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Church Leaders Address Division, Racial Injustice During Conference

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — There were a number of strong messages during the first two sessions of General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressing the need for less strife and contention in society.

Speakers addressed the 2020 election and the nationwide protests over racial injustice over the summer.

It was the second conference where Church members participated only through technology. Saturday’s meetings were broadcast live from a theater inside the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, with leaders wearing masks and social distancing.

Music from the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square came from previous conference recordings.

President Russell M. Nelson talked about the devastating impact of the novel coronavirus on families and individuals.

“I grieve with each of you who has lost a loved one during this time, and I pray for all who are currently suffering,” she said.

Speaking about the growth of the Church, President Nelson said ground will have been broken on 20 new temples. During the pandemic, he said help has been rendered to thousands in need.

“We are gratified to report that the Church has provided pandemic humanitarian aid for 895 projects in 150 countries,” said Nelson.

Other Church leaders posed important life questions.

“What have we learned during these recent months of lifestyle adjustments and restrictions?” said Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “What do we need to improve in our lives spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually?”

Sister Michelle D. Craig, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency asked people to ponder the questions, “What am I doing that I should stop doing” and “What am I not doing that I should start doing?”

We live in a time of strong divisions, said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but are all equal to the Lord.

“The Savior’s ministry and message have consistently declared all races and colors are children of God. We are all brothers and sisters,” said Elder Cook.

Because of potential exposure to COVID-19, Elder Gerrit W. Gong did not attend the Saturday sessions, but delivered a pre-recorded message.

Church leaders addressed current events, including the upcoming election, and the summer’s nationwide protests over racial injustices.

President Dallin H. Oaks said members of the Church must do better at rooting out racism.

He spoke strongly about recent violence and our country’s ongoing concerns about racial discrimination, acknowledging that there have been injustices.

“This country should be better in eliminating racism, not only against Black Americans – who were most visible in the recent protests – but also against Latinos, Asians, and other groups,” said Oaks. “This nation’s history of racism is not a happy one, and we must do better.”

President Oaks also addressed the upcoming presidential election.

He referenced the Church’s Twelfth Article of Faith, written by the Prophet Joseph Smith after severe persecution in Missouri, that talks about obeying and sustaining the law.

“It also means that we peacefully accept the results of elections. We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome. In a democratic society, we always have the opportunity and the duty to persist peacefully until the next election,” he said.

President Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court Justice, said there will always be differences among candidates and policies, but that followers of Christ must forego the anger and hatred in the political process.

He said that the constitution protects peaceful protests, but that protesters don’t have a right to destroy or steal property.

President Oaks said that while his message used recent examples from the United States, the principles he taught are applicable worldwide.

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