power and influence too much — a trap that most politicians fall into. They will say almost anything to keep their power and influence. That’s why we see Mitt Romney flip-flopping so much.

  2. How could Reid be a good church member and support abortion on demand? It makes no sense to say he was when he supported infanticide.
    He also was a political liar and was not honest in his dealings with fellow men.

  3. @Joyce, ditto.
    Yes, JBK, Harry Reid “was not honest in his dealings with fellow men”, and there is a temple recommend question about this, and it should be answered… “honestly”. Another question in the temple recommend interviews is about supporting organizations whose teachings and goals are directly opposed to those of the church. Like Planned Parenthood, which he certainly supported by working so closely with the democrats in power at the time: Barak Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Good company. And then there is “Nevada”. Outposts settled by Latter-Day Saints, but now a very “wordly” place, to put it mildly. Great and spacious buildings.

  4. (Responding to the replies more than original post itself.) I think there are plenty of organizations on both sides of the political aisle that are not in keeping with the standards of the Church; and getting too devoted to *any* of them will tend to lead one away from the Gospel. In my experience most “liberal members” tend to care most about helping those in need, while most “conservative members” tend to care most about not having their choices restricted by government – of course both are useful things to care about. But the balance between those (and a billion other things) is a personal one we each make. At the end of the day Ried’s local church leaders signed his temple recommends and the general Church leaders appreciated the work he did to move the Church’s work forward.

  5. Sen. Harry Reid dies. He was a supporter of the Church, a good family man and an outstanding politician!

  6. Back when Romney was running for president, I saw some suggestions that a Latter-day Saint would support any politician who had the same religious beliefs. Harry Reid thus became my poster boy for a Latter-day Saint you couldn’t pay me enough to vote for, and I’m grateful for him for that reason alone.

  7. The above comments are why the organizational church tries hard to stay out of politics, not entirely, but mostly.

    No matter which side of an issue, political or social, that the church leadership supports, they run the risk of alienating both members and potential investigators from the gospel. And… every non-member is a potential investigator, or will have some influence on a future potential investigator.

    Suppose a potential investigator realizes that half their close friends hate the church, and the other half have no opinion. Well, attitudes are contagious, that’s another way to say peer-infuence and social-influence.

    All sides eventually get their ox gored to some degree. Conservatives seem to bristle a bit at the church’s policies in regards to undocumented immigrants, and recently the 1st Pres statement on vaccines and masks.

    I try to remember the scriptural instances where the Lord did not always accept the either-or paradigm (dichotomy) of the binary choices that people asked him about — He usually surprised both “sides” and brought a different higher-level perpspective.

    I want to say more about how factions can have the same societal goals, but disagree how to achieve them.

    And things about those who knowingly promote evil versus well-meaning people who are fooled by those who know where their agenda takes them.

    But I need to cut this short, and Mr. Reid’s passing may not be the appropriate thread on which to expound those ideas.

  8. “Sen. Harry Reid dies. He was a supporter of the Church, a good family man and an outstanding politician!”

    I have heard this from the start when Harry Reid was questioned by faithful members of the LDS Church who also support the Church, are family people and are NOT politicians. So what? Christ himself said that even the wicked treat their own well. He also said that just saying “Christ” is not going to save you, since even the devils say the same. He was a terrible person who will be judged by God in total. And in total he will have to suffer a lot (as per the Book of Mormon) if he is going to be purified. Even then I don’t think that he will make it to the Celestial Kingdom. He was an evil man who helped destroy the United States and contributed strongly to the political divide we have today.

    And yes I hope I am just as harshly judged by God like I believe Reid will be, because that is what God is supposed to do: judge and bring eternal justice. Only if we repent of our sins is Christ’s atonement of any use to bring mercy. I don’t believe Reid has repented of anything. Yes, there will probably be those who try and speak well of him to God, but I will be one of those who will testify against him.

  9. @Jett: I am trying to word this so that it can be applied to any side of any issue.

    And I need constant reminding of this myself, as I have left plenty of blog comments over the years that did not accord with this.

    Is your comment written in a way that it will tend to persuade the people on the other side of the issue to either come over to your way of thinking, or does it at least help them understand what/why/how you think as you do?

  10. It is meant to express my thoughts and feelings. No more and no less. Take it how you like or not.

  11. “And in total he will have to suffer a lot (as per the Book of Mormon) if he is going to be purified. Even then I don’t think that he will make it to the Celestial Kingdom.”

    I’m a lurker who is deeply, deeply uncomfortable with this level of judgement against a fellow member of the church (or non-member for that matter). Politics or no-politics we should each seek to be kind and generous to our neighbors.

  12. Lehcarjt, for the record, I agree with you. I am allowing Jettboy’s comment to stay because it represents how a LOT of members feel. The key issue here is that we simply do not have the authority to even attempt to judge the ultimate fate of other people when it comes to the Gospel. Harry Reid had a temple recommend well into old age (nobody here knows the details, but members saw him at the temple). This means the people who did have the authority to judge him, ie, his local Church leadership, deemed him worthy to enter the House of God. That is about a million times more significant than a random comment from a person on the internet. I think most readers of this blog can understand that.

  13. I’m late to the party, here, but a story that I think is worthwhile was that Thomas Griffith (DC Appeals Judge) gave a lecture at BYU for Education Week and one of the questions asked of him was how Harry Reid had a temple recommend. He said not only did he have a temple recommend but he was a High Councilor and served faithfully. He then said something that I have always kept in mind:

    “The Lord has no revealed position on top marginal tax rates.”

    I disagree with Senator Reid politically — I think his political positions are foolish and destructive. But I don’t think they are immoral and we worship our politics if we insist that all political decisions are moral decisions. He made some poor choices, it is true, but who among us isn’t that true about. As for me I hope the Atonement is broad enough to cover Senator Reid because, if it is, it may also be broad enough to cover me.

  14. Jonathan, I basically agree with your comment, but I would just add a few nuances. If Harry Reid had remained a moderate Democrat opposed to abortion on demand and had never gotten involved with party leadership and had never seen the need to lie many, MANY times for political reasons, I think we could all agree that he served honorably and that our political differences were of minor import. I would add that one has to question how the very poor Harry Reid became a multi-millionaire during his lifetime while only serving in politics. In other words, with Harry Reid specifically it is about much more than marginal tax rates, and I think everybody knows this. He was a boxer when he was younger and he LOVED the fight, and he loved winning. I think this is what he will have to answer for in the after-life, the dishonesty and the support for killing the unborn, specifically. Harry Reid may have been one of the key people keeping the abortion factory going in the United States, and I find that tragic. Now having said that, I completely agree with you that we are in no place to judge Harry Reid’s overall worthiness, and I also agree that I am hoping for an Atonement to cover my mistakes and sins as well. I will have my own things to answer for in the Eternities, just as we all will.

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