Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Corky Wallace

Racism in LDS theology - come on, guys

Recommended Posts

"Racial degeneration, resulting in differences in appearance and spiritual aptitude, has arisen since the fall. We know the circumstances under which the posterity of Cain (and later of Ham) were born with the characteristics of the black race. (Moses 5:16-41; 7:8,12,22; Abra. 1:20-27.) The Book of Mormon explains why the Lamanites received dark skins and a degenerate status. (2 Ne. 5:21-23.) If we had a full and true history of all races and nations, we would know the origins of all their distinctive characteristics. In the absence of such detailed information, however, we know only the general principle that all these changes from the physical and spiritual perfections of our common parents have been brought about by departure from the gospel truths. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 148-151; vol. 3, pp. 313-326.)" (Mormon Doctrine 1999 printing, p. 616)

I know this "Mormon Doctrine" book is not strictly official doctrine, and a fair number of Prophets, Apostles and other LDS General Authorities have been in error on many things, not the least of which is the notion that a person with dark skin has been cursed in some way, but how can this kind of thinking continue to be published in the year 1999?

This is really kind of embarassing, isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post

There is a reason people are born were they are that does not mean it is a blessing or cursing. Some of the most noble people are born under the sorriest of circumstances to bless that area. It could hardly be said that a indian black or oriental was less valient then a white. many are put there to help the work of the lord there.

Share this post


Link to post

Outshined,

Could you explain your response a little bit?

- you don't care how your church's doctrine is characterized?

- you agree with the interpretation outlined in the '99 version of MD?

Share this post


Link to post

It may be that I'm just so entrenched in my beliefs and the devout following of the prophets, but I support the idea in MD.

I should probably question it more, but I take it at face value.

Thats what the apostle said... so I believe it.

Share this post


Link to post

Ruby,

I don't normally like to belittle people's religious beliefs, but your post hit the funny bone.

My personal favorite:

"I don't really understand what I believe, but I know it is true."

This response, while humorous & a bit awkward, certainly illustrates the fairly frequent incongruity between faith & reason.

Share this post


Link to post

I know this "Mormon Doctrine" book is not strictly official doctrine, and a fair number of Prophets, Apostles and other LDS General Authorities have been in error on many things, not the least of which is the notion that a person with dark skin has been cursed in some way, but how can this kind of thinking continue to be published in the year 1999?

This is really kind of embarassing, isn't it?

:P Should all libraries purge their books or just Mormons? What kind of bizarre reasoning is that? Usually we are accused of hiding our history. McConkie had some interesting ideas on a few things and very insightful ideas on many others. Since "the church" didn't authorize the book I don't see what you think they are supposed to do about it. Maybe you could purge Mark Twain's "racist" language first. Come to think of it...the early Saturday Night Live shows were pretty bad at that, too. The black guy did nothing but "black" skits. I think those tapes should be destroyed. Embarrassing.

Share this post


Link to post

When humans left Africa to colonize Asia and Europe, the process of genetic mutation and natural selection favored the reproduction of a lighter skinned mutation and its offspring who had the selective advantage of better producing Vitamin D, via sunlight exposure to the skin, at the higher northern latitudes.

Since God preceeded man, and man was created in his image, it should be assumed that God has the original dark skin.

Share this post


Link to post

Juliann: thanx for that link.

Corky: Looks to me like President Smith (who was Elder McConkie's father-in-law, I believe; he authored "Doctrines of Salvation" which McConkie cited in your initial quote) and Elder McConkie were trying to come up with a plausible explanation for the apparent practices of discrimination. It's called apologetics. Humans do that. Absent a public doctrinal statement from the First Presidency (or endorsed by the First Presidency) there is nothing but speculation (albeit some better sounding than other).

Should we (Americans) be embarrassed that there actually are people who believe that man has never truly landed on the moon? Celebrate multiplicity of thought (and the freedom to express it), man!

I personally feel no embarrassment over past statements which, when seen through more educated lenses, seem presently senseless. Line upon line - I think that's what the scriptures teach.

Share this post


Link to post
Outshined,

Could you explain your response a little bit?

- you don't care how your church's doctrine is characterized?

- you agree with the interpretation outlined in the '99 version of MD?

It bothers me no more than the Bible telling us that women should remain silent in church.

And no, I don't care how outsiders choose to characterize the Church. That's a very minor one compared to most.

Share this post


Link to post
Since "the church" didn't authorize the book I don't see what you think they are supposed to do about it. Maybe you could purge Mark Twain's "racist" language first. Come to think of it...the early Saturday Night Live shows were pretty bad at that, too. The black guy did nothing but "black" skits. I think those tapes should be destroyed. Embarrassing.

The difference between racist statements made from Mormon apostles and popular authors is that popular authors don't (1) derive their racism from scripture or (2) pretend to have exclusive communicative abilities with God.

It's one thing when an institution endorses racist beliefs. It's quite another when that institution pretends to speak for God. The reason why church endorsed racism is so offensive is because it suggests a racist God, which most people find abhorrent. And yes, the church DID endorse racism through it's doctrine--

1-Native americans cursed with dark skin to make them repulsive to the white and delightsome Nephites

2-Cain cursed with dark skin; descendants of Cain retain this curse.

3- Blacks less valient in the pre-existence

You can argue that these beliefs are not doctrine right now, and you might have a valid point, even though I'd be willing to bet that your rank and file LDS still considers them doctrine. Whether or not it is currently doctrine doesn't negate the fact that it WAS doctrine at some point in time. And to prove that, here's a dictionary definition of "doctrine"-

Doctrine: Something taught; a teaching. (dictionary.com)

You cannot deny that racism was taught in the Mormon church, which makes it at the very least a former doctrine of the church.

When humans left Africa to colonize Asia and Europe, the process of genetic mutation and natural selection favored the reproduction of a lighter skinned mutation and its offspring who had the selective advantage of better producing Vitamin D, via sunlight exposure to the skin, at the higher northern latitudes.

Since God preceeded man, and man was created in his image, it should be assumed that God has the original dark skin.

This is brilliant. If you believe that man was create in God's image, and you also accept modern anthropological knowledge on human origins, you have to concede that God is a black man. I love it.

Share this post


Link to post

Hi Moksha.... :P

When humans left Africa to colonize Asia and Europe, the process of genetic mutation and natural selection favored the reproduction of a lighter skinned mutation and its offspring who had the selective advantage of better producing Vitamin D, via sunlight exposure to the skin, at the higher northern latitudes.

Since God preceeded man, and man was created in his image, it should be assumed that God has the original dark skin.

Absolutely!!!! cool.gif

And.... we ALL have ancestors who are black. Adam and Eve must have been black as well...

~dancer~

Share this post


Link to post
"Racial degeneration, resulting in differences in appearance and spiritual aptitude, has arisen since the fall. We know the circumstances under which the posterity of Cain (and later of Ham) were born with the characteristics of the black race. (Moses 5:16-41; 7:8,12,22; Abra. 1:20-27.) The Book of Mormon explains why the Lamanites received dark skins and a degenerate status. (2 Ne. 5:21-23.) If we had a full and true history of all races and nations, we would know the origins of all their distinctive characteristics. In the absence of such detailed information, however, we know only the general principle that all these changes from the physical and spiritual perfections of our common parents have been brought about by departure from the gospel truths. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 148-151; vol. 3, pp. 313-326.)" (Mormon Doctrine 1999 printing, p. 616)

I know this "Mormon Doctrine" book is not strictly official doctrine, and a fair number of Prophets, Apostles and other LDS General Authorities have been in error on many things, not the least of which is the notion that a person with dark skin has been cursed in some way, but how can this kind of thinking continue to be published in the year 1999?

This is really kind of embarassing, isn't it?

The author of Mormon Doctrine, Elder Bruce R McConkie, died in 1985. Normally, books by a particular author are not updated by others than the author him/herself. Since he cannot do it, and the book is popular still and still is overall a good resource for many points, it is still in print.

Next, for more correct ideas in such areas, we have newer doctrinal resources, such as the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, written by many LDS scholars. These are the books that the Church has officially tried to get into public libraries throughout the USA, along with a copy of the LDS scriptures.

As for calling it racism, I'm not sure if that is really what it is. Racism is an inborn hatred and desire to keep a group as second/third class, or to destroy them outright. Many of our prophets have sought permission from the Lord to lift the ban over the past century, and the Lord told them "no", until 1978.

The reasoning they gave is based upon 19th century beliefs of the mark of Cain/curse of Canaan. Whether that can be considered racism in a day when it was generally accepted, even by those who wanted to end it (Thomas Jefferson wanted to free the slaves, but considered them mentally inferior, at least until Frederick Douglass tried setting him straight on it in a letter.).

The reality is, we no longer have a ban on the priesthood. Our congregations are more integrated today than the congregations in most other Christian churches (just go to the south and see how many integrated Christian congregations there are - very few). The Church is growing quickly in areas where there is a high black population - Africa, Brazil, and even in the US South (where blacks are joining at a faster rate than whites in many areas).

We have people of color as General Authorities, Area Authority Seventies, Stake presidents and bishops.

I was fortunate in being the first group leader in Tuskegee Alabama, before it became a branch. I knew many descendants of slaves, as well as new-comers from Africa that joined the Church there. They are an awesome and amazing people, when given the chance and training to excel.

Instead of concentrating on past issues that have no bearing on where the Church is now, we should seek the salvation of all peoples, regardless of race; and rejoice in the fact that we live in a day when all can be blessed with all the blessings of the priesthood and temple.

Share this post


Link to post

Juliann,

I think MC points out some valid differences between an author of fiction, Mark Twain, & the claims of the LDS church.

Are we to consider the doctrinal history of the LDS as mere literary history? Or does LDS doctrine purport to be more than literature? Is there a greater responsibility present here?

There are some interesting "gradeschool" responses that arise sometimes in LDS apologetics:

"Hey, we weren't the only ones!"

"Why are we being singled out?"

This appears to be the case regarding explicitly racist "policies", viewpoints and teachings of LDS leaders up to pretty darn near the present.

It is striking that there have been so many inspired modifications to fairly minor points in temple ceremonies, ordinances, etc, from the early prophets on down, yet it took 140 years or so for an LDS prophet to ask for guidance on the issue of blacks & the priesthood, with a fairly long string of prophets repeating apparently erroneous policy on an issue that denied the blessings of the priesthood to many families, or kept who-knows-how-many potential converts away from accepting the gospel.

As a 12 year old, the teachings I heard in church regarding blacks just didn't seem right, and like many Mormons, I'm very grateful the Word of God has changed in this area, without reservation.

At the same time, the history of this policy doesn't seem to offer a ringing endorsement of the ablility of the LDS leaders, Prophets, Apostles and other General Authorities to accurately convey the Will of God on things. Were they just repeating a mistaken policy without really thinking or praying about it? Or did God hang onto the policy as a test of faith?

According to a fairly prevalent explanation, if the leaders - among themselves and through time - were so deeply in the fog in seeing the Lord's will on this issue for so long, who is to say they're not similarly misguided on other issues, and really, isn't it quite possible they don't have any special guidance at all?

Honestly, the common response I get from my LDS neighbors is more convincing on this issue:

"We have no idea why this policy existed in the first place, but, Boy-Oh-Boy, are we glad the Lord changed it!"

I'm glad the policy changed, too, but the explanations I've heard to date do more to damage the credibility of The Church as THE institution for carrying out the Lord's important sacred ordinances, and providing an important means of teaching His children on Earth than does any of the Anti literature.

That's my take, anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
(McKay statement, earlier cited):

'...It is a practice, not a doctrine...'

Comon now, let's be serious. Are 'practices' "the only true church' decided by cultural customs? Cultrual customs change from time to time, according the the values of society.

Is that an envelope, an environment in which H.F. delivers his Gospel to us?

are we ready to handle that? I had alway (40+ yrs as LDS,RM, Temple married, that the gospel is fixed, immovable, unchanging from time to time, epoch to era.

Responses, please...

Share this post


Link to post
You can argue that these beliefs are not doctrine right now, and you might have a valid point, even though I'd be willing to bet that your rank and file LDS still considers them doctrine.  Whether or not it is currently doctrine doesn't negate the fact that it WAS doctrine at some point in time.  And to prove that, here's a dictionary definition of "doctrine"-

Doctrine: Something taught; a teaching. (dictionary.com)

You cannot deny that racism was taught in the Mormon church, which makes it at the very least a former doctrine of the church.

ABSOLUTELY! And the Church needs to purge itself of racist leanings by OFFICIALLY admitting its doctrine exclusion due to race and dark skin equating with "iniquity" was wrong and is now wrong. As it is, the GA's are silent on the subject and the apologists forward the logic that "God changed his mind". They don't use those exact words, but that's the message.

Joe

Share this post


Link to post

Hi R...

I was fortunate in being the first group leader in Tuskegee Alabama, before it became a branch. I knew many descendants of slaves, as well as new-comers from Africa that joined the Church there. They are an awesome and amazing people, when given the chance and training to excel.

WHAT???? :P

Descendants of slaves and those from Africa are "an awesome and amazing people when given the chance and training to excel?"

Do you typically suggest that white people or those of Asian descent are awesome if they are "trained?" <_<

I live in a city that is predominatly Black. I'm embarrassed that the LDS church, while it no longer holds to racist practices has never denounced the racist teachings. Most members seem to still believe the ban was of God and BRM's teachings as well as teachings of other leaders over the years (MEP for example) were/are valid and accurate.

Suggesting that the issue is in the past is not the same as stating that the teachings were wrong and NOT of God.

But then again, maybe the brethren still believe the ban was of God and the teachings were true... :unsure: Anyone know for sure?

~dancer~

Share this post


Link to post

tubaloth wrote:

Nope! Because if we truly understand all things (including pre-mortal) (which I don

Share this post


Link to post
Most members seem to still believe the ban was of God and BRM's teachings as well as teachings of other leaders over the years (MEP for example) were/are valid and accurate.

Truth Dancer: I think what is closer to the mark is that most members simply do not have any idea what the reason for the ban was (was it a mistake of man? did God have a purpose? etc.) To assign stupidity, lack of inspiration or what have you to the Church, the Brethren, etc. is no less wrongfully judgmental than the racism you detest. The fact is, YOU do not understand why the ban, but you suppose the worst (and therefore suppose that the Church ought to apologize or denounce the former tenet).

Sorry that you are embarrassed to be in the "I don't know" crowd; recognizing that status is truly the first step to acquiring wisdom. As long as you (et al.) refuse to acknowledge "I don't know" as a legitimate answer, there is not much else to discuss.

Share this post


Link to post

Isn't there an explanation regarding the BOM statements on skin color, something about skin doesn't really mean skin in this case, but it means "light from within", or something like that?

I mean, horses aren't really horses, they're buffalos; steel isn't steel, a curse of black skin doesn't apply to people from Fiji, and now it's not really a curse at all, but perhaps just a misinterpretation of the term "dark skin".

Forgive me, but the term "Clintonesque" comes to mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...