Church president calls on members to help end racism

In this Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, video image streamed by The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, church President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the opening of the 190th Semiannual General Conference at the Conference Center Theater on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The twice-annual conference kicked off Saturday without anyone attending in person and top leaders sitting some 6-feet apart inside an empty room as the faith takes precautions to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. A livestream of the conference showed a few of the faith's top leaders sitting alone inside a small auditorium in Salt Lake City, Normally, top leaders sit side-by-side on stage with the religion's well-known choir behind them and some 20,000 people watching. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ president issued another plea for members to help end racism, saying Sunday at the faith’s signature conference that God loves people of all races equally and that it pains him to see Black people suffer prejudice.

Russell M. Nelson’s comments followed similar speeches by other top leaders Saturday at the conference that comes as many members live through a reckoning over racial injustice, especially in the U.S. following the May police killing of Black man George Floyd.

God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear,” Nelson said. “I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your skin.”

Members believe church presidents are living prophets who receive revelations from God.

Like the leaders who spoke on Saturday, Nelson didn’t mention the church’s past ban on Black men in the lay priesthood. The prohibition — which stood until 1978 — was rooted in the belief that black skin was a curse. It remains one of the most sensitive topics in the faith’s history.

The church disavowed the ban and the reasons behind it in a 2013 essay but has never issued a formal apology — a necessary step for some members.

The Utah-based religion known widely as the Mormon church doesn’t provide ethnic or racial breakdowns of its 16.6 million members — but scholars say Black followers make up a small portion of adherents. None of the 15 men who sit on the faith’s top leadership panels are Black. Church leadership did become more diverse in 2018 when it sent to the previously all-white Quorum of the Twelve Apostles its first-ever apostles of Latin American and Asian descent.

This weekend’s twice-yearly conference is the second one held this year without an audience.

Since becoming president in 2018, the 96-year-old Nelson has called for racial harmony and launched a formal partnership with the NAACP.

I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice,” Nelson said.

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  • eshner October 4, 2020 at 9:31 pm Reply

    “I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice,” Nelson said.

    OK – how about instead of grieving, the church leaders move into small homes, stop building temples for now, and use all that money (plus the billions they appear to be hiding) to fund education, housing, healthcare and etc for the Black brothers and sisters? Much more productive than grieving!

  • Polly Polygamy October 5, 2020 at 9:36 am Reply

    YES! How about they use their BILLIONS of dollars to help undo the systemic racism THEY contributed to & still perpetuate in Utah. Adopting children of color to prove you’re “better” than everyone else in your ward doesn’t accomplish what you think it does. How about they stop the cultural theft of Pacific Island culture? SMH.

  • Blayne October 5, 2020 at 4:45 pm Reply

    Interesting you two kooks would criticize a man for his request to millions to help fight hatred. Misery loves company.

    • eshner October 5, 2020 at 9:10 pm Reply

      No, we can’t be criticizing Nelson for trying to fight hatred because Nelson never mentions hatred. Go back and read the story. Nelson refers to bigotry and racism. Anyway, asking others to do what he could be doing so much more about himself is the problem. The money scamming/laundering operation he is in charge of can be using their financial resources to make a difference. A much bigger difference than the vague words he puts in god’s mouth. Like Trump, if there is no photo-op involved, the LDS leadership isn’t interested.

      So try to keep up, Blayne. Name calling and conflating don’t make for a strong argument.

      • Blayne October 6, 2020 at 4:33 pm Reply

        I see, so you support bigotry and racism. How old were you when you got your feelings hurt at church? And what are you doing to fund education, housing, healthcare and etc for the black brothers and sisters?

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