bookmark_borderBrigham Young: Racist Prophet of the Mormons – Part 3

In January of 1852, Brigham Young encouraged the Utah territorial legislature to pass a law that prohibitted sex between white people and black people, and publically declared that black people (or people with a black grandparent or great grandparent) “Cannot hold the priesthood”:
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Mormon Anti-Miscegenation in Utah Law
Brigham Young addressed the Utah territorial legislature on January 6, 1852 to push through a law that not only legalized slavery in the territory but also made black-white sexual relations illegal. As recorded by Wilford Woodruff in his journal, Young first explained to the legislature about Cain’s murder of Abel and his subsequent curse. God then marked Cain with black skin so all would see his curse, and his descendants would all be likewise cursed and marked. Young then explained, “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him Cannot hold the priesthood & if no other Prophet ever spake it Before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ. I know it is true & they know it.” Young then addressed intermarriage with “the seed of Cain”:
Let me consent to day to mingle my seed with the seed of Cane[,] It would Bring the same [Priesthood] curse upon me And it would upon any man. And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the ownly way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children….Whenever the seed of Judah mingled with the seed of Cane they lost their priesthood & all Blessings.
As an Ensample let the Presidency, Twelve Seventies High Priest[s] Bishops & all the Authorities say now we will all go & mingles with the seed of Cane and they may have all the privilege they want. We lift our hands to heaven in support of this. That moment we loose the priesthood & all Blessings & we weould not be redeemed untill Cane was. I will never admit of it for a moment.[45]
Thus marriage, sexual intercourse, and reproduction between the chosen seed and the cursed seed bore eternal consequences of such a heinous nature that the only way to expiate for this deed, would be for the white person to voluntarily “come forward” and be ritually killed by his priesthood superiors in an act of blood atonement, along with his or her mixed-race children. Young ended his speech by declaring that blacks were by their very nature suited to serve, while whites were given the role of ruler. Preventing marriage between whites and blacks preserved this divine social order and prevented the Devil from ruling over the righteous by gaining power through mixed-race children. Young said, “The Devil would like to rule part of the time But I am determin[ed] He shall not rule at all and Negros shall not rule us….We must guard against all Evil.”
A month later, again addressing the legislature on the topic of divine slavery, Cain, the natural right of whites to rule and blacks to serve, and blood atonement for black-white marriages:
Were the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the preisthood upon them[selves] but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an ungaurded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and [we then] kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoneing for the sin. Would this be to curse them? no it would be a blessing to them.— it would do them good that they might be saved with their Bren [brethren]. A man would shuder should they here us take [talk] about killing folk, but it is one of the greatest blessings to some to kill them, allthough the true principles of it are not understood.[46]
Young’s law of course unanimously passed the all GA legislature. It is one of the few state or territorial laws in the history of the US to prohibit sex, instead of marriage. Section 4 not only prohibits slave owners (male or female) from having sex with their “servants” but all black-white sex was made illegal:
1852 Territorial Law
Sec. 4. That if any master or mistress shall have sexual or carnal intercourse with his or her servant or servants of the African race, he or she shall forfeit all claim to said servant or servants to the commonwealth; and if any white person shall be guilty of sexual intercourse with any of the African race, they shall be subject, on conviction thereof to a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars, nor less than five hundred, to the use of the Territory, and imprisonment, not exceeding three years.[47]
45. Wilford Woodruff Journal, undated entry between January 4, 1852 and February 8, 1852, pp. 97-99.
46. George D. Watts, “Speech by Governor Young (expressing his views on slavery) given in Joint Session of the Legislature etc.”, February 5, 1852, Brigham Young papers, LDS Archives.
47. “An Act in Relation to Service”, Acts, Resolutions, and Memorials Passed by the First Annual, and Special Sessions, of the Legislative Assembly, of the Territory of Utah, 1852, printed by Brigham Young Jr.
[excerpted from:]
“I would confine them to their own species”
LDS Historical Rhetoric & Praxis Regarding Marriage Between Whites and Blacks
Connell O’Donovan   March 28, 2009
http://www.salamandersociety.com/blacks/mormon_black_white_marriage/
viewed 8/25/13
==============================
Also at the urging of Brigham Young, slavery of blacks and native Americans was made legal in Utah:
==============================
… Though no law authorized or prohibited slavery in Utah, there were slaves in the territory, and all appeared to be “perfectly contented and satisfied.” … By 1850 nearly 100 blacks had arrived, approximately two-thirds of whom were slaves. Bernhisel had performed his task well.74
The official acceptance of slavery in the Mormon community extended fully to slave owners as well. Bishops, high councilmen, and even an apostle were ordained from their small number. However, by chance or design, a number of the slaveholders were sent to San Bernardino in 1851 to establish a Mormon colony, and in the process their slaves became free.75
The “laissez-faire” approach to slavery in Utah was short-lived, and came to an end early in 1852. As the Mormons quickly learned, Mexicans had carried out slaving expeditions into the region for decades, buying Indians from local tribes who staged raids for “captives of war.” Periodically children were offered for sale to the Mormons. The enslavement of Indians, a “chosen people” in Mormon theology, posed a much more serious problem than had Negro slavery. Governor Brigham Young took action to stop the raiding parties, and in January 1852, requested legislation on the slavery question.76
In his request Brigham Young made a definite distinction between Indian and Negro. After condemning the Indian slave trade, he observed, “Human flesh to be dealt in as property, is not consistent or compatible with the true principles of government. My own feelings are, that no property can or should be recognized as existing in slaves, wither Indian or African.” However, in view of the “present low and degraded situation of the Indian race” and their current practices of “gambling, selling, and otherwise disposing of their children,” the Governor would condone a “new feature in the traffic of human beings”—”essentially purchasing them into freedom, instead of slavery.” This was not simply buying the children and setting them free, but also caring for them and elevating them to “an equal footing with the more favored portions of the human race.” …
Negro slavery was different:
It has long since ceased to become a query with me, who were the most amenable to the laws of righteousness; those who through the instrumentality of human power brought into servitude human beings, who naturally were their own equals, or those who, acting upon the principle of nature’s law, brought into this position or situation, those who were naturally designed for that purpose, and whose capacities are more befitting that, than any other station in society. Thus, while servitude may and should exist, and that too upon those who are naturally designed to occupy the position of ‘servant of servants’ yet we should not fall into the other extreme, and make them as beasts of the field, regarding not the humanity which attaches to the colored race; nor yet elevate them, as some seem disposed, to an equality with those whom Nature and Nature’s God has indicated to be their masters, their superiors….77
The suitable regulations were shortly forthcoming, and within a few weeks Young signed into law acts legalizing both Negro and Indian slavery.78
74. The figures are my own estimate, based largely on accounts included in Carter, Negro Pioneer, pp. 9, 13, 15-33, 38-39, 44; and Beller, “Negro Slaves,” p. 125. The official census figures for Utah in 1850 report 50 Negroes, of which 24 were slaves. See Negro Population 1790-1915 (Washington, D.C.: Department of Commerce, 1918), p. 57.
75. Apostle Charles C. Rich was one of at least eight slaveholders to be sent on the mission to San Bernardino. Most of the “ex-slaves” continued to be “servants” for their masters, and several appear to have returned electively to Utah when the mission was recalled. At least one of the slaveowners, Robert M. Smith of the San Bernardino bishopric, attempted to take his slaves to Texas but was prevented from doing so by the sheriff of Los Angeles County. See W. Sherman Savage, “The Negro in the Westward Movement,” Journal of Negro History, 25:537-8. Also, Beller, “Negro Slaves,” pp. 124-26; Andrew Jenson, “History of San Bernardino 1851-1938,” typescript, LDS Church, p. 10; and Joseph F. Wood, “The Mormon Settlement in San Bernardino 1851-1857,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Utah, 1967), pp. 150-52. Apostle John Taylor and N. H. Felt were later cited as informing a “Chicago Paper” that “some slaves had been liberated … since they were taken to Utah; others remain slaves. But the most of those who take slaves there pass over with them in a little while to San Bernardino [sic]…. How many slaves are now held there they could not say, but the number relatively was by no means small. A single person had taken between forty and fifty, and many had gone in with small numbers.” Millennial Star, 27 Jan. 1855, 17:62-63.
76. “Governor’s Message, to the Legislative Assembly of Utah Territory, January 5, 1852,” LDS Church Archives. This was the organizational meeting of the legislature. The Mormons turned down the first two children offered for sale in the winter of 1847-48; when the Indians threatened to kill them if they weren’t purchased, one was bought, and the other was killed. Two others brought shortly thereafter were also purchased. H. H. Bancroft, History of Utah (1889; reprinted Bookcraft, SLC, 1964): p 278. See also Orson Whitney, History of Utah (Salt Lake City: Geo. Q. Cannon & Sons Co, 1892), 1:508-11; Daniel W. Jones, Forty Years Among the Indians (Salt Lake City, 1890, 1960 ed), pp. 48-51; several articles in the Utah Historical Quarterly 2 (July 1929), 67-90; and Brigham Young’s comments (e.g. Journal of Discourses, 1:104, 170-71; 6:327-29).
77. Ibid.
78. “An Act in relation to Service,” approved 4 Feb. 1852; “A Preamble and An Act for the further relief of Indian slaves and prisoners,” approved 7 Mar. 1852.
[excepted from:]
Neither White nor Black
Lester E. Bush, Jr. and Armand L. Mauss, eds.
Chapter 3
Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview
Lester E. Bush, Jr.
http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=445
viewed 8/24/13
====================================
Brigham Young was pleased with the pro-slavery legislation because he believed that it helped to keep blacks out of Utah:
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No other territory legalized both Indian and Negro servitude. New Mexico eventually legalized slavery in 1859, but census figures the following year listed slaves only in Utah among the western territories. Actually the Negro population throughout the West was negligible, and several territorial legislatures even banned Negro immigration. A recent study has argued convincingly that antislavery sentiment in frontier territories was in part reflective of racial prejudice, and was designed to exclude Negroes from the region.80 Brigham Young interpreted Utah’s anomalous proslavery legislation as accomplishing this same end. In a message commending the legislature late in 1852, he observed, “The law of the last session so far proves a salutary measure, as it has nearly freed the territory of the colored population; also enabling the people to control all who see proper to remain, and cast their lot among us.”81
80. Eugene H. Berwanger, The Frontier Against Slavery: Western Anti-Negro Prejudice and the Slavery Extension Controversy (Urbana; University of Illinois Press, 1967).
81. “Message to the Legislature of Utah from Governor Brigham Young,” 13 Dec. 1852, in Millennial Star, 15:422.
[excepted from:]
Neither White nor Black
Chapter 3
Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview
http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=445
==================================
Although Brigham Young’s position on slavery appears to contradict the anti-slavery views expressed by Joseph Smith in 1844, Young believed his views on this subject were already established in the Mormon church:
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Other more obvious factors contributed to the legalization of Negro slavery in Utah. Without the influx of southern converts with their slaves, no legislation would have been required. Perhaps the most fundamental factor was the declaration by Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders that the Lord had willed that Negroes be servants to their “superiors.” During his tenure as head of the Church, Young showed none of the variability on this subject manifest under Joseph Smith. He fully accepted the traditional genealogy of the Africans through Canaan and Ham to Cain, and repeatedly taught that this connection gave divine sanction to the servile condition of the Negroes. Nonetheless, he did not claim new information on the subject. As early as “our first settlement in Missouri…. we knew that the children of Ham were to be ‘servant of servants,’ and no power under heaven could hinder it, so long as the Lord should permit them to welter under the curse, and those were known to be our religious views concerning them.”82
82. Journal of Discourses, 2:172 (18 Feb. 1855).
[excepted from:]
Neither White nor Black
Chapter 3
Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview
http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=445
====================================

bookmark_borderBrigham Young: Racist Prophet of the Mormons – Part 2

It is not clear why Brigham Young followed the racist pro-slavery views of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery from 1836 instead of the more liberal-minded abolitionist views of Joseph Smith from 1842 to 1844.  However, confronting the reality of mixed-race marriages and sex between black men and white women appears to have pushed Young further in the direction of racist beliefs and practices:
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One of the most significant, and simultaneously most obscure marriages in LDS history took place on September 18, 1846.  On that day, 21 year-old Enoch Lovejoy Lewis married 19 year-old Mary Matilda Webster in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[4]  At first glance, this couple and their marriage seem rather unremarkable.  Both were members of the LDS Church in the Lowell MA branch.  The young bride, Mary Matilda, was from Chester, MA – a tiny rural village in the southwestern area of that state.  Her parents did not marry until almost two years after her birth, so Mary was either illegitimate or one of her parents had a previous, unknown marriage that produced her. The importance and uniqueness of this marriage lies in the fact that Mary Matilda’s groom, Enoch Lovejoy Lewis, was the son of a black father and a mixed-race mother.  And Matilda, the name she went by, was white.  Three years after Massachusetts repealed its ban of allowing white people to marry either those of African or Native American descent, this inter-racial marriage of a white Mormon woman and a black Mormon man ignited a firestorm in the LDS Church, and its effects are still being felt to this day.
[Excerpted from a web article:]
“I would confine them to their own species”
LDS Historical Rhetoric & Praxis Regarding Marriage Between Whites and Blacks
Connell O’Donovan   March 28, 2009
http://www.salamandersociety.com/blacks/mormon_black_white_marriage/
viewed 8/25/13
 =======================================
This marriage between a black Mormon man and a white Mormon woman appears to have provided part of the motivation for Brigham Young to formulate and promote racist beliefs and practices for the Mormon church:
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On February 24, 1843, the Massachusettsstate legislature voted to repeal the old law.  Just three and a half years later, Enoch and Matilda faced each other and under God pledged their marital vows in an extraordinary act of newly gained social and political freedom.  Matilda, by the way, was two months pregnant at the time of her marriage to Enoch and some six months later, she gave birth to Enoch Lovejoy Lewis Jr.  Unfortunately for them, the president of the eastern states mission, a man named William I. Appleby, was proselytizing in the Boston-Lowell area at the time of little Enoch’s birth.
A month after Enoch Jr. was born, Appleby visited the Lowell Branch on May 19, 1847.  He was shocked to discover that not only had a black man been ordained to priesthood (Enoch’s father, Walker Lewis) but also that Enoch had married a white LDS woman.  Two weeks later, Appleby wrote a letter to Brigham Young, informing him of this situation and wanting to know if the church indeed approved of blacks holding priesthood and marrying white women:
At Lowell…I found a coloured brother by name of ‘Lewis’ a barber, an Elder in the Church, ordained some years ago by William Smith.  This Lewis I was informed has also a son who is married to a white girl and both members of the Church there.  Now dear Br. I wish to know if this is the order of God or tolerated in this Church  ie to ordain Negroes to the Priesthood and allow amalgamation [inter-racial marriage].  If it is I desire to Know, as I have Yet got to learn it.[9]
Almost a month later, Appleby decided to investigate further and went to the Enoch Lewis home to witness their relationship:
In looking for a Br. in the Church, I called at a House, a coloured man resided there, I set myself down for a few moments presently in came quite a good looking White Woman, about 22 years old I should think, with blushing cheeks, and was introduced to me as the negro’s wife, an infant in a cradle near bore evidence of the fact. Oh! Woman, thought I, where is thy shame, (for indeed I felt ashamed and not only ashamed, but disgusted, when I was informed they were both members of a Church!) [Where is] Respect for thy family, thyself, for thy offspring and above all the law of God?[10]
9. William I. Appleby to Brigham Young, May 19, 1847, LDS Archives, copy in my possession.
10. Autobiography and Journal of William Appleby, June 16, 1847, LDS Archives, photocopy in my possession.
[Excerpted from a web article:]
“I would confine them to their own species”
http://www.salamandersociety.com/blacks/mormon_black_white_marriage/
 ==========================
In a December 1847 meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve, Brigham Young put forward some racist views that would influence Mormon belief and practice for more than a century:
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…Pres. Appleby wrote a report to Brigham Young about his discovery of Enoch Lewis’s marriage to Matilda Webster.  He mailed this report to Brigham Young with an address at Council Bluff,Iowa, where it was then forwarded to Winter Quarters,Nebraska, and there remained.  Young, of course, was just settling in Utah at the time, so the acting Mormon president did not receive the letter for some six months.  Ironically, Appleby’s letter, Brigham Young, and William I. Appleby himself, all converged at Winter Quarters at the beginning of December 1847.  Brigham Young returned to Winter Quarters from theSaltLakeValley, when Elder William I. Appleby arrived there on December 2 from his mission presiding over the eastern states.  Young read Appleby’s letter regarding the marriage of Enoch and Matilda Lewis and then immediately met with Appleby in person to ensure the accuracy of the details of the inter-racial marriage of Enoch and Mary Matilda Lewis.
…Young called a meeting of the members of the Twelve who were present in Winter Quarters, and had Appleby appear to personally give an account. Here are Thomas Bullock’s minutes of that meeting:
bro Appleby relates…
Wm. Smith ordained a black man Elder at Lowell & he has married a white girl & they have a child
Prest. Young    If they were far away from the Gentiles they wod. [would] all on [sic – ot? ought?] to be killed – when they mingle seed it is death to all.
If a black man & white woman come to you & demand baptism can you deny them?  the law is their seed shall not be amalgamated
Mulattoes r like mules they cant have children, but if they will be Eunuchs for the Kingdom of God Heaven’s sake they may have a place in the Temple
B. Y.    The Lamanites r purely of the house of Israel & it is a curse that is to be removed when the fulness of the Gospel comes –
O. H.  Has taught that if girls marry the half breeds they r throwing themselves away & becoming as one of them
B. Y.  It is wrong for them to do so.
B. Y.  The Pottawatamies will not own a man who has the negro blood in him – that is the reason why the Indians disown the negro prophet [Warner McCary]. 

It is here in this meeting that the Mormon theology prohibiting marriages between blacks and whites was born. Although the minutes are extremely sparse, they are densely compacted with theological themes that will be carried on into the following decades.
[Excerpted from a web article:]
“I would confine them to their own species”
http://www.salamandersociety.com/blacks/mormon_black_white_marriage/
==================================
Young indicated that death was an appropriate punishment for the mixed-race couple, though it is not clear whether the sin meriting death was getting married or having sex and producing a child together.  The pronouncement that “the law is their seed shall not be amalgamated” and the racist belief that “Mulattoes r like mules they cant have children” suggests that Young believed the greatest wrong to be having sex and producing a mixed-race child.

Brigham Young re-affirmed this belief that sex between whites and blacks was a terrible sin deserving of death on at least two other occasions:
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Blood Atonement Is Necessary
In 1847, with the Enoch and Matilda Lewis case, Young first introduced the idea that black-white marriage merited capital punishment, promising that if the Lewis’s lived “far away from the Gentiles” they would be killed.
When Enoch’s father, Walker Lewis, was wintering in Salt Lake Cityin 1851 and 1852, Brigham Young pointedly had the legislature pass a law forbidding not marriage between blacks and whites but all sexual relations between the two races.  In getting the all-LDS territorial legislature to pass this statute in February 1852, Young told them that it was such a serious crime against God that the only way to atone for it was through capital punishment:
And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the ownly way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground.  It would also take the life of his Children.[20]
Eleven years later, in the midst of the Civil War, Brigham Young again affirmed blood atonement for black-white marriage on March 8, 1863:
Shall 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.[21]
In 1897 George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency, said in a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve:
he had understood President Taylor to say that a man who had the priesthood who would marry a woman of the accursed seed that if the law of the Lord were administered upon him, he would be killed, and his offspring, for the reason that the Lord had determined that the seed of Cain should not receive the priesthood in the flesh; and this was the penalty put upon Cain, because if he had received the priesthood the seed of the murderer would get ahead of the seed of Abel who was murdered.[22]
20. Wilford Woodruff Journal, undated entry between January 4, 1852 and February 8, 1852, pp. 97-99.
21. Journal of Discourses, (Liverpool: F. D. and S.W. Richards, 1854), Vol. 1, p. 110. [I believe the volume number is a typo. The quote if from Volume 10, p. 110].
22. “Excerpts From The Weekly Council Meetings Of The Quorum Of the Twelve Apostles, Dealing With The Rights of Negroes In the Church, 1849–1940,” George Albert Smith Papers,UniversityofUtahLibrary.
[Excerpted from a web article:]
“I would confine them to their own species”
http://www.salamandersociety.com/blacks/mormon_black_white_marriage/
 ==============================
To be continued…

bookmark_borderBrigham Young: Racist Prophet of the Mormons – Part 1

Brigham Young was a racist white man who initiated racial discrimination into the official policies and practices of the Mormon church (more specifically: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement).
One key racist policy of the Mormons was to exclude blacks from “the priesthood”. In the Mormon faith “priesthood” was not limited to just a few select members of the church (as in the Catholic faith). Any adult male or boy who is at least twelve years old can, and usually does, become a member of the priesthood in the Mormon faith:
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In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement, priesthood is recognized only in men and boys, who are ordained to offices in the priesthood as a matter of course once they reach the age of 12, so long as they meet requirements of “worthiness”. There are no other requirements for ordination, although prior to 1978, the church did not ordain men or boys who were deemed to be of black African descent, based on the mid-19th century teachings of Brigham Young…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priesthood_(Latter_Day_Saints)
viewed 8/24/13
===========================
So, excluding blacks from the priesthood did not only keep blacks out of leadership roles in the Mormon church, it also made black males clearly and obviously second-class members of the Mormon church.
Brigham Young initiated this racist policy and practice in 1852, and it remained in place for 126 years. Mormon Church President Spencer Kimball ended the policy of excluding blacks from the priesthood in June of 1978.
Although the Mormon church has officially abandoned the racist policies and practices of its past, racism is still a problem in the church, as indicated by the recent racist remarks of a Brigham Young University professor of religion:
====================
February 29, 2012 7:56am
Racist Remarks by popular BYU Religion Professor Spark Controversy
Post by JOANNA BROOKS
[except from opening paragraphs of the article]
Racist apologetics by a popular Brigham Young University religion professor are sparking controversy, as election-year scrutiny sheds a revealing light on the persistence of racist belief among LDS Church members.
On Tuesday, Randy Bott, a BYU professor of religion, told the Washington Post that the LDS Church’s historic prohibition on priesthood ordination for men of African descent was a “blessing” to blacks because they were not “ready” for priesthood authority.
“God has always been discriminatory” when it comes to whom he grants the authority of the priesthood, says Bott… Bott compares blacks with a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car, and explains that similarly until 1978, the Lord determined that blacks were not yet ready for the priesthood.
“What is discrimination?” Bott asks. “I think that is keeping something from somebody that would be a benefit for them, right? But what if it wouldn’t have been a benefit to them?” Bott says that the denial of the priesthood to blacks on Earth—although not in the afterlife—protected them from the lowest rungs of hell reserved for people who abuse their priesthood powers. “You couldn’t fall off the top of the ladder, because you weren’t on the top of the ladder. So, in reality the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing God could give them.”
Bott was the highest-rated professor in America in 2008, according to RateMyProfessor.com. He teaches large sections of required religion courses, including courses designed to prepare future missionaries, to as many as 3,000 students a year. This semester, more than 800 students are registered in Professor Bott’s classes. (Eleven are registered for BYU’s African-American history course this semester.) Professors at BYU routinely find themselves having to address racist and sexist content taught in Bott’s classes, and many are outraged and embarrassed by his rogue remarks to the Washington Post, say sources at the university. “Dr. Bott does not speak for BYU or the Church and his views are his own,” one religion faculty member told me.
http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/joannabrooks/5748/racist_remarks_by_popular_byu_religion_professor_spark_controversy/
viewed 8/24/13
=============================
Brigham Young was not the first racist leader of the Mormon church. That distinction belongs to Joseph Smith, who founded the church in 1830. In 1836 Joseph Smith published a pro-slavery article that gave a number of standard arguments in defense of slavery:
================================
At least five major objections to the abolitionist cause can be identified in Joseph Smith’s discussion:
—First, he believed the course of abolitionism was “calculated to … set loose, upon the world a community of people who might peradventure, overrun our country and violate the most sacred principles of human society,-chastity and virtue….”
—Second, any evil attending slavery should have been apparent to the “men of piety” of the South who had raised no objections to the institution.
—Third, the Prophet did “not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall …”; the signing of petitions in the North was nothing more than “an array of influence, and a declaration of hostilities against the people of the South….”
—Fourth, the sons of Canaan (or Ham) whom Joseph Smith identified with the Negro were cursed with servitude by a “decree of Jehovah,” and that curse was “not yet taken off the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great power as caused it to come … and those who are determined to pursue a course which shows an opposition … against the designs of the Lord, will learn … that God can do his work without the aid of those who are not dictated by his counsel….”
—Fifth, there were several other biblical precedents for slavery (in the histories of Abraham, Leviticus, Ephesians, Timothy).
[excepted from:]
Neither White nor Black
Lester E. Bush, Jr. and Armand L. Mauss, eds.
Chapter 3
Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview
Lester E. Bush, Jr.
http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=445
viewed 8/24/13
=======================================
In the same issue of Messenger and Advocate (April 1836), Oliver Cowdery proposed his own racist defense of slavery. Oliver Cowdery was Joseph Smith’s right-hand man, at least during the initial year of their new religion (Smith was known as “First Elder” of the church, and Cowdery was known as “Second Elder”):
=========================================
Oliver Cowdery’s article was more directly concerned with race. He touched on most of the points raised in the other two articles, but dwelt at much greater length on the problems of insurrection and the social implications of emancipation:
… Let the blacks of the south be free, and our community is overrun with paupers, and a reckless mass of human beings, uncultivated, untaught and unaccustomed to provide for themselves the necessaries of life—endangering the chastity of every female who might by chance be found in our streets—our prisons filled with convicts, and the hangman wearied with executing the functions of his office! This must unavoidably be the case, every rational man must admit, who has ever travelled in the slave states, or we must open our houses, unfold our arms, and bid these degraded and degrading sons of Canaan, a hearty welcome and a free admittance to all we possess! A society of this nature, to us, is so intolerably degrading, that the bare reflection causes our feeling to recoil, and our hearts to revolt….
He also saw little alternative to slavery:
… The idea of transportation is folly, the project of emansipation [sic] is destructive to our government, and the notion of amalgamation is devilish! … And insensible to feeling must be the heart, and low indeed must be the mind, that would consent for a moment, to see his fair daughter, his sister, or perhaps, his bosom companion, in the embrace of a NEGRO!
[excerpt from Chapter 3 of Neither White nor Black]
http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=445
viewed 8/24/13
=================================
A few years later Joseph Smith changed his mind and began to oppose slavery. During his presidential campaign in 1844, “he proposed abolishing slavery by 1850 and compensating slaveholders through sale of public lands.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Smith, viewed 8/23/13).
The one racist idea that Smith held onto was opposition to interracial marriage, specifically marriages between white persons and black persons:
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In favoring “equal rights” for Negroes, Joseph Smith did not wish to remove all legal restrictions on that race. Nor should the impression be conveyed that he was completely free of nineteenth-century prejudices. The aversion to miscegenation apparent in the articles in 1836 was later incorporated into the laws of Nauvoo; and in the same breath that the Prophet advocated “national equalization” for Negroes, he expressed a desire that they be confined “by strict law to their own species.”
(from Neither White nor Black, Chapter 3)
http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=445
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For some reason Brigham Young adopted the racist pro-slavery views of Smith and Cowdery from 1836 and ignored Smith’s more liberal-minded abolitionist views from 1844.
One likely explanation for Young’s taking a racist pro-slavery position in 1852 was that this was, in part, a reaction against marriage and sex between black men and white women, specifically marriage and sex between a particular black Mormon man and a particular white Mormon woman in Massachusetts, which occurred shortly after Massachusetts rescinded its law against such marriages.
To be continued…