Episode 55: Church History in Black and White — Examining Mormonism’s Racial Past

The LDS church has a complicated history in race relations, and that history continues to shape the experience of church members today. But what does LDS racial history look like, and how do church members today experience its effects?

Join Kaimi, Janan, Trine and Danielle for a discussion about the experience of race and the LDS community (with a particular focus on women’s issues), both through church history and into the 21st Century.

(Image: Wikicommons)

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  1. The church never really admits to any wrongdoing. According to the D & C we still believe in polygamy. The brethren are saying very different things about homosexuality, but they will never say what Kimble said was wrong when he said masterbation causes homosexuality and homosexuality causes beastyality. When the church built the mountain meadows monument they never said they had anything to do with it. In all of these causes we have Mormons assuming that the lake of clarification means that the church or its leaders never did or said anything in error, and by extension all these things were straight from God. In the same way 1978 and even this year’s change of the intro to declaration two lack of acknowledgment of racism give some church members reasons to hang on to racist beliefs. As long as we are required to see the Book of Mormon’s doctrine of black skin being a curse our church still supports and preaches a racist theology.

  2. Great podcast. I wanted to add my two bits as a White Mormon from Utah. People talk about the Randy Botts fiasco as if it were an anomaly. “Oh no! He said that in the Washington Post even though we don’t talk that way anymore. Shame on him for using folk doctrine!” Actually, we do talk that way. Its not just Professor Botts. I grew up being taught that garbage, even though the Black priesthood ban ended when I was a baby. I had a conversation with fellow Mormons just a few weeks ago in which they explained to me that discriminating against Blacks was God’s will clear until 1978; it just happens not to be now. Because the church never said, “We’re sorry. That was wrong,” people still feel like they need to develop a testimony and encourage others to develop a testimony that the ban was right, at least, at that time it was right. Statements on the church website (which remain there today) imply that God implemented the ban. It is inapropriate and even blasphemous to blame God for this policy. Doing so only encourages church members to “defend God” by justifying this sad event from our past and carrying the racist ideas to future generations, even if the racist policy has been forsaken.

    I firmly believe that the church must “confess” and apologize for this offense. I was glad to hear you discuss using the language of scripture to apply the repentance process to institutional racism. I wrote about how I believe the scriptural repentance process applies to this issue here: http://www.the-exponent.com/confessing-and-forsaking-institutional-sins/

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