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Mark Paredes is the author of "Jews and Mormons" blog for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and served as a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Los Angeles. He served as a U.S. diplomat at the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv from 1994 to 1996 and the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara, Mexico from 1991 to 1993. He also worked as the press attaché for the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, the National Director of Hispanic Outreach for the American Jewish Congress, and the Executive Director of the Western Region of the Zionist Organization of America.
Mormons and Jews
Paredes speaks on Mormon–Jewish relations around the world, both in the U.S. and in 13 European countries. He writes extensively on the subject including a regular column in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
Paredes was raised in Bay City, Michigan. Paredes joined the LDS Church with his family in 1979. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Italy. He studied law at the University of Texas, received a B.A. in Italian from BYU, and studied Russian at the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys. He speaks seven languages fluently and has lived in five countries.
Paredes is currently a member of the LDS Church's Los Angeles California Stake and the church's Southern California Public Affairs Council, where he serves on the Jewish Relations Committee. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the BYU Management Society's Los Angeles chapter. In April 2013, Paredes was made bishop of the Los Angeles Wilshire Ward.
Paredes married Florina Paredes in the Los Angeles Temple in January 2012. Florina is a native of Romania whom Paredes met in Bucharest while on a speaking tour of Europe. They are the parents of two daughters and a son.
Paredes' November 2014 blog post "Good riddance to Harry Reid, the Mormon Senate leader" generated controversy and received criticism from LDS Church spokesman Dale Jones for "publishing such views while using a title of a church officer, even if only as a leader of a local congregation as in this case." In his post, Paredes implied that then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not worthy to enter an LDS temple, due to his leadership position in the Democratic Party and some of his associated political views, which Paredes claimed included support for abortion rights, gay marriage and the Nevada gambling industry. The LDS Church is officially neutral toward political parties,  Top leaders of the church have indicated concern over the perception of church members primarily supporting a single party. and have counseled to separate disagreement over policy from personal attacks on the people supporting those policies. Paredes later added a disclaimer to the blog post, and apologized for the tone of his comments. Paredes had been critical of Reid in past posts, and other Mormons have contested Reid's faith because of his politics.
- Wecker, Menachem (2010-07-27). "Jewish-Mormon Relations: Mark Paredes Leads the Way". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
- Paredes, Mark (2012-02-13), "My Eternal Israelite Marriage", Jews and Mormons blog, jewishjournal.com, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
- Paredes, Mark (2014-11-06). "Good riddance to Harry Reid, the Mormon Senate leader". Jews and Mormons blog, jewishjournal.com, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
'Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?' – Interview question for church members wishing to enter a Mormon temple ... As a bishop, one of my responsibilities is to interview members who wish to enter Mormon temples. During our conversation, I have to ask them 13 or 14 questions ... One of the questions appears above, and I do not know how someone who is a standard-bearer for the Democratic Party can respond in the negative. ... My disgust with Reid’s political prostitution comes from my weekly counseling sessions with Mormons who are serious about their religion ... Sadly, Harry Reid apparently believes that the church’s teachings on the evils of gambling, abortion, and same-sex marriage don’t apply to opportunistic politicians. I have no problem with an average Mormon in the pew who supports the Democratic Party because one of its issues or positions appeals to him. However, occupying a national Democratic leadership position is an entirely different matter. 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.
- Stack, Peggy Fletcher (November 7, 2014). "Harry Reid not a worthy Mormon? LDS Church, Dems cry foul". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 2014-12-12.
In the aftermath of this week's elections, an LDS bishop in Los Angeles set off political fireworks by asserting in a blog that Mormon Sen. Harry Reid was not worthy to enter one of the faith's temples for his support of Democratic Party stances. The response to the piece, "Good Riddance to Harry Reid, the Mormon Senate leader," from many Latter-day Saints on social media — and even the Utah-based faith's public-affairs arm — was immediate and critical.Reprinted by the Washington Post
- Woodruff, Daniel (November 7, 2014), LDS bishop under fire for attacking Harry Reid, Democrats, KUTV
- Crandall, Matthew (November 10, 2014), In Defense of Harry Reid, RealClearPolitics
- Peterson, Daniel C. (November 10, 2014), "Mormon bishop apologizes over anti-Reid blog", Sic et Non (blog), Patheos
- Picht, Jim (November 11, 2014), "Mia Love and Harry Reid: Mormon unicorns", Communities Digital News
- Wotherspoon, Dan (November 12, 2014), "Episode 258: Question 7 [of temple recommend interview]", Mormon Matters
- Editorial Board (November 13, 2014), "Our View: Politics and religion", Standard-Examiner
- Myers, Dennis (November 22, 2014), "Hansen: Reid can use Nazi defense", Reno News & Review
- "21.1.29: Administrative Policies § Political and Civic Activity", Handbook 2: Administering the Church, LDS Church, 2010,
While affirming the right of expression on political and social issues, the Church is neutral regarding political parties, political platforms, and candidates for political office. The Church does not endorse any political party or candidate. Nor does it advise members how to vote. However, in some exceptional instances the Church will take a position on specific legislation, particularly when it concludes that moral issues are involved. Only the First Presidency can speak for the Church or commit the Church to support or oppose specific legislation or to seek to intervene in judicial matters. Otherwise, stake presidents and other local leaders should not organize members to participate in political matters or attempt to influence how they participate.
Church members are encouraged to consider serving in elected or appointed public offices in local and national government. Candidates for public office should not imply that their candidacy is endorsed by the Church or its leaders. Church leaders and members should also avoid statements or conduct that might be interpreted as Church endorsement of any political party, platform, policy, or candidate.
- "First Presidency Urges Citizen Participation". Ensign. April 1998.
[W]e strongly urge men and women to be willing to serve on school boards, city and county councils and commissions, state legislatures, and other high offices of either election or appointment, including involvement in the political party of their choice.
- Ayres, B. Drummon, Jr. (May 22, 1998). "Political Briefing; A Democratic Mormon Offers Hope in Utah". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-13.
- Harrie, Dan (May 3, 1998). "GOP Dominance Troubles Church; It hurts Utah, says general authority, disavowing any perceived Republican-LDS Link; LDS Official Calls for More Political Diversity". Salt Lake Tribune. NewsBank archive article ID: 100F27A0D62170FB. Archive of online reprint by UtahCountyDems.com
- "Transcript of Marlin Jensen Interview". Latter-day Reference. Kevin Ashworth. April 22, 1998. Retrieved 2015-01-13.
- Stevenson, Freeman (October 9, 2013), "Prominent Mormons in politics and government", Deseret News,
An LDS Apostle for 29 years, Faust was also a Democrat in the Utah House of Representatives. He is noted for supporting a strong two-party system and urging members to run for office. 'It is in the interest of the Church to have a two-party system ... Both locally and nationally, the interest of the Church and its members are served when we have two good men or women running on each ticket, and then no matter who is elected, we win.'
- Oaks, Dallin H. (November 2014), "Loving Others and Living with Differences", Ensign,
The Savior taught that contention is a tool of the devil. That surely teaches against some of the current language and practices of politics. Living with policy differences is essential to politics, but policy differences need not involve personal attacks that poison the process of government and punish participants. All of us should banish hateful communications and practice civility for differences of opinion.
- "Disclaimer for my non-Mormon readers: Although they head congregations, Mormon bishops aren't spokesmen for the LDS Church. All of the opinions expressed in the essays on this blog are my own, and I am responsible for them."
See: 2014-11-07 07:54:45 (UTC) archive of the webpage as found at the Internet Archive, the same day as the Salt Lake Tribune article; the disclaimer did not appear on the and earlier snapshots.
- Griffith, Martin (November 9, 2014). "Mormon bishop apologizes over anti-Reid blog". Salt Lake City: KSL. (AP). Archived from the original on 2015-01-12.
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 ... 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.Reprinted by Fox News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, The Blaze, Talking Points Memo, Idaho State Journal
- Paredes, Mark (2012-08-14). "Who's the better Mormon, Mitt or Harry?". Jews and Mormons blog, jewishjournal.com, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
On this issue Sen. Reid's stance is not a liberal Mormon position; it is an anti-Mormon one.
- Burr, Thomas (October 26, 2009). "Harry Reid: A Mormon in the middle". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2015-01-13.
'I think some of the most unChristian-like letters, phone calls, contacts I've had were from members of the [LDS] church, saying some of the most mean things that are not in the realm of our church doctrine or certainly Christianity,' Reid said last week during an interview in his office. ... He recalls a time when his grandchildren were trick-or-treating at a local LDS ward event and came upon a poster featuring a picture of the Devil and Reid, and asking 'Can you tell the difference?' 'I remember it,' Reid says when asked how he deals with the criticism, 'but I try not to let people who do not represent the teachings that I have learned interfere with my basic beliefs.'
- McFarland, Sheena (October 9, 2007). "Reid tells BYU crowd that socially responsible Dems mirror Mormon values". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Brigham Young University students Tuesday that is possible to be a good Mormon and a Democrat. 'My faith and political beliefs are deeply intertwined. I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon, not in spite of it,' ... Reid said people often question how he can be a Democrat and a Mormon, but called the social responsibility Democrats espouse a good fit with the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ... However, Reid says he doesn't have to answer to those who question his faith in the LDS Church. 'I have to go get my [temple] recommend, and they're not present,' he quipped.
- Walch, Tad (October 10, 2007). "Reid gets warm reception at BYU". Deseret News. Retrieved 2015-01-13.
He doesn't listen to church members who question his faithfulness, he told reporters. 'I don't have to answer to any of them. When I go to get my (temple) recommend, they're never present.'
- Paredes, Mark (August 22, 2011), "Middle East Matters: Glenn Beck in Israel: saint or sinner?", Deseret News
- Gabriel, Ana Maria (March 1, 2003), "Learning from others in diplomatic ranks: Press attache has fascination with people, cultures, languages", Church News
- Rosenberg, Yair (June 19, 2014), "Mormon Bishop Is on a Mission To Promote Jewish Missionaries", Tablet Magazine
- Siegel, Jennifer (May 25, 2007), "Mormon's Jewish Outreach Aims To Rebuild Bridges", The Jewish Daily Forward
- Greenberg, Brad A. (May 30, 2007), "L.A.'s famous philo-Semite", The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
- Greenberg, Brad A. (March 5, 2009), "Zionist Organization's New Mormon Director: Q&A With Mark Paredes", The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
- Haddock, Sharon (August 29, 2009), "Zionist organization president taking his Mormonism to Europe", Deseret News
- Haddock, Sharon (September 23, 2009), "Firesides build bridges between LDS and Jews", Deseret News
- Jarvik, Elaine (October 6, 2007), "LDS, Jewish ties are strong: Mormons show 'a continuous record of support,' expert says", Deseret News
- Jarvis, Catherine (September 11, 2010), "Jews, Mormons share common threads in interfaith fireside", Deseret News
- Stack, Peggy Fletcher (January 14, 2011). "Mormons, Jews share a special bond, speaker says; Former diplomat points to similar beliefs and LDS backing of Israel". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Toone, Trent (January 7, 2011), "Mormons and Jews share theological connections", Deseret News
- Toone, Trent (February 28, 2011), "Bloggers trumpet bond between Mormons and Jews", Deseret News