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Racist Elder Stapley Letter To Gov. George Romney


NorthboundZax

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I am surprised that there is no thread on this already. I was intending just to lurk and see what people here had to say about the letter published in the Boston Globe from Apostle Elder Delbert Stapley to then Governor George Romney, but as it's not here already...

In short, Elder Stapley takes Gov. Romney to task for being progressive on civil rights as it is not in harmony with the gospel. To the Governor's credit, apparently he stepped up his efforts on endorsing civil rights a bit following receipt of the letter.

The letter can be read here.

There are lots of pertinent topics that this brings up, e.g., an apostle attempting to influence policy of a sitting governor, or the fortitude of standing for something contrary to the direct advice of an apostle, but in my view there are two insightful blogs discussing the letter from a more crucial angle. One at By common consent and the other at Main street plaza. Both are efforts to grapple at what it means to have something so ugly associated with something you hold dear. It is not easy to reconcile that many of the most horrifying attitudes and perpetrations in history have come from otherwise 'good' people. It is even more difficult when those 'good' people are ours.

An especially prescient comment comes from Aaron Brown on the BCC blog

The real issue, IMO, is that many historical LDS leaders fervently believed that their flawed views were consistent with (or are even the embodiment of) certain gospel doctrines, and that they apparently didnâ??t have the ability to spiritually discern the difference between a gospel truth and a nefarious departure from that truth.

To me, thatâ??s the real issue we need to grapple with: not so much the mere fact that the LDS leadership can be limited or culturally-influenced in their personal views, but that they actually understand those views to be central to a proper understanding of Gospel doctrine.

Aaron B

There is also a hand written note in the margin saying that he (Romney) replied. It would certainly be interesting to know what he replied.

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"those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and feverish restlessness against the decrees of the Lord will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God will do his own work"...

...this friend of mine met a very tragic end by drowning. He was the most enthusiastic advocate of the colored cause and went about promoting for them all the privileges, social opportunities, and participation enjoyed by the Whites.

...I full agree the Negro is entitled to considerations, also stated above, but not full social benefits nor inter-marriage privileges with Whites, nor should teh Whites be forced to accept them into restricted White areas.

What a horrible man.

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May I ask how it is that the Boston Globe happened to come into possession of this letter? I can't really imagine that Geo. Romney's heirs just now decided to dig it out of his files and send it to the Globe.

(It occurrs to me that, in the wake of the Dan Rather fiasco, people have learned that they used typewriters, not Microsoft Word, during the 1960's... :P)

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What a horrible man.

Might I remind you, MC, that this was the prevailing attitude of many otherwise good people in this period of time? I consider my own father, for example, who is in many respects a wonderful, loving, and honest man but also sincere in his beliefs about the "mixing of the races" being a bad thing. These were men who were born and raised in an era when such thinking was the norm. They were "horrible" by the standards of our time. Those of us raised in the Baby Boom era and beyond have very different realities. Do not blame our parents' generation for not being able to entirely rise above their time.

It is a very ego-centric perspective that tries to evaluate others by the standards of a different time. Historically speaking, Elder Stapley was a product of his time and upbringing. In 40 years time, it may be that someone will judge you harshly for a point of view that has changed for the better. Our culture today continues to be racist in many ways; perhaps not quite as overtly as those who were already senior citizens in the 1960's, but certainly we are incredibly racist today. I am old enough to remember that era and to know that Elder Stapley may not have been able to overcome his limited understanding of the racial issues of that day but he was not a "horrible man."

May I suggest you take the time to understand the world of the past and others before jumping to conclusions about their morality?

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I find it strange that such a letter should surface at this particular time. However, it was a personal letter written to a friend, not an official church document. He was just expressing his personal opinion, which I might add at that time was also the opinion of a great many people in our country. We have come a long way since then.

Rufus

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not so much the mere fact that the LDS leadership can be limited or culturally-influenced in their personal views, but that they actually understand those views to be central to a proper understanding of Gospel doctrine
It is amazing to me how open and understanding some people can be in one area of their life and yet they are downright stupid and even at times cruel in another part.

I try hard not to judge people on merely one dimension of their lives. Also it's very important to me to see people in action. Abstract theory is one thing; real life practice is another.

I've seen men who are very good at spouting the equality for women language who treat the women in their lives like dirt. I've seen men who talk about women as the 'weaker sex' and their inability to be either logical or businesslike not only put all their daughters through college and support them in their career choices, but often step in to help the local single sisters, mothers and widows when the 'all for the feminist' men can't be bothered.

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It is amazing to me how open and understanding some people can be in one area of their life and yet they are downright stupid and even at times cruel in another part.

A wise thing to say.

I often here the term 'liberal' used as a dirty word.

Well, I am proud to be a 'liberal'. Deeply proud. And if you want to know why, read the third paragraph of that letter.

And now you have your answer...

I have no desire whatsoever to try and give the church a 'hard time' over this letter. In fact, Stapley was very careful and clear on that point.

I also have no desire to declare that Stapley was a 'horrible man'. I don't really believe that.

What I'm really interested in is the reaction this letter will get from modern LDS - on this board...

...oh - and good on George Romney! :P

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Might I remind you, MC, that this was the prevailing attitude of many otherwise good people in this period of time? I consider my own father, for example, who is in many respects a wonderful, loving, and honest man but also sincere in his beliefs about the "mixing of the races" being a bad thing. These were men who were born and raised in an era when such thinking was the norm. They were "horrible" by the standards of our time. Those of us raised in the Baby Boom era and beyond have very different realities. Do not blame our parents' generation for not being able to entirely rise above their time.

Yet there were plenty of people who didn't espouse such disgusting views. There have always been people who have risen above the stupidity and ignorance of their era; people on the "cutting edge" of societal progress. LDS church leadership is and has always been devoid of such people. Instead of being the instigator of progress, they have always been dragged behind, kicking and screaming the whole way.

In 40 years time, it may be that someone will judge you harshly for a point of view that has changed for the better.

Possibly. But it's a dead certainty that LDS church leaders will have plenty to be ashamed of.

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Yet there were plenty of people who didn't espouse such disgusting views. There have always been people who have risen above the stupidity and ignorance of their era; people on the "cutting edge" of societal progress. LDS church leadership is and has always been devoid of such people. Instead of being the instigator of progress, they have always been dragged behind, kicking and screaming the whole way.

Possibly. But it's a dead certainty that LDS church leaders will have plenty to be ashamed of.

Somehow, given that in 1965 there were many leaders of other Christian churches advocating not only separation of the races, but actual violence against African-American churches and people, many Christian people in many places actually participating in such violence and at the least anti-integration protests and activities, I hardly think that Elder Stapley's attitude represented being "dragged behind kicking and screaming" . In 1965 his thinking was actually a rather mainstream belief for people of his age group (he was not young but a senior citizen even then). He repeatedly stated in his letter that he did not speak for the church but as an individual.

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In short, Elder Stapley takes Gov. Romney to task for being progressive on civil rights as it is not in harmony with the gospel. To the Governor's credit, apparently he stepped up his efforts on endorsing civil rights a bit following receipt of the letter.

Are you suggesting that Romney's increased efforts came as a result of receiving this letter?

What is your evidence?

Having lived through the 50s and 60s, I have to say that somewhere along the way, the civil

rights movement acquired baggage that has devastated the African American culture, especially

with regards to the strong family ethos it once had, and specifically to the effects it has had

on black American men. In the future, there will be many, many more who will hang their heads

in shame over what has happened to this good people, and mostly they will be those who have exploited

the Blacks and extracted power from that exploitation - both within

the ranks of black and white American leadership. Those are the truly horrible men. In many

ways, black Americans remain slaves today...slaves of a welfare state that was supposedly created

to free them from oppression, but which has had just the opposite effect. In reading Elder Stapley's

personal letter, I find no evidence that he wished upon black Americans what has actually happened

to them. I believe he, too, would mourn the devastation brought on them by supposedly well-intentioned

political and religious leaders.

Bernard

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In his letter, Elder Stapley states:

I am enclosing a little booklet entitled Mormonism and the Negro, which you may already have. If not, it is an enlightening exposition and quite well reflects the Church position in regard to these people.

Does anyone know any details about this booklet? I have a booklet my mother sent to me entitled The Church and the Negro by John Lund. Is this the same booklet?

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Those are the truly horrible men. In many

ways, black Americans remain slaves today...slaves of a welfare state that was supposedly created

to free them from oppression, but which has had just the opposite effect.

I've read the letter carefully again. I see no mention of the 'welfare state'.

Your attempt at mis-direction is duly noted.

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In his letter, Elder Stapley states:

Does anyone know any details about this booklet? I have a booklet my mother sent to me entitled The Church and the Negro by John Lund. Is this the same booklet?

No. Mormonism and the negro is an attempt by a guy named John Stewart to explain why blacks couldn't have the priesthood. I have an original copy that I'm trying to sell. I personally don't like the book.

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...But it's a dead certainty that LDS church leaders will have plenty to be ashamed of.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Everyone, no exception save Christ Himself, has something they are ashamed of.

I've read the letter carefully again. I see no mention of the 'welfare state'.

Your attempt at mis-direction is duly noted.

He didn't state it was in the letter, he's just pointing out that it can almost been as a different form of slavery, not of the body but of the will. If the government takes care of someone, they become somewhat lazy and dependent on it. I've seen it happen to may people, no particular ethnicity.

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He didn't state it was in the letter, he's just pointing out that it can almost been as a different form of slavery, not of the body but of the will. If the government takes care of someone, they become somewhat lazy and dependent on it. I've seen it happen to may people, no particular ethnicity.

I'm pretty sure I understand what Bernard Gui was trying to elude to.

And I stand my by judgement of 'mis-direction'.

Bernard Gui tries to imply that equal rights according to race is somehow tied to issues such as 'the welfare state'. This is false - and a misdirection.

The substance of that letter was about the 'second-class status' of black citizens. Nothing more, nothing less. To make it about whatever other issue you think you can get away with is avoidance of the issue at hand.

You may as well catagorise anybody who doesn't believe Stapley was taking the right and correct approach to this topic as 'Commie sympathisers and abortion lovers'. It's about as sensible...

When it comes to whether blacks would have been 'better off' if they were still treated as second-class citizens today, I think I'd rather trust THEIR opinion on that.

Funnily enough, I think they might beg to differ on that fine assessment....

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I'm pretty sure I understand what Bernard Gui was trying to elude to.

And I stand my by judgement of 'mis-direction'.

Bernard Gui tries to imply that equal rights according to race is somehow tied to issues such as 'the welfare state'. This is false - and a misdirection.

The substance of that letter was about the 'second-class status' of black citizens. Nothing more, nothing less. To make it about whatever other issue you think you can get away with is avoidance of the issue at hand.

I get the impression that he is stating there is mistreat of someone always. I assume he means that there is still a form of slavery going on today, though I personally do not think it has anything to do with race. I know that Bernard Gui stated specifically that Blacks remain as such, to which I think it was wrong to say. He asked about evidence of Romney's increased efforts due to the letter, then shared his personal feelings and I see nothing wrong with that. If it's something that can't be agreed with, take it with a grain of salt. I don't see how he was trying to mislead anyone or elude anything. Though you may know him better than I, if that being the case then I will keep my mouth shut on the matter.

You may as well catagorise anybody who doesn't believe Stapley was taking the right and correct approach to this topic as 'Commie sympathisers and abortion lovers'. It's about as sensible...

Why does that need to be said? I may have misread someone else or skipped over something that you are referring to but at this time I think that is a bit much.

When it comes to whether blacks would have been 'better off' if they were still treated as second-class citizens today, I think I'd rather trust THEIR opinion on that.

Funnily enough, I think their going to disagree with that fine assessment....

I agree with you, but I don't see how anyone stated anything the opposite. I assumed he meant the system is flawed and can hurt more than it helps. How did you infer that he meant that Blacks should remain 'second class' and 'as they were'? Those are some harsh statements made on inferences.

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Was one the points of this letter to avoid problems with negros feeling a right to receive the priesthood as they received more civil rights?

On the third page in the second paragraph it says "the proposed Bill of Rights is vicious legislation. There needs to be some modification. The position of the Church cannot change unless the Lord changes it Himself."

I'm not familiar with very much US history of that time. Was there something in that Bill of Rights that would have required the Church to act against its beliefs? Or was it the possibility of negros feeling they had the right to hold the priesthood because of increased civil rights, thus leading to problems for the Church?

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I get the impression that he is stating there is mistreat of someone always. I assume he means that there is still a form of slavery going on today, though I personally do not think it has anything to do with race. I know that Bernard Gui stated specifically that Blacks remain as such, to which I think it was wrong to say. He asked about Romney's increased efforts due to the letter, then shared his personal feelings and I see nothing wrong with that. If it's something that can't be agreed with, take it with a grain of salt. I don't see how he was trying to mislead anyone or elude anything. Though you may know him better than I, if that being the case then I will keep my mouth shut on the matter.

I didn't even say if I agreed or disagreed with Bernard on whether the notion of the 'welfare state' is a good or a bad one.

What did I say? I said Bernard's post was a mis-direction from the actual topic of Stapley's letter.

I'll give Stapley some credit here - at least he just came out and said what he meant. Instead of dodging around the issue.

If only everybody had the courage to do that.

Why does that need to be said?

Why does Bernard have to talk about the 'Welfare state', when that wasnt bought up in Stapley's letter?

Once you answer one, you will have answered the other.

In short, it's called 'playing politics'.

I agree with you, but I don't see how anyone stated anything the opposite. I assumed he meant the system is flawed and can hurt more than it helps.

Is the insinuation that advocating 'civil rights' makes the 'system flawed'?

Maybe you can say clearly what Bernard won't. Or at least hasn't up till now...

Those are some harsh statements made on inferences.

You only see my comments as harsh. Is this correct?

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Might I remind you, MC, that this was the prevailing attitude of many otherwise good people in this period of time? I consider my own father, for example, who is in many respects a wonderful, loving, and honest man but also sincere in his beliefs about the "mixing of the races" being a bad thing. These were men who were born and raised in an era when such thinking was the norm. They were "horrible" by the standards of our time. Those of us raised in the Baby Boom era and beyond have very different realities. Do not blame our parents' generation for not being able to entirely rise above their time.

It is a very ego-centric perspective that tries to evaluate others by the standards of a different time. Historically speaking, Elder Stapley was a product of his time and upbringing. In 40 years time, it may be that someone will judge you harshly for a point of view that has changed for the better. Our culture today continues to be racist in many ways; perhaps not quite as overtly as those who were already senior citizens in the 1960's, but certainly we are incredibly racist today. I am old enough to remember that era and to know that Elder Stapley may not have been able to overcome his limited understanding of the racial issues of that day but he was not a "horrible man."

May I suggest you take the time to understand the world of the past and others before jumping to conclusions about their morality?

Common error by critics is to judge different times with current standards. Glad you pointed that out. With critics, it is always "whatever works".

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Unbelievable! Not the letter itself, as that was pretty much standard thinking among many people of the day (in and out of the church), but that someone would dredge up a 40 year old letter that has no relevance today and try to use it to disparage a man and a church.

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I didn't even say if I agreed or disagreed with Bernard on whether the notion of the 'welfare state' is a good or a bad one.

What did I say? I said Bernard's post was a mis-direction from the actual topic of Stapley's letter.

I'll give Stapley some credit here - at least he just came out and said what he meant. Instead of dodging around the issue.

If only everybody had the courage to do that.

Bernard originally asked for evidence of Romney's actions taken at that time being a direct result of the letter, after that it's all personal. I am not getting any impressions that you acknowledge that. All I read in your post that is Bernard is trying to derail the topic, misguide and deceive everyone. Please tell me when personal experience has been removed from a post after something valid to the thread has been asked or stated. It's personal feelings, and as I said before, take it with a grain of salt. No one else seems effected by his statement.

Why does Bernard have to talk about the 'Welfare state', when that wasnt bought up in Stapley's letter?

Once you answer one, you will have answered the other.

In short, it's called 'playing politics'.

Please do not assume I do not know what politics is. Again, his personal feelings. Why such treatment for an opinion?

Is the insinuation that advocating 'civil rights' makes the 'system flawed'?

Maybe you can say clearly what Bernard won't. Or at least hasn't up till now...

I never once said that advocating civil rights is a flawed system, I apologize for not making myself clear. The Welfare System is flawed in my opinion.

You only see my comments as harsh. Is this correct?

I see your attitude towards personal opinion as harsh.

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May I ask how it is that the Boston Globe happened to come into possession of this letter? I can't really imagine that Geo. Romney's heirs just now decided to dig it out of his files and send it to the Globe.

(It occurrs to me that, in the wake of the Dan Rather fiasco, people have learned that they used typewriters, not Microsoft Word, during the 1960's... :P )

I would agree with this. Before jumping on any bandwagon, I would like to know if the letter has been verified as authentic. Any references? I looked at the link provided, and could not dig back to the context the link was given in on the original web site to see if there was any other explanation of how it was obtained or whether it was verified.

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Are you suggesting that Romney's increased efforts came as a result of receiving this letter?

What is your evidence?

Having lived through the 50s and 60s, I have to say that somewhere along the way, the civil

rights movement acquired baggage that has devastated the African American culture, especially

with regards to the strong family ethos it once had, and specifically to the effects it has had

on black American men. In the future, there will be many, many more who will hang their heads

in shame over what has happened to this good people, and mostly they will be those who have exploited

the Blacks and extracted power from that exploitation - both within

the ranks of black and white American leadership. Those are the truly horrible men. In many

ways, black Americans remain slaves today...slaves of a welfare state that was supposedly created

to free them from oppression, but which has had just the opposite effect. In reading Elder Stapley's

personal letter, I find no evidence that he wished upon black Americans what has actually happened

to them. I believe he, too, would mourn the devastation brought on them by supposedly well-intentioned

political and religious leaders.

Bernard

You nailed it. The results of "civil rights leadership" was the destruction of the black family. It turned a patriarchal order into a matriarchal society. I wonder who is horrible? :P

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I am not getting any impressions that you acknowledge that.

I don't understand.

I acknowledge that Bernard is allowed his opinion. Personal or otherwise.

As was Stapley. And George Romney. And you.

And I acknowledge that I am allowed the same.

Where have I given the impression I don't belevie any of the above to be the case?

I can disagree with Bernard. And I can let that be known.

All I read in your post that is Bernard is trying to derail the topic, misguide and deceive everyone.

Now I think your reaching a bit.

I'm saying that the welfare state is a different topic to civil rights. Two disctinctly different topics. And I beleive that Bernard - for whatever reason - believes one can just bleed into the other. And I DO beleive that is mis-direction. Bernard - and others - can disagree. That's OK. This is what is known as 'discussion'.

I never talked about deceiving. Your the one who has chosen to use that word.

Please tell me when personal experience has been removed from a post after something valid to the thread has been asked or stated. It's personal feelings, and as I said before, take it with a grain of salt. No one else seems effected by his statement.

I am. I'm affected by his statment.

Am I allowed to state that I am?

Please do not assume I do not know what politics is. Again, his personal feelings. Why such treatment for an opinion?

Because I don't think much of the opinion. Pretty simple...

I never once said that advocating civil rights is a flawed system, I apologize for not making myself clear. The Welfare System is flawed in my opinion.

And I've never believed you do either.

So - again - tell me how going on about the 'welfare state' is not a mis-direction from the topic - which is Stapley's letter?

I see your attitude towards personal opinion as harsh.

I find Bernard's reaction to the Stapley letter 'harsh'. So - are we even?

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