Pride and Prejudice: Racism in the Mormon Church
The following is an excerpt from a wonderful book: Cults, New Religious Movements, and Your Family: A Guide to Ten Non-Christian Groups Out to Convert Your Loved Ones. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do! As part of our Cults & Deliverance Series, we’re uncovering the truth about Mormonism, better known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). This is a section from the book, “Pride and Prejudice” which deals with the history of racism in the Mormon Church (Chapter Nine: Mormonism Through the Looking Glass pg. 205). And while many LDS believers will ALWAYS disagree with what people like me who have never been Mormon (and don’t desire to be!) as well as those who have left the Mormon Church, they never seem to be able to refute the words of their founders and (false) prophets. This excerpt contains several of those irrefutable quotations from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Joseph Fielding Smith, and others. So without further ado, here is “Pride and Prejudice.”
Since its earliest days, Mormonism and racism have been synonymous terms to individuals well acquainted with LDS doctrine. Today, however, the prejudicial aspects of the Mormon faith have been virtually obscured thanks to a concerted effort by Mormon leaders to portray their church as an equal-opportunity religion. The new LDS public image began to unfold on June 9, 1978, when blacks were finally given access to the Mormon priesthood in response to mounting social pressures.
Such a politically correct move, however, could hardly eradicate the racism that Mormonism had promoted for nearly 140 years. To date,* no LDS authority has ever repudiated the many declarations made by Mormon leaders, including Joseph Smith’s 1843 statement, “Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species.”
*This book was published in 1998.
The racism in Mormonism can be traced to their beliefs concerning our alleged pre-mortal life. LDS president Joseph Fielding Smith explains:
There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less.
Latter-Day Saints assert that our skin colour is not just based on general obedience in heaven but is more specifically linked to our conduct in the spiritual realm during a great “rebellion” that culminated in a heavenly war between Lucifer and Christ:
When....Jesus was chosen to be the Redeemer of the world, some rebelled...In this great rebellion in heaven, Lucifer, or Satan.....and one-third of the hosts thereof [angels] were cast out….There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan...the Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits.
Here on earth the less “valiant” spirits pay dearly for their less than admirable behavior by being born through the lineage of Cain (the son of Adam and Eve who slew his brother Abel):
Those who were less valiant in pre-existence...are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain….are denied the priesthood...are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned...this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing.
Bruce McConkie penned the above words in 1966 when those of African descent were still not allowed to hold the priesthood. Even today, however, many Mormons continue to view blacks as inferior. Consider the words of Joseph Fielding Smith: “Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race.” Brigham Young spoke out even more forcefully:
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….Cain slew his brother...and the Lord put a mark on him, which is the flat nose and black skin.
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.
Young’s stand against interracial marriage has been echoed on numerous occasions by LDS authorities. Consider, for example, the contents of a 1947 letter written by the First Presidency, which consists of the highest ranking Mormons--i.e., the president and his two personal counselors:
[I]t has been the doctrine of the Church...that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel...your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people...there is a growing tendency...toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.
Thelma Greer, a fourth-generation Mormon who eventually left the LDS church, remembers exactly what it is like growing up as a Mormon:
As a white Mormon, I proudly accepted the teaching that my fair skin and Mormon parentage signified that I had been one of God’s most intelligent and obedient born-in-heaven spirit children….As a reward for my superior attributes, I had been singled out, trained, and qualified to be born a white Latter-day Sain, deserving of emulation, adulation, and eventual deification. All dark-skinned people, even darker-complexioned Caucasians...had been inferior spirits in heaven.
In contrast, Scripture plainly tells us that “God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35, KJV). God’s Word also informs us that there are absolutely no race distinctions in Christ (Gal. 3:28).