Reprint of an article from the Jamaican
by Mark Wignall
Sunday, September 25, 2005
see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth,
uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild,
and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of
the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.
first man that committed the odious crime of killing one
of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one
of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might
have been killed, and that would have put a termination
to that line of human beings.
was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which
is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to
after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced
upon the same race--that they should be the "servant
of servants;" and they will be, until that curse
Brigham Young-President and second 'Prophet' of the Mormon
Church, 1844-1877- Extract from Journal of Discourses.
call two weeks ago to the local arm of the church was quite
specific in its request. Backed up by an e-mail to the organisation,
I wanted to know the date of arrival in Jamaica, the membership
and details of any outreach programme in force. Most importantly,
I wanted to know why an organisation grounded in white supremacy
would want Jamaica as one of its permanent postings considering
that 95 per cent of Jamaicans are black-skinned.
the alarm bells went off immediately. District president
Kevin Brown, (a young black Jamaican) adopted a defensive
stance on the telephone. After informing me that the president
of the Jamaica branch, Leroy Turner (a white American),
was off the island, he followed up with, "You people
are always writing about us, saying we are racist and practise
polygamy. Ian Boyne and you have written all sorts of things
about us which are untrue." I stopped him.
The Mormon's major church in Jamaica.
Brown, I have never written anything about the Mormons,"
I said. He apologised. The next day I met with president
Turner and district president Mr Brown at the church's headquarters.
Our meeting lasted only 30 minutes. My main focus in the
short interview was the church's stance on racism.
end of it, I left with a copy of the Book of Mormon and
nothing to convince me that the anti-racist positions of
Turner and Brown, men who I believe are fairly decent human
beings, if not the sharpest tools in the box, could counter
the very racist words written in the very book they had
presented to me.
are just two examples from their 'bible', the Book of Mormon.
1: 2 Nephi 5: 21- '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.'
2: Alma 3: 6- 'And the skins of the Lamanites were dark,
according to the mark which was set upon their fathers,
which was a curse upon them because of their transgression
and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted
of Nephi, Jacob and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy
to the Mormons, Lamanites are the native American Indians
who they erroneously claim, are descendants of Hebrews (who
'strayed' and became 'cursed' with dark skin) even though
it has been established by DNA
evidence that the native American Indian is related
to tribes in Asia which crossed a land-bridge tens of thousands
of years ago.
amazed me, but probably shouldn't, was the energy which
District President Mr Kevin Brown brought to bear on defending
the church against the attacks of those like me who claim
it is racist. He, a black Jamaican, was even more strident
in defense than the country president, a white American.
Was it self-denial or just plain embarrassment?
by religion since age 15, I believe that I am more suited
to discuss the Mormon church than others not so free, like
Ian Boyne. I state this because the constant problems facing
those religionists who quite rightly attack Mormon doctrine
and its cultic relationship with its adherents is their
need to compare it with some other cult, like the Jehovah's
Witnesses or the other mainstream Christian sects.
in this criticism is the definition of 'the true church,'
a futile search always on the main agenda of items facing
religionists. Like Thomas Paine, I believe in no church,
no religion and instead see in the unfolding of the universe/nature,
the manifestation of a god, or God - still unknown, unnamed
claiming 4,500 members in 22 congregations in Jamaica, the
Mormons, who prefer to be referred to as The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints, is easily the least successful
church in Jamaica. They believe they are the true church
and their leaders are the elect of God. All others are apostates.
church arrived in Jamaica in 1968 at a time when the civil
rights movement, Black Power and the Black Panther Party
were the pressure groups leading the charge against 'apartheid'
to be that it is no accident that the Mormons came to Jamaica
in 1968. At that time, a very dunce, racially backward and
politically infantile JLP government, four years before
it was rejected by the people, was in the process of nullifying
the teachings of, and expelling, black Guyanese UWI lecturer
Dr Walter Rodney (a PhD at age 24!), declaring that he was
'a most dangerous' man, presumably for expounding too much
on blackness, Garveyism and the stark class/colour arrangements
in Jamaica at that time. The irony is, we were doing that
even as we were heaping condemnation on racist South Africa
and Ian Smith's Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
this conundrum entered the Mormons, who at that time made
no pretence at their white supremacist doctrine. Fourteen
years before-on August 27, 1954 in an address at Brigham
Young University (BYU), Mormon Elder, Mark E Peterson, in
speaking to a convention of teachers of religion at the
college level, said:
discussion on civil rights, especially over the last 20
years, has drawn some very sharp lines. It has blinded
the thinking of some of our own people, I believe. They
have allowed their political affiliations to color their
thinking to some extent.I think I have read enough to
give you an idea of what the Negro is after."
is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in
a cafe where white people eat. He isn't just trying to
ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with
white people. It isn't that he just desires to go to the
same theater as the white people. From this, and other
interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks
absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied
until he achieves it by intermarriage."
is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow
our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry
for Negroes that we will open our arms and embrace them
with everything we have. Remember the little statement
that we used to say about sin, 'First we pity, then endure,
Parks would have probably told Petersen under which wheel
of the bus he should go sit.
in 1967, Mormon Apostle (and later church President) Ezra
Taft Benson, blinded by his acutely myopic view of African
Americans and caught up in the communist hysteria of the
times, saw the civil rights movement as nothing more than
weak, useless blacks being used for a sinister purpose.
said, "The Communist program for revolution in America
has been in progress for many years and is far advanced.
First of all, we must not place the blame upon Negroes.
They are merely the unfortunate group that has been selected
by professional Communist agitators to be used as the primary
source of cannon fodder."
therefore see that when the Mormons came here to 'set up
shop' in 1968, black skinned people could join the church
but the 'priesthood' was denied to them because they were
president saw American black people as childlike and mindless
and therefore easily manipulated and, last but by no means
least, the Jamaican government was proving to us either
that, one, religious tolerance was very high on its agenda,
or, two, it the JLP was so stupid to allow in a bunch of
racists who were 'waving around the banner of God' and calling
itself a church.
I have no problems with white supremacist groups just as
long as they remain in the jurisdictions which find their
doctrinal crud to be palatable and socially acceptable.
When groups like the Mormons set foot in Jamaica, not only
do I find their presence to be an insult to me and all people
of 'cursed' colour but I resent them finding offence and
lying to me when I point out the obvious bigoted creeds
inherent in their teachings and texts.
stage of the interview, the American Leroy Turner became
visibly upset by my questions. As the blood rushed to his
face and reddened his skin, he leaned forward in his swivel
chair and said, 'I don't like the, the direction. which
this is going. I am not going along with this. I am going
to terminate the interview.'
he eased back in his chair, removed his fixed stare at me,
then silently sucked in a gulp of air as the interview continued.
are told that on June 8, 1978, it was 'revealed' to the
then president, Spencer Kimball, that people of colour could
now gain entry into the priesthood. According to the church,
Kimball spent many long hours petitioning God, begging him
to give worthy black people the priesthood. God finally
in this 'revelation', God is not given the glory- instead
it is the wisdom and the prayers of Kimball which tipped
the balance. But what was the true story behind this?
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was under
increasing pressure by the US government to end its racist
doctrine and teachings or lose its tax-free status. Additionally,
the church leadership saw the expansion in countries such
as Brazil to be one big embarrassment to them.
to that the fact that not only black athletic teams were
refusing to compete with teams from the racist Brigham Young
University and the die was cast. Assuming that poor and
ignorant black people in large populations like Brazil were
joining the church, what would it do when some of the smarter
ones decided to ask the unspeakable?
from a 1978 interview sheds more light on the 'revelation,'
which was nothing more than a socio-political sleight-of-hand
brought on by the realities of the times, including especially
the church's need to justify black populations tithing (10%
of income) to the church as requirement for membership in
interview was conducted on August 16, 1978 at the Church
Office Building. The interviewer was one Wesley Walters
and the person interviewed was Mormon 'Apostle' LeGrand
On this revelation, of the priesthood to the Negro, I've
heard all kinds of stories: I've heard that Joseph Smith
appeared; and then I heard another story that Spencer
Kimball had had a concern about this for some time, and
simply shared it with the apostles, and they decided that
this was the right time to move in that direction. Are
any of those stories true, or are they all?
Well, the last one is pretty true, and I might tell you
what provoked it in a way. Down in Brazil, there is so
much Negro blood in the population there that it's hard
to get leaders that don't have Negro blood in them. We
just built a temple down there. It's going to be dedicated
those people with Negro blood in them have been raising
the money to build that temple. If we don't change, then
they can't even use it. Well, Brother Kimball worried
about it, and he prayed a lot about it. '
So much for that 'revelation.'
origins of the church is not so much my concern as is its
presence in my country, and so much racist baggage in its
'Bible.' In hindsight, if all the church can muster is a
membership of 4,500 in 37 years (121.6 persons on average
per year) then maybe this article is overkill.
fact is, although the last time I checked, people in Jamaica
were free to join any church they fancied, the reality is,
the Mormon Church is a billion dollar business in Utah where
Salt Lake City is literally owned by the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) through the resourcefulness
and business enterprise of its leadership. The Mormons in
Jamaica are here to stay, so they tell me.
missionary nature of the Americans has long been established
through the export of its 'democracy' to the LDC's, its
easily portable war machinery (where next boys!), the export
of its Harvard, led MBA business theology (no new start-ups,
only takeovers) and its bible-thumping televangelists.
scholars, especially ex Mormons, have shown that the 'revelations'
of Joseph Smith, the cult's founder were concoctions. Smith
was a man who dabbled in 'seer
stones,' tall tales, many
women, gunfights and money digging. Scholars have also
totally debunked the Book of Abraham by showing that Smith's
'translation' of hieroglyphics from ancient papyri was a
grand hoax. That aside, if that was his hustle, all power
to him but please, keep it among his homegrown ignorant.
its followers worldwide, Jamaican Mormons are taught that
dissent within and that coming from outside the church is
the work of Lucifer. Like most cults, scholarly enquiry
is discouraged and blind acceptance is the norm among the
as with organisations of this kind, the ill wind which blows
some good takes in supplies through Food for the Poor, medical
supplies for the Ministry of Health and, I am told that
an effort is now on to assist in the social and structural
reorganisation of refuges in Katrina's wake.
before the 'revelation' came to chief 'Prophet' Spencer
Kimball in June 1978, General Authority, Bruce R McConkie
Blacks are denied the Priesthood; under no circumstances
can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty.
Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt
of certain blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood
and the temple blessings that flow there from, but this
inequality is not of man's origin, it is the Lord's doings."
(Mormon Doctrine, pp. 526-527).
13, 1978 The Salt Lake Tribune reported the following: "President
Kimball refused to discuss the revelation that changed the
Church's 148 year-old policy against ordination of Blacks,
saying it was a personal thing. Kimball said the revelation
came at this time because conditions and people have changed.
It's a different world than it was 20 or 25 years ago. The
world is ready for it, he said."
self denigration seems to me to be a science. A lot of its
genesis is rooted in religion and, as we all know, some
of the scriptures in
the Bible were used to justify the world's biggest crime,
the Atlantic Slave Trade. While the 1978 'revelation' has
opened up the priesthood to blacks who are 'worthy', it
hasn't changed the fundamental doctrine of the Mormon church
that a black skin is a curse.
go out to Jamaicans who are a part of this church. Religious
freedom allows them this right, but self denigration in
the extreme and an excess of ignorance (and probably economic
need) seem to be the only logical explanations for black-skinned
persons' membership in such an organisation.
Mormon 'Apostle' Mark E Petersen spoke on 'Race Problems-
As they affect the Church at the BYU campus' in 1954, the
following was also said: '.if the negro accepts the gospel
with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give
him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go
there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory.'
Mormon 'Prophet' and second President of the Church, Brigham
Young, spoke in 1863 (Journal of Discourses, Vo. 10, p.
110), the following was also said:
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."
the church received the priesthood 'revelation' in 1978,
were the past statements of these important 'apostles' and
'prophets' made redundant? Was there ever a wholesale condemnation
by the church of these virulently racist attacks on black
people? No, there was not, and the only conclusion that
can be drawn is that the doctrine of the curse of a black
skin is still very much a part of the church's position
in the 21st century.
to me that not only was the church forged in infamy, but
in a world far removed from the racism of 19th century America,
the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has made
only patronising concessions on the issue of skin colour.
much of the origins of the church and the doctrines in the
Book of Mormon are steeped in 'the curse.' It cannot be
reversed as that would make Joseph Smith's 1830 'revelations'
a bigger curse to the present church leaders. And that would
negate everything else that the church stands for.
of those in the leadership of the Jamaica district of the
Mormons had the gall to suggest to me that I write my column,
but give them a chance to read it before publication. Well,
now that they have read my piece, they are free to have
their responses published.
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