Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk


Reid’s Mormon Support

posted by Mark Silk

Reid.jpgFor months and months, Harry Reid seemed about as likely to be reelected to the Senate as the Orioles are to win the American League East. But a new poll now shows him leading all three of his main Republican rivals. What gives?

As the folks over at TPM point out, the GOP candidates have done an excellent job of knocking each other down. But there may be a bit of a hidden religious factor at work as well. At the Mormon History Association meetings in Kansas City last weekend, the word was that the leadership of the LDS Church was putting out quiet signals that it would be a good thing if Reid retained his seat. No Mormon has ever held a higher position of authority, and even if virtually all of the church’s general authorities (as they’re called) are Republicans, keeping a Mormon Democrat as Senate Majority Leader is preferable to having him replaced with a first-term Republican.

None of the three leading Republicans are Mormons, and though a latecomer to the field, Chad Christensen, has been playing the LDS card for all it’s worth, he’s not given much of a chance. Anecdotally, Reid–who is an active and enthusiastic member of the church–seems to enjoy considerable LDS support.

How much of a difference does the LDS vote make in the Silver State? According
to the 2008 Trinity ARIS, Mormons constitute only 5.2 percent of the population. (Thanks to emigration from
California, that’s down from 9 percent a decade ago.)
Still, in a close election, a few percentage points matter, and turnout among Mormons is always high. 

Mitt Romney scored a huge and unexpected victory In the January 2008 Republican
caucuses
, racking up over 50 percent of the vote to Ron Paul’s 14 percent and John McCain’s 13 percent. Later that year, Obama beat John McCain handily, 55-43. With the quiet blessing of Salt Lake City, I wouldn’t count Harry Reid out this year. 



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SVB

posted June 3, 2010 at 6:53 pm


This article is total bull. Nobody knows what the political affiliations of the General Authorities are. I’m sure there are a lot of Republicans as well as many Democrats. I think Mark Silk, for the purpose of creating a story, is completely fabricating this notion that the Church leadership is somehow putting out “quite signals” to it’s members to vote for Harry Reid. The LDS church is staunchly politically neutral when it comes to candidates. People will vote for whomever they want to vote for, period.



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J Seth Anderson

posted June 3, 2010 at 10:02 pm


SVB,
Puh-leeze. As a former Mormon with deep Utah roots, you know as well as I do that the LDS church is not, nor has ever been, “politically neutral.” General Authorities are in general always Republican. Of course there have been a few exceptions. (i.e. Faust.)



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Scott R.

posted June 3, 2010 at 10:57 pm


I’m LDS and work with the church hierarchy and have no idea what you are talking about. “Quiet signals”! really. You pulled that one out of the either. The LDS Church is largely conservative, as a church we don’t believe in abortion or same sex marriage for example but the church never tells people who to vote for. They will speak out on moral issues but that’s it.
Lame and fictitious article.



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MormonDem

posted June 4, 2010 at 10:16 am


There are a number of General Authorities and other prominent Mormons that are or were democrats.
The late President James E. Faust was a democrat, and participated actively in the state party before taking up full-time ecclesiastical duties.
Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Church historian, is a democrat, and in 1998 was tasked by the First Presidency with giving an interview in which he articulated the leadership’s discomfort with the lack of political diversity among Mormons. More recently, he has been the Church’s point-man on the immigration issue, and called (alas, in vain) for people to exercise more compassion and deliberation in crafting immigration law.
Elder Steven E. Snow, of the presidency of the Seventy, is an outspoken democrat. Before taking up full-time ecclesiastical duties, he was a very prominent environmental activist in Southern Utah.
The late President Hugh B. Brown was an outspoken democrat as well, at a time when some of the Church leadership was flirting with far-right groups like the John Birch Society.
Hugh Nibley, Mormonism’s foremost apologist, was very vocal about his liberal political positions.
Recently, the Church released a statement called “The Mormon Ethic of Civility,” in which it stated once again the position that “the political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum. Individual members are free to choose their own political philosophy and affiliation. Moreover, the Church itself is not aligned with any particular political ideology or movement. It defies category. Its moral values may be expressed in a number of parties and ideologies.” Moreover, the statement seemed to address such divisive figures as Glenn Beck with the following statement: “The Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible. As the Church begins to rise in prominence and its members achieve a higher public profile, a diversity of voices and opinions naturally follows. Some may even mistake these voices as being authoritative or representative of the Church. However, individual members think and speak for themselves.”
Finally, recently the First Presidency suggested that stakes in Nevada invite Harry Reid to speak at a “Why I Believe” Fireside. So many Mormons called in complaints–including physical threats against Church leaders for inviting Reid–that they had to cancel the event.
So, yes, the Church is concerned about the lack of political diversity generally, and the animosity toward Reid specifically–but unfortunately many members are oblivious.



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Christopher Theiss

posted June 4, 2010 at 11:31 am


Don’t believe for a minute about any solidarity in Mormon support for Reid. Many, I would say most, Mormons in Nevada are anxious to rid ourselves of Reid’s liberal biases, not to mention his support of this administration’s bungled, spendthrift ways.
The republicans may foolishly be cutting each other up to the great delight of democrats, but eventually there will be one left to run against Reid and his poor leadership.



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SingerGuy

posted June 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm


I am a life long member of the LDS Church and I don’t know a single member of my church that supports Reid, nor have I _ever_ heard “quiet signals” about candidates of any persuasion. Such “quiet signals” are nonexistent within the structure of the LDS Church. Individual members may voice their political opinions, but they do so outside the authority of the church. Official church lines of communication are strictly politics-free. This article should be considered prose, or some other type of fiction, and should not be taken as factual in any way.



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Lance

posted June 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm


Reid gave his first and only “Why I Believe” FS at my Stake Center.
Most, if not all, were/are skeptical about Reid’s politics.
Most questioned the timing of his appearance, i.e., just as his
scramble for re-election begins.
For every one LDS who actively voices support for Reid,
there are at least 1000 who don’t.
It’s time for Harry to go – and wait for the criminal indictments
to be issued for him.
His trashing of the Constitution is consistent with his core values.



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SaveNevada

posted June 4, 2010 at 1:12 pm


If what this article claims is true, then now we know why Reid’s backdoor men put Chad Christensen up for the GOP US Senate race. Peel off just enough votes to insure a lost for Lowden.



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Lori

posted June 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Any Latter-day Saint who has observed the pains the hierarchy of the LDS church go to in order to maintain strict political neutrality knows there would never be any quiet behind the scenes campaign for an LDS candidate. Never! This is an attempt to split off some LDS votes to the Democrat who would otherwise vote Republican. This is the obvious work of a politcal operative within the Democrat party and most assuredly, without the LDS church.



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JWH

posted June 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm


Not sure where you are getting all your intelligence. I have been Mormon for many, many years. I know a lot of other LDS folks from all over the country — including quite a few in Nevada who are democrats. I do not know one Mormon who supports Harry Reid or wants to see him reelected. Even if he were not a curmudgeon for this corrupt congress and administration, he is a nasty old man who needs to leave Washington and re-connect with the people and his roots…



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LVLefty

posted June 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm


I do not belong to the Mormon Church. But I find it fascinating that those who profess to be Mormon, or for that matter any religion, so cavalierly make such accusations against anyone, especially a fellow Mormon who has made no secret of–and has taken pride in–his membership in the Mormon Church for nearly half a century. That reasonable people may disagree reasonably is something I strongly believe. But if this is how you talk about politics and fellow Church members, then the greatest danger to Mormonism, and indeed to the country we are all supposed to cherish, is not Harry Reid; it is the people in this discussion and their attitudes.



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Chino Blanco

posted June 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm


Lori – “Democratic party” … thanks.



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Bull Moose

posted June 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm


Lance, this “fireside” campaigning for Reid isn’t the first time he’s tried this tactic of embedding himself in the imprimatur of Church leadership.
He tried something similar in Reno in 1998, and was quite successful. There was a regional conference held in Reno in which I believe Elder Oaks, and Elder Uchtdorf (then of the Seventy) were scheduled to attend. Senator Reid asked if he could have an opportunity to speak at the conference, and when word got out, many, many members expressed their concern to their stake presidents at such an opportunity given to a candidate during a close campaign. Elder Oaks decided it would be appropriate to allow Senator Reid to bear his testimony and leave it at that. He went on to win the race by 428 votes.
And MormonDem, I would love to see proof that the First Presidency asked Las Vegas stakes to host a Reid fireside during a campaign year. My guess is that Reid’s campaign and the more “well politically connected” Mormons spread that as cover to host Reid campaign firesides.
You realize that the First Presidency also puts out a letter every election year stating that the Church must remain politically neutral and cannot endorse candidates (at the risk of its tax exempt status among other things), and yet some politicians, such as Reid, continue to imply that they have the implicit endorsement of the General Authorities. Senator Reid is the one who is oblivious in this regard.



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Steve

posted June 4, 2010 at 8:07 pm


There are certainly Mormons who support Harry Reid. They are called “Democrats.” There are many more who do not. They are called “Republicans.” Mormons, like most other people, vote for political candidates based on their political beliefs rather than their religion. Mormon Republicans would almost certainly be more likely to vote for a Mormon Republican than a non-Mormon Republican (see Romney, Mitt) but would be very unlikely to vote for a Mormon Democrat over any Republican, especially where that Democrat has become one of the three faces most identified with left-leaning policies that Republicans abhor. Baptize Nancy Pelosi all day long in every Mormon chapel in the country. Mormon Republicans would still vote for Mormon-hater Huckabee over Pelosi. In elections, politics trump religion. Offer a Mormon a choice between a good steak at a Mormon-owned restaurant and an equally good steak at one run by a non-Mormon, and he would probably favor his Mormon buddy, just as a Jew or a Baptist would his own buddies. But offer a Mormon a choice between a tough, crappy steak at a Mormon-owned restaurant and a good steak at one run by a non-Mormon, he will take the good steak. He is buying dinner, not attending services.



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MormonDem

posted June 4, 2010 at 11:25 pm


Bull Moose,
My earlier comment appears to have been (inexplicably) deleted.
You asked for “proof,” yet you provide none that Reid tried to talk his way into a fireside.



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Abe

posted June 5, 2010 at 11:26 am


As a Mormon, I’m a little bit miffed at the unsupported suggestion that the church is sending out “quiet signals” that people should get behind Reid.
This does not square with history. The church’s policy is that it never backs nor opposes specific candidates (e.g. Reid or his opponents), and I don’t know of any knowledgeable observer who disagrees that it has adhered admirably to that policy. It typically remains neutral in regard to politics entirely, although it has engaged in occasional issues regarding morality over the years.
At any rate, for the above article to claim that “quiet signals” are being sent, then fail to provide a single example as to by what means they’re being sent, to whom they’re being sent (the average voting member I presume?? But wouldn’t it take an awfully loud quiet signal to reach that many?), with no one on the record to vouch for the claim–and no one even off the record to back it anonymously?
The claim just doesn’t seem very credible, and given organization’s long history of going the extra mile to Not behave in this manner, it doesn’t seem very fair, either.



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des

posted June 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm


Thats ridiculous, we been Mormons since leaving the Methodists 40 years ago and never have felt any pressure to vote one way or the other, besides, can’t stand him. Where Do you get your info, ask me anything, I’ll tell you the truth! We are libertarians, I was raise in calif, hung out @ Cathecism with Joe Dimaggios niece Rosalie, been in the army, been in the Mrs America Pageant, supervised a medical dept @ San Quentin, played a catholic nun in Pucninis “Sour Angelica”. I’ve got stories, and guess what, each Christian is unique! I love Christ and all He has done for each one of us. Des



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al thomas

posted June 6, 2010 at 7:49 pm


I am a 55 year church member. I know 2 members who will vote for Reid,
both in the privileged union class, school teachers.
Harry Reid stands for most everything Mormon’s abhor!!



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Connie

posted June 6, 2010 at 11:20 pm


Let’s see, Reid believes in same-sex marriage and killing babies. Not much of a Mormon. I don’t know of a single Mormon worth their salt that would vote for this guy.



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Jean

posted June 7, 2010 at 5:51 am


No proof. Just innuendo of “quiet signals”. Just another anit-Mormon bigot. Move on folks, nothing here to see.



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Bull Moose

posted June 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm


Mormon Dem, as I’ve already posted, the specific conference that Reid bore his testimony at was the 1998 (election year) Reno regional conference when Elder Oaks presided. The gentleman I spoke with about the details was in a Reno area stake presidency at the time, and was privy to the before discussion, and had to field the anger of those members who resented Reid’s on stage presence after the conference. If you doubt, ask any church member living in Reno in 1998. That’s all the proof you’ll need.
Now, after your (attempted) artful dodge, again, where’s your proof? Answer, you have no proof that the First Presidency suggested any such Harry Reid firesides, and your continued attempt to claim such by not addressing it is laughable and regretful. Does your party ideology mean so much that you would sell your integrity and honesty to get a candidate elected? Shameful.



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Brokehart

posted June 18, 2010 at 9:42 am


Well this is pretty much a load of crap, because the First Presidency is neutral on candidates, and only hint toward any involvement when specific issues of importance arise (sanctity of marriage being one).
You have no source for this false claim.



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RB

posted September 22, 2010 at 5:19 pm


Mormonism is a quiet practice of faith that is viewed externally as a “Cult” or worse. Mormonism is exemplified by the pioneers who settled Utah after much persecution and without assistance from the government. In fact, the government was hostile towards Mormons. Mormons I know see themselves as holding a portion of the pioneer spirit – independent, self reliant, strong, frugal, and happy to show their Father in Heaven their love for him thru their labor. Mormonism teaches man cannot serve two masters. Man must be loyal to God, the commandments that God demands, and stand upright against any force that challenges their relationship with the All Mighty; the practice of their faith. Mormonism demands man be self reliant and shun being a burden upon his fellow man or his family. As the Church sought to convert as many as possible, some able bodied converts saw the church as a another income source – the welfare and assistance programs. I know many Bishops and Stake leaders who are confounded with this problem. Modern Democrat policies mirror Socialism or Marxism. They view the State as the source of freedoms – not God.
Ezra Taft Benson railed against the evils of Socialism/Communism while working in the Federal Government and afterwards. Socialism/Communism was evil because it stood at odds with Godly commandments and threatened the God given freedoms provided in our Constitution.
I assert Harry Reid and the Democrat party are working to implement the initial stages of Marxism in America. The USSR and China did not assume Marxism/Communism in one act. It dribbled in over time because people naturally object to losing their liberties. Over 100 million people were executed or starved when they objected to a State-ist government – the Collective mentality. What Harry Reid’s political party wishes for America is not dissimilar to the early stages of Collectivism. I feel the restrictions of Democrat policy on my labors, my property, my family, and my wallet, my freedoms. The reach of government invades every aspect of my life and the lives of my fellow citizens. Reid and his party work tirelessly to deprive the property of the industrious and give what they take to those who will submit to being dependent upon the Democrat party and reward them with a vote.
We are either ONE people united as Americans, or, we are sliding towards Marxism/Communism when we permit government to sanction, and codify into law, separate rights and advantages for the constituents of one political party and expect the political opponents to pay for the advantages offered preferentially. Harry Reid espouses this political philosophy and has broken his Oath of Office when he ignored the Constitution – bribery for votes, locked doors, excluding political opponents/debate, violation of the Commerce Clause. Reid also violated the will of the American people – the public trust.
What Reid advocates starkly stands at odds with Mormon doctrine too. Hypocrisy is an overused term generically applied to politicians. However, Reid’s conduct in office, when he sought to enrich himself while bending and breaking the laws of Nevada, while criticizing, and seeking to punish honest, hardworking Americans who become successful, thru taxation, is remarkable and sinister – hypocritical. In my opinion, Reid uses/used his Mormon faith as a political device too. Many Mormons reside in Nevada, and, Mormons will generally support fellow Mormons. I believe most Mormons who know and once supported Reid feel betrayed – personally, and in terms of the impact of Reid’s actions, and notoriety places upon their faith. Reid’s party is manically opposed to Christianity and its practice – Reid is silent on the matter. I will offer a prayer of Thanks once Reid is removed from office and I suppose many other Mormons will do the same. Reid is a blemish on the Mormon faith and it is unfortunate his rise to power was accomplished advancing policy antithetical to Mormon doctrine, Christian principles, and human decency.



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