LaShawn Williams-Schultz is a certified social worker and an adjunct professor at Salt Lake Community College.
When missionaries come to the homes of black people then and now and defend the Priesthood & Temple ban or deny racism in the LDS Church, it causes confusion and contention in the home because that’s what the devil does. He causes confusion when the philosophies of men are mingled with scripture.
Nobody has tried then or now to “protect” black kids from contention or confusion. We either say “leave your family behind and join us! We’ll take care of you.” or people join and their families leave them and we say “good for you! you did the right thing” And when they go less active, we blame their faith instead of how we forgot to become their family. Where were we to protect them? How would we see ourselves “protecting” children of gay parents today? It’s not like they’re still not the children of gay parents after they turn 18 and still choose to be baptized.
Nobody said black children had to wait to join the Church so that we could be protected from intimate racism inside the Church. Nobody protected us from having to defend our blackness inside the LDS Church. Our parents protected us either by joining with us or before us, or advising against it. Some how or another, we found a direction to follow that led us to Christ because He stood just beyond the missionaries, reaching out to us. Just beyond the Prophet, saying, “this is the home I want for you because I need you more than they realize they do.” He’s spoken to so many of us through personal revelation reminding us to hang on because we are needed.
And still, we have lost family for joining. And still, we’ve remained faithful, despite the presence of the Devil in our midst calling us Sister or Brother while denying our dignity. We learned from Jane who asked a question she already knew the answer. We learned from Elijah who served the Kingdom and its people.
Until the ban was lifted we could get baptized and wait to die for the rest.
We could get baptized though. We held onto that. We still do.
Anybody, anywhere, unwilling to see that this is a similar oppression for children of LGBTQIA parents is in a place of convenient minority status privilege that only comes with being a member of the LDS Church.
To those who stand now because you have friends and loved ones directly impacted by this shift in policy, I wonder if it’s because your friends and family didn’t stand before 1978. I wonder if it’s because Mormons embraced majority status when they created it in Utah and forgot their minority status that got them expelled from the midwest in the rest of the Country. I wonder if they had stood firmly in the power of their experience then and used it to leverage on behalf of other downtrodden then and now, if they hadn’t let the fear of man take them away from doing the work of God, if we’d be here as an Institution.
The outrage now and the silence then is what stands out to me. Silence when black Christians were massacred in Charleston. Silence when the Race and the Priesthood Essay was released. Silence when Official Declaration 2 was changed. Silence when BlacksintheScriptures shared truth about the meaning of Black in the Scriptures. Silence when the Freedmen Bureau indexing project began. So much silence.
Kings 19:12 – “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
Are we listening?
Luke 10:27 – “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
There’s no way we love ourselves if this is how we treat each other.