It seems recently that there is a lot of buzz about Mitt Romney potentially making a third run at the presidency in 2016. Which means, of course, that we'll be subjected, once again, to a lot of stories about those crazy Mormons and all the wacky things they believe.
But, it seems to slip past the majority of people that the holder of the second or third most powerful secular position in the country is also a Mormon. That would be outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who converted to the church in his college years.
I thought that with all the speculation, and well in advance of the presidential race, I would sit down with Senator Reid and discuss religion and how it affects his politics and decision making, especially in light of the fact that he once said, "I think it is much easier to be a good member of the Church and a Democrat than a good member of the Church and a Republican."
I got together with Senator Reid at his office in Las Vegas on a Saturday afternoon just prior to the election.
Arik:Good afternoon, Senator Reid.
Senator Reid: Good afternoon.
Arik: Thank you for giving this interview. As you know, I'm here to discuss your faith, how it affects your work as Senate Majority Leader, and the effects your church might have on the nation.
Reid: Certainly. Well, you know, I was not born into the church, but converted during my college years.
A: What was the attraction?
R: At the time, I was in love with a beautiful young woman and when the missionaries told us about the church's belief in eternal marriage, well, just say we were sold. And we're still together after all these years.
A: That's rather commendable in today's society. What other things were there that drew you in?
R: Well, the church places a high value on the individual's right to choose, which really appealed to me as a Democrat.
A: But when Democrats refer to the "right to choose," what they're really talking about is a right to abortion aren't they? Does the church support a right to abortion?
R: I think my record speaks for itself on that. I have a very poor grade from the abortion rights groups.
A: But an 85 percent from Planned Parenthood.
R: Well, they provide a wide spectrum of women's health services, like mammograms and birth control.
A: Critics claim that the greatest percentage of their income comes from performing abortions, though.
R: Those critics are probably Republican smear merchants. They only care about children until they're born, after that, they don't care what happens. They would probably prefer that they get shot, like Michael Brown. Republicans hate black people, you know. Especially the teenage boys.
A: I can't imagine that's true!
R: I heard it from a reliable source, so it's true until Republicans prove it's not.
A: That hardly seems like a fair standard!
R: Hey, I don't make the rules!
A: But...as Senate Majority Leader and as a Mormon, don't you feel you have a responsibility to deal with people fairly?
A: Oh, I'm glad you brought that up! Some of your opponents say that your attacks on the Koch Brothers are just deflecting from the actual problems the nation faces, and that further, most of your claims are untrue.
R: Again, it's just something I heard. All they have to do is prove me wrong.
A: Forgive me, but that seems dishonest. I was under the impression that Mormons were very strict in their adherence to a code of honesty. I believe they even call honesty a "Gospel Principle" and include it as an Article of Faith...
R: Oh, we do, we do. But that's just when we are among other Mormons. When we are out amongst the non-believers, or, as we like to call them, the "Kaffir," we have a policy call "taqiyya" that allows us to selectively use, well let's call them half-truths and omissions that allow us to get what we need done when we have to deal with infidels. It's all in one of the Suras in the Book of Mormon.
A: So you believe that the Book of Mormon is in fact scriptural?
R: Of course! That's an amazing story, how the Book of Mormon was revealed to the world! In the early 1800s, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Peace be upon him, went into a cave outside a small town in Ohio...Medina, I think, and when he came out, he had the Book of Mormon with him.
A: I've not heard the story that way, are you sure that's right?
R: I've been a Mormon most of my adult life, I should think I know the story!
A: All right. You have said that you believe it is easier to be a Mormon and a Democrat than to be a Mormon and a Republican. Would you care to elaborate on that?
R: Well, Mormons take caring for others as part of their faith, and Democrats are obviously the party that cares for the poor and the suffering. I mean, Republicans don't even want them to have health care! And the way they treat women...shameful. And immodest. Besides that, our doctrine allows us a system of taxation called "jizya," where we can tax the heretics...er the haves... and use that money to help the people who need help.
A: You mean people who vote for Democrats, don't you?
R: Wouldn't you vote for the people who want to help you? They are our constituency, our people. We call them the Ummah, our people.
A: But, still, isn't it kind of immoral to take money from one person to give it to another for your own benefit?
A: Forget I asked.
R: No problem. Another reason it's easier to be a Democrat and a Mormon is that, well, we have a Plan for making things right...a Plan of Salvation. If we make sure everyone is on board, and make sure that everybody follows it exactly, then we can be sure that not one will be lost, even if we have to force them to do it.
A: Doesn't that fly in the face of being free to choose? Forcing everybody to follow one script?
A: Okay, never mind. Just one last thing before we wrap up here: What do you like the most about being a Mormon?
R: Oh, wow, let's see. I like the sense of ritual that comes with everything we do. I love going to Salt Lake City, where we all gather each year and walk meditatively in circles around a giant black cube made of brick. It sounds kind of weird, but it's amazingly peaceful and contemplative. I also love going to the temple, where we...I shouldn't really be telling this...where we go to make Covenants with Alla...our Heavenly Father, and then seal our determination to be faithful by bathing in the blood of a young goat.
R: But there's just so much I love, I could go on all night.
A: Well, thank you again, Senator Reid. I think the nation should be able to rest easy in the knowledge that they are led by a man with such a firm belief in Jesus Christ.