How Sex, Politics, Money and Religion are Killing Planet Earth

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mitt and the Mormons – Racism and a final word on the LDS faith

As I was preparing for another round of discourse on Mormonism, it occurred to me that killing Mother is starting to look like a blog dedicated to dissecting the idiosyncrasies of the LDS church. So I have made an executive decision to make this the last post on the subject. This is not to say that the discussion we have been having is not important. Given the very real possibility that Mitt Romney will be able to purchase the White House this November, all Americans should be aware of the details of his religious faith, which will no doubt color his tenure as President. But we have just come through a national heat wave that broke all records at many locations and killed dozens of people. It’s time to get back to how sex, politics, money and all religions are conspiring to destroy our planet.

Most of the conversations we have been having here can be summarized with a few general observations, which I will offer at the conclusion of this post; however, since the subject has been raised and commented on extensively, I think it is important to first address the very real history of racism in the LDS church before we proceed.

As with polygamy, racism was not just historically condoned in the Mormon faith, it was canonized in scripture. In The Pearl of Great Price (one of Mormonism’s four authoritative scriptures):

 Moses 7:8; “For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.”      
Moses 7:22; “And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.” 
Abraham 1:24-27; “When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.  25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.  26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.  27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry.”

The above passages, received by Joseph Smith, supposedly from divine prophecy, provide the justification used by the LDS church until 1978 to ban people of color from entering the temple priesthood, and thus (since progression through the priesthood is the way to progress through heaven) damning them to servitude (at best filling lower ranks on the heavenly hierarchical scale) for all eternity based on the color of their skin. 

Steven, a Mormon who has graciously agreed to engage in a civil conversation on this blog, suggests that the issue of racism in the LDS church “arose from a common early American belief that Africans are the descendants of Ham, who Noah cursed as to the Priesthood.” Steven is correct that “the curse of Ham” was a prevalent view justifying slavery in America during the time of Joseph Smith’s revelations. Indeed it took a long time for the bulk of racist Christendom to come to terms with rejecting a practice (slavery) so thoroughly sanctioned in the Bible. Some are still struggling, as evidenced by the irrational reactions and claims of “otherness” regarding our first African American President.

The LDS scriptures go further. In The Book of Mormon:
2 Nephi 5:21-23: "And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them."

"And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities."

"And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done."

"And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey."

2 Nephi 30:6, [if the cursed accept Mormonism as their faith] "...their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people." (Note: In 1981, "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure")

The Book of Mormon clearly equates whiteness to blessedness and blackness to being cursed. Nevertheless, as Steven notes, the LDS church has received a revelation and mended their attitude.  For this, we must commend them; however, with the exception of the above alteration to the text, the racist scriptures remain canonized. One might be inclined to interpret this as a religious sanction of racism. One should also consider the heinous human rights atrocities that are splashed throughout the Judeo-Christian Bible. Most religions (I would submit with the exception of Buddhism, which isn’t really a religion, but more like a philosophy) are able to justify and explain away the immorality of their scriptures, which are apparently attributable to an “all-loving” God with the cover-all excuse: "We cannot understand the ways of God." Mormonism is no exception.

Regarding racism and bigotry, I would like to add a final caveat on the LDS church’s current treatment of LGBT people. Like polygamy and racism, it would appear that bigotry against LGBT people is canonized within Mormon doctrine. As Steven notes:  “Mormons believe in several degrees of heaven, but in order to obtain the highest a man and woman must be married and have their marriage sealed for eternity by one in authority and love and respect each other and grow as one in that marriage. In this way both men and women are co-dependent on one another to achieve the highest degree of happiness (or heaven) in the next life.” In my interpretation of this doctrine, homosexual couples are therefore specifically excluded from the upper echelons of heaven. I think it should also be noted (from my understanding) that a woman’s ability to rise through the heavenly hierarchy is based entirely on her husband’s ascent through the levels of the priesthood. Her heavenly status is not based on her own merits, but on her husband’s, since she (like people of color in recent times) cannot enter the priesthood.

It is no secret that the LDS church almost single-handedly spearheaded Proposition 8 in California to defeat marriage equality laws for LGBT couples. For the moment, Mormons view their stance of bigotry against LGBT people as morally justified, just as they once viewed polygamy and racism. It is my hope that the current prophet will receive a revelation overturning this current attitude of discrimination soon. In my moral worldview, uninfluenced by the doctrines of any organized religion, it is wrong to discriminate against any person or other living thing, and any justification of such simply illuminates the limitations of ideologies based on faith rather than reason. Which brings me to my final point.

During my little excursion through the Mormon faith, it has become abundantly clear to me that the Mormons are correct in their assertion that their faith is no different than other Christian faiths. In fact, their faith is no different than any other religion based on the prophecies of dominant male patriarchs. Moses received prophecies from God, and woops, he dropped them on the way down the mountain. But never mind. Read the Bible, and it will reveal to you all of the benefits God supposedly wants bestowed on Moses and his descendants for his troubles. Mohammad went from being a poor orphan, shunned by most of his community, to a man of great wealth and influence, with numerous wives, when he started receiving divine revelations.

Jesus was a bit of an exception in the prophecy department because by all accounts, his revelations brought him nothing but woe, but his tale was certainly highly marketable to others who wanted to cash in on the opportunity that Jesus passed up. In fact, for more than 1,000 years, the Roman Catholic Church ruled affluently over much of the Western world.

The difference between the other Judeo-Christian faiths and the Mormon faith is that we can view the events of Joseph Smith’s prophecy through the eyes of written history, which is unavailable to us with the more ancient religions. Joseph Smith, a well-known con artist (who was once imprisoned for "treasure hunting"), hailing from a long line of con artists, found himself in trouble with some wealthy benefactors when his treasure hunting schemes didn’t pan out. Suddenly, he became a prophet. The Book of Mormon and the other doctrines of the LDS church read no differently than the prophecies of other male patriarchs: The Lord said, “Do as my prophet says, give him your money, your daughters and even your wives if he asks for them.” What a racket.

L. Ron Hubbard, the father of Scientology, science fiction writer and behavioral psychologist, once speculated that he could design a religion that would attract millions of people and make him rich. He was right. The sad thing is that while many are getting rich on the gullibility of others, more pressing issues, based firmly in reality, are at hand.

While I will not be posting any further posts on this subject (at least in the near future), I  am happy to continue the conversation in the comments section. Thank you Steven and the other LDS members who participated anonymously in this conversation. While I may not agree with you, I respect your opinions and your willingness to share them.


  1. KM-
    Great wrap up to an informative and interesting series. I wish fact, reason, science, intellect or preferably an amalgam of these factors could overcome the fear,ignorance, irrationality and quest for power by some that have given birth to the various faith based cults, Mormonism among them.

    Given the visceral power of fear and ignorance on the majority of our population and the willingness of our religious and political leaders to exploit it to further their own agendas I don't hold much hope for any near term focus on the ills of our planet.

    As George Will, an 'intellectual' conservative, said in response to the murderous heat wave and concerns of the climate scientists, and I paraphrase, "It's summer. It gets hot. Get over it."

    I wish you well on your quest to bring awareness of the awesome challenges we face, but it is daunting to say the least.

    1. Jim, Several hundred years ago, a Dutch explorer happened upon a strange island covered in massive statues in the Pacific Ocean, where he found a small population of humans barely subsisting on a diet of rats. They had decimated their landscape and habitat to build monuments to their gods. Need I say more?

  2. Well written.

    When I helped injured workers to use speech recognition there were many people involved in each project. I was the only one that had enough knowledge to make the project successful. Involved people would discriminate, poke fun, create technical issues over something they did not understand.

    Neither choice for President of the US is a good choice for long lists of reasons.

    The advantage this blog has over other blogs is the writer's view on the data. There are a lot of things that need changing in the Mormon Church, and she has the pen and wit to do something about it.

    I got knowledge out of this blog about the LDS Church that has made me a better person and stronger in my faith as a Mormon.

    When I hear descriptions like cult, I recognize the person commenting is doing their best to describe what they understand.

    The depth and breadth of this blog writer helps people understand the situation they face with Mitt Romney.

    I had never considered that Joseph Smith was right brain, and that is what caused all of the trouble, especially with women. This blog writer opened the door to this understanding.

    It takes years and a lot of soul searching to be a member of the LDS Church. It is hard work and yet worth it. Many people give up, then come back years later to take another try at it. It is a good place to be.

    1. Anonymous, I am glad your faith works in a positive way for you. As long as faith is a tool one uses for self-awareness and individual growth and not a tool to promote hatred and destruction, I have no qualms with it. Your input and insights are greatly appreciated.

  3. Thank you for a well written and informative series. I really appreciated the fact that the vitriol and mocking was kept to a minimum by most people posting. Nothing is more sacred and more personal than the relationship someone holds with God. Don't believe? Fine, don't worship. Not sure? Cool with me.

    KM, you are one of the few I have read that has stated the obvious. Mormons are Christians. Why many Christians cannot grasp this fact is beyond me. Of course, I will never understand why a Christian would hate a the name of God.

    Finally, Mitt Robmey buying the presidency? In theory, yes. Likely, no. When looking at an electoral map, Willard is in trouble. Big trouble. 270 are needed to win and Obama holds at least 217. Still, a long way until November.

    1. Concernicus, I hope your political predictions prove to be correct. While I have quite a few bones to pick with Obama, I also know that the situation could be worse, much worse. I remain the eternal optimist and hope that Obama is holding his actual progressive agenda until his second term when he won't have to worry about re-election. One can but dream.