Dallin H. Oaks, the second senior-most leader of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke Tuesday at Ensign College with Clark Gilbert, the Commissioner of the Church’s educational system.
“In condemning and working against racism, we encourage our students, our teachers, and all our members to avoid extreme or polarizing positions and teachings that undermine the U.S. Constitution and other core institutions. … [The Constitution’s] inspired principles, including the freedoms of speech and religion and its authorized amendments, have allowed subsequent generations to continue to improve and strengthen the rights of all of its citizens. … A gospel-centered approach to combating racism empowers all parties to support, apply and teach the power and light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The remarks come just days after a race-based hate crime that killed ten people in New York, and during a time when the Church has been put under a prophetic injunction to “lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice.” Oaks had previously said, “Of course, Black lives matter! That is an eternal truth.”
The remarks centered around proclaiming truth with love, and seem to suggest that Latter-day Saints should not just end racism in their own lives, but work in trying to persuade those who disagree.
The remarks also addressed LGBT+ issues. Oaks re-emphasized the fairness for all approach he’s spoken of on many occasions, while Gilbert added, “Individuals or groups who do not treat our LGBTQ members with empathy and charity are not aligned with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ.”
While the remarks themselves don’t offer anything new to a faith that has been emphasizing these very issues recently, they come at a remarkably poignant time, when we could each use encouragement to be trying to persuade others who do not share our commitment to end racism.