On Being a Latter-day Saint and a Black American Part Three
As a Black person, how hard is it to know that the church I love once had living prophets who taught that my legacy, my family is to represent Satan on the earth as a curse and would not get the blessing that all other humans get in mortality?
Black Latter-day Saint also incorrectly as Black Mormons are no exception to this behavior of Ethnocentrism as proof can be found on the web decrying the racist past of the LDS or lobbying Afrocentric versions of LDS doctrines. Being Black and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not limited to the perception of White supremacy but scans the spectrum of ideas as a million members of the Church of approximately 16 million identify as Black--with thousands living in the US as a unique minority and budding community of awareness.
In 1978, the Church ended a policy of exclusion towards people of Black African heritage from participating in the highest sacraments of the Church in its holy temples and ordination as ministers. Because all men in the Church are expected to hold the priesthood to bless their families, it was a devastating blow to new converts to the faith to realize they had joined an organization that taught the only reason a Black person could not be a priesthood holder or temple attender was due to his or her race.
To explain the reason this policy went into effect under the leadership of Brigham Young, second leader and prophet of the Church, well-intentioned members and leaders suggested theories that Blacks were the seed of Cain and therefore actively refrained from pre-mortal support of Jesus Christ. Black members of the church taught this fabrication along with the Whites members.
The leaders of the church in the First Presidency, the presiding council of the church, taught that the restriction was not a policy, but a directive from God. Of course, the members taught what our leaders taught. The members of the First Presidency are prophets. Why would the membership advance something different? If Moses said the Lord revealed to him to do a thing, who would disagree with him? This was the position of the Latter-day Saints.
Cognitive Dissonance: Theories
Brigham Young advanced his theories and spoke them as if God revealed them directly to him face-to-face about Black people and our natures. After declaring at a territorial gubernatorial address in Deseret (Utah) that the Negro shall not receive the priesthood until the Lord tells him otherwise because Blacks are not to lead or rule over Whites due to Cain's curse and Ham's curse through his son Cainan, President Young supported his stance with some distressing dogma.
He taught that black skin was the curse from Cain who slew Abel, and slavery or to be the servants of servants was the curse placed upon Ham's posterity. He never supported the abuse of Blacks and always considered us human. That, however, does not take away the decades of abuse members heaped on the faithful few Black members of the Church because some White members felt justified by President Young's racial leanings. He explained in warning what should happen to those who would seek to propagate with Blacks. Said he,
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! (exclamation point added)
President Young was the ordained prophet of God! Who would question his words? As a faithful member of the Church, I did not and do not question the words of this prophet.
He was not the only one. In a statement to a BYU President, Earnest L Wilkinson by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints August 17, 1951, was revealed the standing policy of the church. It read:
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 of 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 re-moved from the seed of Cain, and receive all the blessings we are entitled.... taken from John Lewis Lund's The Church and the Negro, p.89.
As a Black person, how hard is it to know that the church I love once had living prophets who taught that my legacy, my family is to represent Satan on the earth as a curse and would not get the blessing that all other humans get in mortality? It is mighty hard.
How can a faithful LDS Christian trust that what he or she hears from the leadership is from God if the words he or she hears or reads are not always the words FROM GOD!?
In Part Four, find out what President Nelson has to say how to know when the leaders are speaking the word from God.
- On Being a Latter-day Saint and a Black American Part Four
The leadership gets it. The rest of us Latter-day Saint still need to work on it. Being Black and Latter-day Saint in America is volumes of books waiting to be written condensed into articles. This is part four.
- On Being a Latter-day Saint and a Black American Part Two
The leadership gets it. The rest of us Latter-day Saints still need to work on it. Being Black and a Latter-day Saint in America is volumes of books waiting to be written condensed into articles. This is part two.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Rodric Anthony