The Mormon Church has condemned comments made by a professor at church-owned Brigham Young University who appeared to defend the church's past racism.
Up until 1978 black men could not be ordained as priests, a process that begins for all male church members when they are 12 years old.
In an interview with The Washington Post, BYU religion professor Randy Bott said the ban was actually a good thing for black men. The Associated Press writes the he
compared African-American men to a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father's car," and explained that by not being allowed to climb to the highest rung of the church hierarchy's "ladder" they were being protected from falling. "So, in reality," he said, "the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing God could give them."
In a statement, the church distanced itself from Bott's comments:
The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church...
The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.
For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.