NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

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Roy
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NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by Roy » 11 Jun 2020, 14:19

the nation’s oldest civil rights organization and the church have become increasingly friendly, but their emerging partnership has not borne the fruits that some NAACP leaders had hoped.
While he supports the sentiments expressed in Monday’s article, Wil Colom, special counsel to the NAACP president, said the group “hasn’t seen very much” progress on joint projects.
The LDS Church has united with the historic black activists, the Medium piece said, to explore “ways to work together to improve self-reliance and upward mobility for inner-city and minority families.”

Indeed, the two organizations have collaborated on a handful of employment and education initiatives. But those were “minor efforts,” Colom said. They “do not befit the stature and magnitude of what the LDS Church can do and should do.”
The NAACP is “looking forward to the church doing more to undo the 150 years of damage they did by how they treated African Americans in the church,” Colom said, and by their “endorsement of how African Americans were treated throughout the country, including segregation and Jim Crow laws.”
Derrick Johnson — the NAACP president and CEO, who signed the op-ed with Nelson and who met in Salt Lake City with the Latter-day Saint leader in May 2018 — said Monday that Colom was authorized to speak for the organization.
[snip]
there seems to be “no willingness on the part of the church,” Colom said, “to do anything material.”
He looks forward “to their deeds matching their words,” he said. “It’s time now for more than sweet talk.”
https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/06 ... MTjZ9LZAao

I hope we can have this discussion in a respectful way and keep this largely apolitical. The church has had a poor history with what we now know to be racism. The church has made large strides in this area.
"Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” Race and the Priesthood essay published 12/13
I am contemplating a temple recommend question that would ask if the individual harbors racist views or in any way discriminates against others by the color of their skin.

Would such a question be effective at giving the church's stated opposition to racism some teeth? To me this is similar to the question about not forgetting your child support payments. What unintended negative ripple effects might result from such a question?

What other steps might the church make to reinforce it's commitment against racism?

Given how slowly the church moves (it was 20 years after the Manifesto that the church became really serious about discontinuing polygamy), are we expecting too much too fast from the church? The essay on Race and the Priesthood came out only 7 years ago. How much time might the "old guard" need to jettison old ways of thinking regarding race?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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nibbler
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by nibbler » 11 Jun 2020, 16:40

I had a reply that took a while to write but accidentally closed the tab. :crazy: This will be a quicker version of that post.
Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” Race and the Priesthood essay published 12/13
It's super easy to condemn racism. It's a zero risk position. I feel the NAACP was correct, change takes more than making no-risk statements and posing for a photo op.

One challenge is that very few people view themselves as espousing racist attitudes. We're blind to what we're blind to.

With regards to the TR interview question - it might be helpful in that it would get active, temple-going members to think about racism at least once every two years. On the other hand, I spend zero amount of time thinking about child support because I don't have a judgment for child support levied against me. Similarly I don't think many would think much about a racism question because we won't see ourselves as having that issue.

The church has a racist past. I think we need to start by acknowledging that. It's difficult to move forward without acknowledging where we are and it's hard to know where we are without looking at the past that got us here.

I think it will take a fundamental shift to our belief structure. Here's an example of what I believe our current belief structure to be (emphasis added):
Dallin Oaks - Be One 40th Anniversary Celebration wrote:I observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons. I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them. As part of my prayerful study, I learned that, in general, the Lord rarely gives reasons for the commandments and directions He gives to His servants. I determined to be loyal to our prophetic leaders and to pray—as promised from the beginning of these restrictions—that the day would come when all would enjoy the blessings of priesthood and temple. Now that day had come, and I wept for joy.
The shorthand some use to describe the mindset is "throwing god under the bus." We're still not at a place where we can say that a fallible man projected racial bias onto god. We're more concerned with preserving man's authority than we are with taking ownership for our mistakes. Another more controversial way of communicating the mindset, we can't overcome the racism in our culture if the god we worship is racist.

"Hey, I don't know why god told the leaders that, but I gotta support the leaders." isn't the start of a cultural change.
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

Arrakeen
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by Arrakeen » 11 Jun 2020, 17:27

The church has come a long way, but there's still a lot of racist ideas that get passed around. My parents were criticized by people in the church when they got married because they weren't of the same race. Being multi-racial, I always thought it was ridiculous when the Young Men's lesson on marriage included the quote about how you should marry someone from the same racial background. I mean, if I followed that, my dating pool would be extremely small. If I remember correctly they did finally take that out of the manual, but it wasn't that long ago.

I think part of the problem is the Church is not willing to come out and admit that past leaders taught racist ideas. They need to admit that past leaders taught things that were racist, then clearly disavow those teachings as not from God. As long as we do not clearly and unambiguously denounce some of the teachings of past prophets on race, there will always be members who read the old conference talks and either develop or justify harmful beliefs. We should stop making excuses for past leaders' harmful teachings and just accept that they were wrong.

As for a new temple recommend question, that could be interesting. The church did something similar for polygamy. Even though they used to teach polygamy as doctrine, they made it so you couldn't get get baptized, hold a temple recommend, or attend BYU without disavowing polygamy. So there is precedent.

I also think it might be good for the Church to recognize how much of its history and teachings are grounded in white, American culture. There could be a whole discussion on foreign missionary work and colonialism in the Church, but that's a somewhat different issue.

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DarkJedi
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Jun 2020, 06:52

I had read that same article referenced by Roy earlier this week and almost posted about it then but didn't have time. I do appreciate Roy sharing it.

I try not to be critical of the church or it's leaders, and sometimes that's a challenge for me. I think the church/leadership is just plain wrong about some things (such as LGBTQ issues) and off base on others. I agree the church should offer an apology for the way it treated those of African descent for 100 years. I agree they should do more to combat racism within the church and outside the church. Racism is alive and well in the church both overt and not. With few exceptions the top leadership is made up of those who know nothing but white privilege and won't/can't acknowledge that. Posting an essay that most members haven't read (and some who have read apparently don't comprehend) and then never mentioning anything from it or about it from the pulpit is not combating racism. Frankly my opinion of the "news" of Nelson and the NAACP is nothing more than a political photo op. And I think that's what I took away from the article - what has the church really done?

From the article (emphasis added):
While he supports the sentiments expressed in Monday’s article, Wil Colom, special counsel to the NAACP president, said the group “hasn’t seen very much” progress on joint projects.
The LDS Church has united with the historic black activists, the Medium piece said, to explore “ways to work together to improve self-reliance and upward mobility for inner-city and minority families.”
Just pause there for a moment and think about what self reliance means when it's discussed in your priesthood/RS meeting or ward council. Inevitably it comes down to "these people (Black, Latino, poor white trash, whatever) have the opportunity to do better and aren't taking advantage of what we're offering." You mean those wonderful 12 week discussion groups? Seriously? And what more do we offer? "You can get food from the bishop's storehouse - but not too long." IMO self reliance to most (white privileged) church members means they need to help themselves without our (or anybody else's) resources beyond some lip service and if they're not "trying" to do better they don't deserve our help anyway.
Indeed, the two organizations have collaborated on a handful of employment and education initiatives. But those were “minor efforts,” Colom said. They “do not befit the stature and magnitude of what the LDS Church can do and should do.”
(emphasis mine)

That last line really summed it up for me. The church can and should do so much more. Why don't they?
But there seems to be “no willingness on the part of the church,” Colom said, “to do anything material.”
He looks forward “to their deeds matching their words,” he said. “It’s time now for more than sweet talk.”
I will step off the soapbox.

(My wife started watching Downton Abbey recently and interestingly I got hooked. I can see some parallels in the aristocracy of the time and their lack of recognition that their world was changing under their noses and the current church leadership. The world is a different place and it's changing more every day. Like the European aristocracy a century ago, life as church leadership knows it is going to be very different very soon and they will not be able to carry on as they have - it will collapse under their feet.)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Arrakeen
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by Arrakeen » 12 Jun 2020, 15:27

It could also be interesting to look at changing how ward and stake boundaries are drawn to promote diversity with local units. I live in a city with a major demographic divide between the North and South, but the ward and stake boundaries are drawn as thin slices from East to West. This makes it so that local congregations are fairly homogeneous. If they instead ran North to South, you’d get a lot more diversity in all of the wards and stakes. When everyone you go to church with is the same as you, it can make it harder to learn how to interact with people who are different. Unfortunately I think some people like the lack of diversity at Church. At BYU I often heard things like “Isn’t it great to be in a place where we all have similar backgrounds and share the same beliefs?” I hate that.

Roy
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by Roy » 14 Jun 2020, 10:21

I agree with what has been said.

The church at current does not want to apologize for past treatment or prejudices because too many of our members (and probably our leaders) believe that the priesthood ban came from God. We do not want to do anything to rock the faith of our long term stalwart members that are more invested in the ban being divine. Maybe the church will pivot at some point to say that BY and other church leaders of the past felt the ban was warranted given their reading of available scriptures and the racist societal ideas of the time. That when the brethren finally came together to ask God on the subject 100+ years later, He told them to "Stop it!" That God himself repudiated and condemned the ban. It would not have been the first time that God chastened his people.

I personally like the TR recommend question because it costs virtually nothing but it serves as a gentle reminder that our modern church standard is that God loves all of his children and we have been commanded to do likewise. We apparently wanted parents that were behind on their child support payments to know that they shouldn't go to the temple in good conscience. The church turns at a glacial pace but maybe if we start having these conversations with our membership - that they cannot harbor racist ideas and still be right with God - then the next generation will be better prepared to take more substantive action.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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DarkJedi
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by DarkJedi » 15 Jun 2020, 05:14

Roy wrote:
14 Jun 2020, 10:21
The church turns at a glacial pace but maybe if we start having these conversations with our membership - that they cannot harbor racist ideas and still be right with God - then the next generation will be better prepared to take more substantive action.
I think that's the problem, that we aren't really having the conversations with the membership. I think the leadership, especially Pres. Nelson who seems very willing to do the photo ops even while still isolating from COVID, needs to be talking about it in GC on a regular basis saying the same kinds of things Pres. Nelson said at his photo op and quoting from the essay. I think the truth is outside the Corridor very few members keep up on church news or look at Deseret News or the Salt Lake Tribune. I'm not even sure very many in the Corridor keep up with church news. Likewise, I'm not sure the general membership visits churchofjesuschrist.org regularly or even at all. Great, Pres. Nelson's statement/photo op are front and center there but if only a relative handful see it, does it matter? (The idea most members don't visit the site is based on what I perceive as a general unfamiliarity with the site as I participate in lessons, particularly priesthood lessons.)

On bright side, I think our Millennial and Generation Z brothers and sisters generally have a much different view on race and other issues and will drive change from within.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

grobert93
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by grobert93 » 15 Jun 2020, 07:27

Roy wrote:
14 Jun 2020, 10:21
I agree with what has been said.

The church at current does not want to apologize for past treatment or prejudices because too many of our members (and probably our leaders) believe that the priesthood ban came from God. We do not want to do anything to rock the faith of our long term stalwart members that are more invested in the ban being divine. Maybe the church will pivot at some point to say that BY and other church leaders of the past felt the ban was warranted given their reading of available scriptures and the racist societal ideas of the time. That when the brethren finally came together to ask God on the subject 100+ years later, He told them to "Stop it!" That God himself repudiated and condemned the ban. It would not have been the first time that God chastened his people.

I personally like the TR recommend question because it costs virtually nothing but it serves as a gentle reminder that our modern church standard is that God loves all of his children and we have been commanded to do likewise. We apparently wanted parents that were behind on their child support payments to know that they shouldn't go to the temple in good conscience. The church turns at a glacial pace but maybe if we start having these conversations with our membership - that they cannot harbor racist ideas and still be right with God - then the next generation will be better prepared to take more substantive action.
I much prefer the idea of a temple recommend interview asking how we view and treat our fellow brothers and sisters than how we treat ourselves. I get why coffee and playing with ourselves is considered "evil" at church, but imagine if the questions were about sexual abuse, assault and race? Treating minorities and being loving? Imagine the difference in culture if the church practices christ like attributes.

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nibbler
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by nibbler » 15 Jun 2020, 08:22

Here's a quote I've seen in the bloggernacle:
i was taught more about how spaghetti strap tank tops were intolerable than racism
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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nibbler
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by nibbler » 15 Jun 2020, 08:34

With regards to the observation about spaghetti strap tank tops:

I think it's the result of falling into the same trap that we fall into where we often take Jesus for granted, resulting in Jesus not being emphasized as much as other subjects. The thought is, "Of course we believe in Jesus." so we talk about other things... but we should be talking about Jesus more.

Related to the subject, "Of course racism is bad." so we talk about other things... but racism is a problem and we should be talking about it more than we do.
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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