Column courtesy of Frances Rice:
Democrats consistently push the false narrative that Mormons are racist, while ignoring the existence of black Mormons. Then, hypocritically, Democrats demean black Mormons who step into the spotlight. Witness how Democrats trashed Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and the Republican Party nominee for the United States House of Representatives in Utah’s 4th congressional district. An article that describes the despicable treatment of Mayor Love is “Hate-Filled Screeds Appear on Mia Love’s Wikipedia Page” by Patrick Hobin.
Among the black Mormons not in the political arena and largely ignored is Gladys Knight who became a Mormon in 1998 after her son Jimmy and his wife and children did so. Ms. Knight was successful as an R&B singer in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She now writes and performs Mormon Gospel music. Sam Warren of “The Drifters”, another famous black R&B group of the 1960s and 1970s, also became a Mormon. A well-known black personality who is also a Mormon is the famous college and NFL football hero Burgess Owens. NBA All-Star player Thurl Bailey became a Mormon, too, and now composes Mormon music.
An intriguing historical personality is deceased LeRoy Eldridge Cleaver who went from being a Black Panther to Black Mormon. Mr. Cleaver was the Minister of Information in the early Black Panther Party, a combination of Black Nationalism and Marxism. In 1968, he wrote “Soul on Ice” which became an international bestseller and was once considered the “Manifesto” of black nationalists and white radicals.
Among the lesser known, but influential black Mormons is Jesse Thomas Jr., a former Baptist preacher, who became a Mormon in 1989 and now serves in local priesthood-leadership positions. In 1995 Lee Radcliff, a black Baptist minister who served as a pastor in Chicago and Mississippi for decades, also became a Mormon.
The press cynically stirs up religious bigotry against Gov. Mitt Romney because his faith is Mormonism, a religion that embraces our constitutional principles of free enterprise and individual liberty. This effort to get the voting public to hate Mormons is anchored on the false notion that Mormons are racists. The Mormon denigrators focus on how, from 1849 to 1978, the Mormon Church had a policy against ordaining black men to the priesthood. In 1978, church leaders ceased the racial restriction policy for black men, declaring that they had received a revelation instructing them to do so.
In spite of that old rule about the priesthood, the Mormon Church has always had an open membership policy for all races and today’s church opposes racial discrimination and racism. In 1997, there were approximately 500,000 black members of the Mormon Church, accounting for about 5% of the total membership. Since 1997, the black membership has grown substantially, especially in West Africa, where two temples have been built.
It goes against our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion to declare that a person is not fit to be our nation’s leader because of that person’s religion. No one has called for Democrat Senate Leader Harry Reid to denounce his Mormon religion in order to be the leader of the US Senate.
Frances Rice, Esquire – Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired)
Frances Rice’s great-great-grandparents were slaves. She spent her formative years in poverty in the segregated South during the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. Frances was born in Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, the same hospital where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. She occasionally attended Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. was the pastor.
She joined the Army in 1964 as a Private and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 20 years of active service. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Drury College in 1973, a Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate University in 1976, and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1977 – all while serving in the US Army.
During twenty years of active duty in the US Army, Frances served in a variety of positions, including commander of a WAC company, adjutant of a basic combat training brigade, a prosecuting attorney, and chief of the administrative law division. She also served as a special assistant to the Army Judge Advocate General and an adviser to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Equal Opportunity.
Subsequent to her military career, Frances worked for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, serving first as a member of that company’s “think tank,” and then as a government contract advisor. She later taught Business Law for the European Division of the University of Maryland in Brussels, Belgium.