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Black Mormons: A Tragic Union of Race and Religion
Mormonism is a religion deeply rooted in racism and ignorance. But let them tell it, “times have changed.” The bottom line is, the book of Mormon has about as much religious credibility among mainstream blacks as a Beetle Bailey comic book. Furthermore, it is argued by one religious scholar in particular that much of the work is plagiarized from Shakespeare (“Hamlet”), Solomon Spaulding’s unpublished works and other sources. Furthermore, even the archaeology department at Brigham Young University has concurred that “The statement that the Book of Mormon has already been proved by archeology is misleading.”
While the church originated as a Protestant splinter group, Mormons embraced the ideology espoused by several Protestant denominations that blacks descend from Cain and Ham. According to these beliefs, blacks exteriorize spirits that fought on God’s side in a battle with Satan, but performed “less valiantly.” This and the idea that blacks are descendants of Ham are, according to Mormon teachings, the actual words of God and was the basis for blacks being unable to become priests until 1978, more than 140 years after the advent of the LDS sect.
Why would any black person join this church? Since its inception the Mormon denomination has stated that blacks were inferior and cursed by God. The dark skin of blacks was symbolic of that curse. The man who became the second leader of the sect, Brigham Young, might as well have been called “Grand Dragon” after spewing this venom: “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable, sad, low in their habits, wild, and seemingly without 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 termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be and the Lord put a mark on him, which is the flat nose and black skin.” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 7, Pp. 290 291).
He also gave his followers this nugget of wisdom: “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.” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110). I guess that was his way of saying, “When you go black, you never come back…”
The Mormon’s even have their own brand of “Niggah” jokes. Mark E. Peterson during a 1954 speech declared, “there was a negro who prayed: ‘Oh Lawd, oh Lawd, oh Lawd; send dis heah niggah a turkey.’ He prayed for a whole week, and he didn’t get any turkey, and at the end of a week he said: ‘Dis heah niggah don’ know how to pray.’ So that night the negro prayed, ‘Oh Lawd, oh Lawd, oh Lawd, send dis heah niggah to a turkey,’ and he said, ‘Dis heah niggah had turkey’.”
According to Mormon teachings, blacks were beget through Cain, who “was a rebel and an associate of Lucifer in the preexistence, and though he was a liar from the beginning whose name was Perdition, Cain managed to attain the privilege of mortal birth….As a result of his rebellion, Cain was cursed with a dark skin.” (“Mormon Doctrine, pg. 109). This lineage was continued through Ham (which means “black”). He married Egyptus and was cursed for “marrying into a forbidden lineage.” (“Mormon Doctrine,” pg. 343). Once again we find that all-too-familiar theme, “When you go black…”
John Taylor, who was the third Prophet and President of the Mormon Church added, “And why did it (Ham’s seed) pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God.” (“Journal of Discourses,” Volume 22, pg. 304).
Articulating a similar point of view is Bruce McConkie (of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church), who wrote, “”Those who were less valiant in the pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against Cod and his murder of Abel being a black skin. The negroes are not equal with other races when the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow therefrom, but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing…” (“Mormon Doctrine,” Pp. 527-28).
Darron Smith, author of “Black and Mormon,” contends “African-American members of the church appear to be disproportionately dissatisfied. Though I can’t find data about the exact numbers of lapsed black Mormons, based on newspaper coverage, I believe it is high. Anecdotes of racial abuses within the LDS are common.” He further suggests that the dearth and high abandonment rate of black Mormons might be attributed to “cultural differences, feelings of being treated categorically as black people instead of as individuals…white resistance to intermarriage or even interracial dating, and a level of white acceptance that was considered civil but not warm.”
Smith, who is a black Mormon, believes “If African-Americans who have actively participated in the black church become Mormon, they must abandon many of their traditional religious traditions and social practices and subscribe to a white style of worship or be considered transgressors of the church’s cultural norms.” He adds, “(The LDS) refuses to acknowledge and undo its racist past, and until it does that, members like me continue to suffer psychological damage from it.”
Smith, who also teaches a Mormon cultural studies class at Utah Valley State College, says black people likely to stay in the church are “those who are ideologically white.” (I must raise the question, why hasn’t he left?)
Furthermore, there is still a sense of separation by black members, who have formed “The Genesis Group.” It is a group of black Mormons who get together for fellowship. There are such groups in most notably Salt Lake City, Utah; Oakland, California; and Washington, D.C.,
Early Latter-day Saints opposed slavery, but believed that blacks were mentally and morally inferior. However, during Joseph Smith’s reign two black men, Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis, were ordained. Why these two negroes would accept such a position, one where they essentially displayed their self-hatred, is beyond me. Perhaps this is why they were chosen. Remember, even Smith promoted the idea that dark skin was a curse and that blacks were the descendants of Ham. (For the record, this was not a hypothesis exclusive to the LDS).
The official denial of priesthood for blacks did not come about until 1849. The edict read, “It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord…to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.”
Blacks in the Mormon capitol of Utah and throughout Africa objected to the espousing of dual heavens, a later rapture for people with dark skin and other cartoonish ideology prevalent in the churches teachings. 78 years into the twentieth century the law against black priesthood was formally abolished. Historian Jan Shipps wrote, “The June 9 revelation will never be fully understood if it is regarded simply as a pragmatic doctrinal shift ultimately designed to bring Latter-day Saints into congruence with mainstream America.” Darius Gray, president of Genesis, said that the rescinding of the ban on black priesthood will “change the church from a small, parochial institution into an international church.” Subsequently, the LDS gained about 180,000 black members, mainly in Africa.
A website defender of Mormonism going by the moniker “Joel” argues, “the Church (has never) segregated its black members from the white…The Church has never actually condemned inter-racial marriage; but church leaders have in the past recommended that people marry within their own race, simply because of the cultural differences that can sometimes strain a relationship.” but if that were true, why was there the need for blacks to form the Genesis Group?
Smith believes that “There is distrust, I believe, among a lot of blacks about the LDS church.” The church appears reluctant to open a dialogue on race. Smith reveals that his wife was discouraged in her efforts to address the issue of interracial marriage. When a white teacher attempted to do the same, she was ex-communicated “not following the manual.”
A breeze of fresh air blew through the church (perhaps the scent of tithes wafted into the temple) and the church contradicted their so-called “prophets” and announced that certain blacks could now become priests and could even experience a rapture equivalent to that of their white members. Is this to say their prophets were wrong, or was there some divine edict from their blond and blue-eyed version of Jesus? One of these so-called “prophet,” Joseph Smith said, “Had I anything to do with the negro , I would confine them by strict law to their own species…” (“History of the Church,” Volume 5, Pp. 218-19).
The church’s position was that “God changed His attitude about blacks in the church because both the Church and the secular world were ready to accept the change.” HUH? Since when does man dictate to God? That change probably has more to do with athletic protests by teams in the Western Athletic Conference who believed BYU has fewer black students and athletes due to institutional racism.
Twenty years later a band of negroes addressed the Mormon History Association and argued against Mormon leaders issuing an apology for the church’s racist doctrines. These individuals believed that such an apology would prove detrimental to the church and would cause deeper racial misunderstanding. Thomas Newkirk, Jr. countered that group’s argument stating, “What the brother read here is a detriment to my race and to my church.” Being that their holy symbol is a seagull, blacks in this sect would be better off praying to Scrooge McDuck.
The Book of Mormon (the original LDS version, penned in 1830) reads like a work written by the Brothers Grimm. The first part of this tome explains how it is superior to the bible, which according to them has been altered, thereby cannot be the true word of God. Mormons teach that the word of their holy book is based on the teachings of Christ upon his arrival in the Americas, which was shortly after his resurrection. Prophets of a race who lived in the Americas for about 1,000 years recorded the book on golden plates. This race was exterminated in A.D. 421.
Joseph Smith said he found these plates in 1823 in New York. With the assistance of an angel and two friends, he was able to translate them. Michael Davis explains what Smith discovered: “The ancient race was descended from two groups of Hebrews, the Nephites and the Lamanites, who traveled to the New World from Palestine around 600 B.C. and built a great civilization. Another people, the Jaredites, who had arrived in the Americas much earlier, exterminated the Nephites around A.D. 421. The Lamanites then became the principal ancestors of the American Indians. The indigenous people discovered by Columbus are cousins of that race, cursed with dark skin for having rejected God. But where is the evidence supporting the idea that such a Christian civilization existed?
Some of the lessons put forth are that: (1) Jesus’ second coming will be preceded by a massive conversion of the American Indians to Christ, who will then exterminate the gentiles that do not accept it; (2) God the Father has a body of flesh and bones, and was once a sinful man on another planet; (3) That Jesus Christ Is the brother of Lucifer, the Devil; (4) That men can become gods themselves by joining the Mormon church, and can create and populate their own worlds; (5) American indians are descendants of the Israeli tribes of Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh and that their skin “curse” is to be removed after being converted to Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 30:6’versions before 1981; 12:84).4
(6) Indians and Mormons will build the New Jerusalem in Independence, Missouri, where Christ will return to live.
The church is to Christianity what chicken franks are to a steakhouse.
Dean Maurice Holland states, “The LDS Church now concedes that Smith used the King James Bible as one of his primary sources when it came to extended quotes from the Bible. The long passages quoted from Isaiah as well as from Malachi and other books of the Bible have forced them to this admission. This causes a problem, because the official position of the Church for many years was that the Urim and Thummim which accompanied the golden plates was the exclusive means of translation and that every word of the Book of Mormon was divinely translated.”
The Mormon Church also loses credibility due to its well-established record of sexual abuse among their congregation. Part of it is due to the approval of polygamy and members taking on under age wives. In other cases, females have sued church elders for damages related to childhood molestation. The Utah Supreme Court ruled that churches did not have to alert its congregations about the presence of known sexual predators. The court ruled that “Tilson was not a [church] employee, agent, or clergy member. Although [the church] conferred upon Tilson the positions of high priest and Scout leader, the sexual abuse suffered by plaintiffs occurred in Tilson’s house and was unrelated to [the church] or any of its activities.”
The case stemmed from a lawsuit alleging that Mormon authorities knew that church member George K. Tilson had abused a mother and her son. The mother was assaulted as a teen, and her son at age 5. The church also was aware that Tilson had attacked at least ten other children. Moreover, church leaders knew about it and also withheld knowledge of previous molestations by Tilson. The church has settled several similar cases.
What’s tragic is that Afrikans and blacks in America are being exposed to this gobbledy gook.
“The Mormon and the Afro-american,” http://www.Saintsalive.com
Larry B. Stammer, The “Disavowing the Disavowal: Mormons May Disavow Old View on Blacks and the Priesthood,” Los Angeles Times
Elizabeth Neff, “Church not responsible for abusers,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 20, 2004
“History: Blacks and the Mormon Church,” Blogcritics.org
Mike Carter, “Insights on Blacks and the Priesthood Ban: The LDS Church and African Americans,” Los Angeles Times online, May 19, 1998
Bill Broadway, “Black Mormons Resist Racist Apology Talk,” Washington Post, May 30, 1998; Page B09
Carrie A. Moore, “Black Mormons say life better since 1978,” deseretnews.com May 25, 2003
Lawn Griffiths, “Latter-day Saints face race issue,” East Valley Tribune, February 26, 2005
Darron Smith, “Black and Mormon,” University of Illinois Press, 2004 edited by Newell Bringhurst
Dean Maurice Holland, “Book of Mormon Problems,” Oral Roberts University, September 28, 1987.
Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine,” 2nd ed., 1979, p. 33.
E. D. Howe, “Mormonism Unvailed,” 1834, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, n.d., Pp. 145-46.
Sidney B. Sperry, “Book of Mormon Compendium,” 1968, Bookcraft
Wesley P. Walters, “The Human Origins of the Book of Mormon,” (Safety Harbor, FL: Ex-Mormons for Jesus, 1979), 4.
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