Date: March 19, 2023 05:15PM
From The Atlantic, 2017:
Excerpts of a discussion between Emma Green, staff writer at The New Yorker and Max Perry Mueller, a historian at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln:
When Mormons Aspired to Be a ‘White and Delightsome’ Peoplehttps://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/mormons-race-max-perry-mueller/539994/
(Please ignore the political references in the article. They do help to explain some of the points made in the discussion but no politics at RfM! I'm focusing just on the topic of racism in Mormonism history, scriptures, teachings and practices).
Green: “Conflicts over race in the Mormon Church have lasted well into the 20th and 21st centuries. Black men were allowed to become priests only starting in the 1970s, and black men and women could not participate in sacred Mormon temple rites until that point. The Mormon Church didn’t repudiate its past teachings on race until 2013.
“Why did it take so long for these reforms to emerge?”
Mueller: “When Mormons disavow their past, it’s not simply disavowing institutional history. It’s pointing out what’s wrong with past leaders. Because of continuing revelation—the Mormon belief that their leaders are speaking messages directly from God—it’s really hard to disavow the prophets. If you start disavowing the prophets of the past, that undercuts the whole premise that God provides revelations to his people in the present day.”
Green: “The LDS Church historically encouraged its members to buy Native American slaves or to adopt native children and raise them in their homes. The latter practice extended into the 1990s with a program called the Indian Student Placement Program.
“What do you make of these practices, exactly? Were they racist?”
Green: “In recent years, other conservative religious groups have pushed for what they call “racial reconciliation.” Are there similar efforts in the Mormon context?"
Mueller: “Their version of racial reconciliation is what I call “multicultural Mormonism.” There was an ad campaign called “I’m a Mormon” from 2011 to 2012. This was explicitly presenting a multicultural face of Mormonism to the world: multicultural, multinational, multilingual. The Church acknowledged that it did have a problem as a white Church.”