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On Being a Latter-day Saint and a Black American: Whites Only?

Rodric's opinion of the Restored Gospel's doctrines change as more revelation comes. In the meantime, reasoning and perception rule the day.

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Many Blacks hate Whites for history's sake. Anything a White person does to assist the Black communities can be twisted into a negative.

Excuse to Hate

In an article called "The Truth About Being Black in America" I wrote:

After many generations of slavery and second-class citizenship, the sociological impact on this group [Black Americans] created a people with no reason to glorify the past as other Americans, and little reason to love a country that did not guarantee them constitutional rights.

Black Americans have a history of oppression in the United States, though the nation has made progress in recent years in racial relations despite opinions to the contrary. The cultural baggage from years of abuse will take several generations to disappear—and that is with everything going well.

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Many Black Americans who have known no slavery or discrimination directly live in fear because of occurrences around the nation of Black men being killed by officers of the law for one reason or the other. The fear of seeing White Americans gather to protest a historical site of Confederate origin's right to exist, though it represents oppression, is a reminder that the US has a history that excluded Black Americans as citizens of equal worth.

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Black Americans protest and some riot. Few attack White Americans who are going about conducting business because these misguided people are taught to hate and hurt White people. When these White people fight back, both sides cry foul.

Many Blacks hate Whites for history's sake. Anything a White person does to assist the Black communities cynics twist into a negative. If a White person popularizes a traditionally African American concept in fashion or music, it is called appropriation. If a White person helps a Black person from an indigent circumstance, detractors accuse that person of having a "White Savior" complex.

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As sad as it sounds, discriminatory Black Americans are celebrated in the media as comedic geniuses, as they use jocularity to come up with different ways to insult or demean Whites. This behavior affects the youth of both races causing hate on both sides. If a White comedian were to do the same as a Black comedian, regardless of European Cultural Preference, there would be a cry from many directions against that person.

Focusing on all the negativity of the Black American experience in America in an attempt to convince people that Blacks have experienced disenfranchising abuses at the hands of White Americans has the psychological effect of creating frustrated and angry individuals.

Mormons (properly referred to as Latter-day Saints) are White, according to most people questioned about it.

How does European Cultural Preference Relate to Mormonism?

"Mormonism" in the United States is a microcosm of US culture--White-dominated US culture to the extreme and Black expressionism of equal passion to the extreme. European culture dominates because descendants of Europeans settled and won supremacy over the lands in which they settled from the natives. The same descendants, who are now called White, successfully devalued the other cultures of people who lived in the US and other cultures that came to the US. White became normal in the US since it was founded and perpetuated by the descendants of Europeans. By the time The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came about, the White people in America had formed the cultural narrative of what it means to be American: White, Protestant, and European (British) heritage.

Human nature dictates that the prevailing culture will spread with popular new philosophies. Let me explain using New Testament history. When the Gentile nations started joining the early Christian church, which was full of Jews, the Jewish members of the faith began to teach the Greek members that they had to be circumcised as the Jewish members were according to the law of Moses. It was Jewish culture! Christianity was not supposed to be a different religion than Judaism. It was a fulfillment of the Law of Moses.

An apostle had to inform the members and early leaders that such a policy was not of God. Peter received a revelation to teach Gentiles the gospel and Paul explained it was folly to subject the new people of Christ to become Jews for cultural reasons just to fit into the church.

The same was true of the Church of Jesus Christ in modern times for decades. White members from the United States expected the new converts from other places in the world to accept their culture in addition to the doctrines of salvation through Christ.

God restored the Church through Joseph Smith Jr. in the context of European heritage. It was the medium He had to work with to get the ministry started. When the Church spread around the world, all of its adherents accepted a form of European culture along with the doctrines of the Restored Gospel for the leadership to consider them faithful. There exists evidence that Latter-day Saints were not considered White by nineteenth-century standards until after the group settled in Utah under the direction of Brigham Young. Under his leadership, Mormons became White racially identifying with the rest of America over time. Members of the Church in the USA are, according to Pew research, "less diverse when compared with other Christian groups." Brigham Young, in order to keep the Church from splintering into oblivion as it began to do after the death of Joseph Smith, found a unifying solace in focusing on White racial identity rather than teaching the gospel to the world despite race.

The misplaced sentiment among the faithful Jewish Christians mirrored later by a similar attitude among the Latter-day Saints directly relates to the perceived supremacy of the prevailing cultural ideology. This Eurocentric focus of US Church culture would change just as the Judeocentric focus changed in the meridian of time. The only difference is that it took longer in modern times to convince the members of the Church that being "white and delightsome," as referenced in the unedited version of The Book of Mormon, is not a racially motivating factor.

Latter-day Saints (Mormons) Are White?

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are White, according to most people questioned about it. In several polls taken of members regarding race and demographics chosen at random, the participants were all White and from the Intermountain West. When people think of members of the Church, White people come to mind in the US. The consensus among Americans is that Latter-Saints are White people from Utah. At one time, that was true, though it is not true anymore. Just like most "White" groups, White members of the church discriminated against other groups of people, specifically Blacks.

There is too much history to relate how White people in the United States of varying religious persuasions discriminated against Black Americans to include here. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the largest and most well-known group of people called Mormons. Though the church teaches no racism tolerated now, its members did not and do not all practice racial harmony.

Percent of Religion is White AmericansPercent of Black Americans in ReligionSource

86% Church of Jesus Christ

3% Church of Jesus Christ

https://www.pewforum.org/2009/07/24/a-portrait-of-mormons-in-the-us/

81% Orthodox Churches

8% Orthodox Churches

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/27/the-most-and-least-racially-diverse-u-s-religious-groups/ft_15-07-23_religiondiversityindex-1/

76% Evangelical Protestants

6% Evangelical Protestants

https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/racial-and-ethnic-composition/

59% Catholics Churches

3% Catholics Churches

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/27/the-most-and-least-racially-diverse-u-s-religious-groups/ft_15-07-23_religiondiversityindex-1/

86% Mainline Protestant

3% Mainline Protestant

https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/racial-and-ethnic-composition/

Members of the Church tend to believe what the majority of people in a White-dominated nation think--believing in the supremacy of the majority culture and heritage. For years the members of the Church taught that as the people of other faiths accepted Mormonism, if their skins were dark, with righteousness, their skin complexion would become like European Whites. Mormonism relates to European Cultural Preference in that being White is righteous culturally and will result in more favorable standing with deity.

Some members of differing ethnicities still errantly teach and believe this way even though Church leaders have supported documents that state that dark skin does not equate to unrighteousness or disfavor with God. "Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form" (Race and the Priesthood last para).

The leadership of the Church for years did not explicitly state that concepts taught in the past regarding the origins of Black Africans through Cain and Ham have never been right; so, some Latter-day Saints believe statements made by deceased leaders were once correct, at least. As a way to keep dissonance at bay, members of the Church used mental gymnastics to explain away incorrect statements by past leaders following Declaration 2 which extended priesthood and temple blessing to all worthy people regardless of race.

The apologetic method to reconcile the faith to give the illusion of doctrinal continuity--that there was nothing taught errantly by past leaders--is another way of cultural supremacy by using past leaders' statements regarding Blacks as a way of separating the chosen from the not so chosen people. To speak about it was to show a lack of faith. Leaders encourage people to move on with no explanation.

In another article more will be mentioned about cognitive dissonance and how members find ways to have their faith and reconcile it too.

President Russell M. Nelson in the 2020 October General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered the following:

Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to what I am about to say. God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear. He invites all to come unto Him, “black and white, bond and free, male and female.”

I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your skin. Favor or disfavor with God is dependent upon your devotion to God and His commandments and not the color of your skin.

I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.

The question for each of us, regardless of race, is the same. Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?1

This offering by President Nelson does not repair the hurt of thousands who feel slighted by the past, but it does offer a way forward.

Related

  • On Being a Latter-day Saint and a Black American
    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 this article.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 Rodric Anthony