A few days ago, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid told the Salt Lake Tribune in an interview that “no group has been more difficult and hard on me than (LDS) Church members.” Reid elaborated that some church members would send letters to his bishop urging him to deny Reid a temple recommend. An LDS Church member in Las Vegas, in a trunk-and-treating activity, Reid related, put a picture of Reid in his trunk, suggesting he was a scary person.
Reid did not mention other incidents. Recently, an LDS bishop in California wrote in a blog that Reid should be denied a temple recommend. Once, Reid was uninvited to speak at an LDS stake fireside because some members objected.
All of this was directed at a man who, as a college student, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his wife and has embraced the church ever since. He has been active in various callings. He goes to the temple. His children have gone on missions and to BYU. And he has been highly responsive when LDS Church leaders and officials have sought his support.
The irony of that treatment of Harry Reid is amazing given how much he, as a Senate leader, did on behalf of the LDS Church. Those who know about his contributions attest to his intervention at key points when the LDS Church was in need of help from the federal government. The power of the Senate majority leader's or minority leader's office was used on behalf of projects sought after by the LDS Church. Unfortunately, too little of that effort has filtered out to church membership. It is a shame those who know of his accomplishments as they relate to the church have not been faster to come to his defense when he is attacked by members of his own church. And Reid himself has been too modest to boast about his contributions or to defend himself.
What also is ironic is that it may take some time for LDS Church members to realize what a loss Reid’s retirement from Senate leadership is to the church. Who knows when an active LDS Church member will hold such an important position in government again? As the Senate majority leader, Reid held the most powerful job in the U.S. Senate and was well-known as a force within the Senate. (By contrast, as president pro tempore, Sen. Orrin Hatch holds an honorary position with little power.)
It is strange that LDS Church members would not celebrate that accomplishment of Reid's. But the reality is that had Reid been a Republican they would have done so. There would have been plaudits offered by LDS members, along with speaking invitations, extensive news articles and multiple honors given over the past 10 years that he has served in Senate leadership. But since he was a Democrat, those recognitions were few and far between. What came far more often was criticism and questioning of his membership.
Republicans criticized Reid for being partisan. Indeed, he was partisan. But he was no more partisan than Hatch or Jason Chaffetz, who receive little criticism from LDS members for their partisanship. The difference is these members agree with Hatch’s and Chaffetz’s partisanship.
Is it possible for LDS Church members to reach the point where we can accept each other’s partisan and ideological views without questioning whether the other person really belongs in the church? Such an attitude of asking whether someone is really a member because of his or her partisan affiliation does not conform to the gospel of Jesus Christ and should be eliminated. Harry Reid should not have been accorded such treatment by fellow church members. Church members should make sure Reid was the last active LDS Church member and Democratic politician who is so treated.