LDS Church’s Historic Racism

In a recent column in the sltrib.com, Robert Kirby opined:

The LDS Church will spend until Kingdom Come living down our past discrimination toward black people.  We earned the finger-pointing and the hypersensitivity, thanks to our past behavior.

We can prove that we’re trying to get past it by being more careful when it comes to the color pallet we use for sin.

Responding to Kirby’s opinion column, James M. Evans, in a letter to the editor, rationalized:

All religions in America and around the world have had some level of racial discrimination in their past.  Today, the lens through which a church’s past is discussed in the media has everything to do with whether that church is seen as religiously conservative or progressive.  For example, LDS Church membership went from being primarily all white in the 1800s to a majority of its 15.6 million members being nonwhite today. And if the LDS Church was seen as progressive, it would be heralded as a champion of racial inclusion for this fact alone. But since it is seen as religiously conservative, this fact is overlooked and we end up with articles like Kirby’s.

There is so much wrong with Evans defense that it’s hard to know where to start.  But here goes:

  • The “only true church,” should have been above discrimination.  To say that others did it, so it was okay for the LDS Church, it is a poor defense.
  • While the rest of the United States was starting to clean up its act in the 1960s, the LDS Church didn’t start until 1978, well over 10 years too late.
  • The LDS Church still hasn’t cleaned up it racial discrimination problems.  Some members are still blaming God for the priesthood and temple ban.  There has been no apology.  There has been no overt admission that it was Brigham Young’s prejudice that lead to the ban and that subsequent Presidents went along with it until 1978.
  • Evans points out that the LDS Church is now global, but he forgets that the leadership is lily-white and acts more like a provincial organization that a global one.
  • Etc.

Kirby’s observations are perfectly accurate and members of the LDS Church need to deal with its past history of racism in a forthright manner.  Not continue to come up with lame excuses.

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This entry was posted in mormonism, Personal Essays, Religion, Social Justice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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