LDS Church Makes a Statement Concerning Charlottesville Violence

Emancipation Park with the contested General Lee statue (Image courtesy of Cville dog / Wikimedia Commons)

UPDATE: The Church updated its statement on Tuesday, Aug. 15:

It has been called to our attention that there are some among the various pro-white and white supremacy communities who assert that the Church is neutral toward or in support of their views. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39). The Book of Mormon teaches “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).

White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them. Church members who promote or pursue a “white culture” or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church.

On Saturday, August 12, white nationalists came together to protest the removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park (previously known as Lee Park) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Counter-protestors emerged on the scene. The dust-up between the two groups—which caused 35 injuries—culminated with James Alex Fields Jr. ramming his car into a group of people, killing one (Heather Heyer) and injuring 19 others. The attack is being called terrorism because of its purpose to “incite fear,” according U.S. National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster.

People on both sides of the aisle are condemning the actions of the car driver specifically and violence due to hate generally. The Church has issued a statement as well, urging people to act with kindness and love:

“It is with great sadness and deep concern that we view the violence, conflict and tragedy of recent days in Charlottesville, Virginia. People of any faith, or of no faith at all, should be troubled by the increase of intolerance in both words and actions that we see everywhere.

“More than a decade ago, the late Church President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) addressed the topic of racism when speaking to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He powerfully and clearly taught this principle: ‘No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ.’ For members of the Church, we reaffirm that teaching today and the Savior’s admonition to love our neighbor.

“Our prayers are with those who are suffering because of this intolerance and hatred. We pray for peace and for understanding. Above all, we pray that we may treat one another with greater kindness, compassion and goodness.”

Allison Weber grew up in the Great Plains of northeastern Colorado, decided to see some mountains, and went to Provo, Utah where she got her BA in English at BYU. Afterwards she did some writing and traveling, and then went to Minnesota State University for a Masters in Technical Communication. Now she freelances as a writer, works on her novel, runs regularly and travels when the mood strikes