Friday, December 14, 2007

Mormons and Racial Minorities

In 2 Nephi 5:21 of the Book of Mormon, we find the following words describing God's punishment of the sinful Native Americans.
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 (emphasis mine)
This scripture formed part of the basis of Mormon doctrine that banned black people from entering any Mormon temple prior to 1978. According to Frank Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

Mormons believe that these passages are the word of God, as sacred as the Bible itself.

Good Mormons do not believe the ban on blacks was immoral, Brigham Young University religion professor Robert Millet said, adding, “It isn’t something we’re ashamed of. It isn’t something we feel was inappropriate.”

Mormons, Millet said, believe they were obeying God by barring blacks.
There has been much speculation on whether the peculiarities of the Mormon faith will scuttle Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican presidential nomination. However, we must remember that the history of evangelical Christianity--the religion claimed by most of the Republican presidential hopefuls--is also besmirched with racial prejudice and justification of slavery, based partly on Genesis 9:25-26, from which many Christians concluded black people ("Canaanites") were cursed by God and designated to be slaves.
"Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers." He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem."
Like Mormons, most evangelical Christians no longer hold racist views. But there are still some remnants (i.e. Thomas Robb Ministries) who preach otherwise. (For a crazy read, check out the article "The Anglo-Saxon Jesus" by lawyer Jason Robb, who goes to great lengths to argue that Jesus has fair skin and fair hair color).

In my opinion, if Mitt Romney's faith is going to be roasted on the spit of public scrutiny, the faith of the other candidates should be as well.

Hat Tip: Bible Belt Blogger

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