I’ve been bothered since I watched Sherri (can’t remember her last name) on The View argue with Dana Delaney, vehemently proclaiming, “I want to know….I want Mitt Romney to explain his religion!”

I was mad at her until yesterday it occurred to me that she is black and probably angry about the racist policies of our church.

 Last night I dreamt that I wandered into an evangelical Christmas meeting in a Mormon Stake Center.  The group had been allowed to borrow the facility for their celebration.  Many in the room were black people and as I wandered around, greeting them and thinking “how cool is this, that we shared our building with this other religion?” I wondered how many were there to really worship and how many were there because they hated Mormonism.

It was only a dream, but pretty vivid.  I woke up this morning thinking hard about the issue.  I expect Mitt’s going to have to address it.

But if Sherri and I ever got stuck on an elevator together and she had to listen to me this is what I would say, “It was racism.  I don’t know where it started, some scholars probably do, but it didn’t start with Joseph Smith, who did ordain black men and did give them the temple endowment.  Somewhere along the way, we took a wrong turn and until Spencer W. Kimball came along, who was not a racist, we made up a lot of stuff to explain it, while MOST of us felt ambivalent, tormented and guilty about it.”

Then I would ask Sherri to think about two issues: 

1.   ”How many Mormons do you think were ever in the KKK?  How many Baptists?  Protestants?  How many Mormons do you think ever lynched or burned a black man for speaking to a white woman?  How many Mormons were involved in the death of Emmet Till?  How many Baptists?”

2.  “Where do you think you would be if your ancestor had not been captured (probably by black people of west Africa) and sold to white men and brought over on slave ships to America to suffer and live a life of deprivation and drudgery?    Do you wish you and your children were still living in Africa?”

One has little to do with the other, I realize and I do not for one minute celebrate slavery as the means to a better life for many black Americans, but it’s undeniable that their lives are better than most black Africans.

 And it’s undeniable that, while Mormonism’s refusal to ordain black men for those, what  125 years?, was racist.  But there were far more racist leanings among other religions of America and most of the murders and persecutions of African-Americans were perpetrated by devout members of other faiths.  Why isn’t anybody questioning Mike Huckabee about the KKK?

I apologize for my part, which was that ambivalent tormented guilty acceptance of my church’s denial of full rights to black people.  I can’t apologize for the many who used slavery as a way to riches in the early days of our country, nor can I deny the ultimate gain to the ancestors of those slaves.  I sure can’t apologize for the Baptist or Methodists, who were in the KKK.

But if we’re going to be fair, we better address every candidates ties to racism in America.  We better ask those hard questions of every one of them, not just Mitt Romney.