Parody Website Puts Mormon Church in Awkward Spot After Fake Apology for Its History of Racism Goes Viral
A fake Mormon news site popped up and caused a flurry of controversy throughout Salt Lake City Thursday after the Church of Latter Day Saints met with leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Salt Lake City Tribune reported.
While the meeting with the NAACP was factual, the fake-news site claimed that the church was announcing an official apology for their past racism. For two centuries the church had an institutionalized policy preventing black men of African descent from joining the clergy. To make matters worse, Mormon church founders Joseph Smith and Brigham Young claimed that black skin was part of a "Curse of Cain" or the "Curse of Ham."
"He claimed that Cain entered into a secret covenant with the Devil," said Stephen R. Haynes in Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery.
The fake site published what it said was an official apology to people of color.
“I offer a full unqualified apology for the error of racism which was taught from this office and in the tabernacle and over the pulpits of our churches the world over,” LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson was quoted as saying.
The problem, however, is that Nelson never said it. Now the church is in the awkward position of having to tell the public that they have not apologized for their racism.
The Tribune quoted a 2015 statement from Dallin Oaks, a member of the LDS Church First Presidency, who said that the church "does not give or seek out apologies." He later repeated that comment in an interview with the paper, remarking that the word 'apology' does not appear in the LDS scriptural canon."
"We sometimes look back on issues and say, 'Maybe that was counterproductive for what we wish to achieve,'” Oaks said. "But we look forward and not backward."