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“We each need to be at the forefront of righteously repenting and following the counsel of President Russell M. Nelson, who asked us ‘to build bridges of cooperation rather than walls of segregation,’” Elder Cook said in a recent address to BYU faculty.
He addressed being sensitive in creating racial unity, understanding leaders of the past in the context of their time, being Christlike in response to criticism, and defending religious liberty.
One of the big reasons we have been asked to study so much Church History is to understand how marginalized and poorly treated the early Latter-day Saints were. Having this understanding of the early history of the Church will help members have the “courage to stand with the marginalized today.” This understanding includes, for example, knowing why the Saints were driven from Missouri. Among other reasons, this happened because of their sympathetic views toward Native Americans and their disapproval of slavery.
Elder Cook also stated that, “recognizing when we have fallen short should create more desire to do our best today.” Thus, a person of strong faith can acknowledge that Brigham Young “said things about race that fall short of our standards today,” yet also recognize that Brigham taught that “Of one blood has God made all flesh. We don’t care about the color.”
Ultimately, Elder Cook asked faculty, and members, to be more inclusive, to be more kind, and to be more understanding. He also voiced his concerns with pushing away history and for members and citizens to understand how important religious freedom and liberty is to this country.