First, to my mom and dad: Thank you for not teaching racism in our home. I don’t remember any denigrating remarks, whatsoever, regarding other races. Today, that means the world to me. It’s one of the many reasons that I love you. Unfortunately, I was schooled in racism by the LDS Church and its doctrines. I embraced them fully for 62 years of my life.
Second, to my friends whose gorgeous skin color is not white: I write this as a confession, in hopes that my mind can be reformed in the last decades of my life. I hope to not offend any person, or any race. With tears in my eyes, I know that I’m taking a risk.
Black People & LDS White Supremacy
Until four years ago, the church taught that black people were not valiant in the pre-earth life. Punishment for their non-committal was the black skin they were born with. It was a curse. It was easy to see who was stalwart in the pre-existence. White—valiant. Black—nope, they were cursed. I am a white man. That meant I was better than black men….going all the way back before we were born.
In December 2013, the church published the essay entitled Race and the Priesthood. For the first time, our past racist teachings, doctrines, and practices were officially disavowed and condemned!!! Previous prophets were thrown under the bus. As they should be. Many of their words are super offensive. Super racist. I’m not going to repeat them here. Fortunately, they have now been condemned.
But dammit, for 62 years I believed this crap. I knew without a doubt that it was true. After all, it had been spoken by the prophets who would never lead me astray. How do you get your head free from 62 years of indoctrination?
Well…the official condemnation has helped. Thank you very much.
But…..LDS Church…..you have not atoned for your racist sins, yet. You are hiding the Race and the Priesthood essay. Some will say that it is not hidden. Of course it is. The General Authority in charge of the church history department even admitted as much. Most members don’t know it exists. If one does know, it’s hard to find. And…you have to know exactly where to look.
I will view my church as The Church of White Supremacy until it makes our condemnation and disavowal in public, where all the members can hear and understand. That includes General Conference talks by apostles and study in our classes on Sunday.
On August 13, 2017, the Mormon Newsroom released this statement: “White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful.” How ironic that we taught white supremacy for at least 170 years. Seventeen decades of morally wrong and sinful teachings and practices. If we don’t start condemning our past from the pulpit, we are no better than the pharisees of whited-sepulcher infamy. Christ called them hypocrites. What would He be calling to us today?
Brown People and LDS White Supremacy
I can’t speak for anyone but myself. I don’t purport to represent the feelings of any descendants of Native American peoples. In my past life, I referred to them collectively as Lamanites. I don’t do that anymore.
From childhood through adulthood, I was taught that the ancestors of the American Indians were wicked. Since they were bad people, God turned their skin from white to a dark and loathsome color. Not just dark, but loathsome! When the brown people started being good, their skin turned white. When they were bad again, their skin changed back to dark and loathsome.
When I was younger, the Prophet pronounced that believing ‘Lamanite’ children had already turned “several shades lighter” than their unbelieving parents and siblings.
This is all so damned racist. It makes me cry at the effects that these horribly bigoted beliefs have had….on me.
For what I say next…I ask forgiveness in advance. If you can’t forgive me, I completely understand.
This morning, I read a Facebook comment made by a friend. Among other things she said that she had married a Mexican man. The very….first….thought….that popped into my head was, “She settled for second best.” Thinking that she had not married a white man. The thought couldn’t have lasted more than a second. Then I caught myself. Then I cried and thought, “Hell, I’m not racist, am I? I know that my white skin does not make me superior. Brown skin, black skin, white skin are beautiful manifestations of the glory of God’s diversity.” Nevertheless, the grotesque notion had crossed my mind.
All my life, I have lived with the Book of Mormon precept that brown skin was a curse from God. Today, that’s laughable. Except it’s not. It’s still lodged in some distant & ugly corner of my brain.
This racist teaching has not been disavowed nor condemned by the Mormon Church….yet. It should be.
So…today…I publicly disavow and condemn ALL the Mormon teachings regarding skin color being a curse. Including those contained in the Book of Mormon.
I don’t know if this statement will finally sweep away my hideous cobwebs of racism. Cobwebs that are mostly hidden even from myself. Cobwebs that I’m now exposing to the light of day, in hopes that they will be totally burned away.
11 thoughts on “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Racism”
Church leaders spoke with a “forked tongue” when they condemned racism among their predecessors (prophets, seers and revelators) who made racist remarks for the vast majority of church history. The only way they can speak the truth is to disavow “the most correct book” that they teach and kling to because it clearly teaches–to this day–the ungodly doctrine that one race and skin color is superior to another. They know this but refuse to admit it…http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=50882900&itype=CMSID
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I am still dealing with family members and Church leaders who cannot accept that the Race Gospel Topics essay actually means what it says and that the ‘disavowal’ of all past racism in the Church actually includes the racism of the prophets. They still think it all happened ‘in the Lord’s due time’ and other rubbish like that because of the decades of conditioning they have had doing mental gymnastics as instructed by leaders and teachers.
I just find it astonishing and profoundly troubling that even when the language couldn’t be clearer – ‘ALL’ and ‘DISAVOW’ – it is still not enough because their conditioning won’t allow them to accept actual prophetic fallibility even though they believe it is possible conceptually.
This is a fundamental divide that contributes far too much to people leaving the Church in exasperation because so many friends and relatives and leaders can’t budge even an inch from their mindset of total unquestioning trust in the leadership to meet them somewhere in the middle ground closer to their catastrophic and entirely justified disillusionment and faith crisis. They need faithful active members to come running to give them comfort and validation at that point, not to argue with them and treat them as hostile apostates and refuse to apply even basic logic and common sense. Or commonly accepted definitions of words.
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Yep. I view that as the biggest problem of the church. Unquestioning and unthinking obedience to authority. A prominent founding principle of church governance was common consent. Not common dictatorship. Here the apostles have made a major step forward. And we do what? Hide it. Distort it. Ignore its implications.
I am very happy with the announcement of next year’s curriculum for Priesthood and Relief Society. There will now be one Sunday a month where the rank and file members will have a voice. When I stepped away from the church last March, I said that there was one thing that would bring me back…having a voice. Well lookie there!
I grew up in south Texas and would say that if there was any bigotry in my life, it came from my Daddy. It did not come from the church. I never heard anything from the church about race. I read the B of M as a book of scripture that had to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys, so they didn’t kill themselves. It was protection not racism. Even the Lord himself confounded the languages at the Tower of Babel. I also believe, although I have no reference to it, that skin color was also changed. Once I became an adult, and truly became aware of what racism was, I never blamed the Church. I had my agency and did not think of racism as a commandment. It was a cultural thing to me and not a doctrine. I subscribe to the belief that we are to use common sense. When I was 21, I had a co-worker ask me why Mormons hated blacks and I was dumbfounded. I told her that from from my perspective there wasn’t hate involved But a perpetuation of the races. We were all God’s children. There was a reason he made us different and we would find that out in the next life. As for a denial of the Priesthood. I thought it was wrong and knew that someday it would be righted. I remember that day in 1978 as I sat rocking my 6 mo. old , and they broke in on the news to say that Pres. Kimball had just made the announcement. I sobbed. It had been righted.
I think it is time to stop blaming the Church for your problems, practice faith, and stop letting others including your families from dictating what you know in your heart is truth. And while you are doing that, stop trying to get others to follow your faith crisis and let us figure things out for ourselves. Those who do that are merely crutches for those who can’t or won’t or are to lazy to do their own searching, praying, and exercising of faith.
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What an interesting question you were asked. Why does the church hate black people? Well, we now have the answer. Our prophets made up the doctrine. It did not come from God. The apostles and prophets were racist. We now condemn their words, their teachings and their practices.
Why would I stop blaming the church for teaching me racism? It was the ONLY institution that taught me racist doctrine. Not my family. Not my Utah society. ONLY the church. At the time, I did not recognize is as racist doctrine. Now that the current apostles have condemned our former racism, I clearly see it as such.
“Stop trying to get others to follow your faith crisis.” I hope that’s not a polite way of telling me to shut up? I have been told to shut up at church. I’ve been told to shut up in public. I have been spied on in private and my communications reported to my stake president. To me, that is despicable behavior. Well, I’m not going to shut up anymore. I see too much pain, suffering and loneliness around me to shut up anymore. A couple of months ago, I received some feedback that some of my friends and family were being offended by my posts. So, I decided to protect them. I defriended them. Little did I know that that was super offensive. Here’s what my kids taught me. On social media, publish whatever you want. If people are offended, it’s on them. All they have to do is NOT read. Or unfriend me. That’s proper Facebook etiquette. I care about the church and my friends enough to speak out. The church is good. It needs to be better. People continue to flee. I care.
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Sam – Keep sharing your faith awakening. It’s brave to bring horrible things to light that we never saw until our eyes and hearts were opened. It’s beautiful to at least give more information (from the church itself, but not much known by the members) to be weighed, and at the most to help people set themselves free.
There might be a crisis phase initially, but after that is the most amazing, expansive love-filled awareness and life in full Existence.
Keep being a good friend to your loved ones and strangers in this way.
Don’t beat yourself up too much, Sam.
By and large I reject the concept of natural depravity. I think people are, for the most part, pretty good by nature. However, there are exceptions. Some less than desirable traits appear to be inborn and natural to us and have to be overcome by reason, discipline, etc.
For example, it doesn’t make us bad people if our first fleeting reaction to offense is anger. That is natural. What is bad is if we haven’t learned discipline, to control anger, and to respond in positive and productive ways. It is unhealthy to blame ourselves for these first innate flashes when the real problem is if we lash out or hang onto and feed the anger.
Just so with racism. Evolution has made us tribal by nature. It doesn’t make us bad (nor in my opinion racist) if we have an inborn and unconscious part of the brain left over from our evolution that throws up warnings about the “out group”. What makes us racist is if our reason and higher functions don’t take over and reject those warnings as the archaic left-overs they are of a time when it was beneficial to be wary of strangers and unknown outsiders. It’s what we do with the initial thoughts our unconscious throws at us that makes us who we are.
From what you say, I get the impression you have a pretty good handle on it. As for the church as an institution, I would agree with you that it doesn’t have a handle on it yet. I’m glad some progress has been made. I’d like to see more, faster.
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You are always a font of wisdom. Thanks for helping me make sense of it all.
Thank you for this post. It takes a lot of courage to admit wrongs, even more courage to admit it publicly. When those who haven’t experienced racism first hand hear the church is racist – it is easy to deny. The church is a very personal part of who they are and they will defend it. They will defend it because of all that is good about them as a person. They will only see the good in an organization they cherish as the one and only true church. They are good people.
That does not mean the racism didn’t and doesn’t exist. Denying the did and do exist is invalidating to the very people who are hurt by it. When it is admitted to and rejected, that is love and courage, that is healing. Most just won’t dig deeper to see if it does exist. You dug deeper and couldn’t unsee it. Subtle racism can exist in the best of us, regardless of what color we are. Your honesty and integrity to say things like they are is amazing. I am so glad you are my friend.
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Sam, in no way was I telling you to shut up. My remarks were meant for people in general who were having faith crises. I believe they read what others have written and say ” oh yeah” that’s what I think too. Or they use your questions to justify there own. Thus the comment about crutches. I am sure you have to be aware that 90% of the comments you make are answered or halted from those who have already left the Church. They are using your comments to justify their own lack of faith.
I would like to write a diatribe on Brigham Young, who I have my own problems with, but I look at him as a flawed prophet. Church history makes us quite aware of the reasons for his decision regarding the black members. I don’t agree with that decision nor the years that it was perpetuated. It’s not as if we were the only church that separated ourselves from our black brothers and sisters. And it is still a fact that there are black and white churches all over the US. I had one sister tell me that she believed the gospel to be true, but that we were just too boring for her. Our meetings put her to sleep as did our music. I had to agree.
Sorry I am late to the party here. One of the comments that I frequently make to my still believing friends, etc. is that I woukd prefer that my (dare I say) Prophets, Seers and Revelators to be ahead of the curve on such issues and not a generation (or more) behind. 🙂
And don’t get me started on how hard it is to find the essays. I truly believe they aren’t for rank and file member consumption. If they had any balls, that would link them on the front page of lds.org. I won’t hold my breath. 🙂