A day after a Florida pastor who supports Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum challenged Mitt Romney to denounce The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what the pastor called its "racist" teachings, an LDS-oriented group is calling on Santorum to repudiate the pastor's anti-Mormon comments.
MormonVoices, an independent organization associated with the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), issued a press release early Tuesday calling for Santorum to "condemn the anti-Mormon comments made by his supporter, an honorary Florida chairman, the Rev. O'Neal Dozier."
Rev. Dozier said during a press conference Monday that Romney should renounce "his racist Mormon religion," adding that "the Mormon religion is prejudiced against blacks, Jews and native Americans."
Officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints didn't offer a specific response to Rev. Dozier's claims, although previous LDS statements on racism indicate that "people of all races have always been welcomed and baptized into the church since its beginning" and "the church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the church."
Scott Gordon, a managing director of MormonVoices, created to respond to false or misleading statements in the media regarding the LDS Church but associated with the church, said "Dozier's comments represent a form of religious bigotry that should not be tolerated by any serious candidate for the presidency of the United States."
"His comments are either ignorant or are willful misrepresentations for personal or political purposes," Gordon continued, adding that Dozier's challenge to Romney seems "curiously behind the times," given that the church's restriction on priesthood for blacks ended in 1978 and that today, all men of any race who meet minimum standards of worthiness are ordained.
Gordon also referred to an article on the MormonVoices website that he said clarifies the teachings on race that are found in The Book of Mormon. The article quotes the recent church statement on racism and the 2006 comments from the late LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley, who declared that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church.”