The LDS Church has issued an official statement on “Race and the Priesthood“. It was an opportunity for the LDS Church to apologize about its discrimination in the past, but instead it used it as a chance to justify itself once again. In doing so it made many provably false statements:
Lie #1 – No Segregation in the LDS Church?
“There has never been a Churchwide policy of segregated congregations.” (Official LDS Church statement, 2013)
This is a carefully worded statement that depends on how you define congregation. However, if one takes the dictionary definition of “an assembly of persons met for worship and religious instruction” then the LDS Church definitely did officially endorse such segregation:
First Presidency Letter to President Ezra T. Benson, Washington [D.C.] Stake, 23 June 1942:
Dear President Benson:
Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us that you have in the Capitol Reef Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.
The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol Ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [not] be permitted to attend because the President of the Capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the Bishop of the other ward.
We can appreciate that the situation may present a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.
From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuses to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.
It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they may not sit with them or near them, we fell very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, they would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so as not to hurt the feelings on the part of anyone.
Of course, probably each one of the sisters who can afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them.
Faithfully your brethren,
Heber J. Grant
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
David O. McKay
In the footnotes the LDS Church does admit that –
“At some periods of time, reflecting local customs and laws, there were instances of segregated congregations in areas such as South Africa and the U.S. South.”
However, the question should be asked “Why should the LDS Church follow local customs? Shouldn’t it oppose customs that are unethical or immoral?”. Early Christians broke laws just to be Christians, why was the LDS Church so afraid to do so? Aren’t there higher laws which take precedence?
The LDS Church’s claims at obeying “customs and laws” are often quite dubious too:
“Brother [Moses] Mahlangu received the missionary discussions in 1964 in Johannesburg, South Africa. His request for baptism was denied due to existing laws of the land. […] For the next 14 years, Moses distributed copies of the Book of Mormon and other missionary material to his people. On Sundays Moses would go to the Church in Johannesburg and sit outside the window. Members would open the windows and turn up the speakers so he could listen. […] Moses was a true pioneer among the blacks of South Africa. He held regular meetings in his home, where he taught from the Book of Mormon and prepared many of his friends for the gospel. Beginning in 1978, Moses Mahlangu and others from Soweto were allowed to attend church meetings in the Johannesburg chapel. Moses Mahlangu was baptized in June 1980.” (http://www.lds.org/pages/moses-mahlangu-the-conversion-power-of-the-book-of-mormon)
What is interesting about this account on the official LDS web site is that it admits a black South African was kept out of ward meetings prior to 1978. It infers that this was due to the law of the land, but that is incorrect, as Apartheid (the law which segregated blacks and whites) wasn’t repealed until 1991. Before that time mixed racial congregations existed amongst Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, and other religions.
Segregation is not only part of modern LDS Church history it is also part of LDS scripture:
Alma 3:14 – “set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed. …”
Moses 7:22 – “… for the seed of Cain were black and had not place among them.”