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LDS President joins NAACP leaders in call for racial harmony in America

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Photo: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah ( — The leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has again linked arms with the NAACP, this time with an appeal to “join us in a journey of understanding and overcoming.”

President Russell M. Nelson joined NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, Leon Russell, NAACP chairman of the board, and The Rev. Amos C. Brown, NAACP chairman emeritus of religious affairs, in a joint op-ed posted on Medium early Monday under the title “Locking arms for racial harmony in America.

The group shared their “deep sorrow for the senseless, heinous act of violence that needlessly took the life of George Floyd. We mourn with his family, friends and community. We likewise look on with sadness at the anger, hate, contempt and violence spilling onto America’s streets, devastating cities across the nation, and creating fear and anxiety in citizens across this great land.”

They added that “the wheels of justice should move fairly for all. Jesus of Nazareth came that we might have life, and have it ‘more abundantly.’ We should follow His example and seek for an abundant life for all God’s children. This includes protecting our brothers and sisters who have been wronged and bringing to justice those who have taken life or broken the law, thus robbing others of an abundant life.”

To solve the problems of injustice and inequality, they invited all “to love God first, and then to love our neighbor as ourselves. We don’t pretend that either of these pursuits is easy, but we do declare that they yield the fruits the Lord promised.”

Further, it “is more crucial than ever,” for parents, teachers and others to teach children “to love all, and find the good in others.

“Oneness is not sameness in America. We must all learn to value the differences,” it reads.

“We likewise call on government, business, and educational leaders at every level to review processes, laws, and organizational attitudes regarding racism and root them out once and for all,” the article says. “It is past time for every one of us to elevate our conversations above divisive and polarizing rhetoric. Treating others with respect matters. Treating each other as sons and daughters of God matters.”

Read the full op-ed on Medium.

The joint piece comes shortly after President Nelson released a statement of his own, joining with “many throughout this nation and around the world who are deeply saddened at recent evidences of racism and a blatant disregard for human life.”

On Sunday, another prominent Latter-day Saint, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, joined hundreds in a faith-based march toward the White House meant to recall the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches in Alabama. He told a Washington Post reporter he was marching to end “violence and brutality and to make sure that people understand that black lives matter.”

President Nelson’s joint call for “understanding and overcoming” with the NAACP also comes days after local NAACP leaders and Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, announced their intent to work on legislation to address the NAACP’s call for a ban on chokehold and knee holds, adjustments to the Use of Force Continuum, increased transparency about officer misconduct and the implementation of citizen review boards.

This is yet another show of collaboration between President Nelson and the leadership of the NAACP.

In May 2018, he met with Johnson in Salt Lake City to “call on people of this nation, and indeed, the entire world, to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony and mutual respect.”

The church has met with the NAACP to pursue joint education efforts in Chicago and San Francisco as well as employment initiatives in Houston and Charlotte.

In February 2018, the church donated $2 million to the International African American Museum, which is set to open in 2022 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Last July, President Nelson spoke at the NAACP national convention, stating differences among people and cultures shouldn’t be a roadblock to respect and admiration.