November 18, 2008

Roots of Mormon Bigotry

My last post about Proposition 8 in California got this anonymous comment:

I know this is a painful issue for you, and I know you aren't addressing a Mormon audience here, so I don't mean to be disrespectful. But really, I grew up with a lot of family home evening in a very conservative Mormon family and was never taught that those things at home or in church. Maybe I was just lucky or maybe you are vilifying just a little.

I don't think I'm vilifying, and below are some of the teachings of prophets and apostles of the LDS church and scriptures which can be found in teaching tools available to all faithful parents who are able to teach these things to their children if they desire. I have no doubt that there were LDS parents who did have their children listen to General Conference talks back then, and who taught their children what the prophets were saying about the cursed blacks. I'm sure there were teachers in classes in church who did the same. Why would they not follow the prophets and believe them?

So if we have evidence of blatant bigotry from our beloved past prophets and apostles, and we dismiss their words now because back then they were "speaking as men, not as prophets" ~ then who's to say that our prophet RIGHT NOW isn't doing the same when he pushed members to lend their money and time in support of Proposition 8 which took away the right of gays to marry in California? Is this not also evidence of bigotry?

ROOTS OF MORMON BIGOTRY (as copied from Emily Pearson's blog)~ thanks, Em!

Friday, November 14, 2008
Roots Of Mormon Bigotry
Elder Mark E. Peterson
Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level,
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954.

"God has commanded Israel not to intermarry. To go against this commandment of God would be in sin. Those who willfully sin with their eyes open to this wrong will not be surprised to find that they will be separated from the presence of God in the world to come. This is spiritual death. The reason that one would lose his blessings by marrying a Negro is due to the restriction placed upon them. ["No person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood" Brigham Young.] It does not matter if they are one-sixth Negro or one-hundred and sixth, the curse of no Priesthood is the same. If an individual who is entitled to the Priesthood marries a Negro, the Lord has decreed that only spirits who are not eligible for the Priesthood will come to that marriage as children. To intermarry with a Negro is to forfeit a 'Nation of Priesthood holders'...."

"I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn't just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn't that he just desires to go to the same theater as the white people... it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race... Now let's talk about segregation again for a few moments. Was segregation a wrong principle? When the Lord chose the nations to which the spirits were to come, determining that some would be Japanese and some would be Chinese and some Negroes and some Americans, He engaged in an act of segregation. Who placed the Negroes originally in darkest Africa? Was it some man, or was it God?... Now we are generous with the Negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these things among themselves."

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
Mormon Doctrine

(Pg. 102) "Though he was a rebel and an associate of Lucifer in the pre-existence, and though he was a liar from the beginning whose name was Perdition, Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born though his lineage. He became the first mortal to be cursed as a son of perdition."

(Pg. 343) "Through Ham (a name meaning black) the blood of the Canaanites was preserved through the flood, he having married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain. Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty. The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them. Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned...

2 NEPHI 5:21-24

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

President Spencer W. Kimball
General Conference Report, October, 1960.
Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-923.

"I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today.... The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their daughter were present, the little member girl - sixteen - sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents - on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather.... These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated."

President Joseph Fielding Smith

( Doctrines of Salvation, pp. 65-66) "There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits.

( Juvenile Instructor, vol. 26, p. 635) "It is very clear that the mark which was set upon the descendants of Cain was a skin of blackness...It has been noticed in our day that men who have lost the spirit of the Lord, and from whom His blessings have been withdrawn, have turned dark to such an extent as to excite the comments of all who have known them."

President John Taylor

(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22, pg. 304.) And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representative upon the earth as well as God."

( Millennial Star, Vol. 14, pg. 418.) "For instance, the descendants of Cain cannot cast off their skin of blackness, at once, and immediately, although every soul of them should repent... Cain and his posterity must wear the mark which God put upon them; and his white friends may wash the race of Cain with fuller's soap every day, they cannot wash away God's mark."

President Brigham Young
Journal of Discourses
Vol. 7, pg. 290-291

"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African Race? If the White man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so."

"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.


Matt said...

I wasn't taught these things at home either. I leaned them in church ... a place that my parents taught me to embrace and trust as the model for our home.

Ahhh, someday. Hopefully someday we'll all get a chance to realize that just because our parents didn't teach us something directly doesn't mean that they didn't teach us.

Nice rejoinder, SML. :)

aka madre said...

Exactly! I can remember sitting in religion class at BYU. My professor asked all those who were not LDS to raise their hands. A few on the front row did and he pointed at them and said, "You are all going to hell! It's as simple as that. Unless you are baptized into the only true church, you do not have a chance of not going to hell!"
Here I was, a little 18 yr. old who had been taught all my life the principles of the gospel, but I could not feel right about that. I felt so angry and frustrated that I left class crying. Why didn't I question then? I just thought my professor was a total jerk and dismissed it as that.
What frightens me is that if I had not been "beaten up" by life...if my marriage had remained intact...etc., etc. etc., I would still be blindly going along, oblivious to my judgmental and narrow-minded attitudes. I look at them now and they nauseate me.
I must add, however, that I cannot give up my belief in some Higher Power. I do feel like there is a larger picture and that I have had amazing help from someone/something. I have had too many personal incredible experiences to deny it. Call it the Universe, Angels, God, Heavenly Father, the Holy Ghost...whatever...I have experienced it.

aka Madre

J.M. Tewkesbury said...


I wasn't taught this stuff at home, but I did learn it in Sunday School and seminary.

Just as church leaders were wrong about the rights of women and people of color, so too will they be wrong about the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendereds.

We will prevail.

hm-uk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hm-uk said...

I remember being taught those things in church lessons, even as late as the 70s and 80s (especially the SWK Lamanite things). I was never taught the things that the late 'prophets' were writing, at home, however. I think you have successfully brought up the point that if all of the prophets' words that have been overturned are merely 'human' utterances and not divine, it's likely that someday this fight against civil rights will be catagorized as such.

It was a very expensive human error for the church to have retained lawyers to try and prevent the government and collegiate sports organizations from pressuring the LDS Church into retracting their prophecies about black men and the priesthood in the 1970s. It was a very expensive human error to instigate and dismantle the Lamanite Placement Program and it will be a very expensive human error that will see the church fund a battle against civil rights. It is one that they will eventually lose. The most unfortunate part for your anonymous commenter, in the previous blog entry, is that they will have to (directly through solicitations for funding, or, indirectly through tithes) foot the bill for all of these human errors that the church continues to make.

The most divine of all teachings? LOVE thy neighbour as thyself. That don't cost a dime.

Katie said...

^^Thanks for that. :)Couldn't have said it better myself!

mark said...

You are so on target with this post. And the worst part is that these "ideas" are still being taught as Gospel truth by the LDS. A few other religions have borrowed the same ideas from the LDS playbook. I guess the truth frees one mind at a time as I believe the LDS (and others) will teach this till the end of time. Great post SML.

mcarp said...

Maybe the commenter wasn't taught those things in FHE because he/she's too young. We really backed off on that crap after 1978!

But, I agree with others. Even in the early 70's interracial marriage was really a "bad thing." In fact, the SW Kimball quote about no interracial marriage is still in the Aaronic Priesthood lesson manual. I heard it read just three or four weeks ago.

Leroy said...

Very true, SML! Your quotes prove the true roots that the Mormon Church believed. An entertaining read!


Rebecca said...

Sorry I'm way late to this party, but I want to comment about what someone said about the person not being taught those things because he/she's too young: nope. I'm 29 (ok, so not exactly the "youth" demographic, but still...) and I was taught those things in church.

My freshman year of high school (1993-1994) I had this amazing, charismatic, enthusiastic seminary teacher. She taught us that black people were fence-sitters (her exact words) in the war in heaven.

I remember learning in church that dark-skinned people would become lighter if they were righteous (I don't remember when, but it was probably during or right after the reign of Spencer W. Kimball).

When I was around 8 or 10 I distinctly remember a talk in sacrament meeting, given by either the bishop or the stake president, about how interracial marriage was not ok (and we had an interracial family in our ward).

I wasn't taught any of those things at home.

JulieAnn said...

Oh. My. God. It still just amazes me.

chris K said...

I've read all this before, and it still makes me sick.

I was 4 when the priesthood ban was lifted, I don't remember it at all. My dad, however, did not like me to watch the Cosby show and I didn't understand until I started reading church history a few years ago.

Kimball used to be my hero, but that quote makes me sick. Those mormon elders that donated blood to speed up the process? Yeah, funny joke.