Senate majority leader Harry Reid is a member of the LDS Church in good standing, but some of his fellow Mormons consider him an apostate by virtue of his simply being a Democrat. And Reid’s instrumental support of the health care reform bill has put him further at odds with conservative majority in his church.
This animosity toward Reid manifested itself in a story that has the Mormon blogosphere—the “bloggernacle”—a buzz. From the Millennial Star:
[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.
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.”
Having been a liberal Mormon, I really empathize with Senator Reid. It can be difficult feeling like a stranger in your own church.
I’d love for LDS leaders to unambiguously denounce the behavior of these Nevada Mormons. The church should also stress its political neutrality at this weekend’s General Conference. But should neither of those things happen, I hope our Mormon readers will at least read this church press release on political civility.
*As is often the case, I am indebted to Main Street Plaza for the story.