I joined the Mormon Church when I was a youth growing up in Nashville. At the time, I didn’t know about the racist teachings by the Church that persisted until 1978. Nor did I realize that the Church had never apologized for those teachings. All I knew is that these were kind and giving people who helped me establish my relationship with God and seemed to be putting me on a path toward success. It wasn’t until I was serving a mission in my early 20’s when I met an African American man who challenged me to question the racist ideas and past teachings of the Mormon faith that had once declared that I was cursed.
While most Christian churches relied heavily on racist inclinations about Blacks as an accursed and stigmatized group who fell out of favor with God to justify their enslavement, the Mormon Church took this one step further. They taught that the origins of the curse began with Cain for having committed the world’s first murder against his brother, Abel. Though there is no scripture to support this claim, LDS faithful believed that the curse placed on Cain by God was the skin of blackness. Additional dogma was also created in the LDS Church on why Blacks were banned from Mormondum, but these differing interpretations were nothing more than racist creations to serve as justification of bigotry. Over time, when various Christian-based white churches began to distance themselves from the racist rhetoric and teachings of their faith, the LDS Church remained steadfast in its persistence of racist folklore well beyond the Civil Rights era.
What is even more egregious is that despite ending the ban on Blacks in the priesthood in 1978, the Mormon Church has yet to issue a formal apology on matters of race and their mistreatment of Blacks. While the Catholic Church and other Protestant based faiths—Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Southern Baptist, Lutheran—have since made peace with their racist past and issued public apologies for their role in slavery, Jim Crow racism, and their participation in the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of misguided Christians, the LDS Church remains unshakable, convinced that its policy was divinely sanctioned by God and that no such apology is needed.
Our goal is to get the Mormon Church to apologize for its racist actions and teachings, just as other faith-based traditions have apologized. This is necessary is to disprove the prevailing notion that God “had His reasons” why humans denigrated and discriminated against other human beings based on race. When the Church refuses to give an apology, it leaves its millions of members left to question whether this was really God’s will rather than human racist actions. A recent online survey revealed that the majority of Mormons no longer believe that Blacks were cursed, but most of them still continued to hear these teachings in their church. Black Mormon members in the survey overwhelmingly asked for a public, unambiguous apology.
Like most of us, I’m hoping to leave this world a better place for our children. I am not cursed. And I certainly don’t want my children growing up thinking or even hearing that they were cursed. Please join me in asking the Mormon Church to issue an official, public apology for their role in racism.
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