Mormon race relations
Today's Daily Universe featured a letter to the editor complaining about racism at BYU. The writer referred to an incident she witnessed in an English class, in which a white student told a black student that, when she got to heaven, she would be white.
Fortunately, I think that most BYU students can detect the doctrinal fallacies of that student's statement. Most of us would probably be equally appalled to witness such an incident. But this does raise this question: how prevalent is racism in the Church?
I don't think it's inaccurate to say that the former policy that blacks not hold the priesthood was not and is not understood by many within the Church. To be perfectly honest, I don't fully understand it. But, we Mormons like our answers. We feel the need to come up with some kind of doctrinal or scriptural explanation to justify the priesthood restrictions. Elder McConkie offered some explanations, but they were never presented or accepted as doctrine. An official statement by the First Presidency that was issued during President McKay's time included this statement:
"From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny fo our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man."
Even though there is no official explanation as to why the policy existed, Mormons have come up with a number of ideas to justify the practice. Most of these ideas are offensive to blacks, and rightfully so.
So, these are my questions?
1) To what extent does racism exist in the Church?
2) What explanations for the former ban on the priesthood exist? What are their origins?
3) Was the ban a matter of doctrine, or merely policy?
3) How can we do to dispel speculation and reassure black members that they were not lukewarm in the pre-existence, that they are not second-class members to whites, etc.?