This is an issue that just won’t go away, darn it! That’s frustrating to those mormons who don’t like the implications of racism in past (and current!) prophets of the LDS church. The LDS Church, in 1978, became the last major religion to fully integrate all races into it’s priesthood (though, still, women are left out).
The tactic taken by the Church over the past few years has been to remain silent on the racist priesthood ban for black members. Liberal mormons think that this speaks well on the issue; that the silence equals some semblance of admission of wrongdoing. Silence rarely means that, in any context, and especially in matters of church doctrine and official positions. More popularly, silence equals complicity.
So, why bring this up now? Well, in 2003, I was involved in some online discussions concerning this topic, and in the course of my research, I wrote some letters to LDS Public Affairs, and received some interesting responses from the Church. Those letters have been circulated around the net since, and I get occasional requests for copies of the letters. To make it easy, I’m posting copies of the letters here, on my blog, for all to see, copy and distribute. I only ask that you reference this post if you use the letters.
So, here they are:
My Original Letter to LDS Public Affairs, Aug. 4, 2003
Response from LDS Public Affairs, Aug. 14, 2003
Response “Envelope” from LDS Public Affairs
My follow-up letter
The follow-up response
The follow-up envelope
The primary question that I was teasing out in these letters was the question of attribution of the source of the racist ban. Is it the position of the LDS Church that this racist policy has its origin with God or fallible men? The historical position of the LDS Church has always been that the source of the racist ban was with God. And, my 2003 letters show that the LDS Church, still, maintains that position.
As I was taught clearly in LDS Sunday School, the first step to repentance is confession of guilt. I’m still waiting for the LDS Church to begin the process of repenting. By remaining silent, by maintaining the position that God is the source of the racist ban, mormon’s are still teaching racist doctrines to their membership, still contributing in a material way to racism within the world.
In other words, according to them, mormons aren’t racist, God is!