Mormon Church President, Russell M Nelson is being honored by the Martin Luther King Jr International Chapel on Morehouse College Campus in Atlanta, Georgia. He is to receive a new award, the first recipient, which is to be called the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize. This is in coordination with the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Institute at the chapel.
What has Nelson done to be recognized and awarded among the non-violent activists who did so much for the world? Looking at his biographies it’s hard to find a single thing he’s done in his life to stop prejudice or injustices of race or class. He looks more to be a privileged white man who advanced in his career and in the church, due to who he knew and who he pleased. He didn’t stand up outspoken for the rights of others. This award screams of recognition for “his” financial contribution a few years ago. Telling that he would receive the credit for donating a few million from the church (which has hundreds of billions). It’s funny to note, that the church settled with the SEC for more than he orchestrated in a donation to the NAACP.
The Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel Will Present President Russell M Nelson the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize
Thursday April 13, 2023 | 7:00 P.M.
Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel Morehouse College Campus
830 Westview Drive SW Atlanta, GA 30314
Parking Available on Campus
All are invited to attend this historic event hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on the beautiful and preserved campus of Morehouse College. Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, will accept this honor in a special broadcast during the ceremony. Oil portraits of President Nelson and Abraham Lincoln will also be inducted into the prestigious Hall of Honor in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel that is open to the public.
The Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize is awarded to a person who promotes peace and positive social transformation through nonviolent means. The individuals use their global leadership to affirm peace, justice, diversity, and pluralism.
Notable speakers and distinguished guests, including General Authorities, will attend this event. There will be musical performances by the Morehouse and Spelman College Glee Clubs and an event only virtual performance by The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
A special announcement will be made at this ceremony on future events with the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visit https://bit.ly/nelsonaward for more details.Graphic Invitation Announcement Posted Online in local church Facebook Groups
The 98-year-old President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was selected as the inaugural recipient of this award “for his global efforts in ‘abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice against any group of God’s children’ through nonviolent ways.”Church News: President Nelson to receive Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize from Morehouse College: Historically Black college in Atlanta honors President Nelson for his global efforts to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice through nonviolent ways
Will President Nelson or the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square be there?
President Nelson and the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will not be at the ceremony in person. Other General Authorities will be in attendance representing the Church. President Nelson will provide a special message that will be broadcasted only for this momentous occasion.Referenced Google Doc for FAQ and PR
Both President Nelson and Dr. Helfand will receive a book collection, a medallion, a citation, a prismatic flame or crystal obelisk and their oil portrait inducted in the International Hall of Honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College. An oil portrait of Abraham Lincoln will also be inducted that night into the Hall of Honor.Morehouse College Is Giving a Peace Prize to the Prophet
These announcements also tease of an announcement that will be made at the ceremony regarding future collaboration. This seems like hype-building and more PR spin, but only time will tell if this announcement is substantial and meaningful. Hopefully, it is a sign of changing times where the church can embrace diversity fully through partnerships and revelations. We’ll be sure to tune into the news regarding what becomes of this on April 13th.
That same evening, an announcement will be made about future collaboration between the Church of Jesus Christ and the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel.Morehouse College Is Giving a Peace Prize to the Prophet
To Latter-day Saints, the award likely seems fitting for their top leader, who has made weeding out racism one of the hallmarks of his first five years at the helm of the world religion of 16.8 million.
Nelson has used his most prominent platform — the faith’s biannual General Conferences — to condemn racist attitudes in society and in his church. He reached out to the NAACP and put the church’s money where his mouth was, dedicating millions to programs for Blacks in this country as well as helping set up a fund to send young Black Americans to Ghana to learn about the former slave trade.
“As the mantle of leadership settled up on his shoulders, President Nelson provided a steady, responsive hand, addressing racism directly, in a way no previous church leader had,” Darius Gray, one of the founders of Genesis, a support group for Black Latter-day Saints, said in January. “There has been no equivocation, no hesitation speaking to the scourge of racism as servants of Christ.”
Nelson’s prize also reflects yet another step in how far the faith has come since 1978, when it ended a nearly 130-year-long ban barring Black members from priesthood ordinations and temple ordinances.The Salt Lake Tribune: LDS Church President Russell Nelson to receive Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize by Peggy Fletcher Stack
Members may see this award as “fitting” for the beloved church President. Fulfillment of prophecy and recognizing Nelson as a spiritual leader beyond the halls of the church administration building and the conference center. Others are not convinced and are absolutely offended to see Nelson listed among these other names who have been inspirational giants to the world and given selflessly to the benefit of others. Many of these leaders have even given their lives as martyrs for their cause, much more than Joseph Smith even. Many see Nelson as a small man spiritually who gets his kicks by making a legacy of himself. Let’s take a look at these social justice giants and how they compare to Russell Nelson. We’ll get a quick recap on the life of these men and what they’ve done personally to bring equality to pass.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist. Employing nonviolent resistance, he led the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule. He also inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
In August 1947, Britain granted India independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out. Abstaining from the official celebration of independence, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to alleviate distress. In the months following, he undertook several hunger strikes to stop the religious violence. The last of these began in Delhi on January 12, 1948, when he was 78. This would be his last because Nathuram Godse, a militant Hindu nationalist who believed Gandhi was favoring Muslims, assassinated Gandhi at an interfaith prayer meeting just a couple of weeks later.
On the other hand, the church first sent missionaries to India in 1851 and “Although hundreds joined the Church, conditions in British-occupied India made it difficult to establish a lasting presence. Many converts served in the British Army and were subject to transfers. At one point, almost the whole Bombay branch was transferred to Aden, in modern Yemen. Many Indian converts had previously been employed or supported by Protestant churches, and they struggled to transition into a new faith without prospects of church employment. By 1856 most members had been transferred, left the faith, or immigrated to Utah. There were a few members in India at least into the 1920s, but there was no Church presence by the time India achieved independence in 1947.” (The Church in India before and after Independence). In other words, the church said and more importantly did nothing regarding the Independence of India. We can understand that comparing President Nelson to Gandhi might not be apples to apples, since they lived in such different places and occupied a very different life. Nelson lived a life or privilege and success, while Gandhi lived a life to help others.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who was one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. A Black church leader and a son of early civil rights activist and minister Martin Luther King Sr., King advanced civil rights for people of color in the United States through nonviolence and civil disobedience. Inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi, he led targeted, nonviolent resistance against Jim Crow laws and other forms of discrimination in the United States. King participated in and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other civil rights. He oversaw the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and later became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The SCLC put into practice the tactics of nonviolent protest with some success by strategically choosing the methods and places in which protests were carried out. There were several dramatic standoffs with segregationist authorities, who frequently responded violently. King was jailed several times.
King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition to poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War. In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated. His death was followed by national mourning.
What was Russell M Nelson doing during these years? Was he supporting the work of MLK Jr? Nelson is 5 years older than MLK, and while MLK was practicing nonviolent resistance to raising awareness of the injustice of inequalities like segregation and the right to vote for blacks, Nelson was first on the fast track to graduate Medical School at University of Utah, his residency at the University of Minnesota to earn his Ph.D. in 1954. Then Nelson served a two-year term of duty in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War and was stationed in Washington, D.C. After 20 months in service and being close to the front lines once, he left active duty at the rank of captain. Following his military service, he did a year of work and surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital, and then in 1955, Nelson returned to Salt Lake City and accepted a faculty position at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Nelson was focused on his growing career as a heart surgeon and simultaneously serving and rising in the ranks of the church. While in Washington DV, he served in the Bishopric in the ward with Ezra Taft Benson (who was currently simultaneously an Apostle and serving as the Secretary of Agriculture to Dwight D. Eisenhower). Nelson then served as the Stake President in Bonneville from 1964-1971. He was called as the General President of Sunday School from 1971-1979 when he was called to serve as a Regional Representative in the church and finally an Apostle in 1984. He was called to the office of Apostle by Spencer W Kimball, to whom he had served as a personal physician for many years. He’d earlier performed heart surgery on the church leader in 1972. This surgery saved Kimball’s life and enabled him to live long enough to become the next president of the church in late 1973. Then, Kimball would do the first racially equal thing in church history, in 1978 the priesthood ban was lifted and blacks were finally allowed to be ordained to the priesthood in the church. This is a full 10 years after MLK was assassinated.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician who served as the first president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid (the system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa) by fostering racial reconciliation. After his country’s white-only government established apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged whites, Mandela was committed to overthrowing it. He was involved in the Defiance Campaign and was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was at first unsuccessfully prosecuted. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1962, and sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state. After Mandela served 27 years in prison, and amid growing domestic and international pressure and fears of racial civil war, he was released in 1990. Mandela then led efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid, which resulted in the 1994 election in which Mandela became president. Leading a broad coalition government that promulgated a new constitution, Mandela emphasized reconciliation between the country’s racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses.
Compare this to Russell M Nelson, who served not on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but on the Strengthening Church Members Committee. President Nelson has never put himself in a place to stand up for others, especially not when it risks his own jeopardy. He hasn’t used his position or personal wealth to serve others or uplift them from inequalities. He supported the church through his formative decades during the civil rights movement when the church refused to grant equal salvation to blacks. During this time he served as a prominent church leader toeing the line. He has not challenged systemic racism in action. He has rarely even challenged it in word, only in his joint statement with the NAACP. Has he continued this charge to uproot racism? Has he used his podium to petition church members to change or even acknowledge the systemic racism in America?
The invitation also notes that Russell M Nelson’s portrait will be added to the hall of honor at the chapel. “Oil portraits of President Nelson and Abraham Lincoln will also be inducted into the prestigious Hall of Honor in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel”. This adds yet another association of Russell with a great figure from history, Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the Union through the American Civil War to defend the nation as a constitutional union and succeeded in abolishing slavery.
This is in contrast to the Mormon leaders (the church likes to excuse as a man of their time) who expressed extremely racist views toward blacks as well as native Americans. The Mormons had fled the country and settled in Utah under the leadership of Brigham Young. They were not serving their country during the Civil War and were rather in support of slavery in contrast to being the leader who abolished slavery and delivered the Emancipation Proclamation!
Russell M Nelson
Russell Marion Nelson is an American religious leader and retired surgeon who is the 17th and current president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nelson was a member of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for nearly 34 years and was the quorum president from 2015 to 2018. As church president, Nelson is recognized by the church as a prophet, seer, and revelator.
What has Nelson done to be recognized and awarded among the non-violent activists who did so much for the world? Looking at his biographies it’s hard to find a single thing he’s done in his life to stop prejudice or injustices of race or class. He looks more to be a priveledged white man who avanced in his career and in the church, due to who he knew and who he pleased. He didn’t stand up outspoken for the rights of others.
The church is pointing a lot to the remarks from the church president calling for non-violence (in response to the Black Lives Matter protests), and his alliance with the NAACP.
“We wanted to identify Russell M. Nelson and link his name with these three giants,” … “President Nelson is, I believe, a role model for how Christians need to get out of three boxes — the race box, the nationality box and the culture box — to unite the human family,” the Rev. Carter said. “With the power of his prophetic, revelational vision, he looked out across great troubles in this country and saw the chance to form an alliance,” he said of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the NAACP.President Russell M. Nelson will receive Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize
The Reverend Carter, dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse, is a fan of Russell Nelson. He singles out the outreach from the church leader to form an alliance with the NAACP as a driving part of the award.
This may be significant, but next to the monumental works and contributions of Gandhi, King, and Mandela seems very minuscule.
Nelson’s Achievements Pale in Comparison
Looking at the biography for Russell Nelson in Wikipedia and the official biography on the church website, there isn’t a single mention of anything he’s done for equality, non-violence or to promote non-discrimination or end racism or hatred in the world.
There is a mention of his visit to Mozambique when he and his wife were reportedly attacked, a story which they later embellished.
His bio article compiles his leadership accomplishments since becoming church president in 2018, all of which are mere organizational and policy changes. He issued a letter on preventing and responding to abuse, dissolved the high priest groups at the ward level combined high priests with the Elders Quorums, ended the home teaching and visiting teaching programs – and introduced a new identical program called ministering. He urged the world and church members to use the full name of the church, or at least to stop saying Mormon, since God finds the term offensive and using it is a victory for satan. He updated the church service schedule to be 2 hours long rather than the previous 3 hours.
He reversed a policy of exclusion from November 2015 that forbade children of same-sex couples from joining the church because their parents were deemed apostates. Reversing this is great, but Nelson had previously characterized the 2015 exclusion policy as directly from God, stating “Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. … It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson.” He is now stating that the policy reversal is also a revelation from God, stating that the reversal was, “revelation upon revelation.” How can we honor someone who will claim God supports exclusion in one breath and then a couple of years later state that God changed his mind?
What did President Nelson do to help the black community previously? Was he interested in talking about the damage the church had done? He was not in a top leadership position during the famed 1978 revelation when the church finally stopped its discrimination policy against all “of African descent”. In 1978 Nelson was serving as the General President of the Sunday School since 1971. He’d been Stake President in Bonneville from 1964-1971. Then, he was called as an Apostle in 1984. While General President of the Sunday School he
The church biography for Russell M Nelson also states “He is listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in Religion.” but still says nothing of his work towards equality, non-violence or to promote non-discrimination or end racism or hatred in the world.
Under Nelson’s leadership, the church has started to contribute more to charities and has recently made many PR statements and photo ops with Nelson’s commitment to equality in his friendship with NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
Black students will go to college with $3 million in scholarships funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson announcedhttps://www.deseret.com/faith/2021/6/14/22530395/latter-day-saints-give-to-uncf-naacp-provide-scholarships-to-black-students-lds-mormon
The church has also been slapped by the SEC for misleading investment reportings and financial fraud and settled with the US for $5 Million Dollars! That’s more than the $3 Millions the church donated to provide scholarships to black students. This donation for black tuition is something that again the church PR spun into many articles for publicity, in contrast to the church attempting to bury the SEC settlement and other financial news from whistleblowers reporting billions of dollars the church is reinvesting and saving for a “rainy day”.
It’s important to point out that yes, donating to the NAACP and funding scholarships for black students is admirable, what is Nelson donating? He is not donating his own money, his own funds. He is donating millions of dollars of church money. A church that is extremely wealthy as we’ve just seen they’ve done anything possible, even illegal things to hide and obfuscate how much money they have. They hid billions and are continuously in trouble with governments and agencies for being dishonest and misleading about church money. They take billions in tithing money every year and invest it via Ensign Peak to accounts currently well over a hundred billion dollars. That’s $100,000,000,000+! Giving away a few million of this money to students for tuition feels meager compared to what they could do.
A search through the messages from President Nelson also comes up short when looking for statements regarding racial equality and ending discrimination. Here are his official messages to the church in General Conferences since 1984 when he became a member of the Quorum of Apostles.
The one thing he has said is in the joint statement from the Church and NAACP published on medium:
Unitedly we declare that the answers to racism, prejudice, discrimination and hate will not come from government or law enforcement alone. Solutions will come as we open our hearts to those whose lives are different than our own, as we work to build bonds of genuine friendship, and as we see each other as the brothers and sisters we are — for we are all children of a loving God.Locking arms for racial harmony in America
What the NAACP and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are doing together
Many other former church members are puzzled as to what President Nelson has done to merit such an award. It seems that they are recognizing him for the donation from the church, and if so, it would mean that the Mormon church leader is continuing the very Mormon tradition of conning the world into seeing him as an outstanding moral leader. The same way that Joseph Smith was able to eschew his treasure digging cont-artist past, and found a religion based on faith. The religion based on believing that emotion teaches truth, can’t possibly be challenged. Nelson (Russell M) has made a pleasant extension of goodwill to the NAACP and they’ve apparently believed his emotion-laden discourse about loving one another and all being God’s children over the mountain of evidence that the church is not anti-racist and has never even approached that side of the spectrum. This is the same church that denied full membership to blacks until 1978! That’s a full decade after MLK was assassinated in 1968, and nearly 15 years after the civil rights act was passed in 1964. The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and also the act which the church vehemently opposed.
Supporting forgiveness and growth and second chances, but many still can’t fathom giving a leader this award, when he has done nothing to warrant such recognition. He leads a church with a horrible track record for non-violence, non-discrimination, and racism. He leads a church that sustains policies of discrimination, systemic racism, and racist doctrines still today. The church continues to oppress those who it deems acceptable.
Bill Reel presented a pointed letter addressed to those presenting the award:
To whom it may concern,
I recently became aware that you will be giving “The Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize” to LDS Leader Russell M Nelson. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a high demand fundamentalist religion. I was a dedicated member to this faith for 2 decades. Often this faith portrays itself one way to the world and another way to its members and you might want to be aware of the following
1.) Russell Nelson claims to be a prophet and to speak to Jesus directly and to be the only official voice for God on the planet. He and his counselors maintain racist, homophobic, sexist theology that harms people
2.) Russel M Nelson and top Church leaders were just penalized by the SEC for creating dummy shell companies in order to hide 38 billion dollars that was in the US Stock Market. You can read the SEC report right here – https://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2023/34-96951.pdf They literally deceived the SEC on multiple fronts. Both the Church and the SEC signed off on this report as accurate. They have horded money, did so breaking SEC rules, and give a miniscule amount of their stash to humanitarian aid.
3.) His first Counselor (his right hand man) is Dallin Oaks and Oaks still maintains that the Priesthood ban held by the Church prior to 1978, in which people of color could not enjoy full fellowship, was authored by GOD. in 2018 Oaks still maintained that the racist policy was God given even as the Church has denounced the reasoning given in the past. This means that Mormon Doctrine is still maintaining that God is the one who allowed white people full fellowship and Black people relegated to a lower degree of participation. You can listen to it yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVr0x23rYJA (This just happened within the past 3 weeks)
4.) The LDS Church has only denounced the reasons for the racist policies in 2013 but still maintains the policy itself is from God and has never officially apologized acknowledging that Church leaders were mistaken in the first place. Hence they promote still a racist theology that has God relegating people of color to a lower standing.
5.) Nelson and top Church leaders still maintain a highly homophobic policies towards LGBT members. They relegate that LGBT members can not get married and are prohibited from romantic relations. These policies represent something other than a peacemaker. Your award is deeply tarnished by being given to this person. LGBT suicide within Mormon areas is extremely high. Rates of depression and sex abuse also run rampant in areas that have a high LDS concentration. https://kutv.com/…/utah-has-high-rates-of-child-abuse…
The LDS Church is experiencing a mass exodus of believers who have lost faith who now grasp that their religion had deceived them with tons of double speak and harmful theology.
I am hopeful that you might reconsider tarnishing your award in light of these facts and recognize that the person you are seeking to recognize has done things and is part of a faith that promotes a theology that runs counter to any initiative of peace.Bill Reel
What do you think about this award? Has Russell Nelson done anything to merit the recognition of an award named for the giants of social justice Gandhi, King, and Mandela? Let us know in the comments or if you have lots to share, consider creating a profile on this site to tell your own story.