Race, Faith and Romney

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Much has been made recently concerning Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. Romney tried to put the matter to rest with his speech at the George Bush Presidential Library, but apparently some Americans wanted to know more than just what Romney thought about Jesus. Many were curious why Romney took the time to invoke religious tolerance in his speech and his support of racial equality — including how he “saw” his father, George Romney, the late Michigan Governor march with Martin Luther King Jr. — but he failed to point out that his own Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) were themselves guilty of racism by not allowing African American men (and not to mention women, who still can’t be ordained) to become lay priests in the church until 1978. As Frank Rich wrote in his “Latter-Day Republicans vs. the Church of Oprah” , it does raise the question why Romney didn’t come out against his church’s discriminatory practices before they were revoked?

Romney hasn’t talked about it, but others have, specifically in the book “Black and Mormon” published in 2006 by University of Illinois Press which is a collection of scholarly essays concerning the history of the racial ban and what LDS has done since then to come to terms with the subject. It’s still an issue, especially for black members of LDS, as Amy Shebeck describes in her article “Colorblind Faith” .

Maybe with a little prodding, Romney will stop defining words like “saw” and address this subject because it doesn’t so much raise questions about his faith as it raises questions about the man.

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