Last summer, President Russell M. Nelson and NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a joint invitation for all “to work with greater civility, to eliminate prejudice of all kinds, and focus on important interests that we have in common.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) continue to act on this invitation as they seek to strengthen their partnership.
On Monday, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the 36th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Luncheon in Salt Lake City hosted by the NAACP Salt Lake City branch.
At the beginning of his remarks, Elder Stevenson expressed regret that the “Come, Follow Me” manual for 2020 contains an old statement that dark skin in the Book of Mormon was the sign of a curse. He disavowed that statement.
“We’re asking our members to disregard the paragraph in the printed manual,” he said, according to Deseret News. “Now I’m deeply saddened and hurt by this error and for any pain that it may have caused our members and for others. I would just like to reiterate our position as a Church is clear. We do condemn all racism, past and present, in any form, and we disavow any theory advanced that black or dark skin is a sign of a curse.”
Elder Stevenson said the mistake was included in the printed version which was prepared nearly two years ago. When Church leaders found out about the error in late 2019, they corrected it in the online version which is used by the majority of members and adjusted future printed materials.
His remarks at the event centered around the topic, “All Are Alike Unto God.” Elder Stevenson encouraged the audience to do three things: be their brother’s keeper, foster civility, and emulate Christlike love.
He commended the NAACP for its work to “eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons,” according to Church News. He also acknowledged how the relationship between the Church and the NAACP has advanced.
“The Church’s relationship with the NAACP has evolved from acquaintance to friend, to linking arms, to locking arms,” he said.