I have great respect for blacks who during the period of 1852 to 1978 accepted the gospel and were baptized even though they were accepted as sort of second-class citizens in the Church. Some members, including leaders, thought and said some pretty dumb and insensitive things. It is amazing to me that these good people stayed around. Some did not. Some could not take what they viewed as institutional racism of the church, as well as actual racist treatment by some members. There were also well meaning members who had no hate in their hearts, but because of their upbringing, and/or no understanding of racial differences, also said and did some dumb and thoughtless things. Brigham Young was likely one of these. He said some unfortunate things, in personal or governmental capacities when not acting as a prophet. I will leave the topic of infallibility of prophets for another post.
I would imagine a great many of these people will have some apologizing to do when encountering their black brothers and sisters in the next life. I don´t believe I´ll be among them because I have never had anything but love for my brothers and sisters of color, and as far as I am aware, I have never done anything to demonstrate otherwise. Although I am white, many family members, whether by adoption or by marriage, as well as my own children, are people of color, and they are all dear to me.
I am not aware of my ancestors doing or saying anything detrimental to people of color but that doesn´t mean it didn´t happen. I also have living family members who have said some insensitive things because of ignorance of other cultures or ethnicity. I´m not going to apologize for them either. That is their responsibility, not mine. However, the Church owes no one an apology for executing the will of God in the best way that the leaders knew how. The Church leaders may apologize in the future out of love for the members, and to try to put an end to this nonsense. However, in my opinion, they have no obligation to do so.
The fact is, this life is a test, and the Lord tests all of us in interesting ways. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac (although in the last moment, after proving his willingness to obey in all things, he was relieved of that obligation).
Many Lamanites committed themselves to obey the commandment not to kill, even though it mean the loss of their own lives.
The Lord has also tested entire peoples, like the Jews, the Gentiles, Samaritans, native peoples in North and South America and in Australia, and also Africans. Some peoples´ tests ended long ago, and some continue today, and will for some time yet to come. Some tests are directly set in motion by The Almighty Himself. Other tests consist of God allowing the influence of wicked people to go unanswered. Some tests we bring upon ourselves through sin and/or poor judgement. Others occur simply because as one general authority recently put it, “. . .this is a fallen world.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/approaching-the-throne-of-god-with-confidence).
I don´t pretend to know all of the reasons for individual or specific tests. Everyone´s experience in this mortal life is unique. I only know that the outcome of the test depends entirely on our individual response to it. I can ask, “Why me?”, or worry about who to blame. We can argue about whose test was more difficult (ie, personal trials v. black slavery and continued discrimination v. the Jewish Holocaust v. religious discrimination v. instances of ethnic cleansing, etc.). We can demand apologies from institutions or groups of people for evils committed by their ancestors upon our ancestors (as pointless as that may be). And we can even continue to beat up the LDS Church over a policy that was reversed 37 years ago, before nearly half the current population of this planet was even born!
Or, each of us, regarding his/her personal trials and feelings can ask himself/herself, “What do I need to learn from this that will further my pursuit of happiness and eternal life? What is God trying to teach me? Am I learning it? How can I pass this test?
Recently, certain writers have been capitalizing on the Church´s publication of the educational article on race and the priesthood to criticize the Church all over again, and make ridiculous claims regarding the Church and its leadership. I would discount and ignore the claims if they had been made by the usual suspects, those numerous critics and detractors who have chosen to pick a bone with the Church. However, the writers to whom I refer, Jana Reiss, Bryndis Roberts, and Dr. Darren T. Smith, to name a few, are active practicing Mormons. Their ridiculous comments demand response, and I am going to give them several - in my next post.