Friday, May 22, 2009

On Racism and Revelations

You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race--that they should be the 'servant of servants;' and they will be, until that curse is removed.
~Brigham Young: Prophet of the Mormon Church, 1844-1877

Many early Mormon Prophets and leaders taught that African Americans, or anyone with darker skin than whites, were born into condemnation due to their poor performance in the pre-existence. In this pre-existence, they “lent an influence to the devil” And displayed a “lack of integrity to righteousness. The origins of this racism lie in the very roots of the church as well as in its scriptures. The Book of Mormon tells us of the Lamanite race and how they received dark skins and a degenerative status as punishment for their sins. In the second book of Nephi the Lord tells us that those with dark skin will be a loathsome people, full of mischief and subtlety. It will only be through repentance that they will be able to overcome their evil ways and become as “white and delightsome” as the Nephites. The church teaches us that we will be punished for our own sins and not for Adams transgressions but interestingly enough black people are being punished for the sins of Cain first and foremost. It was because of these beliefs that black men were unable to hold the priesthood or enter the temple. Brigham Young, the second president of the church made it very clear that “No person having the least particle of Negro blood in them can hold the priesthood”. God’s punishment to anyone who dare intermarry was a separation from the presence of God, a spiritual death.

On June 8th, 1978 the first presidency of the church released a statement stating that through revelation it had been revealed to them that every worthy and faithful man in the church may receive the holy priesthood. A revelation, really? By 1978 the church had come under tremendous scrutiny not only by outside forces but by its own members as well. On January 11, 1963, the President of the Mormon Church surprised the world by announcing that the Church was going to send a mission to Nigeria. By this point the Mormon Church had mission all over the world except in the Negro nations of Africa. But the mission was unable to proceed due to the fact that the Nigerian government viewed the church as racist and refused to grant visas to any Mormon missionaries.

How about that pesky civil rights movement, how was the church going to overcome that one? The apostle Ezra Taft Benson had an answer for that , "The pending ‘civil rights' legislation is, I am convinced, about 10 per cent civil rights and 90 per cent a further extension of socialistic federal controls." Elder Benson said, "It is part of the pattern for the Communist take-over of America" (Deseret News, December 14, 1963). As the civil rights movement marched on though, the church was bombarded with demonstrations, boycotts, and threats. The church came under fire from the NAACP when a 12 year old boy scout was denied a leadership position because he was black. Shortly before Boy Scout officials were to appear before a federal judge on charges of discrimination, the church decided to issue a policy change. Next came the boycotts on the BYU sports teams. College teams from all across the US refused to play BYU until they lifted their racist policy of not letting blacks on any of their sports teams. BYU suffered through years of demonstrations as thousands marched upon the campus. In November of 1969 a minister in Denver, Colorado, called for a boycott of all Mormon goods and discouraged any travel to the state of Utah. In 1976 the church found itself repeatedly embarrassed by one of its own members, who upset over the priesthood ban, ordained a black man into the priesthood. Douglas Wallace was excommunicated for his actions and brought massive media attention to the church’s policies. As things heated up courageous members of the church started demonstrating outside church buildings and refusing to pay their tithing. The final bomb was dropped in the late 70’s when the IRS threatened to cancel the churches non-profit tax exempt status. As pressure mounted against the church and public outcry became to loud to ignore, first counselor Hugh B. Brown went on record as saying, “I doubt that we can maintain or sustain ourselves in the position that we have adopted which has no justification, I think that we are going to have to change out decision on that. I think that this is one of the most serious problems confronting us because it affects millions of colored people.”

The churches history is full of commandments handed down from God, to his modern day prophets, which have later been rescinded due to public outrage. They believe that God’s word is the same yesterday, today and forever, yet God seems almost as persuaded by public opinion as American Idol.


Dawson said...

"They believe that God’s word is the same yesterday, today and forever, yet God seems almost as persuaded by public opinion as American Idol."

Let's hope so, because with all the bad press they've been getting and all the protests that have been held against them, I think the world is finally seeing the true homophobic colors of the Mormon church. So, with any luck, we may be able to change their stance on gays/lesbians as well!