Thursday, March 1, 2012

BYU Professor Randy Bott Responds To LDS Church Statement Disavowing Bott's Remarks About Race

BYU Professor Randy Bott has now responded to the official statement by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disavowing remarks about race attributed to Bott in the Washington Post. BYU University Communications also released a statement on February 29th, in which Dean of Religious Education Terry Ball said “The comments attributed to Professor Bott do not reflect the teachings in the classroom at Brigham Young University”, and BYU Spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said Bott’s discussion of this topic is being handled as an internal matter. See previous post for more details on the Church's statement and the fallout.

The BYU Daily Universe reports that although Professor Bott told them he was not available for comment, he later released a statement saying he fully endorsed the Church’s statement regarding the article in the Washington Post. Furthermore, his students said he discussed the interview in class and said he felt he was misrepresented. “He said they had a nice long interview, like two hours long,” said Quinn Rice, a freshman in Bott’s mission prep course. “He said that he was misquoted, and misrepresented. He’s such a great and spiritual professor. He wouldn’t go against the Church’s principles.”

Meanwhile Carri Jenkins, who also explained that BYU's media policy is that they ask members of their campus community not to speak for the university or the Church, added that Jason Horowitz, the author of the Washington Post article, made no attempt to contact the University Communications office when he arrived on campus. “We were aware when [Horowitz] came. He did not make any contact through our office,” Jenkins said. “He did not contact us before he came. We were made aware through members of our campus community, but he did not work through our office. I know that in some cases he simply appeared in people’s offices.” The fact that Horowitz did not contact the Communications office has triggered speculation that he was hoping to portray the LDS Church as racist by entrapping BYU people into giving unfiltered statements.

One Black student reacted in a mature fashion. Camlyn Giddins said she found little to worry about in it, saying “It’s just an opinion, so why should I get mad". However, a group of BYU students from the Provo Peace Forum plan a two-hour protest on March 2nd. From 10:30 A.M. until 12:30 P.M., they plan to distribute fliers on BYU’s campus. The students are careful to emphasize that they are not protesting Professor Bott or his comments directly, but rather that their goal is to assist generally in eliminating racism from the modern Mormon narrative.

A comment posted by Eric to the BYU Student Review story records reaction from Ryan Bott, identified as a son of Randy Bott:

“As many of you know, my dad (Randy) has been in the news… The explanation is simple… yes, he did grant an interview to Washington Post to discuss 'Mitt Romney'. The reporter told him that he had cleared the interview with BYU and the Dean of Religion – which he found out this morning was a lie. The reporter misquoted and misrepresented the majority of the interview. My dad has been asked by BYU and the church to remain silent, but I feel his side should be told.

Some have noticed that we have deactivated the Know Your Religion Blog [Ed. Note: webcache available HERE]… This was not done as an admittance of guilt, but was done at the request of BYU until things settle down.

Any of you who personally know my father, know that he is definitely NOT a racist, as the media would have you believe. It amazes me that no one at BYU or the church seem to care to give him the benefit of the doubt, investigate what was really said; instead it seems easier to just believe a liberal Washington Post Reporter, go on 'hear-say', and throw my dad under the bus.

Here’s hoping that people will take the time, and reflect on their experiences with my dad and judge him according to his works, rather than lies that a reporter makes up to stir the pot during an election season.

Just thought you should know the truth behind the story…"


Anonymous said...

The problem is that he said the same thing in his blog that he is alleged to have said to the reporter. Hard to run from your blog--hence it has been taken down. But BCC captured the relevant post at the link above.

Jack Mormon said...

Thanks, Anonymous, I actually read that post yesterday.

This whole flap is the reason why we should accept the 1978 revelation as the last word on the subject and move on. Constantly picking at the scabs will delay healing. Blacks are joining our church despite its history; we now have three temples in Africa. We must be doing something right.

Anonymous said...

Many believe that Professor Bott gave this interview for the express purpose to discredit Mitt Romney and his church. This was done to Pres. Kennedy - and all the Catholic fallibility came out during his campaign. Sly politics!

Anonymous said...

I think many LDS people believe in the evidence from scriptures that the reason for holding off the opportunity of Priesthood responsibility to black males was related to ancient events. This isn't racist! Because of the actions of some ancesters, consequences visited generation. I dont share this opinion though, also only conjecture on my part, none of which matters really.... I think the Priesthood is a terrible responsibility that would have been unfairly expected of black males until the time came that there was a reduction in racial inequality. 70's was perfect timing as I experienced. I think it was those who were racist (non LDS and a few LDS- none of which were in leadership positions) and that black males needed to rise up (many are), that prevented Black males from recieving the PR sooner. Heavenly Father will provide our blessings as soon as we are able to recieve them. Joseph Smith was vehemently against slavery and racial inequality. We will all know about this one way or the other soon enough.

JDD said...

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said the following in a PBS interview regarding the racial theories of Brigham Young and others: "One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated. … I have to concede to my earlier colleagues. … They, I'm sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the priesthood-ban policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. … But some explanations were given and had been given for a lot of years. … At the very least, there should be no effort to perpetuate those efforts to explain why that 'doctrine' existed…"

Anonymous said...

The "lesson learned" here is that we all need to wise up. We are slave of the spoken, master of the unspoken. Don't explain with opinions and speculations. You'll outfox yourself right into the foxhole.

Most people don't have the humility needed to simply say, "I don't know."

Anonymous said...

Bott only reflects ex cathedra statements made during 20c. Many of my generation were raised on this stuff. It was widely prevalent & if undoctrinal no attempt was made to address the issue. Now a can of theological worms has been opened. If church apologises then past prophets are discredited.

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