During the first two presidential debates, Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith has come up very little. But, as Joanna Brooks told Krista Tippett shortly before the Republican National Convention, many Mormons continue to “white-knuckle” through this campaign season.
Ms. Brooks says that some of the tensest moments happened during the primaries when two prominent Mormons, Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney, sought the nomination as Republican candidate for president. She says that one white-knuckle moment occurred earlier this year when the comments of theologian and Brigham Young University professor Randy Bott surfaced in The Washington Post:
“ ‘What is discrimination?’ Bott asks. ‘I think that is keeping something from somebody that would be a benefit for them, right? But what if it wouldn’t have been a benefit to them?’ Bott says that the denial of the priesthood to blacks on Earth — although not in the afterlife — protected them from the lowest rungs of hell reserved for people who abuse their priesthood powers. ‘You couldn’t fall off the top of the ladder, because you weren’t on the top of the ladder. So, in reality the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing God could give them.’ “
His comments, Ms. Brooks says, were lambasted as racist and pushed the LDS Church into making an official statement about past discrimination and racism rooted in church history:
“The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form. For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.”
Ms. Brooks’ commented in Religion Dispatches on the persistence of racism among some LDS Church members and how this event forced Mormons and the LDS Church to confront its own difficult history.
Also, Ms. Brooks reminds us that technology is playing a new role in the faith formation of Mormons — and how Mormon leaders and parents tell their stories. She offers a story about her son, who had no idea about polygamy in Mormon history until he learned about it online:
“Google is playing a huge role in faith formation these days. The church had typically managed its own story.”