Mormonism, Racism, and Romney: Part 1
The scriptures in the LDS church are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and The Doctrine and Covenants. There are 138 sections in The Doctrine and Covenants, along with two Official Declarations. The first Official Declaration has to do with the halting of polygamy.1 The second Official Declaration was issued in 1978 after President Kimball received a revelation from the Lord, wherein all worthy members of the church were now able to receive priesthood and temple blessings, regardless of race. The declaration was signed by the First Presidency. One of the members of that team happened to be Marion Romney, the cousin of George Romney, father of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The declaration made it very clear that blacks in the LDS church, who were considered worthy in the same vein as their white brothers and sisters, would be treated equally. Also quite clear was that no apology would ever be issued by the LDS church to blacks.
But, we have to recognize something: the LDS church ought to give no apology. As the Declaration says, it was “in God’s eternal plan” that at some time the blessings would not be withheld any longer. While the people of the church waited for that time, they
pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these [those excluded, e.g. blacks], our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.2
Ultimately God is the one responsible for the blessings and an equal status being withheld from blacks. In the past, God established the rule (for lack of a better term), and only God could change the rule according to his plan. The First Presidency in 1949 said quite clearly,
The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.3
All the people of the LDS church could do was plead for God to give them guidance. They were living in obedience to the will of God. To have turned on God over this, to have allowed blacks to receive the blessings (assuming it would even be possible), would have been rebellious.
1If you take the time to read it you find it more makes the statement that polygamy is no longer practiced, that it is better to stop and adhere to national law than to have the temples essentially shut down; it’s pragmatism not revelation that caused the pause in the practice of polygamy.
2From the Second Official Declaration.
3From The First Presidency Statement on the Negro Question, August 17, 1949.