More Readings on Mormons, Blacks, Curses, and Priesthood

John Dehlin Mormon, Mormon Stories 4 Comments

I have been lightly bombarded with kind suggestions to provide other sources on the topic. Here are a few:From Armand Mauss:

From FAIR:

Thanks to all for the feedback! I look forward to this.

John

Comments 4

  1. To understand our American racist roots which I believe infected B Young, O Hyde and others following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith it would be helpful to read Thomas Jefferson’s “Notes on the State of Virgina.” His commennts about Africans are very racist, in short very ugly. Easy to see why this has been a part of our American heritage. The traditions given us from our European projenitors continued through Jefferson and lived in the LDS Church just like so many other churches until that little man from Arizona became the president of the Church.

    The best stuff I have seen and it is significant because it was publushed by Deseret Book, 2005, is a commentary on the Pearl of Great Price by three BYU professors, Rhodes, Draoer and Brown. They deal with the curse and the mark. Also Nibley’s course lectures on the Pearl are fabulous. There is some reason to be positive as the changes are coming through Deseret Book and BYU and it is good stuff.

  2. I applaud the article The LDS Church and the Race Issue: A Study in Misplaced Apologetics by Armand L. Mauss. I will discuss the version of this essay in the October 2004 SUNSTONE magazine titled Dispelling The Curse of Cain, linked to above. It is a step in the right direction for the church to dispel the curse of Cain myth.

    In the introduction to the article Mauss points out McConkie’s firm endorsement of the seed of Cain myth as doctrine that is still in his book Mormon Doctrine published by the LDS church bookstore Deseret. Why would that be? Because the curse of Cain teaching is an official LDS doctrine that I think Mauss, for all good intentions, is trying to downplay. I could quote a ton of statements by LDS prophets in the Journal of Discourses and other Deseret books but I know that most LDS members would dismiss those references. How about a church magazine where Brigham Young is quoted as saying that “Joseph Smith had declared that the Negroes were not neutral in heaven, for all the spirits took sides, but ‘the posterity of Cain are black because he (Cain) committed murder. He killed Abel and God set a mark upon his posterity'” (The Improvement Era, Joseph Fielding Smith, p.105). Not good enough? Well, what if there was an official doctrinal statement by the LDS Church, by the First Presidency, regarding the seed of Cain? Here it is:

    “The attitude of the Church with reference to 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 fathers 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 removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to’…” (The First Presidency Statement on the Negro Question, August 17, 1949; also cited in Mormonism and the Negro, by John J. Stewart and William E. Berrett, 1960, Part 2, p. 16).

    You see Declaration 2 only changes a policy, indirectly implying that the curse has stayed its course, but does not in any way renounce the fact that blacks are the cursed seed of Cain; according to the official statement of the LDS church quoted above the curse is a permanent “skin of blackness.” Mauss begins his article by quoting the statement by McConkie to “forget everything I have said…” in New Revelation on the Priesthood in the book Priesthood pg. 126-137. McConkie was saying forget what the brethren and I Millennium. He was not saying forget about the seed of Cain doctrine. In the introduction to McConkie’s New Revelation on the Priesthood speech we read in regards to the new 1978 priesthood revelation that:

    “When we [the brethren] were alone by ourselves in that sacred place where we meet weekly to wait upon the Lord, to seek guidance from his Spirit, and to transact the affairs of his earthly kingdom, President Kimball brought up the matter of the possible conferral of the priesthood upon those of all races. This was a subject that the group of us had discussed at length on numerous occasions in the preceding weeks and months. The President restated the problem involved, reminded us of our prior discussions, and said he had spent many days alone in this upper room pleading with the Lord for an answer to our prayers. He said that if the answer was to continue our present course of denying the priesthood to the seed of Cain, as the Lord had theretofore directed, he was prepared to defend that decision to the death. But, he said, if the long-sought day had come in which the curse of the past was to be removed, he thought we might prevail upon the Lord so to indicate. He expressed the hope that we might receive a clear answer one way or the other so the matter might be laid to rest…”

    The question was whether or not to continue “our [the LDS church’s] present course of denying the priesthood to the seed of Cain, as the Lord had theretofore directed…” The question was not whether or not the doctrine of the seed of Cain is true but whether or not to allow the seed of Cain access to the priesthood. On page 57, Mauss admits that Moses 7 and Abraham 1 seem to endorse the seed of Cain myth in Mormon scripture but he says that “it is not even clear that we are to take this literally.” But LDS leaders have made numerous statements that we are to take it literally. Only Hinkley can clear up the matter by giving the correct interpretation at General Conference and I hope he one day does the right thing. Mauss then begins a make-believe dialogue about the issue of the priesthood ban, and about the seventh question down we read:

    Q: I thought most American of that time believed in God and in the Bible. Where was God in all of this?
    A: I doubt that God had anything to do with it…

    How can you doubt the official 1949 statement of the LDs church where they declare “The attitude of the Church with reference to 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…” According to the church God had everything to do with it.

    Mauss ends his article by stating that “the fact is that we do have a lot more relevant historical knowledge than the we-don’t know response would indicate.” I couldn’t agree more. When Mormons say we don’t know why blacks were denied the priesthood they should quote the 1949 statement by the First Presidency and then share the private interview with LDS Apostle, LeGrand Richards, where he explains why the new revelation occurred in 1978 at http://www.lds-mormon.com/legrand_richards.shtml.

    I applaud Mr. Mauss and fairlds.org for at least taking a step in the right direction of joining me and other exmormons in protesting the seed of Cain doctrine. Hopefully this will lead to putting an end to the racist seed of Cain doctrine and lead to the First Presidency doing the right thing, the moral thing, in renouncing the 1949 First Presidency Statement on the Negro Question and replacing it with a new statement denouncing the seed of Cain myth and the teaching that blacks were unvaliant in the preexistence.

    For more information see my essay at http://www.geocities.com/exmormon2000/seedcain.html

  3. Not only renounce the 1949 First Presidency statement, but apologize to people of Negro ancestry for making them third-class members for so long.

    Why is it that the LDS Church has never apologized for anything? Not even a public acknowledgement earlier this month about the suffering experienced by women, teenage girls, and ‘lost boys’ due to Mormonism-rooted polygamy in FLDS communities when the news media was covering the Warren Jeffs/FLDS situation.

    No apology from the LDS Church for the humiliating electro-shock therapy that gay Mormon men in years past endured (John mentions this aspect of church history in his Podcast interview conducted by Paul).

    No apology from the LDS Church to the descendants of the 120-odd men, women, and children who were murdered by Mormons and their ‘indian’ allies at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah in 1857.

    No apology from the LDS Church to my handicapped friend (he has cerebral palsy) who was sexually molested and physically assaulted by a Mormon male missionary in 1985. My friend was 12 at the time; the Elder was in his mid-20’s. My friend reported the crime to the mission president (MP), who quickly transferred the Elder out of the area, but allowed him to complete his mission. After his 3-year stint, the MP returned to SLC and became a GA. He was rewarded for his ‘faithfulness’ because in 1985, he’d been willing to put up the large amount of money needed to buy the McLellin Papers offered to the church by Mark Hoffman (Hoffman’s plan was to forge the Papers, but accidentally setting off one of his homemade bomb cut his criminal career short).

    The church’s plan was for the well-connected MP to acquire the collection that Hinckley and other senior church leaders had feared for decades was ‘out there’, and quietly donate it to the church, where it’d never see the light of day. The MP did not contact police to investigate the crime reported by my friend (and in the presence of a female adult Mormon), but after the police received my report in 1993 (I met my friend in 1991), which was based on several interviews with him, they launched an investigation. They gathered enough evidence to lay charges against the Elder. However, he’d finished his mission some years before and returned to his country. There was (and still is) no extradition treaty between the two countries for this type of crime, so the former missionary/sexual offender/abuser goes free, and the former MP who should’ve contacted police in the first place remains a GA.

    In the early 1990’s, church HQ in SLC was advised of the Elder’s crime provided with my friend’s contact info. No one from the Church Office Building called to ask what happened or apologize on behalf of the church for what one of its representatives had done to him. I’ve encouraged him to file a lawsuit against the church, the GA, and the former missionary. The LDS Church has been successfully sued in the past.

    Interestingly, even the ‘mother-of-all-whores’ Catholic Church (as declared by Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie) was enlightened enough to apologize to the Jewish people for not doing enough during World War II to confront Nazi racism, and for persecuting Galileo. Yet Mormon Galileos such as Grant Palmer and D. Michael Quinn have yet to receive an apology from the LDS Church for the stress, and in the case of Quinn, signficant loss of income, they’ve endured as a result of what the church did to them. Such is the enlightenment of the ‘prophets’ who run the LDS Church.

  4. I couldn’t agree more FreeAtLast. The problem is that someone won’t apologize before feeling guilty and/or seeing that they did something wrong. In terms of the Mormon Church’s own repentance program, they haven’t yet realized their sins so they feel they have nothing to repent of or apologize for; that, and the Mormon corporation lacks a superego or conscience (see the documentry Corporation). It’s an organism with the main goal being to survive no matter the price of truth and damage to human beings.

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