A South Florida pastor is calling on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to denounce the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
The call has come from the Rev. O’Neal Dozier who wants Romney to “openly denounce his racist Mormon religion.”
“The Mormon religion is prejudiced against blacks, Jews and Native Americans. These allegations are substantiated and validated by the writings of the former prophets and seers of the Mormon Church,” Dozier said at a press conference Monday at The Worldwide Christian Center, 450 N. Powerline Road, Pompano Beach, where he is pastor.
A conservative Republican, Dozier is an honorary chairman of Romney’s arch-rival Rick Santorum’s campaign in Florida. He previously served on the campaign committees of former President George W. Bush and former governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.
“We believe that a Romney presidential nomination for the Republican Party would widen the racial divide to no return because the Republican Party would be viewed as a racist political party,” Dozier said. “Romney’s nomination would cause the erroneous view that has long existed in the minds of black people, that the Republican Party is prejudiced, to become a reality.”
Dozier said the Book of Mormon, on which the faith is based, “accuses God of cursing African people and causing them to have black skin.
Furthermore, these verses accuse God of being against interracial marriages between black and white people.”
Mormon prophet Brigham Young, in the Mormon Journal of Discourse, further degrades black people by saying that they are uncultured, unattractive, unpleasant, wild and unintelligent, Dozier said. He said that he invited at least 32 members of the clergy but only four attended.
“This is an issue that a lot of pastors don’t want to get involved in,” Dozier said. “They have a reputation to protect. But I don’t have a reputation. I will stand on and tell the truth.”
In an interview, Karen Hanneman, a lifelong member of the LDS Church in Arlington, Va., described Dozier’s attack on Romney and the church as “awful.”
Hanneman, who learned of Dozier’s press conference on Facebook, rejected the racism label for the LDS. “We believe that every person on this earth is a child of God. We call people brother and sister within our congregation. We believe that because of the atonement of Christ everyone will be saved. And this has nothing to do with race, creed, color, or even opportunity.”
LDS uses the King James Version of the Bible, Hanneman said, and “anyone who believes in the King James Version cannot possibly believe that any race is inferior.”
Dozier noted that the LDS did not allow blacks to become priests until 1978. “And it’s still 95 percent white men — and no women are involved,” he said.
Only one man, he said, “could be called black,” adding, “They selected a Nigerian because they wanted to evangelize that part of Africa. Thus the church has made no progress.
Hanneman acknowledged that blacks were not allowed to be priests in the Mormon Church at one time but that had changed. “That practice was repudiated. We believe that everyone here was put here so we could progress,” she said.
Dozier, however, said if elected president Romney “will set the Civil Rights Act back.”
“The Mormon Church looks like a white man’s country club with just a few black people running around doing all the work around it. Is this the kind of racism [we want] guiding our country?”
Dozier found support from Mathes Guice, an elder at Koinonia Worship Center in Hollywood, who described Romney’s candidacy as a “human rights issue. It would be an insult to blacks.”
LDS teachings, Guice said at the conference, “denounces my blackness and has done so since the beginning of time. (Romney) as president suggests that he would not be for all of the American people. And I resent that.”
Hanneman said the LDS does not take political positions. “No political meetings happen in our buildings; nothing (related to politics) is ever announced. It will sometimes take a social stance but nothing political,” she said.
Hanneman said she voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 “and may vote for him again. And it has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with policies.”
Dozier is challenging LDS leaders to meet with him. “Let us sit down, let us converse; let us have a conference,” he said. “And if you are right, then we will say that you are right. This issue is at the forefront because of Mitt Romney. It will come out in the general election.”
Cynthia Roby may be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net