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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press: Mormon church President Russell M. Nelson shakes hands on Thursday with Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, during a news conference in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church did not issue an apology for a “history of racism” during the news conference, despite a false news release posted on a website made to look strikingly similar to one used by the church.

Friday, May 18, 2018 3:42 pm

NOT REAL NEWS: False claim of Mormon apology for racism

BRADY McCOMBS and JULIAN HATTEM | Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Mormon church did not issue an apology for a "history of racism" during a news conference this week with NAACP leaders, despite a false news release posted on a website made to look strikingly similar to one used by the church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did have its first official meeting with national NAACP leaders in Salt Lake City on Thursday. And leaders from both organizations did issue public statements during a news event.

But Mormon church President Russell M. Nelson did not apologize for anything.

He did not even mention a past ban on blacks participating in the religion's lay priesthood system that includes men serving as leaders or bishops of congregations, or the 1978 decision to lift that ban. The decree was rooted in the belief that black skin was a curse, and it lingers as one of the most sensitive topics in the religion's history.

Nelson and NAACP President Derrick Johnson focused their brief comments on highlighting the historic nature of the two institutions creating an alliance they hope can lead to work on education and humanitarian causes.

In 2013, the Mormon church posted an essay disavowing the ban and the reasons behind it, saying it was put into place during an era of great racial divide that influenced early teachings of the church.

Church officials declined to comment on the fabricated post.

A former Mormon blogger from Texas, Jonathan Streeter, said he created the false release. He said he still has Mormon family members and wanted to "foster a discussion" about the religion's racial history.

This is part of the Associated Press' ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.