Mormon bishop apologizes for political gaffe — sort of

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Democrat donkeyYesterday, Mormon bishop Mark Paredes apologized — sort of — for last week’s blog post in which he cited his “disgust for [Sen. Harry] Reid’s political prostitution” and said he did not know “how someone who is a standard-bearer for the Democratic Party” could pass a Mormon temple recommend interview.

A FoxNews article summarized the quasi-apology that Bishop Paredes emailed to the Associated Press over the weekend:

“I do apologize for the tone of the article, for giving the impression that I was criticizing Sen. Reid in my role as an LDS bishop, and for implying that I am in a position to judge the senator’s temple worthiness,” Paredes told The Associated Press by email.

“However, I can’t apologize for criticizing his advocacy of certain issues and on behalf of certain interests … Any criticism I had of Senator Reid was based on his actions (e.g., defense of the gaming industry, advocacy of a certain social agenda), not his political affiliation,” he added.

Not his political affiliation?

This last sentence suggests that Paredes was critical of Sen. Reid’s political positions and not his political party. But in fact the whole article was critical of both — and went out of its way to declare the utter incompatibility of LDS teachings with the platform of the Democratic Party.

Here are a few choice statements from the original post:

  • “While the 2012 Republican platform is almost unreadable, at least it does not contain statements that directly contradict LDS teachings. This could be one reason why 11 out of the Mormon Church’s top 15 leaders – and the only ones considered to be prophets by the faithful – are registered Republicans  . . .”
  • “Democrats famously support a woman’s unfettered ‘right’ to murder her baby in utero. The LDS Church is officially an anti-abortion church . . .”
  • “As everyone who follows this issue knows, the Mormon Church is unequivocally opposed to same-sex marriage. As everyone also knows, the Democratic Party is an unequivocal supporter of ‘marriage equality.'”
  • “Mormons who understand their church’s moral teachings can’t support gay marriage. Reid apparently believes that he is more inspired than our top 15 leaders – all of whom have signed a public statement declaring that marriage is between a man and a woman — on a major moral issue. Serious Mormons don’t believe this.”
  • “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.”

Using the Democratic Party as a whipping post . . . that certainly sounds like Bishop Paredes was critical of Senator Reid’s political affiliation.

I’m pleased that Mark Paredes has responded to the outcry that attended his original post, and that he seems to have realized that just because he is currently serving as an LDS bishop he doesn’t have the right to sit in judgment on someone who is not a member of his flock, as though he were personally responsible for deciding whether Sen. Reid is worthy of a temple recommend.

However, his apology, such as it is, does not go far enough. It wasn’t just Harry Reid that Bishop Paredes deigned to judge, but every Mormon who has not joined the relatively recent political trend of Latter-day Saints in America affiliating with the Republican Party.

I’m a Mormon Democrat. (Well, usually. I don’t vote a straight ticket.) Where Paredes sees that “on virtually every important contemporary moral issue,” Mormon teachings are opposed to Democratic party ideals, I see him focusing on just a few issues (same-sex marriage, abortion, and gambling) while neglecting many others. Like education and helping the poor, for example.

Bishop Paredes doesn’t just owe an apology to Senator Reid for questioning his worthiness or saying that he couldn’t possibly take the Mormon religion seriously and vote the way he does.

He also owes an apology to all of us who vote for Democrats because we do take our faith seriously, and to the much broader group of us — Republican, Democrat, independent, and whatever else — who believe one can be a faithful Mormon and vote one’s conscience in many different ways.