The Mormon Church Makes New Efforts on Race

LDS taking steps to move forward

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has not always been the pinnacle of equality as it pertains to racial matters within the church. However, the leaders are trying to change that to include people from all races.

The latest attempt to reach out to diverse crowds for support saw members of the church speaking to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Here, church members reminded the audience that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and the church, even though they had a long way to go on the latter.

After all, the LDS did not open its priesthood to black members until the late 1970s or allow them to take parts in all aspects of the church rituals. These exclusions were perpetrated due to overt racism that was part of the social climate but also had religious justifications. For example, the idea that the black descendants of Cain were cursed and deserved to be shunned.

However, the LDS is seeking to undo a century of exclusion within the church, starting with opening churches in other countries and sending aid in the events of emergencies. It’s clear that most of the church is still white and middle-class, but the attempt to speak with members of the NAACP shows that the Mormons are making progress.

Now, the LDS is continuing to rehabilitate their image and provide new ways to get people of color involved with their church. Two of the things that black Mormons believe could help the image of the LDS are, apologizing and include black members in high ranking church leadership positions.

Even though roughly 6 percent of all members of the church are black, there is not a single member that is in the upper echelon of leadership. Moreover, while the church has denounced past missteps with regards to race, they have yet to offer an apology and come up with new ways to move forward.

As always, the path towards equality between races is slow-going, but the LDS is taking steps to make it happen. For now, the dialogue between the church and NAACP could be fruitful and indicative of significant changes coming for non-white church members.

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