Saturday, November 8, 2014

LDS Bishop Mark Paredes Channels Samuel The Lamanite, Implicitly Questions Senator Harry Reid's Temple Worthiness Over His Democratic Party Politics

A Mormon bishop has publicly questioned the temple worthiness of Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), triggering a media frenzy, leftist outrage, and even a statement from LDS Public Affairs distancing the Church from the bishop's statement. The Salt Lake Tribune has the lead media story.

The bishop is Mark Paredes, the longtime editor of the Jewish Journal website. Bishop Paredes shepherds the Wilshire Ward in the Los Angeles area, and specializes in the history of Jewish-Mormon relations; he worked as a journalist in Milan and lived in Moscow before graduating from Brigham Young University with a degree in Italian and joining the Foreign Service. Following his diplomatic service in Mexico and Israel, Paredes studied law, clerking at leading international law firms in Dallas, Texas and Rome, Italy. Nevertheless, being a learned man has not diluted his interest in and dedication to the Gospel. On November 5th, 2014, in a post entitled "Good riddance to Harry Reid, the Mormon Senate leader", Bishop Paredes claims that Senator Reid's politics implies he does not take his religion seriously. Paredes writes:

"Harry Reid apparently believes that the church’s teachings on the evils of gambling, abortion, and same-sex marriage don’t apply to opportunistic politicians. I have no problem with an average Mormon in the pew who supports the Democratic Party because one of its issues or positions appeals to him. However, occupying a national Democratic leadership position is an entirely different matter. The LDS Church’s political neutrality can’t hide the fact that on virtually every important contemporary moral issue, at least from an LDS perspective, the Democratic Party opposes our positions. I have no doubt that Harry Reid is a wonderful man who loves his wife and kids, attends church, and is kind to animals. However, he is not a man of serious religious faith. Both Mormons and non-Mormons need a person with more integrity to lead the Senate. For Mormons who care about their church, the most appropriate word to describe Reid is one that he once used to condemn Justice Clarence Thomas: an 'embarrassment'."

In this statement, Bishop Paredes also implicitly questions Senator Reid's temple worthiness:

"As a bishop, one of my responsibilities is to interview members who wish to enter Mormon temples. During our conversation, I have to ask them 13 or 14 questions (the number depends on whether the person has previously entered a temple). Although I can ask them follow-up questions based on their answers, I am not free to omit a question or substitute other questions for the standardized ones. One of the questions appears above, and I do not know how someone who is a standard-bearer for the Democratic Party can respond in the negative".

The Democratic Party officially favors a number of practices condemned by the LDS Church, to include unrestricted abortion, same-sex marriage, and the Equal Rights Amendment. While Reid has a mixed record on abortion personally, he is still a major leader of a pro-abortion-on-demand political party. Thus Bishop Paredes could be on solid ground if he was to deny Reid a temple recommend, although the LDS Church officially stands for political neutrality.

On the other hand, temple worthiness is customarily only between an individual and his bishop. Mark Paredes is not Harry Reid's bishop. Consequently, LDS Public Affairs released the following statement by spokesman Dale Jones to the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are, of course, entitled to express their own political opinions. However, publishing such views while using a title of a church officer, even if only as a leader of a local congregation as in this case, is entirely inappropriate."

The only recorded reaction from the Reid camp was reported on The Blaze. Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman simply released a letter from Charles Zobell, a 56-year member of the LDS Church, a Democrat, and a former longtime editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, to Paredes. An excerpt:

"Your very public comments on Sen. Harry Reid, a faithful member of the Church, were outrageous and unbecoming a priesthood holder in your position of influence. In short, they were un-Christian...You should apologize to (him) and to every LDS Democrat you have so viciously disparaged. ...I am so tired of self-righteous members of my own Church telling me I cannot be a Democrat and a good Mormon ... I cannot see how anyone can read the Book of Mormon and the New Testament and not have more compassion and charity for others. Those have been hallmarks of the Democratic Party since the days of Franklin Roosevelt and earlier."

Numerous comments have been appended to Paredes' original post, many expressing disagreement with him, and some even accusing him of flirting with priestcraft. In contrast, Paredes gets much more support on The Blaze.

Afterwards, Bishop Paredes backed down a bit, acknowledging that he is not in a position to assess Reid’s temple worthiness and saying he likely wouldn’t deny the Nevada senator one. He added that he neither knows nor cares about the political leanings of those in his ward, and that political labels don't surface during the worthiness intervies he conducts.

The real value of Bishop Paredes' outburst is that it shows that, despite the Church's campaign to be a "popular people" waged in order to take advantage of the window of opportunity to evangelize the world that was opened wider by Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign, there are many of us who are willing and anxious to go back to being a "peculiar people" once again. God's people have rarely enjoyed the approval of the world, and when the world approves of us, the hairs begin to stand up on the back of my neck. We need to prepare ourselves to channel Samuel the Lamanite and raise the voice of warning to the world once again.

No comments: