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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 16, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 14Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormons dispute favoritism in Gilbert
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 14Apr00 N1
By Bruno J. Navarro: The Arizona Republic

GILBERT, ARIZONA -- LDS Church spokesman Wilford Andersen took issue with allegations disclosed Tuesday by the East Valley chapter of the NAACP that LDS Church members demand or encourage preferential treatment from the Gilbert Unified School District. But he did acknowledge that some LDS teachers or administrators may show favoratism, contrary to LDS Church teachings.

"I would not have you think that members of the Mormon Church are all approaching perfection," said Andersen, who met yesterday with the editorial board of The Arizona Republic. "We are all brothers and sisters, regardless of race, regardless of color. Our history is one where we've had to circle the wagons. We are trying to reach out."

Gilbert Unified School Board member Myrna Sheppard, who is an LDS Church member, agreed with Andersen, "We don't look at the color of kids or their religion; we look at the offense and the discipline necessary to take care of the problem." But she too admitted that LDS Church members sometimes exclude others, "As people, we are often clannish, but we do need to reach out to others in the community," she said. "It's not like we want to leave others out, but we just have so many common experiences. We go to the same events, and our kids are involved in youth organizations."

Andersen told the Arizona Republic that he will meet with the NAACP next week to try and counter allegations of racism that some students say they have faced in the Gilbert public schools. "We are in the corner of the NAACP when they decry racism," he said.

East Valley NAACP President Floyd Galloway says he hopes the meeting next week will allow him to frankly discuss racism with the LDS Church, and said he want to discuss the LDS Church's former policy excluding Blacks from the priesthood. Andersen noted that the policy was changed more than 20 years ago, but Galloway says, "There still may be some ill feelings in the hearts of some members."

The Republic also asked Andersen if Church members could face repercussions for speaking out on this issue or if Church members could be sanctioned for espousing racism, but Andersen said there would be no such repercussion, "Our concern is to face these issues if we are in the wrong," he said. "I doubt we would [take action against racist members] unless they were organizing groups."

LDS Church members make up about one-third of the population in the district.

See also:

NAACP: Mormon Students Get Preferential Treatment
Salt Lake Tribune (AP) 14Apr00 N1
Associated Press


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