With Mitt Romney running for president, Mormonism may again have a racial problem. In 1978, the LDS Church lifted its ban which kept blacks from holding the priesthood. But the 1978 statement did not address the theological background behind the ban and left two issues unresolved:
- the LDS Church did not formally apologize for the priesthood ban and
- the LDS Church did not publicly repudiated any of the theories used to justify it.
For me this is problematic. According to Daniel Burke writing for the Religion News Service (and published in the sltrib (1 Feb 2012)):
“Right now is a great opportunity for the [LDS] Church to say, ‘let’s clear the air once and for all,'” said Darron Smith, co-editor of the book Black and Mormon and a sociologist at Wichita State University in Kansas. “But they won’t do it. And that’s going to put reasonable doubt in people’s minds about Romney and the church.”
“The [black] issue hurt [George Romney] and it hurt the image of the Mormon church,” said Newell Bringhurst, a historian and co-author of The Mormon Quest for the Presidency.
It may mar Mitt Romney’s campaign too, Bringhurst said. “He’ll face more and more scrutiny on the Mormon-black issue, even though the church has abandoned the policy.”
“If the LDS Church were to apologize, that would be casting aspersions on God’s prophets–the voice of God on Earth,” said Richard Ostling, co-author of the book Mormon America. “I don’t think the Mormon soul could countenance it.”