With the lowering of the mission age, the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer is doing its part to help train young men for the rigors and blessings of doing God’s work. As part of this effort, Elder Kory Anton, who is hoping to clear things up and return to the mission field very soon, offers his insights to help others prepare.
Believe it or not, sometimes people ask missionaries questions that just seem so obvious that you might not know what to say. Never fear. Here are some tips for dealing with what some missionaries erroneously call “tough questions.” These are all pretty easy when you think about it. Today’s question is:
Is the Church Racist?
First, “racist” is a very ugly term, and if people think that the church is racist then they might not join. That means it is very important to help them see that the fact that God loves His children enough to only give certain opportunities to some people and not to others based on the color of their skin (or their gender, or their marital status, or their sexual orientation) is God’s infinite wisdom knowing how to wisely discern (not “discriminate”) how to bless people. God’s ways are truly grand, majestic, eternal, and beyond anyone’s understanding!
Second, the Book of Mormon is not ever at all racist either—that is just the simple, pure, plain truth. At times in that sacred history God punished people with darker skin as a curse and to make sure that there would be not mixing between the pure people with the white skin and the sinful people with the dark skin. That marking is actually more spiritual than it is physical. In those verses, God simply used the physical to reveal the spiritual, that way what you see on the outside allows you to understand and judge quickly. To put it another way, you don’t have to spend a lot of time talking or finding out; you can pretty much make a pre-judgment right off the bat. In that way skin color is like a lighthouse, warning you from far about different people. That is divine efficiency!
Third, missionaries should defend every church policy, leader, and member as part of one large, unified Kingdom of God. As the only true church, everything about it is true. So when a popular BYU professor explains the past, God is using him and his round-about and spiritually-understood views to fulfill God’s purposes, and clearly that is not racist at all. At all.
Finally, let us never forget the October, 2013 General Conference, when Elder Soares talked about an African saint named Brother Moses Mahlangu. That should be a lesson to all of us. Brother Mahlangu learned patience and meekness by not being allowed to be in church because of the color of his skin, just one more example of a perfect organization doing God’s perfect work!
Some missionaries might be tempted by Satan to not accept the truths presented above. Such missionaries might allow themselves to think that some people and even some policies have been influenced by culture or even by personal bias backed up by inaccurate ideas about God and by privilege. Oh the wickedness of such failing servants of the Lord! These faithless, weak missionaries, when asked about racism in the church or Book of Mormon, may say things like “I don’t know” or “God’s church and people have agency and make mistakes” or “just come and see for yourself, and then, with eyes wide open, ask God if this church is where He wants you.” Instead of being Korihor-like cowards, missionaries who are true, valiant, stripling warrior missionaries, who are delightsome before God, will bear down in pure testimony that everyone has always been perfectly equal before God and in God’s church always and forever!
A pure, perfect, child-like faith knows the difference between what is pure, celestial, and temple-white and what is dark, loathsome, filthy, and would blacken the soul. Most missionaries can trace their ancestory back to those who landed on Plymouth Rock. Those missionaries know the Lord brought about the birth of this nation, that freedom has its roots in this land. Valiant missionaries have a dream that one day all will sit at God’s celestial table, clothed in the pure, white robes of divine holiness, well, except for those who are serving the food or maybe cooking in the back. Whatever you do, hold on to that dream, Elder!
All the best,
Elder Kory Anton