Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The LDS church and racial discrimination

I am hardly able to contain myself at the traction a recent article in the Washington Post on the history of blacks in the LDS church has been getting today. At the latest count (the time this post was published), there were 787 comments on there. First, I saw that LDS church apologist Daniel C. Petersen posted an entry on his blog (which has the same layout as mine...hmmm...well mine was up long before his ;-) weighed in on the article. Daniel appeared to attempt to distance himself from fellow BYU professor Randy Bott's comments in the article. Then the church came out with an "official" statement that reads:

"The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church. It is unfortunate that the Church was not given a chance to respond to what others said.

The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.

For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent.  It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.

We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church."
Which is interesting because the page this statement is on also contains a link to an expanded quote outlining the church's official position on the matter. This statement contains the following paragraph:

Official Statement

"The Church and Race: "All Are Alike Unto God"

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, “black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the Church’s official teaching."
Hmmm. So I wonder what qualifies this scripture to be an "official" teaching of the church? If it is solely the fact that it is contained in the Book of Mormon, well, the Book of Mormon also says in 2 Nephi 5:21-23 that:
"21...he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done."
This would also appear to be an "official" teaching of the church. I don't know how the church can expect to have it both ways...unless they edit the Book of Mormon again to take out ALL of the racist teachings and beliefs. Because as far as I can tell, these things are still in the Book of Mormon plain as day. It's just too bad there is no real ability to hold the church leaders accountable for their duplicity in these things. So sad indeed.

1 comment:

  1. By the way, note to Randy Bott; this is what happens to you when you associate yourself with an organization (the church) that has no official doctrinal stance on anything, but has a rich history of doctrinal stances in its past - or past doctrinal positions that easily lead to speculation because of a lack of current explanations. Just as Satan will "supposedly" abandon his followers in the last day, so too will the church abandon anyone who takes a stand on controversial issues and presents their best guess for current doctrine based on the historical statements and positions of the church. Sucks to be an outspoken defender of the faith I would say.