My conversation with Errol Louis

On Sunday Errol Louis published an article on Mitt Romney.  It to my way of thinking was slightly disingenuous when speaking of our beliefs or the beliefs of Governor Romney. 

For me there was two big things, based on an essay I am writing for my fourth year US Civil rights class, so here is what I wrote.

Dear sir, 

In your article you stated the following and I would like to correct at least one misconception:

In addition to this death penalty for race-mixing, Mormons barred blacks from becoming priests or taking part in the religion’s holiest rituals. This went on until 1978. Romney, who was 31 when Mormon elders officially scrapped the church’s racist doctrines, says he broke down and cried when the change was announced. I really hope he did more than wait till the end and weep: I’d like to know what Bishop Romney grew up believing on this subject, exactly what he taught to others – and what steps, if any, he took to battle discrimination when doing so was at odds with his religion.

Mitt’s father George Romney was not a fan of the ban on blacks.  In 1967 when he was running for president he and his wife were perceived as civil rights activists.  His wife Lenore went so far as publicly stating her views on the issue.  She said in a New York Times article that, “I just can’t believe any inferiority, and it makes me very cross when some commentators say we think Negroes inferior.” 

Further I would recommend:

Wallace Turner, “Mormon Stand on Negroes Poses a Problem for Romney if He Runs for President,” New York Times, December 28, 1965 

 “Mormons Defended by Romney’s Wife on Negro Status,” New York Times, January 24, 1967 

Now to argue somehow that Mitt had crocodile tears when he heard in June of 1978 that Blacks had received the priesthood is disingenuous.  His parents along with the Stewart and Mo Udall were some of the most active politicians who obviously not comfortable with the ban. 

Your second misconception that somehow Mormons were unique in segregating blacks from churches. 

In particular, I want to know more about Bishop Romney’s beliefs and actions related to the Mormon religion’s odious and longstanding practices of racial segregation. 

As late as 1987 86% of African Americans still attended Black only churches.  So let’s not portray that somehow other churches were not practicing a type of latent  segregation.  Oh and how many white congregations had black Priests or ministers. And importantly why do you call him “bishop” as at present he is not one.  These positions are not full-time jobs they are lay positions and I am under the impression it has been a number of years since he was bishop over anyone.

 Somehow picking up random quotes from Brigham Young seems to devalue your arguments, 19th  century people had a very different view of the world than we do.  I would agree that Young’s remarks from our point of view are disgusting but then there are LOADS of other “respectable” figures in American history who have said equally disgusting to our modern view. But then I am not sure that is the point of your article is to launch a fair look at the church, Romney or anyone else.   Sincerely,



So not expecting a reply I sent it off.

Well little did I know I got an intelligent reply:


Your points are well taken. Unfortunately, the candidate is not making them. Skeptical voters want to hear these thoughts from Mitt himself, because he’s the one who wants to be president — not his father, not his supporters, and not the scholars. I hope someone on his campaign will realize that soon. 

Errol Louis



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