by Natasha Vargas-Cooper
Posted inside all the phonebank cubbies at Sharron Angle’s Las Vegas headquarters, there’s a sheet that instructs her volunteers how to deal with anyone who has questions regarding Sharron Angle’s relationship to the Mormon Church. This is because Angle’s pastor has denounced the LDS Church — of which her opponent, Harry Reid, is a member — as a “cult.” So concerned people are to be given the number of a “well known leader” and “Friend.” I called to speak with this former bishop of the LDS church.
The Former Bishop is congenial and eager to chat about the race. It’s as though I dropped in during a professor’s office hours, wanting discuss a recently published academic article.
“I tell people to remove the person from the equation,” the Bishop said. “Think about how they will vote on the Senate floor. We all think Harry is a good guy, but how is he going to vote on legislation? How is Sharon going to vote?”
According to The Former Bishop, Reid has proven that he may pray like a Mormon but he does not vote like one. The first major fissure between Reid and the church, according to The Former Bishop, came in 2004, when Reid, then Senate Minority Leader, voted against having a debate on a same sex marriage ban. Two years later, when Republicans resurfaced the resolution during the summer before mid-term elections, Reid condemned their efforts. This cuts right to The Former Bishop’s primary grievance with Reid.
“His vote on the gay marriage bill sent a clear message: he does not believe, as we do, that the Constitution is a divine document.” The Former Bishop explained that “marriage is a holy institution and it says clearly in the Bible that it’s between a man and a woman. The government should never have the right to change that.”
So the Former Bishop felt that it was Reid’s opposition to a federal same-sex marriage bill that ignited the Mormon church of Nevada to champion California’s Proposition 8, the amendment to that state’s constitution to ban gay-marriage. The passage of Prop 8. proved that the Mormon church of Nevada was more than willing to jump the border when it came to gay marriage, with or without a federal representative. The Bishop and his religious cohort contend that Reid openly “trampled on church leadership” and worse: he publicly stated that the millions of dollars from Nevada residents “could have been better spent.”
The relationship between the Mormon Church and Senator Reid has “diminished,” because Reid has repeatedly, according to The Former Bishop, failed to serve as a Mormon “watchdog” over Democratic policy-making: “Why should we put someone in office who doesn’t actually represent our views?”
Reid’s confirmation vote for Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court were further proof of Reid’s divergent agenda. “They are lovely women,” the Former Bishop said, “but they don’t believe in the things we believe.”
The final insult was Reid’s position on “Obamacare.”
“Mr. Obama is out there acting like a czar, encroaching on the Constitution, telling people how to spend their money on medicine and what does Harry Reid say? That he wished Mr. Obama was more ‘confrontational,’” he said. That was the moment that the Former Bishop believes that Harry Reid officially “abdicated his role as a watchdog.”
In the Nevada race, the most important issues for the LDS Church, as the Bishop sees it, are “the protection of the Constitution and of the courts,” meaning a recognition that law comes “from God, not from government,” and also keeping “illegals” out of the state, as well as “personalizing” Social Security “by letting seniors have private accounts.”
When asked how he feels about the positions Sharron Angle has taken on these issues, the Former Bishop asked: “Is Sharron Angle an extremist? Yes, I think she’s been extreme.”
“In your heart of hearts, who do you think is going to deliver for us?” he asked. “The answer is not Harry Reid.”