Commentary: Putting our shoulders to the wheel to end racism and white supremacy in Mormonism

Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune The LDS temple on Temple Square, Friday, November 27, 2015.

As Mormons, we raise our voices to decry as wholly immoral the forces of white supremacy, racism, and neo-Nazism that are becoming more visible and emboldened in the United States.

We raise our voices to denounce as an affront to our faith the abuse of LDS scriptures, doctrines, and images of apostles and prophets to advance white supremacy and racism.

White supremacists have comfortably used LDS scriptures and quotes from apostles — even the image of Joseph Smith — to support their cause on social media, seemingly without fear of being held accountable.

We applaud the LDS Church’s August 15 statement decrying white supremacy as “morally wrong and sinful.” And we pledge to lovingly but firmly hold ourselves and our fellow Mormons accountable to ensure that white supremacy and racism have no place among us.

We look to the example of Sen. Orrin Hatch, who specifically denounced President Donald Trump’s neutral response to the violence in Charlottesville, saying, “We should call evil by its name.”

Indeed, we should call evil by its name. Love does not win by doing nothing nor by merely wishing for conflict to end. Love must be expressed in specific, bold action. It must be expressed as opposition to evil.

Those of us who grew up in the LDS Church Young Women’s program pledged every week to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places.

We stand now, in our time, on this issue, and in the places where we live, and we say that there is nothing of God in racism, white supremacy, or neo-Nazism.

Racism, white supremacy, and neo-Nazism are sin. They are evil. There is no place in Zion for speech or conduct that undercuts the lives and well-being of others based on the color of their skin or their ethnicity. The Book of Mormon declares that God “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33).

People who espouse white supremacy feel comfortable sitting in LDS pews on Sundays and using our scriptures to support racism because we have been silent.

Many Mormons of color feel uncomfortable sitting in the pews on Sundays because we have been silent.

We will no longer be silent. We will put our shoulders to the wheel. We call on other LDS people to stand not just for love as an abstract concept but for love expressed in words and action as a commitment to end racism and white supremacy.

Moved to action by Charlottesville, we turn our hearts and minds to June 8, 2018, which will mark the 40th anniversary of the revelation ending the ban on LDS priesthood ordination for Black men and temple worship for Black men and women.

We pledge to prepare for this anniversary by putting our shoulders to the wheel and taking one of the actions outlined at Shouldertothewheel.org, including:

— Reading and reflecting on Official Declaration 2 or the LDS Church’s Race and the Priesthood essay with our families and in our wards;

— Reading and sharing on social media the list of ideas developed by Black LDS people for positive changes in the church and identifying three ideas we can apply in our homes and wards;

— Studying Shoulder to the Wheel, a resource developed by LDS scholars and anti-racist advocates.

Please visit this site to join us.

We must try harder to understand the burdens racism has placed on our brothers and sisters of color and the role — intentional or unintentional — that white Mormon people have played in adding to those burdens.

Our brothers and sisters of color see and hear our silence.

They see us and hear us when we say nothing and do nothing, or fill our social media feeds with attractive and pleasant trivia on the very days they fear for the safety of their children because their skin is brown.

God hears our silence and sees our preference for comfort over moral courage.

May we do better.

There are more than 350 co-signers to this statement, including Jana Riess, Danielle Beazer Dubrasky, Emily Clyde Curtis, Quin Monson, Jody England, Paul Barker, Cynthia Lee, Joanna Brooks, Erika Munson, Rebecca de Schweinitz, Michael Austin, Benjamin Park, Bryndis Roberts, Mica McGriggs, Lisa Butterworth, Aimee Evans Hickman, Jared Hickman, John Mackay, Josh Weed, Lolly Week, Eric Ruiz Bybee, Steve Evans, Patrick Mason, Caroline Kline and Morris Thurston.

Becky B. Coombs, Mindy Farmer, Amanda Monson, Rebecca Robinson, Chris Karpowitz, Jordan Karpowitz, Kate Monson, Nicole Packer, Sara Black Brown, Luiza Kulchetscki, Jenn Mansell, Carolyn Bennett Ugolini, Andrew Wing, Annie Wing, Eric Dowdle, Tamarra Kemsley, Susan Krueger-Barber, Jared K. Cook, Thomas S. Kimball, Margaret Kohler, Randy J. Butterfield, Jonathan Westover, Jacque Westover, Daniel Singer, Kerri Harris-Bigler, Lizanell Boman, Pamela Koldewyn, Amy Ashton Leishman.

Rob Perkins, Natalie Packer Townsend, Rachael S. Lauritzen, Jeff Zentner, Molly Cannon Hadfield, Christiana Stoddard, Heather Bergevin, Robert Bennett, Travis Hall, Kirsten Campbell,Nicholas R. Stewart, Sabrina Grover, Ana Nelson Shaw, Afton Cochran, Alisa Allred Mercer, Maegan Langer, Susie Kapeleris, Corey Howard, Jon Stone, Beth Rosenlof, Sara Carruth, Karen Sutton, Josie Sherwood, Kevin Folkman.

Heather Olson Beal, Lynn Matthews Anderson, Brenda Kay, Whitney Baum-Bennett, Sara McCausland, Mark Brown, Heather Hemingway-Hales, Russell Arben Fox, Doree Jo Ashcraft Burt, Stacie Ann Smith, Amanda Farr, Emily W. Jensen, David Lindsay, Kim Siever, Lindsay Hansen Park, Andrew Heiss, Kendall Wilcox, Dovie Peterson, Twila Newey Warner.

Jonathan Warner, Wendy Montgomery, Susan Dortsch Mikesell, Mette Ivie Harrison, Diane Holindrake Benson, Nancy Ross, Leah Marie Silverman, William John Silverman Jr., Terina Holmes, Ron Madson, Krys Corbett, Paula Jensen Goodfellow, Kimberly Brinkerhoff Baptista, Cara Greenwell, Melissa Mayhew, Julie Hawke, Mindi Ritzman, Gage Slusser, Geoff Nelson, Rebecca Gomez, Kareen Thornock, Boyd J. Petersen.

Joseph A. Southerland, Julia Durrant, Rachel Hamrick, Rachel Hunt Steenblik.Sara K.S. Hanks, Marilyn Bushman-Carlton, Craig Mangum, Andy Wilson, JaneAnne Peterson, Amanda LeBaron, Tracy McKay-Lamb, Jennifer Sauls, Chad Johnson, Kiefer Hickman, Taylee Robinson Pardi, Christa Baxter, Katie Langston, Elisse Newey, Kevin Kloosterman, Lael Taylor, Jjana Valentiner, Rebecca Kinsel Bingham, Laura Dickey, Julie L. Rowse, Clara Molina Blanco, Amber Choruby-Whiteley.

Talee Mabe, Jacob Kemer, Karen Rosenbaum, Christy Ellis-Clegg, Layla Al-Jamal Judkins, Dane Rowley, Adam Blackwell, Rob Taber, Kevin Chambers, Tatiana Boshenka, Kay Gaisford, Sara Vranes, Ella Brooks-Kamper, Ashley Groesbeck, Maile Hatch Urbancic, Becca Bracy Knight, Nathan Kitchen, Catharine McGraw, Jennifer Hoskins, Rebecca Ricks, Jonathan Wade, Jen Bracken-Hull, Shauna Summers, Laure Rawson, Annalyn Weed, Olivia Weed, Tessa Weed, Morgen Willis, Clair Barrus, Miriam Hyde, Michael Nielsen.

Meghan Raynes, Melinda Murphy, Tamarra Kemsley, Ian Murphy, Terry Ann Harward, Catherine Ausman, Kristy Money, Matthew Workman, Kim Sandberg Turner, Kael Moffat, Rebecca Reid Linford, Megan Holland Bishop, Mica Nicole McGriggs, Nancy Roberts Beck, Alice Fisher Roberts, Matt Page, Sally Peel, Janet Garrard-Willis, Amy Isaksen Cartwright, Michael D. Stanger, Dan Cook, Sarah Rew, Josh Rew, Mikel Geordon Borg, Rebekah Weaver, Shannon Thorpe.

Jennifer James Munson, Arnold Stovall, Marion Fust Sæternes, Ryan Chidester, Zachary Davis, Sarah Gusky Kemer, Christine Cluff Webber, Laurel Christensen, Janelle Wahlstrom, Eric Wahlstrom, Alysa Ayn Revell, Ryan Block, Kelsey Marchant, Lindsay Nielson, Andi Pitcher Davis, Marco Davis, Kim Borchert, Jeremy Borchert, Allison Block, Beverly Pecoraro, Marty Erickson, Brad Jones, Christine Elkington, Erin Elkington, Jennie Walton Dendy, Kevin Elkington, Caroline Salisbury.

Joyce Ellen Davis, Aleida Wakefield, Reid Bishop, Rachel Taylor, Noelle McDonald, Kristen Ullrich Hodges, Brooke Scott, Jennifer M. Crow, Jacqueline Noel, Julie Burnett, Jordan Harmon, Lindsey Webb

Franziska Patterson, Blaine L. Carlton, Mary Siever, Bryce Cook, Nikita Bledsoe, Kalani Tonga, Katie Farr Harmer, Trevor Price, Akash Jayaprakash, Matt Mosman, Hal Michael Clyde, Annie Howington, Liz Layton Johnson, Janelle M. Higbee.

Jenny Walk Transtrum, Dave Sneddon, Fara Sneddon, Brian Whitney, Chris Bench, Jonathan Smith, Gregory S. Prince, Deborah Wager, Doug Vincent, Jenica Hardy, Jeremy Johnsen, Sheila Nielsen, Kimber Tillemann-Dick Cook, Mel Tungate, Brody Schade, Graham Hawkins, Emily Harris, Kyle Harris, Stephanie Sevigny, Rachel Pearson, Rick Bennett, Ryan J. Stanger, Stephanie Garis, Jerusha Nelson-Peterman, Gretta Parkinson Whalen, Joey Thurgood, Benjamin Salisbury, Collin McDonald, David E. Broadbent.

Stephanie Soper, Amanda Rafidiarimanda, Stephanie Stevens, Laurie Anne Shipp, Kyle Poulter, Cody Hatch, Carl Cranney, MaryEllen Mason, Kathryn Turnbull Mason, Clifford Christian Mecham, Sunny Smart, Thomas Montgomery, Marissa Turley Benson, Dane Thorley, Kimberly Harper, Heidi Smith, Mike Smith, Lori LeVar Pierce, Kat Gray, Lisa Evans Dame, Shannon Linford, Kirk Linford, Emily Kirk Warnick, Tresa Brown Edmunds, Richard E. Tenney, Scott Abbote, Robert Slaven, Kristin Mortensen, Clint Mortensen, Chelsi Barnard, Hillary Campbell, Mark M. Bowman, Steven Garff, Allie Qiu, Linda Finder, Jerilyn Hassell Pool, Jeffery Pool, Mercina Tillemann-Dick, Liberty Tillemann-Dick, Charity Tillemann-Dick.

Narae Choi, M.B. Haycock, Jacob S. Rugh, David Knott, Charlotte Valentiner, Niels Valentiner, Bryant Jensen, Miriam Higginbotham Alex Shahan, Kelly Whited Jones, David Fuhriman, Will Bryson, Brad Burgess, Nelson Chung, Katie Blakesley, Jennifer Perkins, Margaret Olsen, Cree Jones, Amanda Jones, Susan M. Hinckley, Ian T. Davidson, Lani Rush Davidson.

Kelly Whited Jones, Douglas Thomas, Ruth Thomas, Curtis Anderson, Christel Green, Linda DeSimone, Erin F. Whiting, Scott Whiting, Tessa White, Kristin Howard, Christopher Jones, Karim Jones, Liz Shropshire, Gregory A. Thompson, Jeff Swift, Reid Hamilton, Loralie Pallotta, Joel Wakefield, Nathan Tucker, Emma Tueller Stone, Stephanie Snyder, Rachel Mabey Whipple, Sylvia Cabus

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