Yesterday Jake Tapper asked John Huntsman about the church’s “racist rules” of the past. Huntsman said, “I think it was wrong, plain and simple. I think it was wrong.”
When the church ban on giving the priesthood to blacks was lifted, when I was 14, every single LDS person I personally knew rejoiced. My mom ran to the stairs shouting to tell us. We jumped up and down. In our mostly Mormon community of Orem, Utah, people literally flooded into the streets to hug and talk as word spread.
Over the years I have come to my own conclusions about why it happened. The answer I’m comfortable with is that due to the racism of pretty much everyone at the time, the church might not have survived had blacks been treated equally by the already crazy, weirdo Mormons. (Although I admit, I wish we’d used the same reasoning to ban polygamy from our history instead of blacks.)
As I watched the interview, though, I wondered why — in this day of equality — the Mormon candidates aren’t regularly asked to explain why they belong to a sexist church. (I’m not calling the church sexist — any more than I’d call it racist — but I think that’s how it would be framed from outside.)
Is it because so many other (really big, powerful) churches also have lots of gender prohibitions and they don’t really want to get into that dog fight? Is it because racism is more objectionable than sexism? Is it because they see gender differences as meaningful (and therefore rationally allowing discrimination) and race issues as irrelevant? Other reasons?