Apology to Blacks

Recently a BYU professor, Brother Bott, made an honest statement of beliefs, which most members of long-standing would have mirrored had they been asked to comment on the history & doctrines of the Church with regards to Africans, African Americans (formerly called Negroes) & the priesthood.

Unfortunately the Church response was less than honest & has disturbed active members & ex-members alike.

As a result a group of active Mormons & ex-Mormons in the UK have prepared a public media statement distancing ourselves from the Church’s dishonest & disingenuous News Statement made recently about the historic position of the Church in relation to Negroes.

We feel very strongly that an apology from the Church was in order.

If you feel likewise could you help our cause by posting it on your Facebook wall & other social media & Internet sites.

Our goal also includes eventually encouraging Mitt Romney to counter-sign, as we believe this will gain the maximum public inducement for the Church to consider a more honourable treatment of the truth in relation to its own history & the treatment of its current members, of every colour.

If you have any media contacts would you be able to promote it?

A PUBLIC APOLOGY

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

So runs the justifiably much celebrated introduction to the Declaration of Independence, which in 1776 marked the birth of the American nation, and a significant step forward in human enlightenment.

In 2012, we the undersigned, as a matter of conscience, make the following formal declaration, independent of the church with which we are or were formerly associated, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or “Mormon Church”), that we in no way subscribe to that church’s historical stance towards our African and African-American brothers and sisters.

We do so because in the 34 years since 1978, when our church, (for political and logistical reasons which are now becoming more apparent), permitted the same rights to all races, there has been no formal apology forthcoming from it to that race; this, despite the fact that Africans and African-Americans have been disparaged by it, frequently in the meanest terms, for over a century. We consider that the time is now long overdue for that regrettable deficiency to be redressed, if not by the institution which created it, then by the individual members, whose tacit support has enabled an injurious silence to prevail.

Specifically, we denounce the teachings of former spokespersons for the church, sustained by us or by our predecessors, as prophets, seers and revelators, which taught that Blacks were:

“uncouth, un-comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:290-291, [1859])

“placed under restrictions because of their attitude in the world of spirits… it being a punishment for some act, or acts, performed before they were born.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection : Short Discourses on Gospel Themes, 43. [1931])

“not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow there from…. It is the Lord’s doing.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 527-528, [1966])

And we further denounce deliberate attempts to cover up and misrepresent these facts to the present generation, especially as those misrepresentations relate to the many thousands of African and African-American converts who are currently members of the church. There are recent statements such as:

“I don’t know what the reason was.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, church president, when asked in a Compass interview in 1997 what the reason had been for the pre-1978 inequality).

“It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.” (Formal church response to article on racism, run by The Washington Post, 2012.)

In our view such statements are calculated to misrepresent the historical reality, and are an affront to decency, impugning the reputations of all whose names, even by inference, may be associated with them. We unequivocally denounce this pretended institutional amnesia as politically motivated, and immoral.

We further denounce the racist verses contained in The Book of Abraham, which, despite having been thoroughly discredited by Egyptologists in the 20th Century, remain to this day an integral part of church canon. The verses in question, (Abraham 1:21-24,27), support the teaching that Blacks were cursed, and were always inferior in their rights. We find no value in them, and reject them.

We apologize without reserve as individuals who, having been misled by such misguided teachings, unintentionally gave support to the view that the African race was in some way inferior to others. Lest there be any misunderstanding, we now therefore invoke the spirit of the American Declaration of Independence, and proclaim it to be self-evident that all men, and women, are created to enjoy equal rights and privileges. In so doing, we distance ourselves for all time from the opinions of any who may believe this was ever otherwise, and beg forgiveness for our tardiness in standing up as individuals for this vital truth.

We the undersigned ask you, our African and African-American brothers and sisters, to accept our hand in apology, with your forgiveness and friendship, sharing together in the hope and vision of Dr Martin Luther King, that together “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our [world] into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood [and sisterhood]. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day”.

To all the foregoing, we freely subscribe our names:

Please add your name to the campaign by adding a comment at:Apology to Blacks at MormonThinkUK

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6 Responses to Apology to Blacks

  1. Brian says:

    Here here. I am another TRUTH seeker. I was tought that when in the wrong i was to admit that i had erred, apologize to the offended party, pay restitution and never do it again. Time for the church to practice what it preaches.

  2. Albino says:

    Um, if this is an apology for racism, isn’t it best to remove the word “negro” from your introduction? Even the church hasn’t used this antiquated term since about 1978!

    • stevebloor says:

      Hi Albino,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You’re right.

      Unfortunately it’s just so in situations like this to become an “offender for a word”.

      We have changed the wording four times from Negro to Blacks to Africans/African American because different groups are culturally sensitive to each of the words.

      What is offensive in one country or social group is acceptable somewhere else & vice versa.

      Even the US Census Bureau included the term Negro on the 2010 census due to public pressure from African Americans who self-identify as Negroes.

      There is no one term which will keep everyone concerned happy!

      But thanks for your concern.

      It shows you care.

      Kind regards,
      Steve

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  4. Cindi says:

    I have been having a discussion with a friend of mine who is a member (I am no longer a member). One of the things she said to me is that very few black people were affected back then and shouldn’t we focus on the future instead of the past. This is both false and true. I feel there is a great need to address the past. If we don’t, we will never learn from it. Also, every member who heard what the leaders of the church had to say were affected. My own dad is a racist of sorts and I’m pretty sure of where it came from. As to focusing on the future, this petition is the type of thing I was grateful to sign. It shows that I’m willing to do something rather than just talk. Also, donating money that will help African people, standing up for better understanding of what divides blacks from whites in schools and in the workplace is in order. I hope to educate my kids in a very different way than I was educated in Utah, as well.

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