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