Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More Musings on Racism

I just had the chance to spend lots of quality time with my devout in-laws for the holidays. I love them a lot. They are great people. The parents know my current views on the church, but the siblings do not (although I come off as very heretical to them, I'm sure). We talked about lots of things, both religious and secular. Here's what I learned in one poignant conversation that flowed from a discussion of presidential contenders:

1. Oprah Winfrey is anti-Mormon,
2. the church was never racist (but it's complicated to explain that to journalists), and
3. suggesting that the church may have been mistaken prior to 1978 is disloyal (and therefore bad).

Have to admit, I felt like #1 came out of left field. After establishing that there was no good evidence for the assertion, I suggested that if it were true, it might be because she's black, and the church has a less-than-stellar record with its teachings on race. That led to the next two observations. At that point, tension building, we changed the subject.

These two observations by my family really bothered me because I've been thinking a lot about the recent article in the Wall Street Journal on racism in the church. Since the article came out last Friday, I have been increasingly agitated by the continued belief among the vast majority of Mormons that racism was okay prior to 1978 (or that whites withholding power from blacks, when so directed by God, is not racism). I even had a dream on Friday night that I was acting as a racist, even as I found my behavior offensive at the same time. Not a pleasant dream (particularly as it led to violence against me) but a clear reflection of how I am thinking about this issue these days.

I'm as close as I've ever been to writing a letter to a particular apostle who I understand actually reads his mail (rather than sending it back to a bishop or SP). I just feel that my integrity is demanding that I implore the leaders of the church to see the evil that is perpetuated by not officially forsaking pre-1978 "doctrine." Not that I expect the church to apologize on account of my humble letter, but then I can at least say that I've done something to further what I believe to be the best course of action for the sake of the many members whom I love.


Blogger new deep said...

The sad thing is that all those people who now call you unfaithful for seeing that the church has a racist past would without much thought echo the same arguments if GBH said essential the same thing as you believe. And would still think of you as being unfaithful for believing it too soon!

December 26, 2007 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Good point. I've often asked about BRMcConkie's not-quite-apology for his prior teachings--the one where he says, "we spoke with a limited understanding and without ... light and knowledge...." Where's BRM's hat tip to the apostates who actually had a fuller understanding and greater light and knowledge?

December 27, 2007 at 5:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the Oprah Winfrey sentiment probably comes from her (substantial) monetary and advertising support of Martha Beck's book, Leaving the Saints.

February 27, 2008 at 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Justpassingby said...

"I just feel that my integrity is demanding that I implore the leaders ..."

How can your integrity demand anything when you don't even have enough of it to be honest with those around you about how you feel?

February 16, 2009 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Ah, my first troll, perhaps?

Integrity does not require diarrhea of the mouth. I share my opinions in a way that is consistent with other values, such as kindness and prudence. Perhaps you tell people what you dislike about them every chance you get, but I don't. I never claim to believe or know anything that I don't, which is consistent with integrity. As you have just demonstrated, many Mormons (assuming you're one--if not you've demonstrated its broader existence) lose any ability to have positive social interactions in the face of a "nonbeliever." In the case of racism however, it seems that justice should trump kindness.

February 17, 2009 at 1:56 AM  

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