Jamaican Mormons

I read this article today and, well, I don’t know where to begin. I was struck by the negativity of the article, but more so I was struck by the honesty (I would say that at least 95% of the article is accurate) and was struck by what this honest article means to us as Latter-Day-Saints. Mark Wignall is a black Jamaican. His feelings and motives for writing this article are valid. We can’t discredit that until we put ourselves in his shoes and see what it would be like to have a presence like the LDS Church (as seen through his view and understanding) situate themselves in a country “95% black-skinned”. Mark wrote a bold article and really makes a great case for why Jamaicans would not want members of the LDS Church in their country. The brief reasons for this simply being that

  1. The Church has a very racist history as far as statements from the brethren and how African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens in the Church and would continue to be so even in the next life (“if the Negro accepts the gospel […] he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory.”)
  2. The Church has never taken back the racist statements and beliefs. The closest anyone has come to publicly apologizing for past teachings was Elder Bruce R. McConkie in his talk All Are Alike Unto God. In this talk (given after the ’78 change in policy) McConkie says,

    There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

    It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them.

    McConkie does say to basically forget what “I or anyone else said on the matter”, but the problem is that this talk was not given to the general assembly of members, it was given at the CES Religious Educators Symposium. It did not appear in conference nor the Ensign (as far as I know). Thousands of people in the Church still believe these old racist teachings and folklore. I heard and learned these teachings and more (that blacks were fence-sitters, etc.) in Seminary, my mission, and most recently with family that was visiting from out of state. These teachings have not been rectified, cleared up or rebuked. When President Hinckley (in Priesthood Session of ’06 Conference) said he did not know from where these racist ideals were coming from amongst the members, the obvious answer to me was to set the record straight about what we believe, and what was just folklore from the past.

Why don’t we set the record straight once and for all and dismiss “the particles of darkness of the past”.


~ by bonoboi on November 2, 2006.

13 Responses to “Jamaican Mormons”

  1. In the April 2006 conference President Hinckley said:

    “Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.

    “Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?

    “Throughout my service as a member of the First Presidency, I have recognized and spoken a number of times on the diversity we see in our society. It is all about us, and we must make an effort to accommodate that diversity.

    “Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.

    “Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.”

    The LDS Church continues to grow in predominately black countries. In fact temples are being dedicated in these countries, for example Ghana.

    There are plenty of reasons Jamaica or any other predominately black country would want the Church in its country:

    1. It helps citizens come closer to Christ.
    2. It teaches and influences citizens to live moral lives.
    3. It teaches the belief of honoring and sustaining the law, and being subject to kings, rulers, and magistrates.
    4. It teaches the importance of education, and helps the less-fortunate reach educational goals through the Perpetual Education Fund.
    5. It assists citizens through fast offerings and tithes.
    6. TODAY it teaches racial equality, and the views expressed by Brigham Young and other early leaders are not taught from the pulpit.

    Why deny the citizens of a country contact with a religious organization the promotes goodness because of qoutes of leaders over a century ago? Why deny the citizens contact because of a book that isn’t anymore contreversial than the Bible in each teachings of racial equality?

    In my opinion it doesn’t do much good to put all of our focus on the past, ignoring the present.

    Instead of pointing the finger at Prophets from a century ago, let’s work with the President of the Church today in promoting racial equality and a love for diversity.

  2. And I would also like to add that Mr. Wignall is not asking for an apology. His has made his position concerning Mormonism quite clear: it’s false and a white supremasist corporation. I don’t see how you feel an apology from the Church would help people that take Mr. Wignall’s position appreciate or have tolerance for the Church.

    95% of this article is true? Oh brother. 50% of it is pure opinion.

  3. Why don’t we set the record straight once and for all and dismiss “the particles of darkness of the past”.

    I’ve had this same question in mind for some time now. I think the answer is that refuting these teachings would require the Church and its members to face up to the fact that past “prophets, seers, and revelators” made mistakes. The Church doesn’t seem particularly fond of admitting that erroneous teachings have ever crossed the pulpit, particularly by men such as Brigham Young and John Taylor. It would also complicate the whole “follow the prophet without question” paradigm that most active LDS maintain.

  4. I respected the Mormon Church in Hawaii, but when I went to Utah and saw how the Indians (“Lamanites”) and blacks were treated, I vowed that I would never become a Mormon. I wondered why my own Native Hawaiian people left their beautiful homeland to freeze in the winters or bake in the summers in Skull Valley, just to be near the Temple.

    Although I studied all the anti-Mormon material and argued with Mormons about their religion, there was something intriguing about that religion. Why were so many intelligent people adamant about their religion and defend the LDS doctrine as truth?

    After many years of resistance, I was touched by the spirit and asked to be baptized. Since then, I have come to the knowledge that there is a time and season for everything.

    The Blacks in their patience in waiting for the Priesthood are blessed for their faithfulness. There were those who did not accept President Kimball’s 1978 revelation and left the Church. This is the “weeding out” process.

    On my return to Utah after several years in the Church, I stood up at a Fast & Testimony meeting and told my Indian Brothers and Sisters that it doesn’t matter how we are treated. Man will be man. They have their faults and prejudices.

    But the Gospel is true. This is what frees our minds from the bonds of fear, inferiority, racial inequality and injustice. The Gospel is true, and THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!

    About our Church being White Supremist… Yes, I used to think that way too, when I was on the outside looking in. But from the inside, our leaders are local residents and our Native children who are Mormons speak well and rise as leaders in our communities.

  5. Aloha, Lani! So what do you think? Should the Church come out and apologize for the past remarks if we now see that they were misguided remarks (and hurtful)? If not, then do you think they should at the very least come out and clearly and specifically define what was just folklore and what we believe today? Cause some of those past teachings are still being passed around and taught all over. It hasn’t been cleared up yet.

  6. I agree with Steve M.

    I feel like the talk about “concentrating on the present, not the past” is a theological smokescreen. My question is “did Brigham Young teach false doctrine as a prophet?”

    If not, then the doctrine is true, and we are in error today.

    If so, then a host of problems are created for a Church that is so grounded in reliable authority. If Brigham Young could teach garbage as Light and Inspiration, how can we trust what’s being taught at General Conference today? Given the degree to which Mormons are simply supposed to accept the word of the Prophet as God’s representative, how do we deal with the possibility that the prophet is not only wrong, but dead wrong and injuriously wrong?

    Is the spirit supposed to set the record straight for us? Well, it apparently didn’t in Brigham Young’s time. And if the Spirit bore witness to you that the prophet was teaching junk, what do you do about it? Not sustain him?

    Other churches have all kinds of fallible leaders, but the difference is that they openly admit to past mistakes, and they acknowledge that they are just human beings doing their best. So it isn’t a big deal to admit they’ve been wrong. In Mormonism, it would undermine the faith of huge numbers of members.

    Alternately, does true doctrine change with time? That certainly doesn;t fit the Mormon paradigm.

    What then?

  7. Well said, Kullervo. I think that the dilemma you present is certainly valid. By the way, I’ve been following your blog and it looks like you’ve been sailing through rough waters. Your journey sounds in many ways like mine (your fruitless prayers and desire for a mystical experience). It’s been nice to “meet” fellow journeyers like Steve M. and yourself and to read your insights and struggles. I hope you figure out your general course soon enough.

  8. i am intrigued as a Jamaican LDS priesthood holder,having laid
    my hand on heads and give a priesthood blessing and seeing the power of these blessings to consider that i should now forsake what i personally know as true because of false teachings from previous prophets. In my defence to your argument i look no further than the old testament; there are stories of one prophet correcting another(one was destroyed because he did what he thought was right believing another prophet). The gospel was at first given to the jews and god dealt harshly with non-jews. It was the same god who told Peter it was now ok to convert the same gentiles which god once dealt harshly with. We all have to learn prophets have different intellect, each human being whatever his calling must break free from the dognas and prejuidices that inflect the world they are born in at that time, no one can escape these challenges. Jonah was one such example, god did not instantly made hime perfect but yet he was a prophet called by god. In our church we are all of different intellect and this is a daily fight we have to win,step by step getting better. My testimony is founded on my daily walk with god and of course some times i know the prophet speaks as a man, but i get on my knees and the holy spirit brings peace to my soul and tells to be still. I am always trying to be honest, so when i was 13 i prayed that god would show me that he exist-he did. 25years later he led me into the mormon church and my relation with god has strenghthen and i cannot, me or my family deny the power of the priesthood. If anyone needs an excuse not to join this church there are hundreds and that is what god wants us to do, choose to follow those excuses or get on your knees and besieged god with an honest prayer. I know one such lady who got on her knees and the very same day met the missionaries. We had a baptism last week, this gentlemen gave up on the teachings, then god gave him a dream he tried to contact the missionary without luck. A black priesthood holder saw this gentleman on a bus and the holy spirit testify that he should make contact with that gentleman. The newly baptisted gentleman said it was a miracle that they knew to contact him the same day god spoke to him- after nearly a year without any contact.
    Yes i do enjoy reading all the anti-mormon stuff on the internet and anything that catches me short i pray to god and then the answer without fail comes. We can spend this life in black and white but that conflict is necessary, to see how really close to god we are or to see whether we can overcome our mortal challenges.

  9. HEY!! Im 18 today yeyah! Just thought id add that in.. Off to YSA! hehe…… I am a white Australian and id just like to comment on the whole white supremisy thing you all are talking about. The area that i grew up in had so many SAMOANS that we had to have a samoan ward. lol.. and then they still dominated majority of my stake. so from my experience i really cant understand how u think the church is mainly white. MAN IS NOT PERFECT! if we where we’d all be translated. these men are just as we are. You can not change the past events so donot dewll on them be happy with the blessing you have to now hold the priesthood. Maybe we should trust in god aye. like he teaches. things will happen as god sees fit. He would have had a reason why he let it happen that way. “TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL THINE HEART AND LEAN NOT UNTO THINE OWN UNDERSTANDING IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM AND HE SHALL DIRECT THY PATHS”… AMEN.


  11. well said Meggz. This world inside and outside of the church need intellectual ensigns to march god’s children forward spiritually in a world where secularism seeks to bring about the same designs as Lucifer.
    It is so interesting to see that everything here is a continuation of the war that was in heaven. As the scripture says let them with eyes to see, see.

  12. Thanks for strengthening my faith in the Church. My first baptism on my mission in Texas was a black family from Jamaica. This was 1979, just months after the revelation. The wife read the Book of Mormon in a week and had questions about references to black skin. Our answers to her and her husband were very similar to the comments of trevornatty above. She prayed about our answers and the truthfullness of the Book of Mormon and had a very direct answer to her prayer. I’m not talking about a “feeling” here, but a direct answer, a real and convincing answer. Do you think she needed to ask about horses in the Book of Morom. Not hardly! They were the first black family baptised in our mission.

  13. […] https://onedudesms.wordpress.com/2006/11/02/jamaican-mormons/#comment-4775 […]

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