David Eccles Hardy: Where is the voice of God to his people at BYU?

LDS Church leaders are always ready to speak out on sex or tithing. How about racism?

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) The bell tower on the campus of BYU in Provo Wednesday June 1, 2016.

An ugly racial slur shouted by a BYU fan at a Black Duke volleyball player during a women’s volleyball match last Friday night made national headlines over the weekend.

Let’s be clear and not protect our collective Utah-conscience with euphemisms. The BYU fan shouted “n****r!” at a Black player on the Duke team during the match at the Smith Fieldhouse on the BYU campus, and Duke starter Rachel Richardson stated afterword that other Black Duke players “were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match.”

It’s nice that an “official statement” from the BYU Athletics Department released on Twitter disparaged the act (“All of God’s children deserve love and respect...” etc., etc.) indicating that the Athletic Department was “extremely disappointed,” and that the fan was banned from future BYU athletic events.

But Brigham Young University is an official organ of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the President (and Prophet, Seer and Revelator) of the church often travels the distance from the its headquarters in Salt Lake City to Provo to personally address the student body on matters of importance - what he wants them to know God says about critical issues. So also does the church itself on matters deemed important enough in official statements released through the media.

I am a former Mormon bishop (who resigned and left the church 20 years ago over its doctrine and policies regarding homosexuality). I was raised in the east, and recently spent many years in New England and Europe outside the “Mormon Bubble.” If anyone in church leadership thinks that, generally speaking, non-members worldwide don’t consider Mormons, and by association, Utah, to have an ultraconservative makeup and a racist past and underpinnings, they are fooling themselves. Because both are true.

Why, then, does the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the church, or at least one of his duly authorized and highly ranked General Authorities, not use this opportunity in the national spotlight to immediately go on public record in clear and uncompromising terms and tell the entire church membership what the voice and will of God is on this fundamental human issue? That racism in any and all forms is utterly contrary to the will of God and the core teachings Jesus Christ, who they hold to be the Son of God?

It always seemed to me, and still does, that matters of obedience to authority, paying tithing, sex and not drinking coffee, tea or alcohol get the top billing. In reality, this issue trumps them all:

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, 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 it like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” - Matthew 22:36-40

To the leadership of the Mormon church: What is the clear voice of God on the issue of racism in any form, and what are the real consequences to church members who exhibit and/or harbor racist convictions?

The world is waiting.

David Eccles Hardy

David Eccles Hardy, Salt Lake City, is an attorney and LGBT+ ally and advocate.