August 31, 2012
I found this piece in the Huffington Post interesting.
The author essentially is saying that if people look at the LDS Church’s history with race in context it’s clear why the Church has not fully rejected it racist practices of the past— they’ll have to admit they were wrong. Or more specifically that LDS Prophets, Seers and Revelators who boldly taught that the ban and doctrines behind were divine revelation were wrong. The author claims since there’s no way to do this without putting the whole idea of “prophetic reliability” at risk, critics of LDS racism should be patient with the Church and it’s members as they slowly work towards a solution.
The problem with that is, LDS have no reason to deal with their racist past unless there’s pressure to do so. Because the Priesthood ban ended in 1978 most LDS see little to worry about. This however ignores the uncomfortable fact that without a repudiation of the ban, the idea that God banned blacks based on their race is still out there— as is the idea that dark skin is the mark of divine cursing. These idea by themselves are extremely offensive even if the ban they inspired is no longer in force. It’s kind of like how most LDS women find the idea of plural marriage offensive even if it is no longer practiced. On face value alone these ideas are just wrong.
While appreciate the tight spot the LDS Church is in on this I don’t really think it is the job of anyone other than LDS to find a way out it. Sure, it’s good to see the problem in full context but that in no way means that Mormonism gets off the hook here. As my Mom used to always say, “They’ve made their bed. and now they have to sleep in it.” LDS should be cottled no more than those opposed the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement.
The good news is there are only really a few possible ways for the Church to address this — and they are pretty straight forward.
1- Return to teaching about the Priesthood ban and issues of race as it was taught til 1978— and be ready for a serious backlash from both within and without.
2- Continue to avoid addressing the ban and history of racial exclusion and avoid issues or racism by claiming no one knows the origin or reasons for the ban. Expect to be hassled about being dishonest and dodgy.
3- Officially and publicly reject the ban and the racist doctrine supporting it as errors of their time and apologize. Move on.
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