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Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Response to Bishop Mark Paredes

by Kyle:

Hey Bishop Mark Paredes,

I’m not gonna lie, your article over at Jewish Journal was not cool. Like really not cool. Like “omg I can’t believe a bishop actually wrote this and thought it was a good idea to put it on the internet” not cool.

But that’s okay. I believe we all make mistakes, and we can more often than not fix those mistakes. And as a Democrat I believe that you’re just so incredibly wrong. But what I want to tell you is not how wrong you are about Harry Reid (I mean…do you even know him?), or how wrong you are about the Democratic Party (again, terribly wrong), but how wrong you are as a bishop.

You see, Mark, you’re a man with religious authority and responsibility. You oversee the saints in your ward, and you have authority over them. You have used your position in the church to spew some pretty harmful words that will put you at odds with your congregation. And by so doing, I believe you have tainted the very calling in which you serve.

Now that your article is out there, I feel very sad for your congregation. I feel sad for the men and women who are Democrats (whether they support the entire party platform or not). I feel sad for the youth who undoubtedly have a friend who is gay, and struggles with the Church’s treatment of homosexuals. I feel bad for those who believe that men and women deserve equality in the work force, and that women shouldn’t be told what to do with their bodies by a bunch of old, rich white men. But mostly I feel bad for the members who now feel as though they have an enemy behind the podium. That the one person they are told to trust and go to for counsel is the same person who is going to say that they don’t belong.

Trust me, as someone who all too often feels like he doesn’t belong, it hurts.

And please, don’t try to hide behind something you throw in at the end of your rambling article, that “I have no problem with an average Mormon in the pew who supports the Democratic Party.” You can say that this article was “only about Harry Reid” all you want, but it’s pretty clear that you hold these views toward any Democrat, and not just an elected official. After all, wouldn’t your logic extend to the faithful Mormons who voted for Sen. Reid and any other Democratic candidate for public office?

I think you need to take a moment and reflect on a couple of things. One being the Church’s position on political neutrality. Maybe think about how this applies to using your calling as a bishop and writing a politically aggressive rant. Something else you should consider is the Church’s Handbook of Instructions, particularly section 21.1.29 that talks about Political and Civil Activity. Pay close attention to the part that reads “stake presidents and other local leaders should not organize members to participate in political matters or attempt to influence how they participate.” Perhaps you didn’t violate the letter of this law, but certainly the spirit of this law is highly offended.

Most importantly, take a moment to think about the people in your ward and how they would feel after reading your post. Perhaps an apology is in order, you know, for the whole using-your-calling-as-a-bishop-to-spew-political-propaganda-against-a-man-you’ve-never-met-and-don’t-know-personally thing. It’s probably what Jesus would do.

Even I have an apology to offer to you. I’m sorry I called you a “dick” on Twitter.


Kyle Jarrett
Equal rights lover
Marriage equality advocate

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Kyle works in Democratic politics in Washington D.C. His wife and daughter are the greatest things to him since thick cut bacon. His Mormon street cred comes from the fact that he is the youngest of seven children and is only five years older than his niece. Twitter: @KJinDC.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: The White House (used with permission).

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