De­spite new re­port, the Mor­mon church did not apol­o­gize for racism

South Florida Times - - PRAYERFUL LIVING - By As­so­ci­ated Press

BRADY McCOMBS and JU­LIAN HATTEM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Mor­mon church did not is­sue an apol­ogy for a ``his­tory of racism'' dur­ing a news con­fer­ence this week with NAACP lead­ers, de­spite a false news re­lease posted on a web­site made to look strik­ingly sim­i­lar to one used by the church.

The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter­day Saints did have its first of­fi­cial meet­ing with na­tional NAACP lead­ers in Salt Lake City on Thurs­day. And, lead­ers from both or­ga­ni­za­tions did is­sue pub­lic state­ments dur­ing a news event.

But Mor­mon church Pres­i­dent Rus­sell M. Nel­son did not apol­o­gize for any­thing. He did not even men­tion a past ban on blacks par­tic­i­pat­ing in the re­li­gion's lay priest­hood sys­tem that in­cludes men serv­ing as lead­ers or bish­ops of con­gre­ga­tions, or the 1978 de­ci­sion to lift that ban. The de­cree was rooted in the be­lief that black skin was a curse, and it lingers as one of the most sen­si­tive top­ics in the re­li­gion's his­tory.

Nel­son and NAACP Pres­i­dent Der­rick John­son fo­cused their brief com­ments on high­light­ing the his­toric na­ture of the two in­sti­tu­tions cre­at­ing an al­liance they hope can lead to work on ed­u­ca­tion and hu­man­i­tar­ian causes.

In 2013, the Mor­mon church posted an essay dis­avow­ing the ban and the rea­sons be­hind it, say­ing it was put into place dur­ing an era of great racial di­vide that in­flu­enced early teach­ings of the church.

Church of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment on the fab­ri­cated post. A for­mer Mor­mon blog­ger from Texas, Jonathan Streeter, said he cre­ated the f alse re­lease. He said he still has Mor­mon fam­ily mem­bers and wanted to “foster a dis­cus­sion'' about the re­li­gion's racial his­tory.

This is part of The As­so­ci­ated Press' on­go­ing ef­fort to f act-check mis­in­for­ma­tion that is shared widely on­line, in­clud­ing work with Face­book to iden­tify and re­duce the cir­cu­la­tion of f alse sto­ries on the plat­form.

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