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Survey probes Mormon attitudes about blacks

Published May 7, 2012 4:00 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The issue of race has already been raised during the presidential campaign of Mormon Mitt Romney.It is a touchy topic these days, given that the LDS Church barred blacks from its all-male priesthood until 1978. Before that date, Mormon leaders and members routinely offered various theological reasons that could explain the ban.Now LDS social scientist Darron Smith has launched an online survey of attitudes by and about black Mormons.The survey, admittedly not scientific, is titled "Mormon Beliefs About People of African Descent." It asks respondents of all racial backgrounds nearly 50 probing questions about the LDS Church, its history of racial exclusion, whether racism in the Utah-based faith has risen or declined since the ban ended. It also asks demographic information – age, residence, income, sex and activity in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – in order to divide the responses along multiple variables."The study is a pilot project to assess where members of the LDS faith are in respects to their feelings about race," Smith writes in an email. "The survey should in no way be construed as an 'official LDS Church' endorsed initiative. Instead it was intended as a fun project to see how we are doing in respect to race in the faith."Currently, more white Mormons than blacks have taken the survey."I need larger numbers especially of more conservative members," says Smith, assistant professor at Wichita State in Kansas and co-author of Black and Mormon, "and members of color."You can do the survey.Peggy Fletcher Stack