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A Fake Site Posted an Apology for the Mormon Church’s History of Racism

On June 1, the Mormon church will celebrate the 40thanniversary of the “revelation” that black men should be allowed to be full members of the church. In anticipation of the event, top leaders of the Mormon church, including president Russell Nelson, met this weekin Salt Lake City with national leaders of the NAACP. The meeting was significant, given the history of tension and enmity between the groups; the NAACP led a marchin the city against the church’s racial policies in the 1960s, for example. But the substance of the meeting—education initiatives, humanitarian work, and a shared commitment to civility—was hardly revolutionary.

Hours earlier, however, a forceful statementappeared online, labeled as an official church release and looking every bit the real thing.

“President Nelson Meets With NAACP; Offers Apology for History of Racism,” the headline announced. The statement included what was described as a statement Nelson would deliver at the meeting with the NAACP. “I offer a full unqualified apology for the error of racism which was taught from this office and in the tabernacle and over the pulpits of our churches the world over,” the statement read, before a detailed repentance of the church’s wrongs toward black members. “Our souls are harrowed up by the memory of this sin.”

The full-throated apology left many Mormons, especially black Mormons, in a state of happy shock. The local Fox outlet posted an articleabout the apology (now removed). But within hours, word had spread that the letter was a sophisticated fake. The URL included an extraneous hyphen, for example, and the fine print included a reference to the church’s official “pasquinade”—satirical—newsroom. The revelation devastated many of the same people who had celebrated it just hours before.

Read entire article at Slate