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.