Should racism be a temple recommend question?

God’s second commandment, love thy neighbor, clearly leaves no room for racism.

Neal A. Maxwell, “Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness.”

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.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Need for Greater Kindness.” (emphasis added)

The words of church leaders are clear; yet racist expression persists among many church members.

Should racism be a temple recommend question?

(Bonus question: Is it already?)

Comments

  1. Kaimi, I’ve been a Church member for 10 years now and never heard a racist expression of any kind. I’ve around Mormons most of my life and the only racism I can recall is from my grandparents’ generation (born 90-100 years ago). Three of my four grandparents have passed away and the other has dementia and doesn’t say much of anything anymore.

    So, personally I think you’re tilting at windmills.

    A more important question should be whether falsely accusing Mormons of racism (repeatedly) should be a temple recommend question.

  2. Steve Evans says:

    Geoff, does anecdotal information really matter much? I mean, you’ve never heard a racist expression in the Church, but thousands of others have (some of them aren’t even white).

  3. Benjamin O says:

    Extra bonus question: would anyone be able to answer this honestly if it were, regardless of their skin color?

    Think about this carefully.

    I’m a huge opponent (and I mean HUGE) of the idea of latent racism as its commonly conceived, but I do believe that some people simply DO NOT see their inherent biases. There ARE people who are racist and do not know this. That said, these people are just as often African American or American Indian/Alaska Native (or ANY OTHER MINORITY YOU CARE TO NAME!) as of Caucasian descent. That’s just the way things are. But when I hear people like [I’ll self edit the name out] saying that ALL [insert your own group of choice here] are racist, then I get REALLY angry.

    It’s simply not true, and never was and never will be. Some people are and some people are not. BTW, holding a true and accurate understanding of the group differences between majority and minority racial groups DOES NOT constitute racism. Racism is defined properly as an attitude resulting in a pattern of behavior that negatively impacts a specific racial group: either preferentially treating one’s own race OR negatively treating a specific OTHER race.

    I believe that SOME people could not honestly answer this question, but that many could. Therefore it is a difficult question to place on the recommend interview (not saying it shouldn’t be there, but that it is difficult to place there). Should it be? Well, I certainly don’t think that anyone who is overtly racist should be going to the temple. That’s my feeling on the matter.

  4. Geoff B. says,

    Kaimi, I’ve been a Church member for 10 years now and never heard a racist expression of any kind. I’ve around Mormons most of my life and the only racism I can recall is from my grandparents’ generation (born 90-100 years ago). Three of my four grandparents have passed away and the other has dementia and doesn’t say much of anything anymore. So, personally I think you’re tilting at windmills.

    Gordon B. Hinckley says,

    Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. . . . I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us.

    Personally, Geoff, I’m more inclined to go with the Prophet’s analysis on this one. But if you really think you have a better sense of the situation than President Hinckley . . . hey, more power to you.

  5. Steve, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. Personally, I think it is silly (and denigrating to Church members) to concentrate on a non-issue. Just about everybody in the U.S. agrees these days that racism is not acceptable, including Church members. A post like this implies that somehow the Church has some special problem regarding this issue. I completely reject that position.

  6. Geoff,

    I’m sorry, but you’ve apparently lived a blissfully sheltered life in this particular regard. I grew up in Southern Utah and observed the most ignorant types of disparaging remarks about various minorities.

    I now live in Utah County. Only last month a family I home teach asked me to speak to the bishopric on behalf of their 15-year-old daughter because a young man in Sunday school had been making fun of African Americans and using the “n” word. In class. And the teacher laughed it off. (The kid, by the way, is the son of a bishopric member.)

    It’s taken me a year and a half in the YM presidency to convince the boys I work with that ethnic jokes aren’t okay.

    While at youth conference a bunch of youth started having fights with Brazil nuts. Except they didn’t call them Brazil nuts. When one of my assistants, who recently adopted an African American baby, asked the kids to stop using that phrase, they were incredulous (even belligerent) that anyone would take offense. So we took the matter to the bishop; he looked at us and said “Well what do YOU call them?”

    We had to tell a college student friend of ours that he would no longer be welcomed at our occasional student Sunday dinners if he didn’t stop putting racist jokes on his Facebook page.

    I live in an overwhelmingly Mormon community where, when white kids are caught smoking pot in the basement while the parents are at work, it doesn’t make the paper, but when Mexican kids are caught smoking pot in the basement while the parents are at work, it’s written up in the paper as “gang activity.”

    I could go on.

  7. Kaimi, if your position is correct, and the problem were as rampant as you imply, wouldn’t the Prophet have already instituted this as a temple recommend question?

  8. Geoff, there is one sentence and a question that come from me. The entire rest of the post is direct quote from lds.org. (That’s a better ratio than even m&m usually manages!)

    And my sentence (“racist expression persists”) is corroborated by President Hicnkley’s own words.

    Geoff writes,

    A post like this implies that somehow the Church has some special problem regarding this issue.

    Not at all.

    I don’t think that church members are more likely to lie than non-members, or that the church has a special problem with lying. But regardless of whether there’s a special problem, lying in any individual is a wrongful action. And the recommend interview specifically says, “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?”

    That question is not any insinuation that Mormons are particularly prone to lie. Rather, it’s simply a statement that we don’t want liars in the temple.

    I’m not making any statement here that Mormons are particularly prone to racism. I’m just saying that I don’t think that racists belong in the temple. (And that idea seems in accordance with President Hinckley’s remarks).

  9. Steve Evans says:

    Geoff, surely you see the logical fallacy of saying “X has never happened to me, therefore it is not a problem.” Do you really need to witness racism in the Church first-hand before you would consider it a problem?

  10. Thanks for this post, Kaimi. It seems that such a question would be appropriate for a temple recommend interview, though it probably falls under the umbrella of one of the other questions.

    Geoff, might I suggest that you are oblivious to racism because you are white? Perhaps you should consult a few racial and ethnic minority Mormons before dismissing racism as nonexistent within the church. My own experience is much closer to what Jeremy describes in #6.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    “I’m not making any statement here that Mormons are particularly prone to racism”

    Though you could. Such a statement would be extremely problematic and impossible to prove, but I am sure there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to both prove and refute such a statement. In other words, arguing whether or not racism is a problem is just stupid.

  12. Geoff writes,

    Kaimi, if your position is correct, and the problem were as rampant as you imply, wouldn’t the Prophet have already instituted this as a temple recommend question?

    What the heck do you think that I’m saying or implying, Geoff? Take a look at my post. It is well over 90% direct quote from general authorities.

    I have _one_ declarative sentence and _one_ question. My declarative sentence contains one assertion (“racist expression persists among many church members”) which is simply a restatement of what President Hicnkley himself said! (“Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this.”)

    Do you really think that President Hinckley was wrong on the facts?

  13. Steve (9),

    I did finally meet Anne Wilde a few years ago; before that, I was a member for over thirty years (since birth) and never met a single polygamist.

    Therefore, polygamy shouldn’t be something that the recommend interview screens.

  14. Christopher, I would argue that white Mormons are more likely to hear racist commentary than minorities. People are more likely to let their racist side come out when talking to other white people than when somebody of another color is there.

    To be clear: I deplore racism and am very glad that our generation has done some great things to help its decline.

    Other than that, it appears it is time to move on. If I offended anybody by commenting here, I apologize. Peace, brothers and sisters.

  15. #6: I hope you responded “Brazil nuts” – I’m sad that I know what term you’re referring to, although I never personally used it.

    Kaimi: Is “racism” a question? (Law & Order snark)

    I can’t tell whether or not this post is inspired by the Inauguration yesterday, but I’m glad we seem to be done talking about Prop 8. (Except: Tom Hanks: Grrrrr.)

  16. Sure, FHL. Framed as an actual question, it might be

    “Do you make disparaging remarks concerning those of another race?”

    That’s a straightforward adaptation of President Hinckley’s language. There are lots of other ways to frame it as a question.

    And you’re right that the framing of the question itself would matter.

  17. Christopher, I would argue that white Mormons are more likely to hear racist commentary than minorities. People are more likely to let their racist side come out when talking to other white people than when somebody of another color is there.

    That might very well be the case, Geoff. But I would imagine that a racial minority is more likely to recognize even unconsciously racist statements as such. That’s a decent amount of evidence to suggest that the racism most Latter-day Saints articulate is that type (i.e. believing that everyone’s skin will be white in heaven, innocently equating one’s skin color with one’s righteousness based on select BoM passages, etc).

    As an additional example, my father has become much more conscious of even slightly racist remarks or racialized comments ever since my wife (who is Latina) became a member of our family.

  18. “… That’s a decent amount of evidence …” should read, “There’s a decent amount of evidence …”

  19. Sadly, I think this is a legitimate question. A former bishop of mine up north is now a temple worker. He also weekly sends horrible ethnic jokes to my father and other people on his mailing list.

    (I have my father’s email password, so that I can monitor it when he’s not able to get to the library to check it.)

    I don’t believe that this brother should be serving in the temple, given the attitudes that he has towards people of other races (and I can name specifics).

    I have been torn between the idea of not doing anything, or forwarding some of the more blatant emails to a temple presidency member…

  20. I’m going to carefully step over the disaster area of the current comments…

    Even though it would be a nice gesture, I’d have to wonder how it would be phrased…how would they phrase it in a way that would get answers? If it’s in a question such as “are you honest in your dealings…” then it would just be a nice gesture, but wholly ineffective.

    I’m not saying that people would necessarily lie to get into the temple. It’s because people would honestly believe they are being truthful.

    This gets into a hairy situation…what do we mean by racism? Because we’ve got different perspectives…what it sounds coming out of someone’s mouth…and what it sounds going into another’s ear. If we base it on the ear, then we could find people who take offense at certain comments, even though the original person did not mean it in a racist manner. And of course, the church generally has a policy of saying, “Don’t take offense; just brush it off.” So I don’t know how that would even work out. From someone’s mouth, I don’t think we’d be able to find any racist ever. From a person’s mouth, no one is racist; there are just people who are “telling it like it is” even though it is “unfortunate” and “speaking their minds” or whatever.

    I know that the bishop’s wife meant no racist harm when she talked to my mom about how she learned the “Eeny meeny miney moe” nursery rhyme’s second line as “catch a (term for black people) by the toe”…so of course, a temple interview question couldn’t (and honestly, it shouldn’t…because she didn’t mean anything by it) catch that. But the damage is still done regardless…leading to an awkward moment for my mom and another person who will not step inside an LDS church (except on occasional request of my father.) I mean, there were other issues for my mom as well, and I honestly don’t blame her, but I don’t think this is something that could be fixed.

    People have said, with the best of intentions, to me that they hope that in the afterlife that I’ll finally be “white and delightsome.” The people who have said this have genuine positive feelings, so I can’t say that this is “racism.” It still makes things awkward as…well…pretty darn awkward, but I know they were raised in a different time and really, the culture they grow up in (even today) gives them the tools to still believe things like that. No need to become a frothing anti.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    When I was young I called Brazil nuts by that alternate, offensive name. That was what my Idaho farm boy father always called them (quite matter-of-factly), and at first it just didn’t occur to me that there was anything wrong with it. Eventually I stopped, but I had to figure out the problem with that usage on my own.

  22. One word: Yes.

  23. In light of later comments, I’d add that I know enough people who could even look at such a question as “Do you make disparaging remarks concerning those of another race?” and say, in good faith, that they don’t. They are just pointing out what they believe to be “the facts” and the “naked truth” about races.

  24. would imagine that a racial minority is more likely to recognize even unconsciously racist statements as such. That’s a decent amount of evidence to suggest that the racism most Latter-day Saints articulate is that type

    If this is true, then asking such a question as part of a temple recommend interview would have no practical effect. If I articulate racist statements without understanding that they are racist, the only way I can possibly answer the question is “No, I don’t make disparaging remarks concerning those of another race.”

    I would be like the woman who answers that she obeys the Word of Wisdom despite her daily intake of iced tea, blissfully unaware that most of us paradoxically consider iced tea to fall under the ban on hot drinks.

  25. Wait a second, observer — iced tea is a hot drink?

    But what if you put a *lot* of ice cubes in it? Then it’s okay, right?

    :P

  26. I think Kaimi’s question (about whether racism should be a topic for a temple recommend question) is a challenging one to answer.

    I suspect doing so would greatly contribute towards a community dialogue about what racism is (it isn’t always that easy to identify or pin down) and what thoughts, behaviors, words, etc. are unacceptably racist.

    On the other hand, I wonder what kind of odd, uncomfortable situations might arise if a member of a bishopbric ever tried to withhold a recommend because he subjectively decided that a particular member was racist and needed to repent. I’m not quite sure how such a situation could properly play itself out …

  27. nasamomdele says:

    Short answer- No.

    I’m interested in how exactly would racism be problematic? And would such be grounds for exclusion in terms of political affiliations, scientific preferences, etc.

    It’s a pandora’s box of illegitimate reasons for ill feelings towards others that we might all be very guilty of. Racism may be very bad, but thinking ill of evolution non-believers, being more silly, might just be a worse offense because of said silliness.

  28. I’m aware of a comment made in my majority-white but non-Jello-belt ward to the effect that the priesthood ban was lifted too soon. This is also a ward where nearly half the members are Native (our ward includes a reservation), and almost none of them attend. There is a great deal of racial tension between members of the tribe and other members of the community, and there is also a great deal of serious life problems with addictions and abuse among tribal members, including those who are members of the Church.

    Some of this crosses the line to racism, but much of it is just fear and ignorance and classism. I mentioned in another ward’s GD once that Jesus, during his mortal ministry, hung out with the scum of his society and that, if we wanted to be more Christlike, we might need a little scum in our lives. It wasn’t three comments later when somebody said “but what if I don’t want those people associating with my children?” and that was enough of an escape that nobody felt like they had to address my point any more.

    Do I think somebody should lose their TR for not knowing to call them Brazil Nuts? Or for reading Little Black Sambo? I don’t think so. For telling a racist joke? How about for telling a political joke at someone else’s expense? What if I told a joke about the President that’s based in his political philosophy, or if I just tried to make him sound dumb? How about for any other expression of pride? (I just watched Mary Ellen Edmund’s talk on pride on KBYU and I love her and it was such a great talk, so pride comes to mind) What if I teach people that the priesthood ban was solely caused by the racism of Brigham Young, and that it could have ended any time if a prophet had bothered to pray about it before 1979?

    I’m glad I’m not a bishop to have to make that choice. Thank God I’m safe from that anytime soon.

    I don’t think there’s a need for a new question to approach this. I do think there’s a problem of racism in the Church, and other forms of fear, hatred and pride. There isn’t anybody who is immune to problems of pride. But templeworthiness isn’t the same thing as perfection. I don’t think this is the biggest problem in the world for everybody, and will leave it to those with the stewardship to judge as to whether this is the issue to deal with right now for any given individual or not.

  29. No.

    Not that it isn’t an issue with some church members or that it isn’t serious when it does occur, but I don’t think so, personally.

  30. CJ Douglass says:

    Valid question Kaimi. Here’s another one: Is breaking the Word of Wisdom worse than making racist comments – or even thinking them?

    I’m afraid that many among us would say yes.

  31. I think such a question would have the practical effect of causing Latter-day Saints to be more careful about making statements and thinking thoughts that are racist. I see no negatives of asking such a question.

  32. Hey, stop the piling on Geoff B. The man’s entitled to his experiences as much as anyone else, and the condescending tone of the rebuttals doesn’t exactly help things. Not that I’m saying y’all are wrong about racism still being a problem, either, but come on — glass houses, guys!

    I grew up in the Ogden (Utah) area and had a number of friends and co-workers who were black or Latino. I went to pretty racially diverse schools and I’m ashamed to admit I enjoyed telling racist jokes in junior high and high school (1980s), so I can believe that’s still going on elsewhere.

    Many of the minority friends I had after I grew up (and grew out of my racist tendencies) had moved to Utah with the Air Force or for school. Several of them told me that there isn’t any more racism in Utah than anywhere else they’ve been, and that what’s there is usually more subtle and less overt. The idea being that when people did racist things in Utah, it was more along the lines of complimenting a black person for being articulate or some other such behavior that revealed the person had actually internalized the notion that people are actual equals, no matter their race or culture.

    Having now lived outside of Utah for quite a while, I can see where Geoff B would have never encountered racist comments from church members — I haven’t heard it out here. But I’ve also known some black members who have told me racism is still around in the Church. Their examples have been more of the subtle variety, not that subtle racism is necessarily any less damaging than overt.

    Never lived in Utah county, but I can tell you it ain’t on the same planet as Weber County, for good or ill!

  33. I’m with Christopher. I don’t think the benefit of asking a racism question in a temple recommend interview would be to keep racists out of the temple so much as it would compel members to reflect on their racial attitudes and perhaps correct wrongheaded ones.

    Asking if you are “honest in your dealings with your fellow man” is surely every bit as ambiguous in its practical application as a racism question would be. And surely there are temple recommend holders that count questionable receipts as business expenses, sneak food into movies in their purses, etc. etc. But the fact that the question is there says something and sets a standard, and members have to at least give some amount of thought as to whether their own behavior meets that standard — even if disparate members perceive that standard disparately.

    Also, I must take issue somewhat with Steve’s comment way upthread in #11. I think it’s perfectly valid to establish the existence of a racism problem through limited anecdotal evidence, because there doesn’t have to be a lot of racism for racism be a problem. On the other hand, it’s completely and inherently impossible to establish the absence of the problem through limited anecdotal evidence.

  34. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a racist who recognized it in himself/herself. How about a question like, “We know you’re not a racist, but do you associate or sympathize with anyone who is?” That would get some very interesting answers.

  35. Maybe the temple recommend question should simply consist of setting a Brazil nut on the desk and saying “What’s this thing?” :)

  36. It should not be a question. However, it is implied in many of the other questions. The temple rec. questions are basics for entering the temple. We must go far beyond the correct answers to truly be followers of the Savior.

    Maybe a charity question.

    I worry that we might start adding gay marriage questions.

  37. Whether or not folks would answer such a question honestly during the temple recommend interview, I don’t know, but I see that adding such a question would send a message to Church members at large that racism is absolutely not OK.

  38. SinisterMatt says:

    Perhaps a corollary to such a question would be to inquire as to whether such attitudes lead to a specific action. For example, if a person admitted to being racist against black people, did the person go and burn a cross recently on the lawn of some African-American family? In that case, I think that you could revoke someone’s recommend for that. But that’s problematic because our thoughts condemn us too.

    Aaargh, it makes me glad that I don’t have to decide such things.

    Cheers!

  39. I would not add the question. Just as I think adding more government regulation is not always the solution, so also, adding more recommend questions is not either.

    I would add that, in my opinion, the recommend interview should be shortened to two questions–something like the following:

    1. Do you earnestly strive to love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength?

    2. Do you earnestly strive to love your neighbor as yourself?

    I think the racism issue would implicitly be encompassed in the second question.

    I doubt that the Brethren will be adopting my suggested abbreviated recommend interview any time soon. But I do think the racism issue is already encompassed in the question about affiliation or agreement with organizations or teachings inconsistent with the Church’s teachings, and the question about earnestly striving to live the standards of the Church.

    Another alternative would be to make the honesty question a little more amorphous, by adapting it something like this:

    Question: Are you honest with and kind and sensitive to your fellow beings?

    I do think racism is a serious sin, but I agree with Geoff that it is diminishing in the Church. It has been a while since I have heard an overt racist remark from a Church member.

    But I also think racism is a subset of destructive interpersonal practices or attitudes, which would also include gossip, harsh judgment and speech, contention, arrogance, and the like.

  40. Benjamin O says:

    Bah.

    My earlier comment got lost in the shuffle. Folks, this is obviously a hot topic. I know that there are people in the church who are racist. But I also don’t think it is particular to our religion…I just happen to HOPE that we have a reason to see that there is a reason to escape that trap because of our understanding of the gospel.

    Perhaps that can be my final plea.

  41. IMO it’s already covered in the Temple Recommend interview.

    “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

    Given your quote from President Hinckley above (…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.) … nobody with racist tendencies could, in my opinion, truthfully say “no” to the question above.

    Thanks for another great post.

  42. @ 34: Accounting for the Bradley Effect in temple recommend interviews. Clever!

    Short answer: No. There are already too many questions.

  43. Alpha Echo says:

    I actually had to google brazil nuts+slang to figure out what earlier posts were talking about. I never, until this post, heard brazil nuts called that. Of course, until I googled brazil nuts, I didn’t connect the visual with the name.

  44. We live in a society where some forms of racism are de facto acceptable (because people continue to do it, and few people do anything about it), while other forms are obviously unacceptable. To most people a “racist” is someone who engages in clearly unacceptable forms of racism like cross burning, and KKK meetings.

    People who engage in less obviously unacceptable forms of racism will almost never admit to being racist, as Andrew S. said, they’re just telling it like it is. Or they’re just using a harmless turn of phrase, or or or.

    If you ask someone a binary “Are you a racist?” they will always have the extreme cases to compare themselves against, and will always say “no.” I think that this sort of question would only serve to calcify certain forms of racism as acceptable (cue the cries of “I’m not racist, I have a Temple recommend!”)

    If it is phrased along the lines of “Are you striving to remove prejudice from your thoughts and actions?” then it may have the desired effect of getting people to reflect on the appropriateness of their thoughts, words and actions.

  45. I think there are many examples of these types of (important!) and specific teachings that don’t end up as temple recommend questions. If we expected them all to be such, we’d never be able to have recommend interviews without hiring full-time interviewers. :)

    I like what Chris H said:

    The temple rec. questions are basics for entering the temple. We must go far beyond the correct answers to truly be followers of the Savior.

  46. Kaimi’s question would only serve to root out a problem among a minority (self-aware racists) of a group (Americans) who themselves (IIRC) are a minority of Church members.

    Do we really want the TR interview to begin reflecting regional concerns? Might not this be a case of the tail wagging the dog?

  47. JimD, do you really think racism is limited to the United States? Certainly there are racist European, Latin American (this I know for certain), African, and Asian Latter-day Saints. I fail to see how racism is a regional concern?

  48. JimD, I know I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but did you just say racism is limited to Americans? Mormons who reside in Germany, Australia, Japan, Brazil, etc, don’t have racism? Just us Americans? Really?

  49. m&m (#45),

    Hey, thanks.

    Ryan (#41)

    That question assumes that our racism is somehow associated with certain groups or individual figures. I am fascinated by that question though.

    Kaimi has raised a great point about how we view racism within the church. Hopefully we can follow more the examples of Pres. Hinckley and Elder Maxwell in the quotes above.

  50. Christopher and CW are right, we would surely have to consider the issue of racism and hate in a global context.

  51. I might as well weigh in on the main question. My answer is no. It would send a message to include the question, but I believe the message has already been sent, and I believe it is covered by other questions, as others have already stated.

    A more compelling reason for me however, is that I do not believe we would do a good job of judging one another on the racism question. For example, what you call a nut, does not constitute racism on your part, in and of itself, if that is the only name you have ever heard used. Granted when you grow up and are educated on the issue, to persist in using that name might suggest room for repentance.

    Nor is pointing out some of the cultural differences when looking for solutions to the problems certain groups face, evidence of racism.

    Yet I fear both these things would be assumed to be evidence of racism and would just lead to more contention in the Church if we were to specifically identify racism as a temple criteria.

  52. MikeInWeHo says:

    Everyone’s a little bit racist.

  53. If we are to assume that the TR recommend interview questions are there to hit only the rough outlines of a Christlike life, the important parts of being Mormon, then why on earth should the Word of Wisdom be in there but being a racist not?

  54. Latter-day Guy says:

    But what about…?
    [Language warning]

  55. Latter-day Guy says:

    Oh, soot, Mike. You beat me to the punch! I bow before your prowess. :)

  56. Latter-day Guy says:

    Shoot, rather than soot.

  57. @Steve Evans, 53: Joe posted some ideas about that (sort of).

  58. No – There would be no end to TR questions if we looked at every facet of living a Christlike life. Surely the question which states something like:

    “Is any part of your life not in keeping with the gospel teachings?”

    Doesn’t this suffice?
    Living in the north of England it is more a case of racial ignorance and lack of cultural awareness in some cases. Without being ageist, some of the older generation have made offensive racist remarks in my presence, but out of ignorance rather than hatred.

  59. “Geoff, might I suggest that you are oblivious to racism because you are white?

    Haha! This sort of thing makes me laugh. Can you imagine if what was said was “Might I suggest that you are oblivious to [insert] because you are black?”

    Quid pro quo, folks. I certainly hope that statement was tongue-in-cheek, but I doubt it was.

    Having grown up in the military, diversity was a fact. Those who used offensive, racist terms were usually the ones those terms applied to. I find more people getting offended on others’ behalf than people getting offended themselves.

    And, having lived in a wide variety of places, I can say with full confidence that racism is predominantly a regional thing, not a religious thing. Good luck getting any group in the south to stop being casually racist—in BOTH directions.

    So, to me the bulk of this conversation is rather morbidly amusing.

  60. Mark Brown says:

    SilverRain,

    What part of Pres. Hinckley’s statement do you find amusing?

  61. I have heard blatantly rascist remarks stated recently and I have witnessed suggested racism in other comments heard at church and elsewhere, especially over the course of the last election cycle.

    However, I think question #7 (Do you support, affiliate with…) and question #8 (Do you strive to keep…) more than cover the issue. This could be reinforced with a follow-up question from the interviewer specifically pointing to racism or with a talk given at General Conference reinforcing the issue.

  62. Antonio Parr says:

    Are Mormons “prone” to racism. In light of the Priesthood ban, and some of the more shocking/disappointing racist statements made by significant CHurch leaders in the 60’s, I’m afraid we have, for the short-term, forfeited our right to be indignant about such a proposition. (Not to mention the total absence of Black leaders in any of the highest councils of the Church.)

    In light of the above, it would not be unreasonable or unfair for an outsider to question where we stand with race relations.

    (All this being said, it has been more than 30 years since I have heard a racist comment of any kind by a Latter-Day Saint. Everything that I have heard or seen in my local congregation since then has been completely void of racist sentiments of any kind.)

  63. Mark—Straw man. President Hinckley’s statement had nothing to do with my comment. If you read it, it explains what I find sadly amusing about this conversation (not the original post)—that many people don’t understand what racism is, and make racist comments when they speak against racism. Until racism (or any kind of -ism, really) and its origin in the hearts of ALL people is understood for what it is, it can’t be eliminated. It can only be what it is now: a political tool to engender a sense of false superiority.

  64. #62 Antonio,
    I’ve also encountered quite a bit of racism from black people against white people during this last election cycle. As long as you’ll be fair about imposing standards of “no racism” then maybe people can discuss more stringent standards, but allowing black people to say racist things, like the reverend in Obama’s inauguration benediction, and people saying “There’s nothing wrong with that kind of racism”, you won’t get anywhere with me. Ask you’re friends here at BCC why they won’t denounce ALL forms of racism first.

  65. Food for thought, from LDS.org, which sounds a lot like what Geoff B. stated in a previous comment:

    Ahmad Corbitt, an African-American who is president of a stake (equivalent to a diocese) in New Jersey, said that occasional charges of racism leveled at the Church should be “seen for what they are.”

    “I think everyone understands that people say things for political reasons that just don’t square with the facts,” Corbitt said.

    Corbitt leads one of the more diverse stakes in the Church. While membership is largely white, his twelve congregations each embrace people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Three of his congregations are Spanish speaking, and Corbitt’s own three-member presidency consists of a white counselor and a Tongan counselor.

    Anyone who says the Church is racist isn’t speaking from experience and has no idea of the racial harmony we enjoy as a Church family,” Corbitt said. “Perhaps some members of color have had a negative experience here or there in our 13-million-member church. But in numerous meetings with members and leaders of the Church at every level over the years I have never experienced anything remotely resembling racism.”

    I suspect that President Hinckley was speaking to the members guilty of ugly racist remarks and views, and not necessarily to the entire Church.

    Should we have a specific TR question about racism? Well, I think that issue and others are already covered in this question:

    Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?

  66. Thomas Parkin says:

    As for Racists, I think we should make them wear a big yellow “R” on their Sunday best at church, so we can all identify them more readily and shun them as the gospel requires.

    I heard a deeply racist joke at work last night. Told between two men who aren’t members, but I think are pretty ok fellows. Judging by the kinds of jokes they tell about themselves, I think that if we had a black man on the crew, they would have no problem embracing him. But, I could be wrong. I was not quite so much offended, as taken back at what I’d heard. I never heard anything quite like it 17 years living in Seattle and provinces – outside HBO specials. Or, maybe I’ve forgotten. ~

  67. SilverRain,

    My comment was not tongue-in-cheek. The fact is that whiteness carries baggage with it that blackness does not (you know, the whole enslaving another race for 200+ years because of the color of their skin, not to mention driving another ethnic group from their homes, placing a portion of American citizens in labor camps because of their ancestry, and the segregation/Jim Crow laws thing).

    And, having lived in a wide variety of places, I can say with full confidence that racism is predominantly a regional thing, not a religious thing.

    Was the priesthood ban a regional, and not religious thing? What about American, British, and Caribbean slavery? The Holocaust? In fact, George Frederickson, in his book Racism: A Short History argues that racism was “invented” on religious grounds.

    If you read it, it explains what I find sadly amusing about this conversation (not the original post)—that many people don’t understand what racism is, and make racist comments when they speak against racism.

    Was this comment directed at me? Did I make a racist comment when speaking against racism? If so, could you please point me to said comment?

  68. Last Lemming says:

    I lean toward “no.” I would prefer fewer questions to more.

    But I want to object to the claim that it is already covered under “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

    That question was intended to smoke out closet fundamentalists and, in my experience, bishops tend to interpret it narrowly. That is a good thing. Otherwise, you could have bishops denying temple recommends for ACLU membership, voting for pro-choice candidates, etc. Best to keep that Pandora’s box closed.

    Perhaps they could have interviewees watch a 10 minute video containing key excerpts from recent conferences, including the Hinckley quote from the original post, but also others on porn, gambling, child and spouse abuse, etc. and make it clear that these apply directly to the “keep you life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel” question.

  69. Sure,

    Put it in there but only if you make supporting the church’s position on Prop 8 a TR question as well. :)

  70. Antonio Parr says:

    #64 – DavidGou.

    I didn’t find the benediction at the inauguration to be racist. It was too pleasant and gentle and humorous to rise to that level.

    As for racism cutting both ways, of course it does. However, for an organization that holds itself out as being uniquely sanctioned by Jesus Christ, then we, of all people, deserve to be scrutinized strictly. Our historical race relations have been weighed in the balance, and been found wanting. Gladly, those dark days are increasingly behind us, and, more and more, I am seeing LDS congregations possessing the potential to be lights to the world with respect to interracial worship and fellowship. This undoubtedly is a source of great joy for our Savior.

  71. Good one, bbell! :-)

  72. Mark Brown says:

    SivlerRain,

    My question to you is: Why are we so complacent about racism among latter-day Saints? The issue is not whether this is a problem for others, but simply if it is a problem for us. I still don’t know what you think, but obviously Pres. Hinckley thought it was a serious enough problem to address in conference. You might think it is just a political football, but I think you are wrong. That is why it is quite surprising to see folks say that it’s not really a problem, or that if it is, there is nothing we can do about it anyway. Some other examples might be:

    I don’t know anybody who beats his wife, therefore it is not a problem. Anybody who says otherwise is just using it as a political tool to engender a sense of superiority.

    or

    I don’t know anybody who is behind on child support and alimony, beside lots of other people do the same thing, so it’s not a problem.

    etc.

    Brian Duffin,

    I suspect that President Hinckley was speaking to the members guilty of ugly racist remarks and views, and not necessarily to the entire Church.

    Isn’t that true of just about everything the prophet says? When he warns about fornication, I certainly hope he doesn’t think 100% of the congregation is guilty.

  73. Mark Brown says:

    Not a good one, bbell.

    The First Presidency has already said that a person’s support or non-support of prop 8 is not a worthiness issue.

    What part of the First Presidency’s statement do you disagree with?

  74. Of course you shouldn’t. I say this, not because I support racism, but because it would be essentially a meaningless question (aka. are you worthy to enter the temple? The answer is always no). I haven’t heard the song, but I agree with it. It is an element of the natural man to assume superiority to some other group and act in accordance. I assume that there are some people who have become a saint in this manner, but I haven’t personally met them. Racism is actually only a form of this; any ism and several unnamed work just as well.

    There is also something I would call “relatively benign racism”.” This is the racism of my grandmother (and Obama’s) where her upbringing has made a person generally suspicious or superior regarding another race, but willing to revise their opinion in specifics. This won’t usually translate into vicious attacks, but it will lead to discomfort and awkwardness which might seek release in jokes told amongst likeminded folk. I don’t say this because I wish to condone, but because I want us to be slow to condemn. It is what it is.

    We are not yet post-racial. Arguments to the otherwise are generally by people trying to sell you something.

  75. Mark,I think you are taking me too seriously. There is simply no reason to add prop 8 to the list of TR questions. Just like there is no reason for Racism to be added.

    There are a list of “pet” topics that different members take and think are so important that they should be TR questions.

    Stuff like….

    Extreme WOW observance
    The topic of this post
    Prop 8
    HT

    Etc.

    I like the TR questions just as they are. They leave enough up to the individual and are intentionaly vague on certain topics.

  76. Will we go through all of the prophets’ talks and make them all TR questions?

  77. Steve Evans says:

    “Ask you’re friends here at BCC why they won’t denounce ALL forms of racism first.”

    Ask you’re own friends.

    bbell, I tend to agree with you re: pet topics. We all tend to be champions for certain causes. How about this question for discussion, then: should a racist be able to get a temple recommend?

  78. @47, 48: My experience is that racism is a very different animal (at least in Brazil) than it is in the US. It arose under different circumstances and is applied in different ways. And I suppose that’s part of my concern–at its core, “racism” is such a subjective standard (some even say it’s racist to oppose affirmative action or to support voter ID’s) that I think it would wind up as little more than a bludgeon for church members to use against each other.

    And, I think there’s a kernel of truth in bbell’s statement. As I understand it, the church has a history of not punishing people for their thoughts per se, but for the expression of those thoughts. Denying temple recommends to “closet racists” would be a worrisome deviation from this policy. And to deny temple recommends to open racists would basically be a tacit admission that the Church has the prerogative to “punish” other expressions of unorthodox belief. I’m actually willing to make that admission, but I suspect there are a lot of participants here who aren’t.

  79. Stve,

    Its possible for a person to be so off the wall racist that they should not have a TR. I am thinking maybe an open KKK member who openly acknowledges violent racist tendencies or perhaps a unrepentant Black Panthers militant.

    The problem is that lots of people in all races have racist tendencies based on experiences with different races. Most people are able to supress these tendencies and over time thru the atonement overcome them.

    My own father once as Bishop had to deal with a racial situation involving a couple of nasty YW who were telling a AA teenage boy that he was unable to use the drinking fountain at the church because of his race. I think if they were TR holding adults it may have been a situation where their TR’s would ahve been in question.

  80. Michael Scott says:

    Abraham Lincoln once said that if you are a racist, I will attack you with the North.

    Those are the principles I carry with me.

  81. Can you be a jerk and hold a TR? Is racism a special category of jerkiness?

  82. Can you be a jerk and hold a TR?

    Is that a normative questions or an empirical question?

  83. SilverRain (59),

    Good luck getting any group in the south to stop being casually racist

    The dance reunion of my wife’s that I went to, in the South, was an amazing thing. African-American and white dancers (including my wife), many of whom had danced together years ago in high school, got back together and put on a quick show. Watching their interactions, there was less racism–less focus on race, really–than can easily be found here in New York. Instead, they all had a history and a passion in common, and related to each other as friends and dancers, not as blacks and whites.
    So I completely reject the idea that any group of Southerners is inherently racist, just like I reject the idea the Mormons–or any other group of people–are inherently racist. My wife’s dance performance doesn’t demonstrate that there are no racists in the South. I assume that there are. That I haven’t heard a racist comment in Church in years, if ever, doesn’t mean that there aren’t racists in the Church. But I don’t think region, religion, or any other single demographic factor inherently condemns a person to be racist (or, in the alternative, elevates a person above racism.

  84. Is it wrong of me to have taken all the racist jokes I know and substituted “boy scout” into them?

  85. Antonio Parr says:

    SamB — We as a Church have to go the extra mile to persuade others that we are not racist. Our pre-1978 race-based Priesthood ban would understandbly cause others to question our commitment to the universal worth of all people. The fact that so many pre-1978 Latter-Day Saints went the “extra mile” with the Priesthood ban by denying basic non-Priesthood-related civil rights to Blacks only serves to make our job all the more difficult with respect to persuading others that Mormons truly believe that race is not a factor in the Kingdom of Heaven. To that end, we should not be surprised when others conclude that we as an institution still have some explaining to do with respect to our position regarding Blacks.

    All that being said, I have been blessed to be in multi-racial congregations for my entire adult life, and have seen, and see now, nothing but love and support for others, independent of race.

  86. SamB – A professional experience from the recent past had me overseeing construction projects in Charleston, SC. The contractor was a young white fellow (his dad actually owned the company) and he provided a mentoring role for a minority masonry subcontractor. The mason was an older black fellow named Mr. Adams. The contractor, whose name was Joey would always refer to him as “Mr. Adams” when he addressed him directly but often called him “that boy” when he talked about him in the third person, despite their difference in age. Joey’s company provided accounting and billing services to Mr. Adams, which helped Mr. Adams out, and Mr. Adams’ company provided Joey with a minority subcontractor which helped them meet their requirement for government contracting. I never perceived any bit of racism on Joey’s part regardless of what name he used for Mr. Adams but I just felt it was a cultural issue that would be a bit longer in passing.

    I heard Maya Angelo, years ago, respond to a question of why she chose to live in Winston-Salem, NC and teach at Wake Forest considering the South’s terrible history with blacks. She responded by saying that despite that violent past, and maybe because of it, she felt that today there is more understanding between blacks and whites in the South than there is in northern cities like New York, Boston and Chicago.

    I think Joey’s example is an illustation that mutual respect does exist among many in the south even if time honored labels and names are still used. I think the racism we are all referring to here today is born out of ignorance rather than personal, one-on-one experience with those of another race.

  87. Antonio,
    I’m not disagreeing with you at all. Similarly, the South suffers under the stereotype–perhaps deserved in part–that any group of Southerners is inherently racist. Like us, a Southerner has to press harder to demonstrate that he or she is not a racist; that doesn’t make the assumption that all Southerners are racist any less untrue.

    Which is to say, ultimately, that I’m not sure if you’re disagreeing with me or not, but broadly I don’t disagree with your statement.

  88. StillConfused says:

    How about sexism? The sexism that I have experienced by Mormon men in Utah has been crazy and absolutely unheard of in my Southern Baptist community upbringing.

    I am a southerner and was raised in a very old school portion of Virginia. I wouldn’t say that either side was racist as much as tradition-al. The white folks were comfortable going to the church of their ancestors and the black folks were as well. In school, we tended to hang with people from our own neighborhoods, so there was a natural divide of sorts there. But it was by choice of all parties. It just worked out that way. I did not really experience much racism until moving to Utah — but that is more of ignorance than anything else.

  89. I know how I’d answer such a question. “Well, President, I suppose that sometimes I wish that for once white would do right, and yellow would be more mellow. But, generally, no, I’m not a racist.”

  90. My initial response was that I didn’t care one way or the other if this became a temple recommend question or not, but JimD’s comment in #78 was thought-provoking (for me, anyway):

    As I understand it, the church has a history of not punishing people for their thoughts per se, but for the expression of those thoughts. Denying temple recommends to “closet racists” would be a worrisome deviation from this policy. And to deny temple recommends to open racists would basically be a tacit admission that the Church has the prerogative to “punish” other expressions of unorthodox belief.

    Some of the temple recommend questions are about thoughts and beliefs. A testimony of Christ as your savior is pretty subjective, for example. But racism is one of those human flaws one can be striving to eliminate even if one isn’t totally successful. Depending on how it was phrased, I suppose it could be an appropriate question. I also think it’s reasonable to make racism a special topic (i.e. worthy of its very own question). It goes to our belief that everyone is a child of God (“and as such, each has a divine nature and destiny”)–that’s pretty basic, is it not? Other forms of “unorthodox belief” don’t necessarily negate that basic tenet the way racism certainly does.

    At the risk of sounding a little too white, I also think racism and racist folklore in the church are on their way out. They aren’t disappearing as rapidly as we’d like (I mean, I’d like them never to have reared their ugly heads to begin with), but they are much less common with the younger generations, and with church leaders making such statements as those quoted in the OP, I believe they will die at the same rate with or without a special TR question.

  91. Also, I’m going to have that “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” song in my brain all day now. Thanks, MikeinWeHo. :)

  92. “But racism is one of those human flaws one can be striving to eliminate even if one isn’t totally successful.”

    But isn’t that “striving” an indication of someone’s heart moving in the right direction. I’ve always live by a creed that says “What is most imporant is that you are headed in the right direction even if you haven’t yet arrived.”

  93. define racism?

  94. I want to be clear. I have never been among a people who did not have some ugly prejudicial streak that some were and others weren’t trying to overcome. If that is what our notion of racism is, then I believe that everyone’s a little bit racist. If you are only talking about black/white racial tension, then I am going to say that while it is often seen in the Southern United States, it isn’t exclusive to that clime (in other words, SilverRain, whereever you are from, you has sure as heck better demonstrate that you are speaking from a position of moral or racial superiority before you start picking on my beloved southland (also, shut up)). I have heard ugly things about Mexicans in Utah that I would easily equate with the prejudiced remarks I heard in the South.

  95. @90:

    I see your point.

    But if you’re applying some kind of “fundamental Mormon tenets” test, does that mean that, for example,

    Is there any part of the Proclamation on the Family with which you, personally, disagree?

    would be a valid TR question?

  96. The fact that so many pre-1978 Latter-Day Saints went the “extra mile” with the Priesthood ban by denying basic non-Priesthood-related civil rights to Blacks

    I thought Mauss had data showing LDS were marginally but definitely less racist than others, pre-1978. I’m aware of documented stories of AA members suffering socially at the hands of racist members, but I generalize from combining the two data sets that while some few may have gone the “extra mile,” many LDS did not. Let’s not not have the pendulum swing so far from whitewashing our history to the other direction.

  97. I have spent much of my adult, professional life working in one way or another in and for minority communities. I have helped raise a couple of black sons and fought both subtle and blatant racism in their schools that had been totally invisible to me before they came to live with us.

    No, I would not make racism a temple recommend question. However, if I was on the asking side of the desk and was aware of openly racist statements or actions coming from the person wanting a recommend, I would not agree to the interview without a private and direct conversation about racism with the Bishop (and myself, if necessary, as the one who is aware of the issue) – exactly as I would act if I was aware of an issue with porn, an explosive temper or anything else that I feel is a serious issue and would affect temple worthiness. The Bishop is the one who sanctions or denies a temple recommend interview; these conversations should occur outside a recommend interview.

  98. In all this discussion about racism and the TR questions, as I wonder about how much latent racism exists, I am reminded of a line in Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail”:

    Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    Outright repudiation of racism is what is called for here. I have seen a lot of low-dosage racist tendencies exhibited here in the bloggernacle over the last few days with the inauguration of Pres. Obama and the resulting discussions. If it helps us to uncover it and fix it, great. But don’t kid yourself, it is still out there, in the church and out, and something many of us who were taught incorrectly growing up are still struggling with. Innocent comments? Perhaps, but ugly nonetheless. And a TR question probably is not called for, but more discussion in our lessons and sermons.

  99. Jeremy Jensen says:

    “How about sexism? The sexism that I have experienced by Mormon men in Utah has been crazy and absolutely unheard of in my Southern Baptist community upbringing.”

    I’d be curious to hear an example of this. From what I understand, their theology, especially on marriage is more sexist than ours is.

  100. @JimD (95) – Well, let’s think about it less in terms of fundamental Mormon tenets and more as in fundamental Christian (if I may be so bold) tenets. It matters how you word it. Like…”Are you striving to have charity toward all your fellow men?” See, that’s ambiguous enough that even a racist could skirt it. But those of us inclined to feel guilty about everything could declare ourselves unworthy for the temple. :)

    As I said, I don’t think it’s necessary. I do think there’s a difference between being a member of the KKK and, say, worshiping Heavenly Mother with your Christmas tree. I suspect there’s a way to condemn the one without implicitly passing judgment on the other.

    @lamonte (92) – Exactly.

  101. Has anybody addressed the bonus question yet?

    It’s already in the interview, just not worded as such.

    -End

  102. Antonio Parr says:

    #95 – Ben: My reference to the “extra mile” with respect to discrimination has to do with the fact that we hold ourselves out as the Lord’s “one and only true Church on the fact of the earth”, and, as such, should be the single greatest example of unqualified love on the planet. The fact that other non-LDS, Christian Church’s were far ahead of us with respect to racial tolerance and acceptance is an unfortuante historical footnote. If, somehow, the Priesthood ban was sanctioned by God (and I have profound doubts that this was the case), there still was nothing that sanctioned anything other than perfect love and kindness for our Black brothers and sisters. When Latter-Day Saints added to the Priesthood ban by using offensive terms about Blacks or denying them any civil rights whatsoever, then they were undeniably a far cry from being true disciples of Jesus.

  103. Antonio Parr says:

    Sorry for the typos in the prior post. I now know that they are there, but can’t fix them after the fact!

  104. Antonio Parr says:

    (Notwithstanding my prior 2 posts, I need to reiterate that I have seen nothing but pure and unqualfied interracial love and brotherhood in the Church for the past 30 years. My experiences in this respect have been wonderful.)

  105. Should sexism be a temple recommend question?

    I agree with most of you that it would be a useless kind of question because people have a hard time identifying their own bias’ and generally feel that whatever they feel is normal.

    I liked Starfoxys’ question. Or maybe, they could read a little something about it (like Hinckley’s quote) like they did about garments some time ago–I assume they read the blurb about garments because they felt that people were in violation and still answering in affirmative about garments.

    It is interesting to hear you all talk about not having heard anything racist at Church in ages. Although I have (my ears have special powers, I guess) I would suggest that most racism manifests itself more in actions. Like when people in my ward conduct all business with my family through me, the white member of the family, and not through my husband, who is black. Or when people underestimate the intellectual abilities of my daughter, thinking she is probably not capable of giving a talk in primary. Or people ask my son about his NBA plans. Or people assume my friend, who adopted a black baby, has to deal with a crack-baby. Or when the ladies in a ward tell me they can’t teach their black YW with the “regular” YW because they come from disfunctional families and can’t sit through lessons.

    I actually do know a few overtly racist members (they wouldn’t classify themselves as such). And I would be VERY unhappy to end up in an endowment session with them. And I simply would have to withdraw from a prayer circle if they were a part of it. Why should my temple experience be hampered by them. On the other hand, can we screen for sexist ideas as well.

    PS–most modern racist statements are not couched as “black people all ______________” Now people feel very comfortable saying “City kids all ____________ (steal, wear their pants low, drink, drop out of school, live with grandparents, are on welfare, etc etc.” For some reason, otherwise nice people seem to feel comfortable saying quite outrageous things, as long as they call them city issues rather than black issues.

  106. Christopher—Yes, you did make a racist comment, though you weren’t the only one. I have already mentioned the comment that was the most blatantly racist. If you don’t see a problem with a statement such as “The fact is that whiteness carries baggage with it that blackness does not” than there is no use trying to explain it to you. I will only say that if you swapped “white” for “black” it might be more obvious to you.

    By saying that racism was regional and not religious, I meant that the flavor of racism seems to be more strongly defined by geographical boundaries than religious ones, not that it is limited by those boundaries. Those in the west have more tendency to racism against, say, Mexicans, while those in the east and south might be more prone to black/white racism. Europeans, for example, were quite racist against the Turks at the time I was there. I don’t know if that’s changed or not. That does NOT mean that no religious people are racist. And I would argue against racism being born in religion, rather that people are prone to use religion to justify racial prejudice that is already there. Now, “faithism” (to coin a phrase) seems to have more to do with religion than geography.

    John C.—As I said, I’m “from” the military. I don’t see why a position of moral or racial superiority would have anything to do with the validity anything I said. What that validity should be based on is experience with the South. Since I have lived there without being from there, I find myself as good of an impartial observer as anyone might be. I said “Good luck getting any group in the south to stop being casually racist—in BOTH directions,” not to say that everyone in the south is casually racist, but that it would be difficult to find any group (in the south, FOR EXAMPLE, because it is obvious there) which would be completely free from those who ARE casually racist, LDS and blacks included. In other words, the dichotomy between black and white is so much a part of culture, and the way many natives think, that most of them don’t even realize that many of the things they say are racist. It is not malicious racism, just subconscious . . . ie, casual.

    And, I’d agree with you about Utah and Mexicans, I just didn’t use them as an example. In all the places I’ve lived, I’ve never lived anywhere without some sort of cultural prejudice, generally racism. Perhaps it is easier for me to see because I’ve never lived anywhere I’m from. I never realized how prejudiced military were in regards to civilians, for example, until I became one.

    In general:
    For what it’s worth, I made my comments because it is rather irritating when people put themselves on a moral high ground, saying “look at those ugly racists over there” without being the least bit conscious of their own racism. Almost EVERYONE, in my experience, has racism of one kind or another, simply because almost no one has had personal experience with every ethnic group in the world. Racism is born from ignorance, and the only way to mitigate it is education and personal experience.

    It may make someone feel all self-righteous and back-patty to talk about the people who would be excluded, were racism a temple recommend question, but many would be awfully surprised to find themselves part of that group.

    I suggest first that the best way to eradicate racism is to ask oneself what preconceptions of an ethnic group (or any group, if you want to be truly free of prejudice) one has in oneself, and then seek to educate oneself on that group with a view to compassion and understanding. It would certainly be better than pointing wild fingers around the world at all the OTHER racist people.

    Moreover, it is rather eye-rolling to see all the high-horse-riders prating about how racist the Church was, and how uninspired the Priesthood ban was, and how much damage it did, and how far behind the times we were. The raw truth is We. Don’t. Know. everything behind that, the reasons and meanings of it all. There were many groups less prejudiced than we, and there were many groups more prejudiced. Without being a member of the leadership of the time, we just plain don’t know what happened and why.

    And I’d guess many of them didn’t know even then, either.

    But I’ll end my diatribe. I’m not meaning to offend anyone, I just get overly excited about this type of thing. I apologize for that. I generally try to stay more disengaged in online conversations.

  107. Mark Brown says:

    Fair enough, SilverRain. We certainly all fall short in just about every way, including our feelings about race.

    The question this post is trying to get at, I think, is this: Why do we tolerate it among us? Why do you automatically think that somebody is a “self-righteous, back-patty high-horse-rider” for pointing out that Pres. Hinckley thinks we Mormons have a real problem with this? Why isn’t the idea that peoples’ skin becomes lighter as they repent as offensive to us as the consumption of a cup of tea?

  108. I don’t think that anyone is a “self-righteous, back-patty high-horse-rider” for pointing out that LDS members do have a problem with this. What I think is irritating is the assumption that it is OTHER church members who must be the problem—such as those who believe that skin lightens with repentance. Racism can take far more common and subtler forms, in my opinion, and it cheapens the spectre of racism to equate everyone with a silly idea in their heads with full-blown racists—the people of whom President Hinckley was apparently speaking.

  109. Mark Brown says:

    I don’t know what to do with your apparent belief that the idea that repentance turns people white isn’t outrageously troublesome, so I’m not going to touch it.

    Immorality takes many forms, from adultery to impure thoughts, and yet we condemn it all, subtle or not. We don’t tolerate excuses, and so the question we all must answer is why we tolerate excuses for our racism, subtle or blatant.

  110. SilverRain,

    By your logic, your statements are all racist too. If you don’t see a problem with said logic, than there is no use trying to explain it to you.

    Also, I never claimed that I was free from any type of racism. But to suggest that everyone who points out another’s racism is racist him/herself is ridiculous.

  111. SilverRain, is your criteria for someone being allowed to talk about race that they have no racism? Surely people who think racism is a problem think that we should talk about, however imperfect we may be, no? (or especially if we are imperfect) Why are people’s sincere attempts at grappling with the issue “rather morbidly amusing” or “a political tool to engender a sense of false superiority”?

    I don’t really see people saying things in the spirit of, “look at those ugly racists over there,” so I think that’s kind of a straw man.

    Also, your 2nd to last sentence is very odd to me (“…I just get overly excited about this type of thing.”) If there is anything that I take issue with in the tone that I feel from your comments, it is that you seem to be not worked up enough about the racism issue. To you it seems silly (“amusing”) or vapid (“a political tool”). I think conversations about race and racism are terribly important. If I thought they weren’t being conducted in a constructive way, I would try to contribute in a way that sets a good example rather than belittling people as amusing, etc.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as attacking. It just seems to me that I hear you saying that you are feeling misunderstood in this thread, and I’m trying to explain how your comments may be seen from the outside (again, whether you intended that or not).

  112. Although she can speak for herself, I think you are all misreading SilverRain. She isn’t saying that you can’t speak about racism unless you aren’t a racist (that would be impossible by her (and my) criteria). What she is saying is that you should temper your outrage by acknowledging your own faults.

    That said, SilverRain, I appreciate that you could have picked any ol’ place as your paradigm of racism. But you chose the South, which, to a degree, is like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s so easy and obvious for those who aren’t from the South to excoriate it as the source of US racism. I would suggest it is a little too easy. Please set aside your morally superior “objective observer” status. You don’t understand us, which is fine. We’re used to the condescension of yankees.

  113. Don’t make this yankee beat on you Johnny Reb.

  114. My wife’s grandmother disowned a grandchild for “marrying a n-word” and often says the 1978 revelation was the only time she was troubled enough to question her testimony. She’d be horrified to hear any of you compare racism to the true evils like tea and coffee.

    I think it’s an age thing, I know many Mormons here in Northern Utah that feel the same way she does, but most will be dead in less than ten years.

  115. Well, I definitely don’t want racists in the temple, so I have no problem addding it to the TR questions.

    While you’re at it, I would also like to add a follow-up question to “Are you honest with your fellow men?” – “Do you lie on your taxes?” I don’t get why the majority of mormons I know totally lie on their taxes. It drives me bonkers.

  116. Its possible for a person to be so off the wall racist that they should not have a TR. I am thinking maybe an open KKK member…

    Would either of the following count as temple-worthiness excluding kinds/degrees of racism?

    1) Believing and publicly promoting the idea that non-whites will resurrect with their curse removed — i.e. as whites.

    2) Teaching that interracial marriage is inappropriate and should be avoided by LDS.

    The former was taught to me and an entire “Doctrines of the Gospel” class at BYU in 2002 by a professor of Religious Education who still enjoys continuing status (and, in fact, is quite a popular fixture not only in the department but on the Mormon lecture circuit).

    The latter is still included in the AP manual.

    Our wider cultural and historical background is definitely a contributing factor here. But don’t kid yourselves — so are our religious institutions, religious history, and religious culture.

  117. #115 – That’s what happens when you attend Hades 3rd Ward.

  118. Antonio Parr says:

    #105 – ESO: Heartfelt condolences regarding your negative race-based experiences with Church members. Although I am not in a mixed-race marriage, and have not experienced life from your perspective, I can tell you that I am very sensitive to such things, and have been pleasantly surprised by the warmth and openness between races in my Ward.

    I live in a city with an African-American majority, and have lived with AA’s my entire life. Perhaps the blessing of such a background is that I was able to figure out at a very young age that race had absolutely nothing to do with the content of a person’s character. I figured this out when I was about 8 or 9, and nothing in the ensuing years has altered that view one iota. Because of the significant presence of AA’s in my city, most Church members have their own AA acquaintances and, knock on wood, most appear to have learned the same lesson that I learned as a kid: heroes come in all shapes and sizes and colors. (Of course, so do villains — I have known my share of not-so-nice folks on both side of the color line!)

  119. Christopher—It is not racism to point out racist behavior. It is racism to lump that behavior into a skin color. For some reason, you and many other people think that it’s okay to be racist so long as it is white racism. Racism is racism. If it is wrong, it is wrong across the board.

    Cynthia—“is your criteria for someone being allowed to talk about race that they have no racism?” Obviously not. When I say that everyone has those prejudices, I mean that. What I think should be required is more humility and recognition that it is not a disease others have. It should not be used as a tool of pride, to feel like one is better than others. Ie. “at least I’m not like those racist [insert name of group] over there.”

    I don’t feel misunderstood, but I feel that racism is misunderstood. Far too many people avoid the real issue of racism by applying that label to others: to people they really can’t change. Until people recognize the true root and pervasive nature of racism within themselves, it will continue to flourish because NO ONE will recognize it in themselves.

    John C.—fair enough. It is rather too easy a target, being so stereotypical. I was feeling lazy, and I have a tendency to pick out the most extreme/obvious examples in order to quickly illustrate my point. Mea culpa. The truth is, I loved the south while I was there. It was utterly delightful to see such a colorful mix of culture in the particular snippet I lived in (from Brittany Spears to rusted antennae-welded pickups, and from business men conducting meetings remotely from the beach to sweet little women calling you “sugar” as they brought you the tastiest, most artery-clogging lunch on the face of earth.) But it was interesting to note how much the racial lines were an almost unifying part of that culture—not maliciously, just as a part of life.

  120. One last thing.

    I think my perspective is strongly colored by my military background. In my experience in the military, skin color was a complete non-issue among the kids. There was too much diversity for that. Prejudice took the flavor of rank. It was strongest in those who had been born into the military, but it was present in almost all. Those kids from NCOs were not to mix with those of officers. It didn’t matter how poor of an officer against how wealthy an NCO, the lines were drawn in stone. The church was one of the few groups that obliterated those lines. In fact, one of my best friends was an NCO child from my ward, and we both dealt with a lot of playground persecution for it.

    I just thought that would be an interesting experience to point out. Perhaps because the prejudice I grew up with was so obviously arbitrary, and obviously strong, I’m particularly sensitive to the different shapes that prejudice can take, not just the ones that people talk about all the time.

  121. Steve
    “Ask you’re friends here at BCC why they won’t denounce ALL forms of racism first.”

    Ask you’re own friends.

    I am not friends with those who are selectively racist. I’m not friends with “white supremacists” nor am I friends with liberals who think it is OK to make generalizations about “whites, honkeys, and crackers” like the reverend you BCC-ites fawned over.

    Post racial != putting whites down even by referencing old, yet racist songs.
    If you’re going to excuse old black men from making racist comments, why shouldn’t we excuse old white men? If we’re going to hold old white people accountable, treating all people equally also means holdling all black people equally responsibile. Then maybe we can completely move away from classifying and denoting people black and white and just refer to them as people.

  122. DavidGou,

    I don’t think that the Reverend will be applying for a temple recommend any time soon.

    It’s true that members of all races can have racist attitudes, and that those attitudes are problematic whoever holds them.

    But let’s be realistic. White racist attitudes towards Blacks have given us three hundred years of slavery in America; millions and millions of murders, rapes, tortures, maimings; loss of freedom for millions and millions of people; families destroyed by the millions; Jim Crow laws; widespread lynchings; another century, post slavery, of vastly unequal educational opportunity; KKK burnings; anti-miscegenation laws; roughly a century of post-slavery systems of peonage that restricted Black property ownership; housing segregation laws; school segregation laws; military segregation; religious segregation; widespread discrimination in federal New Deal programs; the Tuskegee experiment; the Tulsa massacre; Rosewood; the St. Louis massacre; killings of civil rights advocates; bombings of Black chapels; lack of Black access to the court system for centuries; lack of political representation (from poll tax to violent intimidation).

    Meanwhile, Black-against-white racism has resulted in . . . what, exactly?

    Sure, racism is bad from any source. But let’s not kid ourselves. The history of invidious racism in this country has been about racist whites oppressing, killing, and controlling Blacks. Saying “don’t forget, Blacks can be racist too” is like going to a rape center and asking whether they’ve got measures in place to help out men who are raped by women.

    Yes, it can happen, but we all know what the real problem is.

  123. Christopher—It is not racism to point out racist behavior. It is racism to lump that behavior into a skin color. For some reason, you and many other people think that it’s okay to be racist so long as it is white racism. Racism is racism. If it is wrong, it is wrong across the board.

    Again, you’ve misread me. I never justified the racism of everyone except white people. In fact, I was the first to point out on this thread that racism affects people throughout the world (see my comment #47).

    I never lumped racist behavior into a skin color. My initial comment that got you all riled up (“might I suggest that you are oblivious to racism because you are white?”) was in reference to a specific situation. That should have been clear from the context of the conversation at that point.

    That said, I stand by my comment that in America, whiteness carries with it more racist baggage than blackness does (see Kaimi’s third paragraph in #122 for examples of such baggage). I simply don’t understand why you think that statement is racist.

  124. Then maybe we can completely move away from classifying and denoting people black and white and just refer to them as people.

    DavidGou,

    This is a fairly typical conservative response to these issues. Colorblindness sounds wonderful at first. But unfortunately, it ignores the fact that one’s race is a crucial aspect of his or her identity, and has historically been another way to force African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asians to assimilate and act more “like whites.”

  125. Antonio Parr says:

    #22 – Kaimi: Your point regarding the relative disparity of black-on-white racism versus white-on-black racism is noted, but doesn’t do much to comfort a white victim of black-on-white racism, of which there are more than a few. I was around during the race riots of the late ’60’s, and know of many, many young white victims who were brutally and repeatedly attacked by black gangs simply because of the color of their skin. I would not be so insensitive to these victims to suggest to them that they were not victims of racial discrimination.

    The key, of course, is to strive for the day when kindness abounds, and love unfeigned exists for all of God’s children. In many respects, society has made substantial strides towards racial equality, and we all need to do our part to see that day realized fully.

  126. My son is black and the brazil nut thing came up with my parents. It didn’t happen while my son was in the room, just a statement that they couldn’t use that offensive name any longer.

    Previously, I had never heard of the term, so I don’t know when they ever used it. It wasn’t in front of me.

    BTW, he is deathly alergic to them, so it is a question that he frequently has to ask..if any are in the room.

    Yes, I have viewed racism in the church. It has gotten better, but I’m in a fairly integrated place.

  127. Mr. Gou,
    Generally speaking, I give older people a pass on mild racist remarks because they grew up in a period where racism was much more overt and, I think, habits die hard. So, while I think the reference to the song was silly, I didn’t find it offensive.

    Spoken as Steve’s friend at BCC.

  128. oh, and also Antonio’s, natch.

  129. DavidGou doesn’t see race? Well, he’s in good company.

    Rock on Christopher and Kaimi (#122-124), I like the way you make your points.

  130. Steve Evans says:

    “I think my perspective is strongly colored by my military background. In my experience in the military, skin color was a complete non-issue among the kids. There was too much diversity for that. Prejudice took the flavor of rank.”

    I call B.S. Growing up a military brat doesn’t make you part of the military!! You were a KID. You have no experience from which you can speak as to the racial difficulties in the military which, by all reputable accounts, are pervasive and profound. Even a cursory google search is sufficient to completely refute your idyllic view of a race-free military system.

    P.S. you’re not the only military brat commenter.

  131. Steve Evans says:

    p.s. DavidGou, all my comment was trying to do was point out your incredible use of apostrophes. I see the lesson was wasted in many senses.

  132. Why should this be a “Temple Recommend” issue? Why not make it church-wide issue for all members, and incorporate it into our regular lessons and talks. For 100+ years, Church members were consistently and officially taught that skin color really does make a difference, so why don’t we devote 100+ years to consistent and official teaching that skin color now doesn’t make a difference?

    Any official “question” would quickly get into a gray area with Book of Mormon teachings on race. Many members (and leaders) still interpret certain Book of Mormon passages to mean that God changed the skin color of certain people to indicate “less-worthiness” and an imperative for the righteous to stay separate from them. Are these ideas any less “racist”? And if someone believes them, does that make them racist?

  133. Eric Russell says:

    The TR question that ought to be asked is whether you contend with others on blogs.

  134. Steve Evans says:

    SHUT UP ERIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  135. Eric Russell FTW.

  136. Steve,
    Maybe it’s just because I’m a quantum physicist, but I don’t find your teaching method very effective. Is mocking an acceptable Canadian teaching method or is it just a liberal BCC tactic?

  137. Kaimi, I’m glad that you finally admitted that all racism is problematic, I’m confused by your “but they deserve to be racist back” defense. What’s the fundamental difference between that defense and the old MMM, “but they mobbed us and killed us in Missouri.” Sure, it wasn’t the same people involved, but let’s not let reason get in the way of illogical emotive reasoning.

    Further, as a quantum physicist, let me teach you a little math lesson. 1865-1776=89 years not 300. There is no need to belabor the point, slavery was horrible. There’s no whitewashing that point. But you can’t say that that somehow justifies wrong behavior now. Do you truly believe in rendering evil for evil? I honestly respect many members of the black community to have managed to truly forgive, instead of holding the descendants (or maybe even those who aren’t descendants like myself) of white slave owners responsible. I’m just saying racism is ugly behavior from anyone, regardless of who it comes from. It sickens me to see liberals excuse any group when they say it.

    “Saying “don’t forget, Blacks can be racist too” is like going to a rape center and asking whether they’ve got measures in place to help out men who are raped by women. ”
    If they don’t that’s sexism pure and simple. And the federal government needs to provide equal care for men who have been sexually abused by women under the law. Shouldn’t a lawyer know this?

    “We all know” = I can’t provide good reasoning and so I resort to a false assumption of unanimous thinking. Nice. Guess I could easily be a lawyer as long as I watch my apostrophes.

  138. Further, as a quantum physicist, let me teach you a little math lesson. 1865-1776=89 years not 300.

    As a historian, let me teach you a little history. Slavery did not magically appear in American the second the declaration of independence was signed. The enslavement of Black Africans in Virginia started in the first decade of the seventeenth century. 1865-1600=265; a figure much closer to Kaimi’s 300 than your 89. Not to mention that slavery (some of it race-based) continues to this day in the United States.

    It sickens me to see conservatives make slavery and white racism to be less of a problem than it is in today’s society.

  139. David, slavery in North America predates the Declaration of Independence.

    Also, you completely dodged Kaimi’s argument, instead contending vigorously with a straw man (“but they deserve to be racist back”). He was in no way making an argument about “deserve,” but rather an argument related to focusing our discussion on the most significant problems. What kind of wisdom is it if an intern interrupts an ER doctor who is working on a foot-long gash across a patient’s torso, saying “but doctor! but doctor! you are completely ignoring the arthritic knee!!” Arthritis is indeed serious, painful, often life-alteringly debilitating. Yet the intern shows a real lack of perspective.

  140. Ah, I see an actual historian beat me to the punch on 1776. Take it away, Christopher.

  141. David, quit acting like a dink or someone will end up banning you. You know things are bad when a lawyer has to lecture a quantum physicist in the ways of acting like a normal person. I guess it shows that even QUANTUM PHYSICISTS can be dumbasses.

    If it helps, I would want to mock you even if I weren’t part of BCC, simply because you are ridiculous.

  142. More to the point, mocking David Gou is my right as an American. Really, I believe that we all, conservatives, liberals, transvestites, and chupacabras, should gather together and is our patriotic duty and mock David Gou.

  143. er…make it our patriotic duty

  144. er…make it our duty to mock…



    Yeesh

  145. I want to start this comment off by saying that I am a college educated temple married RM.

    Now with that out of the way and my credibility established :)

    its almost impossible to discuss race on blogs. Everybody is always accusing somebody of racism or ignorance.

    The truth between David gou and his critics on the status of historical slavery is somewhere in between. Slavery in NA started as early as the first colonists. In 1776 the new American experiment started and horribly botched the whole inherited slavery situation as many of the founders openly acknowledged.

    There is a really in depth book on slavery that I read recently. its tough slogging but worth reading

  146. Mocking FAIL.

    :-D

  147. ha, ha! You can’t even mock people right!

  148. This is shameful. All you liberal BCC people think you are so smug and self righteous, mocking others when you ought to know that quantum physicists see right through you.

  149. Latter-day Guy says:

    The REALLY good thing about quantum physics is that unless you are observing this conversation, it either ceases to exist or exists in only a vague blog/wave/smear form. So, DG, that might be a simple way to put this whole episode behind you. ;)

  150. Hehe, It’s the Heisenblog uncertainty principle.

  151. Aaron Brown says:

    I’m sorry to have missed all the fun around here. I haven’t yet read most of the comments.

    Kaimi — I answer “yes” to both your original questions. But it’s important to recognize that an explicit TR question as to whether one harbors racists thoughts or feelings, or makes racist comments, would necessarily be subject to wildly different interpretations, and so would not have the effect that you (or I) would probably want it to have. This is because the term “racism” has lost much of its meaning in a society in which it is lazily thrown around to describe anyone who are rude or insensitive to black people, or merely opposed to certain public policies that some feel are in the interest of ethnic minorities. This is unfortunate, but it’s the price we all pay in a culture where people so often co-opt this term (and its once powerful pejorative connotations) for political purposes in which its invocation is really not appropriate.

    AB

  152. Aaron Brown says:

    Geoff B,

    I have a temple-recommend-holding uncle (from whom I am estranged) in California who several months ago composed a 30-page religious rant and disseminated it widely via email — to both LDS and non-LDS folks — in which he bemoaned that he was no longer free to refer to black people as “niggers”, and condemned the existence of multi-ethnic neighborhoods, black people in TV commercials, black dominance of professional basketball, etc. His racist bile is interspersed with lots of scriptural and prophetic commentary (including BoM quotes about the white, fair and beautiful inhabitants of the Americas). It’s a real joy to see this stuff juxtaposed in this way, let me tell you! Ironically, my uncle did all this ONE DAY after President Hinckley’s famous condemniation of racism (as quoted in Kaimi’s post) was quoted over Sacrament meeting pulpits thruout the Church (on the anniversary of the lifting of the Priesthood Ban). (My uncle also bemoans sexual harrassment laws as tools of an evil male-emasculating matriarchy, women with short haircuts, poor people on airplanes, and he advocates violence against beastly, pedophilic “fags”, but I digress …).

    This same uncle not only has a temple recommend, but has in recent years had a calling to work in the temple. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect he still does. And yes, his church leaders know about the email, since my copy of it shows that they were recipients on the original distribution.

    You say (at comment #1) that you’ve never run into racism in the Church. That’s fine; I believe you. But I think I’m going to email you a copy of this document offline. Read it, and then I think you’ll agree you can no longer claim this anymore.

    AB

  153. John C.,

    Mocking is your Socratic duty. Though I am not sure if you are as good at it as Socrates. Though…you do look a bit like Socrates.

  154. For me, I subscribe to the “Everyone is a little bit racist” theory sung about in Avenue Q, (Not for members who abstain from R Rated entertainment, but hilariously funny to everyone else.) I also learned this theory in several race issues classes in college.

    We all have racial biases. Period. There really is now way around them. If you tell me you don’t have racial biases and prejudices, to me, you flunk the “are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men?” question, as well as in denial about how pervasive prejudice and racism is.

    If the question is, “Are you racist? Do you have prejudices? ” I would have to answer yes. If the question is “Do you strive to live your life under the belief that all humans are equal under the Lord?” (But then that questions could really run afoul of the prop 8 stance) I would answer yes to that.

    Racism is deaper and takes more thought than a yes or no answer. I strive to live a “color blind” life, but still find myself thinking prejudiced/racist thoughts from time to time. I mentally chastise myself and work to do better. By far, I’m no member of the KKK, but I’m no where near where the Lord is on not seing color either.

    However, that said, it would upset me greatly to know that the brother across the aisle in the ordinance room feels I’m a race traiter because I married outside my race. Heck, I followed the commandment to marry inside the covenant, but he happens to have a different color skin than I do. (Because mine is green, natch.;) ) There is no way I could stand in the prayer circle with someone who is an active racist.

    And I’m really close to being ready to get a temple recommend again, I pray they don’t add anything about gay marraige, because you will find my name on the “No on 8″ donor list.

  155. #123 Christopher—Perhaps you’re right, I’m more than willing to entertain the notion that I may not have understood what you said. I was not trying to say you were racist, just that statements such as the one you made were racist, even if they were not widely recognized as such, and even if the intent was not racist. To say that white people carry more racist baggage than black people is overgeneralization and, quite simply, not only racist, but often incorrect. I understand that you may not agree, that is your prerogative.

    My entire point of commenting was to say that racism and prejudice is one of the common denominators in any group of people. Just because it is kosher and PC to talk about white-on-black racism, does not mean that other types of racism do not exist or should be ignored.

    I find it far more important to address the root causes and actual basis of racism, rather than to wildly point fingers at established offenders, simply to make oneself feel good. I, personally, don’t excuse racism in myself by saying that other people are racist.

    To use a later analogy, it would be like someone operating on a stomach wound while ignoring the parasite inside which is killing the person anyways. Sure, we can treat the obvious symptoms, but without understanding, racism will always exist.

    I am unsurprised that many people here argue with my point, and try to undermine it rather than trying to understand it. It is not a comfortable thing to contemplate that perhaps one is guilty of the very sin one has fought so hard in others. Common, but not comfortable.

    #130 Steve—I think I made my background perfectly clear, and in no way attempted to speak for the military as a whole, merely my background and experiences in that culture. You can’t legitimately undermine my attempt to explain my perspective based on my experiences by saying that someone else’s were different. It just looks silly.

    #122 Kaimi—No, apparently we don’t all know what the real problem is. The real problem is when people draw arbitrary lines between themselves and others in an attempt to feel superior or part of a group, whether that line is political, gendered, or racial.

    Racism has to do with who holds the power, not with what color their skin is. In areas where blacks (or Asians, or Mexicans, or anyone) holds power, the racism comes from them. It is undeniable that white ancestors perpetrated great evil against blacks and others because they had the power. It is also undeniable that they had the power because in Africa, blacks were sold into slavery primarily by other blacks from conquering tribes. If a person wants to truly rid themselves of racism, they must begin to see that people are people, no matter their skin color or ethnic background. Vice and virtue are equally shared among all.

    So long as anyone points a finger at any racial or ethnic group to say “victim” or “perpetrator”, they are being racist. It is not far different from sexism. Calling women “victims” as a whole does nothing to empower them and free them. The same is for blacks or any other group.

    Save the labels for individuals, not for groups. You’ll find yourself on better footing. That is all I have to say further on the matter.

  156. BBell,
    Thank you for pointing out the disconnect between my disagreement with Kaimi. As you note, I was pointing at the very specific contradiction between the establishment of a society that declares that “All men are created equal” in the delcaration of indepedance of the Unites States of America, and Christopher’s use of America to refer to the land in what would later become the United States of America.

    Truly, the truth was in between. Slavery was wrong before then as well, but I believe it became worse afterwards, a higher form of hyporcrisy, stating that all men are free, and then enslaving some because of skin color. Much akin to people claiming, “Free speech” and then threatening to ban someone with whom we disagree (ahem, SE).

    “1776 the new American experiment started and horribly botched the whole inherited slavery situation as many of the founders openly acknowledged.”

    As for John C, maybe you should read Ether 12:26. Then, after writing a snide comment about me, read it again, and again, and again.

  157. Kaimi,
    After reading Cynthia’s comment that I have missed your point, I’m trying to revisit it. She think’s you didn’t try to imply some sort of vengeance argument. She says you were trying to deal with the most horrendous parts of racism. You list “millions and millions of murders, rapes, tortures, rapes, maimings; loss of freedom for millions and millions of people; families destroyed by the millions; Jim Crow laws; widespread lynchings;” Yet these are not current problems in the United States, or can someone point to an academic (e.i., not pulled out of the backside of a BCC commentator) paper describing the statistical presence of these things currently. If not, then, while horrible history, they are history. We can learn from the root causes and mindset and obliterate that mindset, or we can focus on it in a way that encourages vengeance and hate (such as contention).

    “another century, post slavery, of vastly unequal educational opportunity; KKK burnings; anti-miscegenation laws; roughly a century of post-slavery systems of peonage that restricted Black property ownership; housing segregation laws; school segregation laws; military segregation; religious segregation; widespread discrimination in federal New Deal programs; the Tuskegee experiment; the Tulsa massacre; Rosewood; the St. Louis massacre; killings of civil rights advocates; bombings of Black chapels; lack of Black access to the court system for centuries; lack of political representation (from poll tax to violent intimidation).”
    Again, maybe it’s because there is a standard deviation of exposure (I’m young enough to have never experienced any of these), but these are past problems. The ones that remain statistical problems (IMO) are the lack of educational opportunities and court representation, yet it isn’t the law that is setting up these injustices. They are people.

    How do you change people. Well you start by being an example. You say: This is the ideal I’m trying to achieve. The ideal, is to not judge someone solely by their race, skin color, ethnic group, or even religion. Will we all do this immediately? Of course not, but let’s at least try or say that we should. Can’t we in theory, at least, say that’s our goal, and not “That side did so much worse in the past.” While it is true, it’s certainly not helpful. (Think Oak’s comment here).

    Or you can call me a dink (whatever that is) and ignore me.
    Thanks for treating me kindly.

  158. Racism has to do with who holds the power, not with what color their skin is.

    SilverRain, exactly. Which is why, in the context of Mormonism, we need to be particularly attuned to racism perpetrated on black people by white people. And that is why arguments that everybody else is doing it are not going to get any traction. Our very recent history allows for no margin of error.

    I’m not trying to undermine your argument, I really just don’t get it. Impure thoughts are common to just about everybody now and then, but can we not denounce immorality and pornography when we see it? Why is racism any different? You’re right, we are probably guilty of this sin in some of its milder forms. So what? The difference between noticing color and being a virulent racist (and the church does continue to harbor some of them) is the difference between looking at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and being a pederast. We simply must be able to make distinctions, and while it all fits under the broad label of racism, when we try to make them comparable or analogous, as some on this thread have done, we just end up making excuses for the inexcusable.

  159. DavidGou,

    If this is all history, why do you think Pres. Hinckley addressed it at all? It is clear that he thought this is an ongoing problem. You’re free to disagree with him, and your personal experience might lead you to think that it is all in the past. But lots of other people have experiences that lead to different conclusions, so why not just listen to the prophet on this one?

    Also, would it be OK if you took the chip off your shoulder? I want you to feel welcome to participate here, and I am certain that you have valuable perspectives to contribute. Just try to express them as though you were among friends instead of enemies. You might be surprised.

  160. Eric Russell says:

    How do you change people. Well you start by being an example. You say: This is the ideal I’m trying to achieve. The ideal, is to not judge someone solely by their race, skin color, ethnic group, or even religion. Will we all do this immediately? Of course not, but let’s at least try or say that we should. Can’t we in theory, at least, say that’s our goal, and not “That side did so much worse in the past.” While it is true, it’s certainly not helpful. (Think Oak’s comment here).

    Aaron B. Cox called. He wants his persona back.

  161. Mark Brown says:

    Eric, please go read Ether 12:26. Then read it again. And again. And again.

  162. Gou Gou ga Choo,

    While I failed to successfully mock you, your self-mockery is kinda awesome. Let me toss another verse at ya: Matt 5:22.

    Finally, don’t complain about not being treated kindly when you came storming in here with a chip on your shoulder. You’re friends at BCC would appreciate it.

  163. This has been great y’all. I heart BCC.

  164. David Gou,
    There does exist a word for people who are more scandalized by the “racism from black people against white people during this last election cycle” than by the forms of racism mostly likely to be relevant for a TR interview. It’s the same as the word for people who are freaked-out by those who express greater moral outrage toward persistent forms of white-supremacist sentiment than toward the double standards that allow black preachers to get away with saying “white will get it right.”

  165. Mark Brown.
    President Hinckley, in this address, didn’t say a word about the past murders, raping, or torture. He talked about present racial slurs. Let’s reproduce those words here, so that Mark can point out why I’m a bad Mormon for not listening to President Hinckley denounce past racism.
    “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?
    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.”

    The fact that racial injustice and bigotry has exists now and in the past is a problem. But the type of bigotry that exists today is not the same in degree as it used to be. President Hinckely did not address the degrees that you care about the most. The ongoing problem that was addressed by President Hinckley is one not possessed by any race in particular. I do not disagree with President Hinckley on this, and find it quite ironic that you would accuse me of disagreeing with President Hinckley, when I do agree with him, and that in the past, when you disagreed with the joint actions of the first presidency and twelve, were indignant that anyone expect you to agree with them. It’s ironic on just so many levels. “Why not just listen to the prophet on this one?” I do Mark, but I also listen to him on R-rated movies, believing in the eternal nature of gender, and that gay-marriage is wrong.

    I have seen no statistical evidence that my personal experience is a statistical aberration, Mark. And if you would care to actually provide some, instead of accusing me of apostasy for not believing everything you do, I would gladly change my mind to match the data. But I won’t do it just to fit in. The truth is, that there aren’t millions of black people being put to death every year by white people in the United States. And while the root cause of racism is still alive and well (pride and enmity) that cause can and does affect all races.

  166. Steve Evans says:

    “there aren’t millions of black people being put to death every year by white people in the United States”

    No, just thousands.

  167. Mark Brown says:

    DavidGou,

    I think you have conceded that racism continues to be a problem in the church, correct? If so, let’s just leave it at that and say that Kaimi’s post addresses a real problem. If I have misunderstood you and you think that racism is not an ongoing problem among us, I suggest you give it a rest and quit digging yourself in deeper.

  168. John Mansfield says:

    “‘there aren’t millions of black people being put to death every year by white people in the United States’

    “No, just thousands.”

    No, just 245.

  169. Steve Evans says:

    Heh. Does the FBI chart count the death penalty as homicide?

  170. John Mansfield says:

    No, execution by the state is not counted as homicide. It looks like 42 people were executed in the United States in 2007, and over the last thirty years, 34% of the 1138 people executed in the United States were black.

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/FactSheet.pdf

  171. Steve Evans says:

    Just checking.

  172. John Mansfield says:

    Steve Evans, I’ve got it. The WISQARS Injury Mortality Database reports that 25,116 blacks suffered fatal injuries in 2005. You just have to sort through the major causes and find those most attributable to white people. Good luck.

    http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_sy.html

  173. Steve Evans says:

    At last! Thanks JM.

  174. I think this is a very compelling idea. I don’t find anyone’s that’s-just-human-nature-so-of-course-there-are -racists-in-the-church-and-we-just-have-tolive-with-it arguments very compelling. The temple recommend interview is ABOUT being held to a high standard. Racism has no place in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I tend to think it has no place in the temple either. I live in a ward that’s about half white (mostly Utah, Idaho and California stock) and half black (African American, African and Haitian). I have been very disturbed by the racist attitudes of many members. Placing a question along those lines in the temple recommend interview might not yield very honest answers. But the same argument could be used for the law of chastity, testimony, honesty, etc… Having such a question in the temple recommend interview might encourage people to be a little more introspective and lead to some much-needed repentance. As it is, I am incredibly grateful when the GAs condemn racism in General Conference and wish they would do it a lot more. It is a pernicious evil among our people that needs to be rooted out. It is entirely inconsistent with the savior’s teaching and with temple covenants, so I think there’s a very compelling argument to make for adding it to the interview, whether people would be entirely honest about it or not.

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