After an uproar this week over allegedly-racist remarks made by popular BYU religion professor Randy Bott, a coalition of BYU students known as the Provo Peace Forum are planning ways to protest. The students are careful to emphasize that they are not protesting Professor Bott or his comments directly, but rather that their goal is to assist generally in “eliminating racism from the modern Mormon narrative.”
On Friday, from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, they plan to distribute fliers on BYU’s campus that contain the statement given in italics at the end of this article. The group is also seeking to organize a student forum to discuss racism in historical and current Mormon thought and ways in which Latter-day Saints can help eliminate it from modern LDS thought. The proposal of a discussion forum has been met with some approval by various BYU professors.
However, the idea of even this tepid form of protest was met with mixed reactions by students I spoke to, with many feeling that this would simply bring more attention to a controversial issue that they feel is reflecting poorly upon the university and the Church. A few other vocal students, however, felt that this reaction is not as bold as it should be.
With the probability that Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee, it is likely that the issue of racism in Mormon thought, past or present, will continue to be brought up by major media outlets.
Provo Peace Forum statement: As the rising generation of LDS youth, we firmly declare our love for all. We believe the passages of our holy scripture that declare us all equal before God regardless of gender, race or economic and social status. We anchor ourselves in the known and oft cited fact that the founder of our faith, Joseph Smith, was free and open to all races and creeds with the blessings that poured from his revelations.
Furthermore, we recognize the need to be completely forthright about the history of our faith which, we openly concede, is blemished in the way all human narratives are. Perhaps more than any generation before us, we want to engage in open dialogue regarding the history of our faith, both with audiences within and without the faith. We are excited that this dialogue is starting to take place both on intimate and national levels and would like to encourage all to be dutiful in their research and withhold conclusions on the international faith prematurely.
Let it be known that we students who have come together to write this, yearn to practice a pluralistic and inclusive Mormonism, which, we believe, is at the core of its very dictates.