16 June 2008

"Mormon Coffee" on Mormon racism

This past Friday, in my "50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers" post, we looked at the change from "white and delightsome" to "pure and delightsome" in 2nd Nephi 30:6. Skimming through the blogosphere, I happened to come across this article about the institutionalized racism that was the "curse of Cain" teaching in the Mormon church, unleashed by Brigham Young, and never officially repudiated for over 100 years.

But it was never official doctrine. Whatever.

From Mormonism Research Minsitries (via Biblical Christianity):

On June 8, 1978, Mormonism attempted to reverse yet another one of Brigham’s embarrassing doctrines, the ban on blacks from holding the Mormon priesthood. The dominant historical explanation given for the ban was an appeal to pre-mortal decisions or indecisions. Negros were not as valiant in the pre-existence, and were cursed with the mark of Cain, black skin. This explanation was taught and expressed by LDS prophets and apostles, from Conference pulpits to a First Presidency statement:

“The attitude of the Church with reference to the Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the Priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said, ‘Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their father’s rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God.’ They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and receive all the blessings we are entitled to.’ President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: ‘The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.’ The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality, and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the principle itself indicates that the coming to this earth and taking on mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintained their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.” (Official First Presidency statement, August 17, 1951 [some sources date this to 1949], cf. John Lewis Lund, The Church and the Negro, p.89).

Did you catch that? Being born with black skin is a handicap. Such loving people those Moermon leaders!

This was not from some "journal," this was not "opinion." This was a statement by the First Presidency. But I guess FAIR or FARMS will try telling us that Mormons don't really listen to the First Presidency. They're just there to kinda, you know, offer advice and give opinions. Mormons don't have to worry about listening to them.

Uh...right.

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