The Mormon Church has a somewhat fraught relationship with white supremacy, with many over the years suggesting that the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints held a 'neutral' or even 'supportive' stance towards it.
Finally though, after years of the church's black community hoping against hope that there would be some kind of public denouncing of the white supremacist ideals, their prayers have been answered. The church has made its position crystal clear.
History of Ambiguity Towards Racism
The relatively young church (it is about 187 years old) 'did not ordain men of black African descent to its priesthood or allow black men or women to participate in temple endowment or sealing ordinances' from the mid 1800s until 1978.
The church, which is essentially an American religion, due to the fact it was born there, is largely based there and believes that 'the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, the American Indians are Israelites, Jesus visited the Americas after his resurrection, and Utah is a place of refuge for God's people in the Last Days.'
On the Latter Day Saint's (LDS) website they explain:
The Church was established in 1830, during an era of great racial division in the United States. At the time, many people of African descent lived in slavery, and racial distinctions and prejudice were not just common but customary among white Americans. Those realities, though unfamiliar and disturbing today, influenced all aspects of people's lives, including their religion.
The founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith popularised the claim that the mark of Cain (from the early Biblical story of Cain and Abel) was manifested in a dark skin tone.
However, since then, more liberal views have proliferated in the church and though black church members are still the vast minority (14 percent of American Mormons were non-white in 2007, compared to 15 percent in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center) and still experience racism in the church.
The church has made efforts to make clear its new position of racial equality, in 2013 the LDS released an essay called, 'Race and the Priesthood' to express their views.
Unfortunately, the essay seems to have not made a huge difference to certain member's views on white supremacy.
The First Statement
After the violent events in Charlottesville the Church released a statement on the Sunday evening, expressing their sadness at the events:
It is with great sadness and deep concern that we view the violence, conflict and tragedy of recent days in Charlottesville, Virginia. People of any faith, or of no faith at all, should be troubled by the increase of intolerance in both words and actions that we see everywhere. More than a decade ago, the late Church President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) addressed the topic of racism when speaking to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He powerfully and clearly taught this principle: "No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ." For members of the Church, we reaffirm that teaching today and the Saviour's admonition to love our neighbour. Our prayers are with those who are suffering because of this intolerance and hatred. We pray for peace and for understanding. Above all, we pray that we may treat one another with greater kindness, compassion and goodness.
Unfortunately, the clearly heartfelt message was misconstrued by Mormon white nationalists. In particular, a mormon blogger called A Purposeful Wife, who has 30,000 followers on Twitter.
She Retweeted the statement from the church with the caption, 'The #LDS church teachings are clear, you cannot be anti white and a follower of Christ. We are ALL God's children.'
The Final Statement, Which Denounces White Supremacy Once And For All
On Tuesday, the Church clarified their stance with a new stature, this time, explicitly drawing out their opinion on White supremacy:
It has been called to our attention that there are some among the various pro-white and white supremacy communities who assert that the Church is neutral toward or in support of their views. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the New Testament, Jesus said: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' (Matthew 22:37–39). The Book of Mormon teaches 'all are alike unto God' (2 Nephi 26:33).
And their final lines make the statement crystal clear:
White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them. Church members who promote or pursue a 'white culture' or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church.
This message was not received well by the blogger, who has Tweeted repeatedly about her continued use and promotion of White culture and her disappointment in the Church's stance.
Hopefully others will take the Church's statement to heart and work towards ousting these harmful views.