In our baptismal covenants that we renew weekly, we commit to mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and help to bear burdens that they may be light. Imagine being a person of color at church and only ever seeing Jesus represented as white when that’s not what he was. Imagine seeing all divinity and all authority figures as white. How would that make you feel?
We know that our Heavenly Father is not a respecter of persons and that we are all equal. When we erase the color from Christ, it sends a message that white = divinity and power. There is more artwork now at church that shows people of color, but when a person of color is represented as someone being saved by the Savior and the Savior himself is misrepresented as white then it reaffirms that bias that divinity and purity and authority are always white and places the person of color in the powerless position. Think of how reaffirming and empowering it is for a person of color to see the Savior in His role of Redeemer with power and authority as a person of color himself. We should not only restore the Savior’s image correctly as a person of color, but also show Him saving all people of all colors.
“For inasmuch as we have done it unto the least of these our brethren, we have done it unto Him.” Inasmuch as we hear the least of these our brethren who are oppressed, we are hearing Him. And inasmuch as we do not hear the oppressed, we cannot hear Him. We invite all to hear Him by hearing the cries of the oppressed and following President Nelson’s counsel from the October 2020 general conference:
“I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your skin. Favor or disfavor with God is dependent upon your devotion to God and his commandments, and not the color of your skin…I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today, I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice…I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.”
Here are more references as to why it is so important to have representation in artwork at church: