- Religion and Philosophy
Are Mormons Racist?
I am not a representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Members of said faith are often refered to as Mormons or LDS, I am not. These hubs include ideas, concepts, and precepts that I was taught that may or may not be official church doctrine (people like to teach what they feel, often times not in line with official doctrine).
If you try to strike up a debate in the comments section, I will likely allow it if you are not racist, sexist, or militantly vegan. No threats, though I find condemnation a little funny. "F-bombs" will not be tolerated, even though it is my favorite four-letter word. Keep in mind this is the internet and people will say what they want to say, to whom, and when they see fit. If you get your panties in a wad, start a hub and tell people about your feelings.
To understand a bit of what I was taught when I was Mormon as a kid, I am compelled to inform you of some doctrines Mormons believe in.
God created our souls in what is known as the pre-earth existence or pre-mortal existence. Our souls were given intelligence and organized into entities. God announced that Earth would be created and that mankind would be put here, us souls would get bodies and live our lives as a test of worthiness.
Lucifer wanted to be the one to bring salvation to mankind by forcing people to follow strict law. Jesus offered to atone, while giving the souls free will to decide for themselves. God accepted Jesus's offer and a war broke out that led to Lucifer and his followers being cast out of God's presence forever.
Earth was created. Souls in the pre-mortal life were given bodies as more babies were being born. A veil was placed over our minds so that we could not remember our pre-mortal lives.
That is your origin according to Mormonism.
How does Racism Come into Play?
You may well know that until 1978, black people were not allowed to hold the priesthood or any positions of authority in the church. Dealing with pressures from society and the government, Mormons changed doctrine to allow black people to have the priesthood.
Many explanations exist for why this is. One that I heard is that it was a liability for the church and the black man. If a bishop were black and interviewing a white woman behind closed doors, allegations would arise that could get the black man killed and raise discontent among the white members. Better to be safe than sorry, don't give blacks the priesthood.
Another explanation I heard is more sinister. In the pre-mortal existence when war was raging between God and Lucifer, a group of souls chose not to take sides. These "fence-sitters" were still entitled to bodies yet God did not want to give them all the rights and privileges that were given to his loyal followers. God needed a way to set them aside from those who were loyal. Once Cain was "cursed" with dark skin, all his descendants were marked. This was an easy way for us mortals to tell the difference between the fence-sitters (Black) and the loyal followers (White) from the pre-existence. Why the change in policy? Why change to give blacks the priesthood? Because enough black people had been born to use up the population of fence-sitters from the pre-existence. Since a black lineage still existed here on earth, souls from the loyal followers were now being put into black bodies. Blacks are now entitled to all the same rights and privileges as whites.
My favorite (that's sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell) is from Joseph Fielding Smith, the "prophet" from 1970 to 1972. During the fifties and sixties he served as a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles. He wrote extensively about church doctrine and faith. In his book "the Way to Perfection" he writes: "Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with black skin and have been denied the privilege of the Priesthood and the fulness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendents of Cain." Page 101. Read it for yourself. Please also note that the Second Article of Faith states that a man will be punished for his own sins and not for Adam's transgression. Punished for his own sins? Can contradictory logic be any more clear on this issue.
And since when is dark skin a disadvantage? The only disadvantage I see is having to deal with a lot more bigotry and prejudice from other races. Why would black skin be a curse or any other negative word?
Is that still the policy today? No. Why should we care about something that changed before I was even born? Mormons claim that the church is unchanging, constant, steadfast. God is not a respecter of persons and doesn't bend to political or cultural pressure. The doctrines are infallible. If all those are true, how does one explain change? Someone tried bullshitting me like so: God is constant in his rate of change and adaptation to an ever-changing world.
Still the question remains: Why should we care? We see the same arguments playing out right now in women who seek the priesthood and are currently denied. Modern-day sexism is taking nearly step-by-step the same path as racism a generation ago. The same pattern of excuse-making, the same pattern of oppression, even the same closed-minded judgement of what other people are supposed to be doing with their lives (like wearing a dress instead of pants to church). The next step is a revolution that will involve dozens if not hundreds of women being excommunicated for speaking their minds and rallying others to their cause.
Racism might not be a hot issue in today's Mormon church, but it undeniably defined a huge portion of the church's history. It outlines how Mormons think about a range of topics from gender equality to gay equality to age equality. If you get caught up in Mormonism, you will by default be caught up in these issues.