Last weekend I was in Portland for a Protect Every Child event. It was marvelous. About 50 child protection advocates climbed to Multnomah Falls and unfurled many banners.
While I was there, the topic of past racist policies of the Mormon Church came up. It reminded me of a fast & testimony meeting from just a year ago. I stood and read the words below. Obviously, I thought it was a pretty good testimony.
However, a few tattle-tales in the congregation disagreed. They ran to the local leaders to report me. The stake president called me in and told me not to bring up any more issues in future testimonies. He instructed me to only bear testimony of the Church, Joseph Smith, the current prophet, the Book of Mormon, etc.
Some context. At the Fast & Testimony meeting one month before, I had born witness of my love for the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. As soon as the meeting was over a prominent member of the congregation rushed over to me. In a patronizing tone he scolded, “Without a full-throated witness of the restoration, your testimony was like tinkling brass.”
June 3, 2018 Testimony:
Last month I shared my testimony of the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. I took some flak for not having mentioned the restoration or the prophets.
Today, I’m going to correct that.
I want to give our current crop of apostles and prophets a strong shout out of support. Last Friday, the church held an event to officially celebrate the 40 year anniversary of the reversal of our church doctrine that forbid black men from receiving the priesthood and prohibited both black men and black women from entering the temple.
This ban on church privileges was lifted in 1978. I had the honor of sitting in a Houston chapel during general conference when Elder N. Eldon Tanner presented the lifting of the ban for a sustaining vote. My hand was proudly raised in support of changing our policy. This is a great example of the Law of Common Consent in action. All policies and major decisions are supposed to be presented to the membership for approval or disapproval. I love this empowering element of the restored gospel. So, there’s my full-throated endorsement of a glorious principle that came directly as a part of the restoration.
Now, I want to express my appreciation and respect for our current apostles and prophets. 4 years ago, the apostles did something very gutsy that no top leadership has ever done before. They published an essay on LDS.org entitled Race and the Priesthood. It condemns our past racism. It disavows our past racist doctrine, teachings and practices. That’s a disavowal and condemnation of what all the past prophets and apostles from Brigham Young on have taught regarding black people being cursed with a dark skin. Hallelujah!!!
Unfortunately, until 4 years ago when this essay was published, I completely believed our racist teachings that are now officially condemned. I’m glad that the church celebrated the lifting of the ban. However, I wish that there had also been an official full-throated apology for our past racism.
Today, I offer my apology and the apology of many, many of my friends. We are sorry that we were gullible enough to believe that our white skin was a reflection of our righteousness in the pre-mortal life. And that a black skin was a reflection of the opposite.
I’m sorry that these disavowed practices, which I fully supported, marginalized an entire race for 150 years within the church of Jesus Christ.
I offer this apology in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Three months later, I was excommunicated.
3 thoughts on “My Apology for Racism–F&T Meeting June 3, 2018”
Dealing honestly and openly with our weaknesses, errors and blatant wrongs is healthier and ultimately the better path. It goes for businesses, organizations, and individuals. It is disappointing that the church so often does the opposite so as to “protect the good name of the church.” But I also get it. The church is in a difficult place because to deal with these issues openly puts great tension on the concept of true apostles and true church.
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Fast and testimony meetings are usually so boring. But I bet everyone in your ward was excited for fast and testimony meeting. I bet they were all saying “I wonder what Sam Young is going to say this coming Sunday. Excellent post!
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