Oh how racism haunts Mormonism

You remember the whole Brandon Davies basketball debacle a few weeks ago? You know, the situation where a black BYU basketball player was suspended for having sex with his girlfriend? Yeah, so, it turns out someone did a little digging and found out that:Of the 70 athletes suspended from BYU since 1993, 54 of them (80%) were minorities; 41 (60%) were black men.

Is this because black men are more likely to violate the honor code? The authors say, “No.” They note that lots of people violate the honor code at BYU, and since almost everyone at BYU is white (.6% black, but 23% of athletes at BYU are minorities), that means most of the violations are by white students. The difference is: The many white students who do violate the honor code are more likely to get away with it.

You should really read the original article – it’s pretty stunning how clear the case is against the religion when it comes to the administration at BYU having a double standard for black athletes.

As I read it, there are two take home messages from this article:

  1. If you are a black athlete and BYU comes knocking, turn them down flat. Not only will the recruiters lie to you about BYU being like every other school out there, but you have pretty good odds of being suspended from the university for, well, being a normal young adult.
  2. The Mormon Church really has not moved beyond its racist past. Exhibit #1 – the statistics above. Exhibit #2, this picture:
the Quorum of the Twelve = 100% old white guys

This just reinforces in my mind that LDS, Inc. is a “hate church.” They hate gays and, while they may not “hate” blacks, they certainly mistreat them.

Oh, Mormonism, why can’t you seem to move into the 21st Century with the rest of the world?

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profxm

I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

77 thoughts on “Oh how racism haunts Mormonism

  1. By the way profxm, are you sure President Monson is living there? Last I heard, he chose to remain in his home in his fairly modest home in Midvale.

  2. Seth… I was told about the condo when I was a teenager and Ezra Taft Benson was living in it. So, frankly, no, I’m not sure whether he moved in there or not. Maybe he is in his modest home in Midvale.

  3. Midvale is too far for me to drive for t-ping. We used to do that to our ym and yw counselors, so why not the Proph. You want to join me Seth? I will be in SLC in June.
    (does t-ping seem a little Juvenile for a middle aged guy though?) ;^ ))

  4. I so think MSP should sponsor a “TP the prophet’s house night”. Here’s the house:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=4125+S+Carter+Cir+Salt+Lake+City,+UT+84124&aq=&sll=40.681753,-111.840414&sspn=0.000918,0.001635&gl=us&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=4125+S+Carter+Cir,+Salt+Lake+City,+Utah+84124&t=h&z=17

    Doesn’t appear to be in a gated community. And, unbeknownst to me at the time, I used to live about 2 blocks from there.

    If you do it, you have to come back to MSP and report, with pictures and videos!!!

  5. A friend of me and my wife in college married Thomas S. Monson’s grandson. We went to the reception and Pres. Monson was in the other room chatting with family. Just about ten feet from me. Very modest little reception. We left him alone – figured it was a family moment and he didn’t need any fanboyish behavior intruding.

  6. Oh, a friend of mine pointed me to these excerpts from the book “Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower”, by Lucile C. Tate (Deseret Book Company, 1995)

    ==begin quote==
    75 About that time [just prior to being married on 18 July 1947] Boyd was presented with a test that was much more serious than Donna’s challenge of riding with him in the wrecker [his old car]. Donna’s father, an enterprising and generous man, had successfully built several homes and was in the process of building two directly through the block from the one where he and his family lived. One of the new homes had been sold. The other, Donna’s father told them, was to be his wedding gift to them.

    76 His words touched something that was deep and elemental to Boyd’s nature and made him resolutely say to himself, “We cannot do that.” With all his heart he desired to provide for his bride himself, and he felt entirely capable of taking that responsibility. Thus that desire and the anticipation of fixing up the old home for them warred against the proffered gift, creating within Boyd a distinct crisis. He struggled with it, rejecting even the thought of the gift. Finding no peace, he went to his father and asked what he should do.

    76Ira listened with understanding. After deliberating, he said: “Son, what if in the future you should want to do this for one of your own children? Do you think that would be in order?”

    76Boyd was forced to answer, “Yes.”

    76Ira continued, “Well, why is it out of order for Brother Smith to want to do this for his only daughter?”

    76It was a hard lesson for Boyd to learn: Even when you definitely do not want it, sometimes you must accept a gift from another so that the giver might receive the joy of giving.
    76Finally he yielded his will to the counsel of his father and Donna’s and moved ahead….

    79 [Following their wedding,] Before school started, the couple cleared the yard of gravel and rocks and planted lawns, front and back. By then Boyd was content about the matter of the home, and when Brother Smith later faced some financial reverses Boyd was able to help by taking over the payments….

    96 The couple moved into their new home at 549 North First West in Brigham City in early August 1947. Their furniture consisted of a table, sofa, chair, bed, and dresser. They had no refrigeration, so on hot summer days Donna prepared meals that required none. After a time they purchased a Kelvinator refrigerator that has operated an unbelievable forty-four years without repair. She laundered clothes at her mother’s until, at the beginning of winter, they could afford a used wringer-washer. She remembers hanging the wet clothes on lines and having them freeze dry. That winter was severe, and hungry deer came down from the mountains into the yards for forage.

    97 Boyd was finishing his last year at Weber College, working at the Packer garage, finishing the basement of the house, taking his turn milking Brother Smith’s cow for a share of the milk, and helping Donna with household chores. She remembers an incident that touched her. Noticing a small gold safety-pin fastened to the palm side of his wedding ring, she asked about it. He said simply, “That is to remind me to be good to you.”…

    97 One bitter day as he waited for a ride from Ogden he became wet and chilled and came home with the flu. It was apparent to him and Donna that they must get a car. Earning the money to pay for it required diligence. Finally they were able to purchase a secondhand Ford….

    108 With five children the Packers found their small house crowded. Knowing of their desire for a yet larger family, Donna’s father said one evening in early 1954: “I have heard that the owner of the old co-op farmhouse is going to sell, and you two ought to have it. It would be just right for you.” The thought of its eight fertile acres, its water rights, its orchard and garden, and the old historic house sent Boyd and Donna’s spirits soaring.

    …Despite the lengthy time it took to sell their small home, the family moved into the new one in July in order to harvest the garden and orchard. And they loved it. Even cleaning out the old basement was exciting. In it they found an antique string of Swedish sleigh bells that has ever since hung on their front door at Christmas….

    112 Although as a seminary supervisor Boyd received a modest raise in salary it was largely used up in his commuting from Brigham City to Provo. Accordingly he began to search for a home to buy in Utah Valley. Not finding one suitable for the family’s needs, he determined to purchase a lot and build.

    112″I drove all over Utah Valley,” he recalls, “and one evening I came into Lindon from the east and saw a beautiful lot on a corner. It had an old-fashioned Victorian iron fence on the north. There were large evergreens and other trees on the lot. Alternate sycamores and silver maples bordered it on the west. It appeared that a large home had once stood there.”

    112He continues: “I learned from a neighbor that it was the site of the old Lindon Ward chapel and it was for sale. When I found the bishop, he quoted the price at eight hundred dollars.”

    112Boyd made out an option to buy, paid twenty-five dollars earnest money, and called Donna to see if they could cover the check. She told him yes.

    113 They rented a home near the building site and Boyd and the boys moved there on 14 August 1956, the day Donna’s fifth son and sixth child, Spencer Gordon, was born in Brigham City’s Cooley Hospital, where his father had been born. Because of a lung problem Spencer’s life hung in the balance for some precarious days, and he was blessed and given his name at the hospital.

    113Between his supervisory trips Boyd oversaw the construction of the new home. During the year it took to sell the Brigham City home they made its payments along with those for the Lindon house. They bought a cow, kept chickens and pigs, and in his absence Donna and their sons did the chores.
    [Called as assistant to the quorum of the twelve on 30 September 1961]

    ….129In August 1963 he asked Elder Packer and his wife to tour the Alaska mission with him and Sister Moyle. For the Packers, the request seemed impossible. When Brother Packer became an Assistant to the Twelve his income decreased substantially. With their son Lawrence’s birth on 7 July 1962 the Packers had nine children. Although Elder Packer’s fare would be paid, they had no money for Sister Packer’s plane ticket. 130 Accordingly Elder Packer asked if he could be excused from going. President Moyle responded, “President McKay has assigned you to go.” Then with deep seriousness he said: “I will not be here much longer. If the things I know are worth keeping, the only place I know to preserve them is with someone younger. I want you to come with me and I want you to stay with me and I want you to listen….

    ….

    137To prevent his commuting daily to Salt Lake City, the Packers decided to leave Lindon and relocate nearer Church headquarters. They hoped for a place where they could keep animals and birds and the children could continue to have the daily chores. Elder Packer also wanted to insulate them from the publicity of his position as a General Authority. Away from the city he could come home with no more fanfare than from work in any business office. Sister Packer’s Lindon experience had given her confidence, in his absence, to manage their nine children, a home, and a large piece of property.

    137President Moyle had kindly assigned someone to help locate such a place. When it was found, the Packers fell in love with it. Elder Harold B. Lee looked over the house and property one day and counseled, “By all means, you are to proceed.”

    137There was a problem, however. When they added up every asset they possessed, including a projected loan on their insurance, they could not see any way to get into the house.

    137Still Brother Lee insisted, “Go ahead; I know it is right.”

    137″I was in deep turmoil,” Elder Packer has written, “because I had been counseled to do something I had never done before-to sign a contract without the resources to meet the payments.”

    137Sensing the turmoil, Brother Lee sent him to President David O. McKay, who listened very carefully, then said: “You do this. It is the right thing.” But he extended no resources to make it possible.

    137Brother Packer recalled, “When I reported to Brother Lee he said, ‘That confirms what I have told you.’

    137″I was still not at peace, and then came the lesson.

    137″Elder Lee said, ‘Boyd, do you know what is wrong with you-you always want to see the end from the beginning.’

    138 “I replied quietly that I wanted to see at least a few steps ahead. He answered by quoting from the sixth verse of the twelfth chapter of Ether. ‘Wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.’

    138″And then he added, ‘My boy, you must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you.’ ”

    138For Elder Packer it was a great test of faith, but he moved ahead and step by step the way opened for him to acquire the property, move his family, make the payments, and begin to make it their home….
    [6 April 1970 – called to Quorum of the Twelve]

    191 …[event at ] the pond, which had not existed when the Packers moved into the home. The original acreage upon which their house stood was smaller, but through the years they had purchased additional land. Then Brother Packer and his boys had cleared a path through the woods, cleaned out the poison ivy, and made a pond.

    301…the pond, which had not existed when the Packers moved into the home. The original acreage upon which their house stood was smaller, but through the years they had purchased additional land. Then Brother Packer and his boys had cleared a path through the woods, cleaned out the poison ivy, and made a pond.

    ===End quote====

    A tale of sordid avarice and greed if ever there was one. I believe Pres. Packer’s house only has 3 bedrooms and the majority of the value is in the land itself (the city having since creeped up around the previously “rural” property.

  7. @58 not a tale of avarice, but not a tale showing ethics and deep spirituality either.
    Also, so I am guessing you don’t want to TP his house?

  8. I’ve never TP-ed anyone’s house in my entire life actually.

    Somehow, this doesn’t seem like the place to start a trend.

  9. Ohh… Nielsen’s. That stuff is good.

    As far as TP-ing goes, I think MSP fans should target every apostle’s house they can find. That would be awesome!

    Lastly, the excerpt from the book… It doesn’t come across as though Packer had tons of money, though his wife’s father seems to have had some. But it does seem like he has some money now. Also, how are the passages you’ve quoted all that far removed from “prosperity gospel” teachings?

    And, to my cynical mind, I have to admit that it kind of reads as though he is trying to justify his wealth to the lay members with subtle insinuations about hard work, luck, and “the lord blessing him.”

    As far as the size goes… Yes, it’s 3 bedrooms and 1 full bath, but also 3 3/4 bath’s and 1 half bath, 4 finished fire places, was completely redone in 1991, and the square footage is 5,239 feet. That’s not a tiny little shack.

  10. profxm,

    How about if we all took a deep breath, put things in perspective here, and looked at how other leaders of large financially sound or successful institutions live?

    The comparison would likely prove instructive for all concerned.

  11. Seth,

    Happy to compare top-level LDS General Authorities to CEOs and other for-profit corporate executives. In fact, very little could make me happier.

    Do LDS General Authorities make as much as some CEOs and other executives? No. I don’t think so. Are they living particularly lavish lifestyles? Not PARTICULARLY LAVISH. But they do have very nice homes, and I’m guessing they want for nothing.

    But… They also have no oversight and no accountability. They run a pseudo-corporation that pays them a very comfortable salary and no one else has any say in how things are run – no shareholders (despite millions paying tithing), no external auditing, no IRS interference, no reporting of pseudo-corporate income. Do they pay taxes? Yes. But they can also deduct their mortgages and home upkeep from their taxes, thanks to the federal government.

    We also have no idea whether or not they are granted shares in the for-profit corporations run by the religion – again, no accountability. That does not hold in for-profit, non-religious corporations. We have no idea what Boyd Packer’s net worth is, but we do with Larry Page or Steve Jobs because of the stock options they have been granted.

    At the end of the day, from what little we can glean, it appears as though the CEOs of Mormonism are living very comfortably, but perhaps not lavishly – about like the CEOs of smaller but very successful companies (maybe in the range of 200-500 employees). Props to them for not living ridiculously lavish lives. Props taken away for not providing any measures of accountability…

  12. profxm, do you have any evidence at all that these men are drawing a lot of money from the actual Church. Or is just about everything they have from their OWN career efforts outside the LDS Church?

    Aside from Packer who worked for the CES system (and I assume got paid like most people who have jobs) and a few ex BYU presidents (who I also assume were paid for their work), what makes it so unlikely that the money came from being businessmen themselves (Perry), or heart surgeons (Nelson), or pilots (Uchtdorf), or lawyers (Oaks)? Weren’t these guys, when they joined up with the Quorum, about the age where most guys retire if they can – and go play golf or play with their grandkids?

    Who says they aren’t at least mostly supporting themselves – especially since their lifestyle seems compatible with that reality? Nothing we have uncovered here is even remotely alarming or concerning.

    Just a bunch of rising land values, and men who appear to have had the audacity to be fiscally responsible and conservative.

  13. I agree 1000% with Ms Jack’s post @15.

    I grew up on a Native American reservation where the majority of kids (native) had no native leadership in school, jobs or local government. There was a circular belief that because no native had applied for the job that no native could be given the position and because no native was ever given the position, no native ever bothered to apply. Anyone can be trained to do a job and the only thing stopping the native population from doing the job were the barriers of their getting the job in the first place. Namely, cultural and language differences, unfamiliarity with institutional protocol, attitudes of people who did not want to be led by a non-white person and a paralyzing fear of making mistakes.

    Fortunately, my generation of friends was starting to think differently and was certainly less tolerant of the institutional racism that kept their parents from teaching in our classrooms or working in the police or running for office. I have some native acquaintances who grew up and are teaching in the school where they, once, attended. I believe that it is only right and proper that there is an accurate representation, in leadership, of the people who are being led, governed or taught. I am properly pissed off that my formal education only included two native teachers, one of whom was from the local area and was of the majority tribe…

    I don’t know if the Mormon Church will ever name another native Seventy – wasn’t George P. Lee the only one? And I sure as hell doubt that they’ll ever name a black one. As much as the Mormon Church would like to think they are a colourful and vibrant church, they’ll always be too far behind the times for my liking. I will always question the motives behind anyone who joins an organization where the leadership has no place for them in the line-up.

  14. Not sure I buy that, Seth. Per this chart (http://www.ldsapostles.org/charts.php), the average age at which they were called was: 55.6. That’s a full 10 years before most people retire. While some of them could have made enough money to survive on for the rest of their lives before that point (maybe Oaks and Nelson), most of the others likely did not. Unless pilots in Germany make a lot more than their counterparts here in the US, Uchtdorf is probably not loaded. My brother-in-law flies for Delta and, at present, pilots max out at well under $200,000. Uchtdorf could have made more than that, but I doubt it. Depending on how lavishly he lived as a pilot, he probably doesn’t have much. Even Oaks and Nelson probably didn’t have millions when they were called. Oaks was a judge and Nelson, while a heart surgeon, had 10 kids. They would have had to have amassed serious fortunes to survive off of them indefinitely.

    Also, there is the question of whether or not they are drawing on Social Security. Religious leaders can opt out of Social Security – meaning they don’t have to pay in during their careers but they don’t get any benefit when they retire (I think they are the only people who can do this). So, it may be the case that some are getting some income from their respective governments now that they are past the minimum retirement age. But most of these guys seem like they would not have the financial resources to survive indefinitely without support from the institution given their “nice” lifestyles.

    So, yes, it’s possible that some of the apostles are independently wealthy and pay their own way. But, I’d guess it’s highly improbable for almost all of them.

  15. I didn’t say independently wealthy.

    I said they were well off enough to support themselves in large measure, and not burden the Church.

    Everything we’ve discussed so far is consistent with that assumption.

  16. I disagree.

    I think this reflects different base assumptions: You want to believe that the leaders of your religion are sincere in their efforts to guide the religion and not abusing their power and authority.

    I see no reason to believe that.

    Ergo, you arrive at the conclusion that they have sufficient money from their previous careers to support themselves, despite scant evidence to support that conclusion. I arrive at the conclusion that they are given very comfortable salaries to support their nice, but not quite lavish, lifestyles, with scant evidence to support that conclusion.

    You know what would be nice: If LDS Inc. simply reported this information or made it available to the members. Then we wouldn’t have to squabble over it.

    😉

  17. Which basically means we all operate from foregone conclusions here in light of inconclusive evidence – so believe whatever you want?

    Thanks. I will.

  18. I want to comment further but I did not realize that this had already been debated about a month ago.

    I think the GA’s are in a different position than a CEO of a corporation. The GA’s are leaders of a religion. Let’s compare them to other religious leaders.

  19. Great. Let’s start with Joel Osteen.

    Because keep in mind, you have to compare them to leaders of LARGE churches.

    You can’t compare them to the local Baptist pastor down the street – who has only his own local parish. For one thing, the scale is completely off. For another thing, the Baptist minister only makes money off his religious work.

  20. But wayne, the CEOs of LDS Inc. are actually the CEOs of a corporation – many corporations. They also happen to be the leaders of a religion, but that, too, is run like a corporation. So, frankly, the comparison between the CEOs of LDS Inc. and Steve Jobs are quite apt.

    Also, Seth, Joel Osteen is not the person to compare them to. He is the pastor of a single megachurch with one real location. He is not the spiritual head of a worldwide religion with thousands of local branches. A more apt comparison would be to the Cardinals of Roman Catholicism or the United Methodist Council of Bishops: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Methodist_Council_of_Bishops

    By choosing Joel Osteen you are cherry picking religious leaders who are clearly flush with cash but are not an apples to apples comparison. Try the UM Council of Bishops.

  21. I don’t mind if you do that. But just be sure to disclose how much their respective churches are actually paying them, and how much of that they are supplementing with outside income from other sources. Just to keep things accurate.

  22. Money and religion are sticky issues. Every time my members of the temple I belong to have to go over the budget and operating costs we always end up talking about how to stay solvent, and whether our money making efforts are within the guide lines of our practice. Some people get worked up and others just want to make sure we can maintain the temple others want to expand.

    @profxm- In actual study I would not compare the GA to CEOs simply because of the way members of a church relate to the GA. The way some people view Steve Jobs, for an accurate comparison he would have to be compared to God.
    Honestly I would not be comparing incomes. I’m a psychologist not an economist; I would be interested in how they justify what they take in profit wise from their position as the head of a religious organization, do they see making money as something separate from what they do as religious leaders and finally how do members see the relationship.

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