Over at CNN there's a story entitled Atheist billboard attacks Romney's faith, but Mormons say it's misleading.
The billboard says, simply, "No blacks allowed (until 1978); No gays allowed (current); Shame on Mormonism".
Naturally The One True Church is all in a lather about it:
"People are surely free to disagree with us on the facts," Dale Jones, a church spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to CNN. "This group seems not to know that there have been black members of the Church since our earliest history, and there are many faithful gay members of the Church today."But that really doesn't tell the whole story, either. Black people were certainly not denied membership in the church. They were "only" denied the priesthood. Doesn't sound like it's such a big deal, except for the fact that the entire church is built on the patriarchal structure of the priesthood. Without having it conferred on you -- which is standard for every male member of the church -- you can't hold a church office, you can't be become a scout leader (and the Mormons are into scouting big time), you can't officiate at any church-related function, you can't bless the sacrament, you can't even bless your own children. All of these things are extremely important to the Mormons, and withholding the priesthood from the "unworthy" is, in fact, a Very Big Deal in the church.
And you have to wonder about the self-hating African-Americans who were willing to put up with this nonsense prior to 1978. Yeah, there may have been black Mormons prior to that time, but I'll bet they were few and far between.
I saw a group of black Mormons on The Daily Show last week, and one of them said, in defense of the church, that many churches exhibited overt racism in their history. Yeah, true enough, but does that really excuse the racism in the Mormon church that existed officially up until 1978?
1978. Think about it. That's so recent that it's barely history.