Approaching Diversity

The text for today’s blog post is brought to you by BYU Speeches, specifically, “Weightier Matters“, by Dallin H. Oaks (does anyone here know if speeches are quoted, underlined, or italicized?).

In part of his talk, Elder Oaks discusses diversity in terms of means vs. ends. Specifically, he says,

“Since diversity is a condition, a method, or a short-term objective — not an ultimate goal — whenever diversity is urged it is appropriate to ask, “What kind of diversity?” or “Diversity in what circumstance or condition?” or “Diversity in furtherance of what goal?” This is especially important in our policy debates, which should be conducted…in terms of the goals we seek and the methods or shorter-term objectives that will achieve them. Diversity for its own sake is meaningless and can clearly be shown to lead to unacceptable results.

My question is, does it make sense to talk about diversity in terms of ends and means? The church’s goal is to present the gospel message to every inhabitant of the world. In that light, it seems to me that diversity is neither an ends nor a means, but just a fact that needs to be accepted. If our goal is to reach out to all our brothers and sisters in the world, then diversity is necessarily part of that goal. We desire diversity, if not for its own sake, then for the sake of humanity, who happen to be diverse, and if responding to diversity is not part of the vision, then we are blocking our own efforts.

Elder Oaks goes on to clarify his views on diversity with some very constructive quotes from Pres. Hinckley:

I remember when President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., as a counselor in the First Presidency, would stand at this pulpit and plead for unity among the priesthood. I think he was not asking that we give up our individual personalities and become as robots cast from a single mold. I am confident he was not asking that we cease to think, to meditate, to ponder as individuals.


Each of us is an individual. Each of us is different. There must be respect for those differences. . . .

. . . We must work harder to build mutual respect, an attitude of forbearance, with tolerance one for another regardless of the doctrines and philosophies which we may espouse. Concerning these you and I may disagree. But we can do so with respect and civility.


An article of the faith to which I subscribe states: “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Article of Faith 11). I hope to find myself always on the side of those defending this position. Our strength lies in our freedom to choose. There is strength even in our very diversity. But there is greater strength in the God-given mandate to each of us to work for the uplift and blessing of all His sons and daughters, regardless of their ethnic or national origin or other differences.

To me, these powerful statements clarify that diversity is (a) discussed, and (b) valued by our church leaders. They appreciate that it needs to be approached with respect and wisdom.

39 comments for “Approaching Diversity

  1. The question is not a question of whether there is a “condition” of diversity or not, but the relationship between diversity and shared identity in the minds of the members of the community. When difference predominates over unity, there are negative effects on the community. Robert Putnam, for instance, has found that in more diverse communities there are lower levels of social capital and helping behavior is less common, even among similar members of the community. The tendency is toward alienation from the community and any sense of community. But when unity–and conformity to the ideas and ideals that define the image of the community in the minds of its members–predominates, the community is stronger and more vibrant. That this is true is readily evident in the patterns of political segregation in urban areas, and even across urban areas. Progressive, communal Seattle and Portland are not only known for having fewer christians than dogs and remarkably few children, but also being among the whitest populations in America. [There was a recent article in the NYT about how black seattlites move to the suburbs so their children can have classes with other African Americans in them.]

    Surely, we do not wish to have a diversity that divides in the church. Rather, should we not seek to manage diversity such that it exists–particularly in its ascriptive forms–within the church without subverting the sense of common identity and the sense that others in the community are literally our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  2. Be color blind. This white lady I knew was the most color blind person I ever knew. Recognize that people are basically the same.

  3. I appreciate how Elder Oaks talks about individual diversity and not ethnic diversity. Individual diversity is really the only kind that matters. Every time February comes around, I can only think of how no one really listened to Dr. King’s speech when they continue to make race an issue.

    To me, my greatest hurdle with diversity lies with refraining from judging people based on trivial matters. Usually when this happens, the Spirit reminds me of my silliness, and I get a feeling similar to that I had on my mission which was a love for someone no matter who they were, or what choices they were making.

  4. Ethnic and racial diversity never really entered my consciousness until I served on a college diversity advisory council. Up to that point, I had taken the “color blind” ideal to diversity. What I came to appreciate through my work on the council is that the color blind approach is problematic. When practiced by whites, it generally means, “treat everyone as if they were white.” This is convenient for people who are white (and I admit that’s probably why I was comfortable with it), since it justifies us in ignoring any cultural qualities we are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. However, it also reduces the humanity of non-whites by denying the value of their distinctive cultures.

    For this reason, the trend in approaching diversity (at least in academic circles) appears to be moving away from the ideal of “color blindness” and toward an ideal of “engagement”. This means putting in the effort to understand and appreciate the traditions, cultures, and ways of other peoples, and to see that — while heritage does not define a person — it does affect a person’s worldview.

    A friend of mine joined the church fifteen years ago, yet his parents still ask him, “We’re having steak for dinner. Are you allowed to eat meat? I can’t remember what you are allowed to eat.” In their minds, they are being color blind, treating him respectfully, but not engaging with his Mormonism. What he wishes is that they could understand that he is still himself, but that he is also part of something bigger, a new culture, and that they would engage with that culture enough to understand and, if not celebrate, at least respect it.

  5. Diversity should be a goal. Can the church really claim to be embracing diversity when we have the hate filled rhetoric from everyday members directed at Democrats. Aren’t they potential members of the Church? I don’t know how Harry Reid and family fit into their ward, I know I felt uncomfortable and excluded while visiting US and hearing views about the evil of universal healthcare expressed as if they were part of the Gospel.

    Until the Leaders of the Church CLEARLY condemn this kind of behaviour we will not be a church for “all the world” just the conservatives and a few liberals who can tolerate the exclusion.

    Leaders who are conservative choose others to positions based not on their conservatism but on their unquestioning obedience which is a symptom of that conservatism, they see questioning and independence of thought as problems not as an equally valid way of living the Gospel.

  6. Dane, thanks for the thoughtful post, and particularly your last comment, which mirrors my experience.

    I grew up in an ethnicly diverse, but nearly segregated, community in the east — not that it was segregated by law, but various ethnic groups stuck to themselves.

    Now, many years later I work for a company which has made great efforts to embrace a diverse workforce and customer base. For the company, the “end” is attracting customers and recognizing that they come from all corners, not just one or two specific demographics.

    For the church (and I think President Hinckley’s comments allude to this), the gospel is for all God’s children, who also come from all corners. That we don’t yet effectively succeed at speaking to all corners does not mean we’re not trying, nor does it mean we shouldn’t try.

    As for the apparently lack of political diversity, it seems to depend on where you are (in the US). Large numbers of conservative voters tend to be similar economically, and live in similar areas; those areas then end up corresponding to church units. In my midwestern suburb, LDS church members are not the only loud-mouthed conservatives around. But my LDS ward does reflect the demographic of the suburb in which I live.

  7. Dane: excellent, excellent comment.

    The problem in calling for some transcultural “unity” is that all too often that unity is defined according to the speaker’s own culture, which the speaker does not recognize as such. WE never have culture. WE have normal. THEY have culture.

    I agree that the kind of Small-World-After-All fabrications of diversity that too often pass for cross-cultural respect in our chilren’s school curricula are often problematic in the particulars of their content. On the other hand, however, children raised with such a curricula usually come away with at least some basic fundamental ideas: that racism is wrong and ignorant, and that difference is okay.

    Also, from a purely PR/optics standpoint, as well as a policy standpoint, I think it’s generally problematic when white people declare racism over. Even moreso when the person making the statement speaks for a Church that extended the priesthood to blacks only 32 years ago and that still includes clear statements against interracial marriage in its youth lesson manuals.

  8. I should add: I may well be reading far too much into the diversity statement (i.e., by saying that it declares racism over). But it does seem to me part of a trend in conservative discourse to equate “color-blindness” with cultural assimilation.

  9. #6: “Until the Leaders of the Church CLEARLY condemn this kind of behaviour…”

    I think the leaders of the church have clearly condemned this kind of behavior. Unfortunately, as any Old Testament prophet knew, calling people to repentance doesn’t always work.
    We are frequently reminded by our leaders to be civil in our discourse, to disagree without being disagreeable, and we are frequently reminded that all political parties have good in them and that the church does not support any political party.
    Unfortunately, some people still don’t get it.

  10. I remember Elder Oaks speech from the time as it really got me thinking. The feeling I had when I went away is that Elder Oaks wanted people to realize that while we are diverse and that that is a good thing, what held us together was not our differences but what shared in common:

    “Our Church has an approach to the obvious cultural and ethnic diversities among our members. We teach that what unites us is far more important than what differentiates us. Consequently, our members are asked to concentrate their efforts to strengthen our unity–not to glorify our diversity.”

    Elder Oaks said a lot in that talk, touching on tolerance, civility, etc., but he was most definitely warning against elevating diversity into a goal.

  11. A lack of diversity is a symptom of some underlying problem. Humanity is diverse. If the church is not diverse, the church is not reaching all of humanity or is preaching its message in a way that is not accessible to all of humanity. A lack of diversity is an indicator of failure in our mission. We are a church with a history of racism and continue to see strong racist attitudes in some members as a result of this history. We seem to have no good reasons for our racist past other than that everyone else was doing it. Our way of dealing with this seems to be that we are just leaving it in the past, just moving on, which seems to leave many with the idea that that racism was OK in its time. This situational approval of racism is probably one of the main drivers for how comfortable many members in the US are in aligning themselves with political groups and movements with segregationist tendencies.

    I don’t see diversity as a final goal. But since not being diverse is an indication of failing to reach the final goal, it is a perfectly legitimate intermediate goal.

  12. Dane, I am not getting this post. Your other posts told me to seek a Zion community, where I could be with those like me. Now you want me to seek diversity (?)
    The Church does not want diversity, but sameness. It only pays lip service to diversity.

  13. Bob,

    What does “Where I could be with those like me” have to do with “seeking a Zion community”?

    I personally hope the Church figures out a way to benefit–and indeed, to change–from the influx of diversity brought by its growth outside the U.S. If, in the year 2050, the Church is established all throughout the world but every ward looks like one from Utah Valley in 2010, I don’t think we’ll be able to call that a true success.

  14. Jeremy, I already live in a place with people not like me. A City of Zion would be a gathering place of my kind of people. No Tom Cruise need apply.

  15. Bob,

    I live in Utah County, and sometimes it seems like the ONLY thing I have in common with many people around me is that we go to the same church building at the same time. I don’t think that’s what Zion means.

  16. Jermey, I live in LA County, and maybe I am still a litle raw from when in the 1980s my 6 & 7 year olds where bused an hour into the inner city to go to an all black school, all for diversity.
    But I really like my community. I like the diversity. I would say for half the members of my coumminity, English is their secound language.

  17. Owen: I am surprised that anyone who is familiar with the Bloggernacle thinks the Church has a problem with lack of “diversity”. It is far more diverse in terms of ethnicity and language than the United States as a whole. The US is expected to have a “majority” of “minorities” by 2050; the Church is much closer to that point, with over half of its members outside the US and more than half speaking languages other than English in their homes. There is no “English only” rule in a church that has an elaborate system set up so that the General Conference sessions can be translated into 92 different languages, most of them simultaneously.

    The fact of the priesthood restriction is misunderstood by some of the newer members of the Church, as well as most people outside the Church. After all, the number of members in 1978 was about 4.5 million, so two thirds of current members were not members then or weren’t old enough to understand what the Church was like during the restriction. Mormons today should understand what the priesthood restriction was NOT:

    It was NOT a ban on baptizing people of African descent into the Church. Blacks have joined the Church in small numbers form the very early days, there were black members in my Salt Lake City ward in the 1950s when I was a child, and I helped teach and baptize a black US Army sergeant in Colorado in 1974. He said he had visited many of the churches in the city (and Colorado Springs has a LOT of churches!), but it was the Mormons who made him feel truly welcome.

    It was NOT segregation of blacks into separate congregations! (Since the men lacked priesthood, they and their families had to be members of a ward with non-blacks.) Indeed, while the Church has had wards and branches based on language groups (like Spanish-speaking wards in Utah today), it never organized wards or branches based on race. Contrast this with the Southern Baptists, who split off from other Baptists in defense of slavery in the years before the Civil War, and were still maintaining racially segregated congregations into the 1980s! Presidential candidate and former Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee bragged about how he “integrated” his congregation in Arkansas by inviting a young black college student to attend his church–in 1980! He notes that some of the members of the congregation left for other churches, which is easy to do since Baptists, like other churches, do not organize on the basis of geography. Because Mormons are organized geographically, your duty as a Mormon is to attend and serve in your ward, no matter the racial background of the other members who live in its boundaries.

    It was NOT job discrimination. Mormons do not have professional clergy, and all the leaders and teachers in a congregation are unpaid. No black was deprived of a “career” as an LDS pastor, because there is no such career.

    It did NOT deny blacks all opportunities to serve in the Church. Just like women in the Church (who are not ordained in the priesthood), black males could serve as teachers in Sunday School and other auxiliaries. Except for a brief period when there was an attempt to fully integrate priesthood positions and scouting, black male members could serve as scoutmasters and in other positions.

    Mormons were generally NOT part of the tradition of Southern slavery and racism. Most of the early Mormons were from New England and the mid-Atlantic states, which were not slave holders and did not allow slavery. Much of the animosity of Missourians to Mormons was their suspicion that those Yankees were abolitionists. Starting in 1837, the next great spurt of Mormon converts came from Britain, where slavery was NOT popular or allowed within the British Isles proper. Later Scandinavians and other Europeans also joined the Church in large numbers. Very few Mormon converts were slave owners or from the South in that time. The main incidence of slavery in Utah Territory was Indians keeping captured Indian children from other tribes as slaves. When the Civil War broke out, Utah was firmly supportive of the Union, and Mormon militia guarded the security of the telegraph lines connecting the union to California.

    The Mormons did NOT have policies that discriminated against non-whites generally. The Church sent its first misisonaries to try to persuade American Indians to join in 1830, and continued efforts down through the years, with varying success. During the Indian Placement program in the 1950s and 1960s, Indian children and youth lived with Mormon foster families during the school year, so they could attend what were at the time superior public schools, living as members of “white” families. Any Mormon who grew up in Utah at that time went to school with these kids, or had them in his home or bedroom. One of my friends in Junior High and High School was a Navajo boy who was in a wheel chair. He was one of Seminary officers and spoke at the sacrament meetings of the wards in our town.

    Mormons have long regarded the outreach of misisonaries to Polynesia to be part of the effort to proselyte “Lamanites”. The first mission to Tahiti was in 1844. Joseph F. Smith, son of Hyrum and nephew of Joseph, worked as a missionary in Hawaii, and later returned to dedicate the Hawaii Temple in Laie for the community of Mormon polynesians who settled on church-owned land in Laie. The Church elementary school there was the nucleus for what became the Church College of Hawaii in the 1950s and then BYU-Hawaii, one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the US, with students from all nations of the Pacific Rim. (I was a missionary in Japan with an Elder Kapolulu, who was Chinese-Hawaiian, and very dark skinned. One day during a street meeting a Japanese man criticized the Mormons for being racist. Elder Kapo responded, pointing to his own nose (in Japanese style), “Mite goran!” (“Look!”) Another fellow missionary was Elder Hanamaikai, Japanese-Hawaiian. We enjoyed freaking out our companions by eating the little whole dried fish Japanese like, with heads and tails attached. Our mission president was Russell Horiuchi, a Hawaiian of Japanese ancestry who was a geography professor at BYU, who later returned to Japan to serve as president of the Tokyo Temple.)

    Mormons in 2010 are NOT racist (in any way I can see). Immediately upon the 1978 revelation, the Church got permission to send missionaries into Nigeria and Ghana, and baptized thousands of people who had been converted by reading the Book of Mormon and organized themselves into congregations of anticipation. The number of members in black Africa has been growing rapidly, and is some 250,000 today, with their own missionaries, bishops, stake presidents and Area Seventies, and they have temples in Accra and Lagos. Many of the million Brazilian Mormons have African ancestry, as do Mormons in Haiti, Jamaica, and other Caribbean nations. Congregations throughout the church have memberships and leaders of mixed racial heritage, and Mormons do not hesitate to adopt children of any nation (as attested by the diversity of the faces in Primary in places like Idaho Falls). “White” Mormons serve as missionaries all over the world, including older couples assigned to Africa, the Philippines, Ukraine, and Japan (this is just my current neighbors).

    The Church has built an expansive network of relationships around the globe. And diversity is an increasing fact among the General Authorities, as a few minutes of listening to Dieter Uchtdorf (a German) reading the names of newly called seventies demonstrates.

    Not many decades ago, enough Americans (including then-California Attorney General Earl Warren, later the author of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision on the Supreme Court) were sufficiently prejudiced against Japanese that it was possible for the US government to lock up 100,000 men, women and children, most of them native-born citizens, for 3 years without trial. One of the leaders of the Japanese American Citizens League at that time, Mike Masaoka, was a Salt Lake native and a Mormon. Two of those camps were in Utah and Idaho, where they could be released in order to work or attend college and even law school and become pillars of the community. Salt Lake still has a large Japanese community, and Japanese named Shimizu and Horiuchi and Inouye have been elected to county commissions. In April conference, one of the Seventies speaking was my old missionary friend Koichi Aoyagi.

    If you want to say “Mormons are racist”, you have to answer, “Do you mean Mormons in Ghana? Mongolia? Mexico? Hawaii? Tonga? New York City? Boston? Las Vegas (like the members of the multi-ethnic choir that won a Grammy under the direction of Gladys Knight)?”

  18. RTS, your response to Owen points out the oft-repeated problem of assuming what is true on the Wasatch Front is true for the church around the globe. I think members of wards I’ve attended with my family in Venezuela or Japan or Taiwan would not see the issues that Owen claims.

  19. “Since diversity is a condition, a method, or a short-term objective — not an ultimate goal — whenever diversity is urged ….”

    I am uncertain of the premise here. I thought that diversity was and is an ultimate goal. Doesn’t the temple ceremony suggest that diversity is an important principle behind the abundance found on the earth?

  20. Stephen Hardy,

    You should read Elder Oaks’ talk. Diversity is not an ultimate goal. Unity is. Elder Oaks defines diversity as a method or a condition, not an objective. He compares it to agency, something Mormons highly value. Agency was a necessary condition for the Lord’s plan, but wasn’t the goal in and of itself. The goal was to grow and develop and eventually return to our Heavenly Father.

    Elder Oaks says that pursuing diversity as a goal in and of itself can cause us to miss the real goal, that of unity.

  21. There can be alot of objectives, even inconsistent ones. I take comfort in this teaching found in the temple ceremony: diversity is an end and not a means, as far as i can tell. Beauty and variety are both worthy goals, and not means to some other end, as far as I can tell. Like so many gospel principles, opposites are true. Mercy and Judgment, independence and interdependence, and unity and diversity are all equally “true” Our quest for diversity should not crush our push to unity, but the opposite must also be true: Our desire for unity should not trump the need for diversity.

  22. To answer the question regarding formatting: Underlining is a holdover from the typewriter days, when italics were simply not an option. I don’t know of any style guide that still calls for underlining. (As a side note, HMTL links *should* be underlined in most cases, for clarity.)

    According to AP style, news stories do not use italics at all — not for newspaper names, magazine references, or just about anything else. This rule (and most of AP style) can likely be extended to the blogosphere, since blogs are a form of modern journalism.

    In short, quotation marks and capital letters are just fine for speech titles. I can’t give a more definitive answer to this specific case since my AP and Chicago style guides are at work. (Yes, I’m that kind of grammar nerd.)


  23. APA style for speeches, or at least quotes, anything over 40 words is set apart from the text being slightly indented towards the right. forty words or less is not set apart (pardon the pun) but is merely enclosed with double quotation marks. So italics and underlining are not necessary.

  24. Oh, to add to the thread. I have never experienced racism in the church directed at me (I am of mixed race, though I’m one of those people who could be mistaken for white, turkish, arab, asian-indian depending on the time of day or year). However, I was surprised, when I was on my mission in europe, at the latent racism jokingly expressed towards blacks and mexicans by my US companions (I am a brit). I don’t know if this was a product of the time (15 years ago) or simply indicative of fairly immature young men. TBH I don’t think the Elders would have seen themselves as racist – maybe it’s much the same as me believing gays should have equal rights, but not being sure that extends to adoption and being creeped out by the thought of two men being physical with each other, with the exception of playing sports. As a disclaimer and so no one mistakes my coments for ‘Americans are racist idiots and we’re so morally superior’, in my part of the world the Catholics and Protestants are far too busy hating each other to worry about colour.

  25. Current management science no longer views diversity as a means to ensure fairness or avoid discrimination. Rather, it embraces diversity as a way to strengthen the organization, increase innovation and creativity, and ultimately improve performance. This approach reflects the documented advantage of biodiversity in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

    With this in mind, we should probably as a Church be asking ourselves not only what we can teach our non-U.S. brothers and sisters but what we can learn from them.

  26. SLO Sapo
    We should also ask, if 12,000 left Nauvoo, who were in the wagon trains for the next 30 years?

  27. The scriptures are replete with situations, where two brothers see their father in different ways. The Son of Man against Lucifer in Father’s Grand Council in the pre-existence, the Prodigal Son, the householder, who asks his 2 son to help him out in the field, remmember one said he would go, but did not and the other said he was busy, but showed up for work anyway, etc. . . .

    Dane your quote: “The church’s goal is to present the gospel message to every inhabitant of the world.” This statement is correct, but it does not make the Church the means or end in a world, where diversity prevails.

    The Church is the Repository for the Commandments by God, our Father and Jesus, Christ. All must repent and be accepted as a son or daughter of Him in His heavenly Family.

    When we lived in heaven as His spirit children we had no choice except to live by ALL His Commandments. Father was Merciful and had Jehovah and Michael to build a new earth, where we must express our choice to serve Him and return OR to become agents to our self and receive the consequences of our selection.

    Elder Oaks’ conclusion that: “Diversity for its own sake is meaningless and can clearly be shown to lead to unacceptable results” reflects God’s Will. The “Arm of God” which the Book of Mormon predicts would come in the last days, is the Priesthood of the Lord on High.

    Would one brother or one sister, during this Period of Grace, raise his/her hands against another brother or sister to keep him/her from returning Home? What then is diversity? It is that filthy pool of stagnant water, in Lehi’s vision, when he held on to that Iron Rod.

    Yes, Dane we are surrounded by that filthiness and Ekder Oaks was correct in pointing that out. Even though we live in it, it is still a part of His Kingdom and Jesus, Christ will destroy it after His Words are fulfilled.

  28. So..if Elder Oaks feels diversity is meaningless..he must have only one tie (?)
    If Edward sees diversity as a “filthy pool of stagnant water”…he must have the same dinner night… after night….after night(?)

  29. Remember the body of Christ. 1st Corinthians 12:12-27. The church needs diversity, at least in some form.
    “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?”
    “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”
    So is the body of Christ. So must be the church.

  30. Very good Tim! I also like__” There is a time for all times…” and the Greek’s “Golden Mean”. Likely, pure diverity would be a Tower of Babel. Full unity__ a trip with the Borg.

  31. “We should also ask, if 12,000 left Nauvoo, who were in the wagon trains for the next 30 years?”

    Pretty much white northern Europeans, no?

  32. SLO Sapo,
    30,000 from Scandinavia. (Wm Mulder, Homeward to Zion).England even more. The point is how European the early Utah Church was. (Yes, Nauvoo folks still ran most things from Salt Lake).

  33. Hahaha, Bob#30. So you must consider the creation of this earth an improvement to what we had with Father? I think so, too. In order to receive it, we must meet His standard. It works for Him and it works in my household.

  34. Jesus of Nazareth was often accused of meeting with Publicans and sinners by the Scribes and Pharisees. Can you imagine that they accused and crucified Him of blaspheme for interpreting the 10 Commandment in the way God, our Father in heaven wanted? When early in His mission, He returned to Nazareth to announce, in His hometown Synagogue, that He was the Son of man, Isaiah wrote about. They ran in out of town with the intent to throw Him of a cliff.

    When I observe the US today, I see that filty stream overwhelming the many households in the US. It is drowning US in the corruption of the love of money on Wall Street. In sports Tiger Woods and Roethlesberger pleading to be given a few “stripes” for their abuses against women. The anti-christ Blagojevich publically demands that the Hall of Justice in Illinois open its books with his intent of defending himself against public corruption charges. What happened to “Christian” values and who are they who live these standards?

    Our Congressmen and Senators have caused the creation of an economy that no longer produces goods nor promotes Capitalism that finances consumption. When those whom we elect are agents for themselves rather than agents under the Constitution I am beginning the question whether we still are a “Christian” nation. They have surrendered their oaths to the Constitution and brought the fear of insecurity to the multitude.

    “DIVERSITY” is part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus proclaimed “in My House there are many mansions”. Who is calling for diversity today? The “Tea Party movements” and people who believe that guns or another revolution is in the offing. That viewpoint negates the purpose of the atonement of Jesus, Christ. That is how low our understanding of the two greatest Commandments of God that Jesus proclaimed. I empathize with them, but do not support them, because my cause is with Jesus, Christ and Elder Oaks.

    I believe in the promise Jesus made, in the Book of Mormon, that “His Arm” will be revealed in these last days. God, our Father in heaven’s children have always faced the perils of His substitutes and He was always there in the past.

  35. Raymond: Wow, that was quite the reply. You didn’t read my post very carefully, though:

    1. I did not say the church is not diverse and I did not say that it is racist. I did say that the IF the church is not diverse, this is a symptom of a problem. There are places where the church is not diverse and not welcoming of those unlike current members. This inhibits the work. This isn’t how it should be, but there are places (like Utah), where this is more frequently the case than it should be.

    2. I did not say that the church has been racist in every conceivable way. We discriminated against blacks in priesthood ordinations. My main point was that this has never been justified and that sweeping it under the rug is one cause for the anachronistic racism common in some, especially western American white Mormons. Take an anonymous poll of how many members in Utah wards believe blacks carry the mark of Cain and you’ll see what I mean. It doesn’t even have to be anonymous: just a few weeks ago in GD class we heard how Jews have been money-grubbers since the beginning. I’ve heard these same ideas (especially about blacks) repeated elsewhere in the world (Europe) as well. Perhaps in the long run our racist (i.e. differentiating people based on race) history will all work out for the best, but you can’t seriously argue that the work of the Lord in black communities has not been slowed by the past discrimination in priesthood ordinations. Maybe something worse would have happened had the ban never existed. Maybe someday we’ll know.

  36. I should note that the comment about Jews I just mentioned did not come from the instructor of the Gospel Doctrine class. It came from a member of the class. The instructor, however, did not have the courage or presence of mind to contradict the statement and just sort of said, “Yes, uh-huh,” and moved on. A number of us were in total shock at what we had heard and another member of the class did take issue with the comment, causing a rather tense moment. The person from whom the original comment came did not apologize. When the incident was discussed later by leadership, the bishop took it very seriously, since he’s awesome, although there were some others who argued that the whole thing was being “blown out of proportion”. Ugh.

    I should perhaps also note that I love the church and love that it is always improving. I believe that Official Declaration 2 is the word of God. I know of no canonized revelation beginning the practice Official Declaration 2 ended. I personally find it most likely that the ban on the priesthood was the work of man, but I could easily be wrong.

  37. Owen, This has been my exact experience in the church. I am a white woman born into the church. There were almost no minorities in our stake until after 1978. Living in a very diverse, large city made this an even sadder fact. Being only 11 in 1978, I didn’t put a lot of thought into this until I became an adult. Put a lot more thought into it while trying to convert my black husband after we were married in 2002. He was never really bothered by the whole issue (figured it didn’t apply to him), and was eventually baptized. He did get a lot of grief, though, from black family members, friends & co-workers who were not at all pleased he had joined a white racist religion. Luckily, church members did not feel the need to tell him how they felt – only me, the white wife. Comments ranged from blatantly racist to patronizing. One of my favorite offenders was the member of the bishopric who began every interview w/ me how he had a problem w/ the 1978 announcement but was okay with it now. I figured he probably thought he was to be congratulated for his ‘open-mindedness’. I still hear ‘mark of cain’ comments in church, too. Reading the black pioneer series, ‘Standing on the Promises’ by Margaret Young & Darius Gray was incredibly eye-opening & comforting, too. It would certainly help for this to have been included in our Church history education. Lily-white European pioneers are not the whole truth & that will hopefully be reflected & honored someday in the modern Church. Another personal observation has been that the members in our ward who are not from diverse cities, (i’m in a very transient ward, due to the local universities) have been the ones who have the most problems with my interracial marriage. I think us Southerners in general tend to know it’s a loaded issue & that tends to keep mouths shut & feelings kept private. My 2 cents.

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