LDS Church releases statement on Charlottesville riots

Via Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Via Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

More than a decade ago, the late Church President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) addressed the topic of racism when speaking to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Utah-based faith - officially called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but better known as the Mormon or LDS church - said it had learned there were people "among the various pro-white and white supremacy communities who assert that the Church is neutral toward or in support of their views". The church has made its position crystal clear.

White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them.

White supremacists and members of the alt-right gathered for a "Unite The Right" rally Saturday to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in downtown Charlottesville.

According to a spokesperson for Charlottesville, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. drove a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others.

The statement reads, "People of any faith, or of no faith at all, should be troubled by the increase of intolerance in both words and actions that we see everywhere".

Fields was charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run.

The Mormon church has had a complicated history with race. In 1852, several years after taking the helm of the church, Brigham Young announced that men of African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, which is an important milestone for male members of the church. He powerfully and clearly taught this principle: "No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ". For members of the Church, we reaffirm that teaching today and the Saviour's admonition to love our neighbour.

Moore said the elders of the church are hosting a vigil Thursday at 7 p.m., and the community is invited to join in a prayer for peace and justice.

George Andrew Spriggs - a non-practicing Mormon who this week described the church's previous statements as being written with "seemingly intentional ambiguity" - also generally praised the church's new comments on white supremacism.

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