Mormonism and Racism Part 1



By Marvin Perkins

September 7, 2012

As Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign pushes Mormonism into the spotlight, there are many of such headlines flooding the media channels daily with opinions raging that don’t seem to have the effect of satisfying the interests or the demands. We’ll attempt to do just that with this conversation and in doing so, I’m going to ask you to take a step back and abandon whatever position you locked yourself into before you began reading this article. As we go through this material, the majority of you, whichever side you were or are on, may feel varying levels of discomfort. These uneasy feelings will be caused by trying to hold two conflicting beliefs simultaneously. To rid ourselves of this uneasiness or dissonance, studies show that we’ll pick a side and begin looking for any data that supports the position we’ve adopted, and ignore any data that challenges our position. Leon Festinger’s 1959 study in social behavior called this the theory of “cognitive dissonance”. You’ll be able to conduct your own study in the theory of cognitive dissonance as you come face to face with truths that challenge your currently held beliefs. Which side will you choose? As for me and my house, we will choose and serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

In this conversation we will completely challenge and dismantle any justification for restricting priesthood from men of African descent and all the teachings created to justify the practice. You’ll be amazed to find the answers right there in your scriptures. In doing so, this will create some dissonance for critics, as we’ll also demonstrate the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are truly of God. So members and critics as well, will be put into positions to reconcile their own cognitive dissonance, by clinging to the greatest source of light and truth, God Himself, or choosing to fall back on a less reliable source, man. You’ll find that the debates over these issues can continue only until they’re addressed directly with scripture and prayer. Through prayer, each can receive the comforting witness of the truth to overcome their cognitive dissonance.

Let’s start at the top. When Jesus was asked “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” He responded with these powerful words recorded in Mathew 22:36-40:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Knowing that all of the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments, it becomes safe to measure every proposed gospel teaching and principle against these two commandments. Let’s do just that as we move through this discussion.

1. A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. A policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. Hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

• Blacks were fence sitters in pre-existence
• Blacks are cursed
• Blacks, the seed of Cain, a murderer
• Blacks are representatives of Satan here on earth
• Blacks are lowly, uncouth, lazy & detestable to others
• Blacks won’t receive the priesthood in this lifetime
• Dark skin is a mark of unworthiness
• Penalty for intermarrying Blacks is death on the spot
• It was time for everybody else but Blacks
• Blacks cannot enter into the Temples and perform sacred ordinances
• Black families cannot experience the blessings of sealings

RACISM TEST FOR TODAY’S MORMONS (Critics, don’t get too excited, we’ll get to your discomfort shortly. LDS, hang in there, this gets really good for you later.)

1. Was the priesthood restriction of God?
2. Did the Lamanites have a darker skin than the Nephites?
3. Is or was dark skin a curse?
4. Is interracial marriage wrong in the eyes of God?

If you’ve answer “yes” to any of these questions, then the “racists” claims leveled by our critics have merit. Seeing these teachings listed out, contrasting them against the definition of racism and the two great commandments should have created even more dissonance. I know that this is a hard concept to swallow, understanding the great love that most Latter-day Saints have for all men.

Perform a simple object lesson to shatter the entire concept of race. Find a volunteer of Caucasian and one of African descent. Place white paper next to the skin of the Caucasian and ask them what color is the paper. Ask what’s on the opposite end of the color scale? (Black) What color is in the middle of that scale? (Gray) Now ask what color is the Caucasian volunteer’s face. They can’t say white, because there’s a stark difference between their face and the white paper. Now ask, if you were to gradually darken their face, what color would it become? (Brown) Now ask what color the skin is of the volunteer of African descent, holding up something black next to their skin. Your answer should be brown. Yes, we are all just different shades of brown. There are no actual black or white people. Those are terms of separation created by man and used to justify elevating one’s self above his brother, which is in direct conflict with the first and second great commandment. More dissonance should be ensuing.

Tune in to the next conversation where we’ll dive into the scriptures and discuss how we began calling each other black and white.


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5 Responses

  1. Organize says:

    As a Latter-day Saint I really appreciate the straight forward, straight talk in this article. It’s hard to hear that we’re actually adding to the racist claims leveled against the church but it’s important to know this so that we can make the change. Really looking forward to Part 2.

    A heart-felt thank you. Keep up the great work.

  2. […] Blog post in a series of articles to be posted on this topic: Please leave a comment! Mormonism and Racism Part 1 | __________________ Blacks in the Bible | Skin Color and Curses | Equality and Priesthood | […]

  3. Lora says:

    I received my testimony of the restored gospel at the age of 17 in 1972. A year later I was there when our beautiful African American neighbor Gigi discovered that what she’d heard about the church was true–no priesthood for her people. I will never forget the agony on her face. There was nothing I could say. I rejoiced in the 1978 Revelation–but no explanations were offered.

    I experienced cognitive dissonance when I saw the Blacks in the Scriptures presentation, even though it was providing me with answers I was seeking. I knew the church was true. Didn’t that mean that everything the church did would be right? I had always been taught that prophets were human beings. The prophets in the Bible were certainly human. But I expected modern prophets to be perfect.

    I have studied the scriptures that have been presented, and prayed for a witness that what was being taught was true. It has been revealed to me by the Holy Spirit that race never mattered to the Lord at all. It is a bitter pill for this long-time member to admit that what I had been taught by my mother and grandmother was incorrect. But once I got that bitter pill down, a whole new world opened up. I didn’t have to believe philosophies of men that were mingled with scripture. I feel a love for my brothers and sisters of every shade of brown that is deeper than before.

    If anyone is feeling the pain of cognitive dissonance, I invite them to pray to know what the Lord thinks about racial difference. We know that man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

  4. I love the honesty and powerful message of this article. Thank you! I have been a member of the Church since 1985, and my experience has been varied. I love the principles I have learned that has allowed us to establish a successful family. They are in complete fullness in this gospel. I have always known that principles are either good or erroneous and can lead you to either happiness or misery. Thank you for bringing clarification to principles we know to be true. Thank you to Blacks in the Scriptures for helping to solidify our testimony…especially the testimony of my husband.

    Robin Foster

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