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Apology to Blacks

Apology to Blacks
Signatures
 
200  

Opened on March 06, 2012
 

A PUBLIC APOLOGY


 


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”


 


So runs the justifiably much celebrated introduction to the Declaration of Independence, which in 1776 marked the birth of the American nation, and a significant step forward in human enlightenment.


 


In 2012, we the undersigned, as a matter of conscience, make the following formal declaration, independent of the church with which we are or were formerly associated, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or “Mormon Church”), that we in no way subscribe to that church’s historical stance towards our Black brothers and sisters.


 


We do so because in the 34 years since 1978, when our church, (for political and logistical reasons which are now becoming more apparent), permitted the same rights to all races, there has been no formal apology forthcoming from it to that race; this, despite the fact that Blacks have been disparaged by it, frequently in the meanest terms, for over a century. We consider that the time is now long overdue for that regrettable deficiency to be redressed, if not by the institution which created it, then by the individual members, whose tacit support has enabled an injurious silence to prevail. 


 


Specifically, we denounce the teachings of former spokespersons for the church, sustained by us or by our predecessors, as prophets, seers and revelators, which taught that Blacks were:


 



  • “uncouth, un-comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:290-291, [1859])


 



  • “placed under restrictions because of their attitude in the world of spirits… it being a punishment for some act, or acts, performed before they were born.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection : Short Discourses on Gospel Themes, 43. [1931])


 



  • “not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow there from…. It is the Lord's doing.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 527-528, [1966])


 


And we further denounce deliberate attempts to cover up and misrepresent these facts to the present generation, especially as those misrepresentations relate to the many thousands of Black converts who are currently members of the church. There are recent statements such as:


 



  • “I don’t know what the reason was.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, church president, when asked in a Compass interview in 1997 what the reason had been for the pre-1978 inequality).


 



  • “It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.” (Formal church response to article on racism, run by The Washington Post, 2012.)


 


In our view such statements are calculated to misrepresent the historical reality, and are an affront to decency, impugning the reputations of all whose names, even by inference, may be associated with them. We unequivocally denounce this pretended institutional amnesia as politically motivated, and immoral.


 


We further denounce the various interpretations of the verses contained in The Book of Abraham, which remain to this day an integral part of church canon. The verses in question, (Abraham 1:21-24,27), support the teaching that Blacks were cursed, and were always inferior in their rights.


 


We apologize without reserve as individuals who, having been misled by such misguided teachings, unintentionally gave support to the view that the Black race was in some way inferior to others. Lest there be any misunderstanding, we now therefore invoke the spirit of the American Declaration of Independence, and proclaim it to be self-evident that all men, and women, are created to enjoy equal rights and privileges. In so doing, we distance ourselves for all time from the opinions of any who may believe this was ever otherwise, and beg forgiveness for our tardiness in standing up as individuals for this vital truth.


 


We the undersigned ask you, our Black brothers and sisters, to accept our hand in apology, with your forgiveness and friendship, sharing together in the hope and  vision of Dr Martin Luther King, that together “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our [world] into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood [and sisterhood]. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day”.


 


To all the foregoing, we freely subscribe our names:


 


 


 

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