I think many LDS Church members would like to believe that historic Church teachings about afro-Americans didn’t impact individual behavior.  These members might want to consider the following:

The following is quoted from the recent David O. McKay biography:  “Within Utah at that time (1950s), discrimination was rampant.  In November of the same year (1954), W. Miller Barbour, a field director for the National Urban League, published a report in Frontier magazine:  “In large areas of Utah, Nevada, and southern Arizona, and in most of the smaller towns, the discrimination is almost as severe as in the south.””

Those who might consider this an exaggeration should consider the following:  “McKay’s first civil rights challenge as church president came only days after he was sustained to that position in 1951.  Nobel Laureate Ralph J. Bunche visited SLC to speak at the UofU and was booked at the church-owned Hotel Utah, then the grandest hotel in town.  Upon arriving, however, he was refused accommodation by the hotel, whose policy was to exclude blacks.  Only after obtaining McKay’s consent did the hotel management make a one-time exception to its policy and allow Bunche to stay–on condition that he take all his meals in his room.”

Church teachings do have a strong impact on the behavior of its members.  This relationship should be carefully considered before Church leaders take any unnecessary forays into issues that may lead to discrimination and heartbreak, particularly as it relates to the gay community both inside and outside the Church.

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3 Responses to Discrimination

  1. Roger Hansen says:

    According to the recent biography of President David O. McKay:

    “While generally not a participant in the public debate on civil rights, (Joseph Fielding Smith’s lack of sensativity to the issue was revealed by his 1963 statement published in a national magazine and widely quoted thereafter: “Darkies’ are wonderful people, and they have their place in our Church.””

    “He (Harold B. Lee) was one of the outspoken opponents of civil rights among McKay’s advisors. As a member of the Board of Trustees of BYU he was in favor of barring blacks entirely from the university. In 1960 he scolded BYU President Ernest L. Wilkinson for the presence of black students on campus, saying, “If a granddaughter of mine should ever go to the BYU and become engaged to a colored boy there, I would hold you responsible.” His daughter confided to a friend, “My daddy said that as long as he’s alive, they’ll never have the priesthoold,” a prediction that proved to be correct.”

  2. Roger Hansen says:

    C. Robert Mesle in Process-Relational Philosophy starts out:

    “Ideas shape actions, so it matters how we think about reality, the world, and ourselves. I don’t mean that only people who believe in one particular religion or philosophy can be good or intelligent people. But, clearly, it does matter how we think about the world.”

  3. Roger Hansen says:

    Also from the DOM biography:

    “Early in 1968, he (Ezra Taft Benson) asked McKay for permission to become the vice presidential candidate on the third-party ticket of Alabama Governor George C. Wallace. Unlike McKay’s quasi-encouragement for Benson’s earlier presidential aspirations with Strom Thurmond, this one met with McKay’s immediate and unambiguous rejection.”

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