NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

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On Own Now
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by On Own Now » 15 Jun 2020, 11:15

Hi All,

Just stopping by for a quick thought.

I think it is useful to start with a couple of concepts:

1- religion has always been discriminatory. From the very beginning of the Judeo-Christian tradition, God had a Chosen People. Religious groups take on a self-appointed form of us-vs-them. Paganism wasn't any better. Certain gods protected certain towns from the opposition. Bigger civilizations had more powerful gods. When Christianity first appeared, it was an amazing combination of traditional Jews and unconventional Gentiles looking to the same God and Christ together. But differences persisted. And as the numbers toppled in heavy favor of non-Jewish adherents, division crept in. Eventually, the Judaic roots of Christianity were minimized, even to the point of blaming the Jews for Jesus' demise. The author of 'Luke' can never find fault with the Romans. Since the Gospel of Luke was written from a Gentile perspective in a Roman world, the blame was fully on the Jews. This made sense from the writer's perspective.

2- we ALL have overpoweringly strong biases. Race plays a factor. Gender plays a factor. Nationality plays a factor. Education level, age, economic wrung, regionality, type-of-work... all these things are at play in our minds. If you think these don't affect you in a way that you deplore in others, just recognize that it's much harder to see in yourself or in your friends, but these are the exact same traits that you see with flashing red lights in others.

Now, to the topic of what the Church is doing and whether it is enough.

People and organizations are going to have different approaches to solve problems. This is largely due to their seeing problems differently and to formulating ways-ahead that make sense to them based on their own life experiences. Since we already know that any group of people will see problems in different ways and solutions in different ways, it cannot be surprising that there will be nay-sayers no matter what approach is settled upon. If I look at my own view the world, I find that it is very different from the way some others view it. When facing a problem at work, I have often used the mantra: "I don't care how we got to here, I'm just trying to figure out where we go from here." In the case of my own children, I used to say, "I don't want you to tell my you are 'sorry', I just don't want you to do it again." In other words, for me, I think predominately in the sense of the future. This, in turn, leads me to conclusions even about things like basic 'gospel' principles. I don't see 'reconciliation' as restoring something that was lost but about attaining something that was never present before. I cringe whenever I hear the teaching that the purpose of our life is to "return to live with our Heavenly Father". Why did we ever leave? But for other people, the opposite is what makes sense. To them the future is not secure until we rectify the past. My wife told me many times that she wouldn't mind if the kids WOULD say they were sorry.

The Church's approach is to try to build bridges. In my mind they are trying to demonstrate to the average member that this is the true us. Even if it is absolutely nothing else, it is a substantial symbol of desire to move forward in friendship. Prior to this, the Church had similar symbolic gestures to cooperate with the Catholic Church. If we are more friendly toward the the Catholic Church and toward the NAACP, I'm not sure what the downside is.

Is it enough? It depends on how you approach problems like this. For the Church, they seem to be taking the long-view. Change the hearts and minds of the people. For others, this won't seem fast enough. Maybe this is a little like a young progressive friend of mine who recently stated that the only way to have real change was for older people to die off.

For those who want more, I suspect they have the idea that if the Church has such a stranglehold on the minds of its members, it can change their hearts and minds via declaration, right?

Yet, in General Conference in 2006 (14 years ago, and 28 years after the lifting of the Ban), GBH said this:
Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.

Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?

Throughout my service as a member of the First Presidency, I have recognized and spoken a number of times on the diversity we see in our society. It is all about us, and we must make an effort to accommodate that diversity.

Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.

Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such. --GBH, GC, 2006
So, is the Church going too far, just right or not far enough? It depends on our own perspective.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
- - -

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

Post by Roy » 17 Jun 2020, 09:00

Thank you OON. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

The church also seems to want to resist anything that might be seen as reacting to outside pressure. Maybe new anti-racism initiatives will be devised now but not put in place for several years once anti-racism initiatives are no longer as trendy.

Great quote from GBH. Any new initiative would probably use that quote to show that we have been fighting racism for decades.
"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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hawkgrrrl
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by hawkgrrrl » 17 Jun 2020, 16:17

I've been thinking and reading a lot on this topic. In short, the Church would like credit for being against racism, but they are equally against eroding white privilege, facing their racist teachings, and doing anything that might go against GOP principles.

https://wheatandtares.org/2020/06/17/i- ... it-racist/

https://wheatandtares.org/2020/06/10/defund-the-police/

https://wheatandtares.org/2020/06/03/wh ... -learning/

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

Post by Katzpur » 17 Jun 2020, 20:54

Roy wrote:
11 Jun 2020, 14:19
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?
I'm not sure this would really accomplish anything. Hardly anybody in the Church would actually admit to "harboring racist views." They'd tell themselves that as long as they disagree with lynching or Jim Crow laws, they were open-minded and non-discriminatory. Besides, I really lean towards having fewer, not more, temple recommend questions. It's like we're looking for reasons to keep people out of the temple. I'd be happiest with a single question along the lines of "Do you believe you're worthy to go to the temple." I know that's not ever going to happen, but the micromanagement of our lives is just something I can't get on board with.
What other steps might the church make to reinforce it's commitment against racism?
I think we could start by being brutally honest with ourselves and not just dismiss the issue by saying, "Well, that was a long time ago. Things are different now. Why dwell on the past?" We have to admit that the Church had discriminatory practices in place and stop whitewashing history in that regard. We wouldn't need to vilify Brother Brigham, but we could at least admit to ourselves that he had some racist beliefs. We could teach our kids the truth instead of trying to make excuses for the decisions that impacted thousands of our Black brothers and sisters.

I don't know if anybody has seen the petition that's going around on Facebook about it being time for Mormons to apologize, but I shared it on my timeline. I've got a lot of likes -- just none from members of the Church. This may be the thing that may convince my ward members that I'm truly the renegade they've long suspected I am.
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." ~Rudyard Kipling ~

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

Post by nibbler » 21 Jun 2020, 07:31

Roy wrote:
11 Jun 2020, 14:19
What other steps might the church make to reinforce it's commitment against racism?
I wanted to report on a really good SM (streamed meeting) I saw Sunday.

Two African American members gave a talk and they talked about racism with the kid gloves off. It was the most powerful meeting I've heard in a church setting in over a decade.

They addressed current events and their experiences of being on the receiving end of racism growing up. Where it really started to hit home was when they talked about racism that their children have faced. I know I've fallen into the trap of thinking, "Well yeah, that was a long time ago, this is 2020." It was eye opening to hear stories of things that their children have suffered in the here and now.

One of the speakers, a counselor in the SP, talked about specific instances of racism that their children have faced at church. They pointed out how in some cases the lesson manuals were the source of the racist remarks.

The talks were relevant, eye opening, and powerful.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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On Own Now
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by On Own Now » 21 Jun 2020, 08:48

nibbler, that's great! Is there any way to access the SM after the live stream?

the reason this can be so powerful is that it's harder to ignore what someone says if they are closer to your own group. Sort of like how LDS people tend to be unsympathetic toward of LGBTQ+ unless they have a family member in that group and then they are much more sympathetic (usually). I think hearing this kind of dialog from members of the Church in a Church (SM) setting would do a lot of good.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
- - -

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Ilovechrist77
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 21 Jun 2020, 21:02

I'm not sure this would really accomplish anything. Hardly anybody in the Church would actually admit to "harboring racist views." They'd tell themselves that as long as they disagree with lynching or Jim Crow laws, they were open-minded and non-discriminatory. Besides, I really lean towards having fewer, not more, temple recommend questions. It's like we're looking for reasons to keep people out of the temple. I'd be happiest with a single question along the lines of "Do you believe you're worthy to go to the temple." I know that's not ever going to happen, but the micromanagement of our lives is just something I can't get on board with.
I agree I've been guilty of harboring of racist views, Katzpur. And my mom has too, although we're normally nice people and people that know us would agree. And I've had prejudice against gays too. Having my faith transition and having a gay nephew and a bisexual nephew, they're my brother's young adult sons, has helped me to have more Christ-like feelings towards them. Forgive me if I offend anyone when I say this next sentence. Many of these racist views have been brought on by many factory jobs being unavailable to white people because they were more available to Mexican minorities. I don't know if that really true or not, but it's hard at times to not feel racist even mildly if certain jobs are given to just minorities. I wasn't trying offend anyone. I was just saying how I've felt. Since I've been living on Social Security Disability alone, due to my psychiatrist's recommendations, I haven't had a job since 2010 or a little before that anyway. When it comes to temple questions, I would agree that we need fewer, not more temple questions. Like you, I also agree it would be better if the bishops and stake presidents just asked the question "Do you believe you're worthy to go to the temple?" After my faith transition, I no longer believe that temple ordinances are required for exaltation. I believe now that they are just symbolic means that can help people learn to love like God loves. A way of becoming one with God and with others. I don't believe everyone needs the ordinances to do so. It's apparent from reading the Doctrine And Covenants that Joseph's brother Alvin needed to temple ordinances. I know some will say different, but I think Alvin progressed far enough spiritually that he didn't need them.

When it comes to blacks, I also agree it would be if the General Authorities, particularly President Nelson, officially apologize for what former leaders said in the past regarding black males being denied the priesthood because they were less valiant in the Pre-mortal Existence. Somehow I ended hearing about the blacks not being allowed the priesthood from my mission companion in my first area through some mild argument. I was shocked when I heard that! I told him I believed the leaders made a mistake in not allowing blacks the priesthood, although the reason why he told me because that's what the prophets are the time were inspired to do. He also told me to not be like the Jehovah's Witnesses and lose faith in the church over issues like this. Unfortunately, in door-to-door tracting, he would sometimes say to the people who refused to hear us, "We're not Jehovah's Witnesses." My mission companion was a nice guy and served the Lord to the best of his ability, but, as you can plainly tell, he was bit prejudiced to Jehovah's Witnesses and he had too much reliance on the religious institution and its leaders as many members have and I have had in the past.

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

Post by grobert93 » 22 Jun 2020, 07:48

nibbler wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 07:31
Roy wrote:
11 Jun 2020, 14:19
What other steps might the church make to reinforce it's commitment against racism?
I wanted to report on a really good SM (streamed meeting) I saw Sunday.

Two African American members gave a talk and they talked about racism with the kid gloves off. It was the most powerful meeting I've heard in a church setting in over a decade.

They addressed current events and their experiences of being on the receiving end of racism growing up. Where it really started to hit home was when they talked about racism that their children have faced. I know I've fallen into the trap of thinking, "Well yeah, that was a long time ago, this is 2020." It was eye opening to hear stories of things that their children have suffered in the here and now.

One of the speakers, a counselor in the SP, talked about specific instances of racism that their children have faced at church. They pointed out how in some cases the lesson manuals were the source of the racist remarks.

The talks were relevant, eye opening, and powerful.
I love this. I think we forget it's not just the top leadership being sexist, racist and otherwise ignorant of the reality of our world, but it's down to local members too. It may be 2020, but there are still people who believe the earth is flat, NASA is fake, vaccines make people autistic and so on. I have the hope that in the next 20-50 years the next generations coming through can help continue to clean up the old school habits that we still see.

Minyan Man
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Re: NAACP, the Church, and modern race relations

Post by Minyan Man » 28 Aug 2020, 20:34

I wanted to bring this post back in light of the recent social unrest, etc.
I live in a large metropolitan area. We have our share of demonstrations, violence & racial unrest.
There has been nothing (zero) come from our stake to condemn the violence or support the equal rights
movement. Has anyone heard anything from the leadership in your area? The church almost seems
afraid to say anything. It seems like it is a lost opportunity to stand up & take a position.

I found this article online from BYU.I found it interesting.
https://universe.byu.edu/2020/06/23/bla ... us-sphere/

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

Post by NoahVail » 30 Aug 2020, 13:59

On Own Now wrote:
15 Jun 2020, 11:15
Maybe this is a little like a young progressive friend of mine who recently stated that the only way to have real change was for older people to die off.
As an oldish person, I agree w/ this.
Katzpur wrote:
17 Jun 2020, 20:54
Hardly anybody in the Church would actually admit to "harboring racist views."
I'll admit to it and that I probably don't understand them.
Minyan Man wrote:
28 Aug 2020, 20:34
There has been nothing (zero) come from our stake to condemn the violence or support the equal rights movement. Has anyone heard anything from the leadership in your area?
Politics 2020 is fueled by demeaning and degrading people. We need our leaders need to leave it at the door. Some do that already. Some struggle in varying degrees. Every blue moon our Bishop will dogwhistle some RW thing from the pulpit. The latest was calling for deliverance from riots.

I agree that reference was a small thing, like a little bit of porn. But it's also effective at helping the spirit out the door. Afterward, my father-in-law met with him and the stake president about it. The following Sundays have felt better to me.

I do believe our bishop wants Sunday to be spiritually safe. However, he's surrounded by vocal RW'rs (the ward majority) and I imagine that complicates finding a non-political space - which, btw, is never easy.

For a person who's strongly aligned, finding non-political space means spending time in the heads of people you don't agree with. That's difficult on a good day. Today it's brutal; the pressure to dismiss other points of view is just relentless.

I don't envy our bishop or the work in front of him. However, I've learned to respect the ability of The Mantle to transform. I think he's heard what needed saying and I'm content to let him find his way.

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