Not all of the reaction from readers is dissenting:
The Mormon church is all one giant Etch-a-Sketch. All of it. Polygamy, African Americans in the church. “Oops, that policy isn’t working with the power that be, well, oh thank Moroni there is a new revelation! Oh that policy is incredibly backwards and bigoted. Oh by the power of Nephi, there is a new revelation!” It is just crazy.
On that note: Another reader:
I just read your piece about Mitt’s religion and the white supremacy of the Mormon Church. As far as I am concerned, it is alive and well. A couple years ago I got on a mostly-empty train headed into Boston from the suburb of Newton. The only other passengers on the car were a pair of LDS missionaries and, as an atheist who does his best to keep up on other religions, I decided to strike up a conversation.
I figured they would happy to talk to someone who wasn’t slamming a door in their face. The conversation turned to the Book of Mormon, which they were using as proof of the existence of God. I asked them if they believed it was the word of God. Yes. If it was all and completely true. Yes.
Then I asked if they believed that people with dark skin were inherently evil. No. I’d just asked him if he believed everything in the book, and he’d said yes, but when asked about a specific racist passage he said he didn’t think it was right. (Sound familiar?) I kept pressing, and he said that, according to more recent interpretations, these passages didn’t speak to the cursed nature of the dark skinned, but were there to discourage interracial marriage.
Let me repeat: The defense of the racist portions of the Book of Mormon were that “oh, it’s not racism, it’s just to remind us not to intermarry.” The latest versions of LDS doctrine simply recommend against it; here’s a quote from Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, Lesson 31:
“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144).
Seriously. I told him that in a country with a long history of anti-miscegenation laws, this was not a particularly convincing argument and bid them good evening. Imagine if Obama was currently a member of a church who had published doctrine aimed at teenagers that recommended black men should only marry black women. Do you think Fox News would pass that over?
Of course not. And the double standard is itself inherently racist.