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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 01:24AM

Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., Ph.D.--author, affiliated scholar at the Center for American Progress, trustee of the Public Religion Research Institute and Professor of Biblical Interpretation at New York Theological Seminary and Visiting Scholar in both the Department of Religion and the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University--writes the following in his article, "Mitt Romney and the Curse of Blackness":

"When it comes to others' choice of religions, I'm pretty much a live-and-let-live guy. In fact, I don't believe in religious litmus tests of any kind. Frankly, I think they are self-righteous and insulting.

"Yet I must admit that there is something about Mitt Romney's religion that I find deeply troubling, particularly in light of the possibility that he could become the next president of this nation. What concerns me is this: the Book of Mormon, the book that Mitt Romney and all Mormons embrace as divinely revealed scripture that is more sacred, more true, and more inerrant than any other holy book on earth, declares that black people are cursed. That's right. Cursed. And not only accursed, but lazy and aesthetically ugly to boot.

"I'm not talking about ascribed racism such as we see in Christianity, in which racist meanings are attributed to certain verses of the Bible that actually contain no such meanings, as with the Gen. 9:25 cursing of Canaan (not Ham!) which, though used as 'proof' of black wickedness and inferiority, in actuality has nothing to do with race.

"And no, I'm not talking about a single ambiguous, cherry-picked verse, either. I'd much rather that were the case. The sad truth is that the Book of Morman says it explicitly and in numerous passages: black people are cursed by God and our dark skin is the evidence of our accursedness. Here are a few examples:

--"'And the Lord 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 Nephi 5:21).'

--"'And I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark and loathsome and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations (1 Nephi 12:23).'

--"'O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God. (Jacob 3:8).'

--"'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 men (Alma 3: 6).'

"It would have been infinitely more righteous if Mormons had relegated the sentiments of these verses to the scriptural sidelines of their faith, but the historical record tells us otherwise. Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, repeatedly ordered his Church to uphold all slavery laws.

"Although Smith had a change of heart toward the end of his life, his successor, Brigham Young, did not. Young instituted social and ecclesiastical segregation as the Church's official policies, thus excluding people of black African descent from priesthood ordination and full participation in temple ceremonies, regardless of their actual skin color.

"Moreover, Brigham Young, whom Mormons revere almost equally with Smith, proved to the end of his life to be a brutal white supremacist who fervently supported the continued enslavement of African Americans; he was so convinced of black accursedness that he declared that if any Mormon had sex with a person of color, 'the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot.'

"The Book of Mormon's teaching of the accursedness and, therefore, the inferiority of blacks--if blacks are cursed, then by definition they are inferior to the divinely acceptable whites--was reaffirmed by numerous Mormon leaders for a century and a half.

"As late as 1969, even after the Civil Rights Movement had dismantled de jure segregation throughout the land, David O. McKay, then president and 'living prophet' of Mormonism, still publicly justified its segregationist policies by declaring that 'the seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro . . . goes back into the beginning with God.'

"Now, some will argue that I should dismiss the codified racism of the Book of Mormon as the unfortunate folklore of a bygone era because of the 1978 revelation by Spencer W. Kimball, the Church's president and 'living prophet' at that time, that after a century and a half black males were finally un-accursed enough to fully participate in Mormonism's priesthood and sacred temple ceremonies.

"However, even if we ignore the suspiciously coincidental timing of this 'revelation' (it conveniently appeared when the Church's federal tax-exempt status was imperiled by its racial policies), an attentive reading reveals that Kimball's proclamation did not in any way address the question of whether or not the Church still considered the Book of Mormon's assertions of black inferiority to be divinely authorized.

"In fact, the specific contents of Kimball's revelation were never made public. Nor has the Church ever disavowed the Book's white supremacist passages or the past racist practices and pronouncements of its leaders.

"What makes this all the more problematic for me is that at no time has Mitt Romney ever publicly indicated that he seriously questioned the divine inspiration of the Book of Mormon's teachings about race, much less that he has repudiated them.

"It is true that in a 2008 'Meet the Press' interview with the late Tim Russert, Romney did vigorously assert his belief in equal rights for all Americans in every facet of life. As part of that narrative, he cited his parents' "tireless" advocacy for blacks' civil rights, including the dramatic exit of his father, Michigan Governor George Romney, from the 1964 Republican convention as a protest against nominee Barry Goldwater's racial politics.

"He also shared that he wept when he learned of Spencer Kimball's aforementioned revelation. Yet from Romney's remarks it is not clear whether he wept for joy because Mormonism was eschewing its segregationist policies or if he wept from relief that the announcement promised to quiet the public outrage that those policies were causing.

"And significantly, while he recited his parents' efforts to confront racial injustice, Mitt Romney pointed to no such activities of his own.

"But let me be clear: this is not a 'gotcha' political ploy. In all honesty, I am neither saying nor implying in the slightest that Mitt Romney is a racist. I simply do not know that to be the case. Nor do I mean to overlook the racial progress that the Mormon Church has made in the last several decades.

"What I do mean to say is:

"--1) that Americans of goodwill owe it to ourselves not to turn a blind eye to the possible implications of the white supremacist legacy of candidate Romney's religious tradition, no matter how noble our intentions; and

"--2) that Mitt Romney himself owes it to America to address the issue.

"Why? Because Romney was tutored into adulthood by a holy book that declares that all Americans like me are cursed by God. And he is not only a believer; he has served as a leader in his faith.

"This is indeed a crucial point for consideration because, as this nation has seen time and time again, the inevitable consequence of America's policy-makers considering people of color as inferior to whites is that blacks' social and material interests have also been considered inferior--and quite often treated that way.

"I admit that this question of religion and racism is quite complicated and I don't claim to have all the answers. But I do know that recognizing the equal rights of black Americans under the law, while of paramount importance, is not the same as recognizing our intellectual capabilities and moral character as inherently equal to whites.

"And I am aware of one thing more: that when Tim Russert invited Romney to repudiate his Church's racist legacy on Meet the Press, Romney refused.

"That is why, Mr. Romney, as an American citizen whose president you seek to become, I must insist that you honestly and forthrightly attest to me and all Americans of goodwill that you actually can be my president, too, fully and completely.

"You can accomplish this by publicly disavowing the portions of your holy book that so sorely denigrate the humanity of me, my loved ones and all people of black African descent.

"It is incumbent that you do this, candidate Romney, for the sake of all Americans."

(Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., "Mitt Romney and the Curse of Blackness," in "Huffington Post," under "Religion," with accompany reader responses, 13 January 2012, at:; for Hendricks' full biography, see:; for Hendrick's video inteview with Ed Schultz on “The Ed Show,” MSNBC, 12 January 2013, see:

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2012 02:17AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 01:54AM

steve benson Wrote:
> "You can accomplish this by publicly disavowing the portions of your holy book that so sorely denigrate the humanity of me, my loved ones and all people of black African descent."

Obery M. Hendricks, Jr. has excellent credentials and is well placed to make this particular criticism.

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Posted by: corrodedinnervessel ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 02:18AM

Very well said, thanks.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2012 02:18AM by corrodedinnervessel.

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Posted by: Makurosu ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 02:27AM

I posted it on Facebook so everyone in my TBM family can enjoy it.

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Posted by: Makurosu ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 02:55AM

"The alternativ­e viewpoint I put forth is that the whole white/dark skin narrative given throughout the BoM, given by the final author/his­torian/pro­phet called Mormon, was the belief/vie­w of that prophet at that time (400 A.D.). It could have been that Mormon was a Racist - in that he assumed that the skin color changes were caused by God as he reviewed the historical records and writings he had at his disposal but in reality, the skin color changes were simple genetics - when the families of Nephi and Sam separated from families of Laman and Lemuel after arriving in the new world."

So much for the most true book in the world.

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Posted by: sonoma ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 03:29AM

That doesn't explain how they became "white and delightsome" again now does it?

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Posted by: en passant ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 10:55AM

The point is that the book was written by 19th century racist white guys who invented a fairy tale about people with dark skin and used this racism, in part, as a tool to persuade the "white and delightsome" that they were God's chosen people.

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Posted by: kimball ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 04:29PM

If this is true, then Mitt Romney and/or the church should have no problem repudiating the false racial doctrines. By not saying anything, they are endorsing Mormon's views.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2012 04:29PM by kimball.

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Posted by: sonoma ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 03:02AM

I heard him on The Ed Show on MSNBC. He had made a mistake that will be jumped on by TBM's and Morg apologists. He thinks that the BOM is referring to Blacks rather than Native Americans. Someone needs to acquaint him with the Book of Abraham, and the fact that the Mormons are racist against Latinos as well as Blacks.

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Posted by: J. Chan ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 11:50AM

1. The argument that the BoM refers only to Native Americans, not blacks, is just exchanging one racist ideology for another.

2. Regardless which group of people is referenced by the BoM, the passaged cited by Dr. Hendricks were used to justify church policies that, among other things, explicitly denied the priesthood (and therefore any meaningful authority or standing in the the LDS Church) to black people until 1978.

3. Under the LDS theocracy, the Utah Territory expressly permitted the enslavement of black people.

This doesn't even get into the ample evidence of institutionalized racism against black people revealed by portions of the Journal of Discourses.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 03:08AM

The "dark skin" was not a curse put on those of Afro-American descent, but rather the Lamanites...

At least in the Book of Mormon...

But of course there's the matter of the "curse" upon blacks of African descent, which was canonized as doctrine in The Book of Abraham...

And having the Book of Abraham and the Chandler Papyrii which gave rise to it as discussion subjects is an "Anti-Mormon's Dream."

So we'll have to see what happens when historians try to explain that Native Americans could always hold the priesthood, but those with Afro-American blood couldn't...

And if we're lucky, the subject of Native American DNA will also be raised...

Republicans, however, appear to be genuinely "anti-science" so who knows how this one will flip... (not intended as a poltical opinion; the following link shows it's based on solid, peer-reviewed research)

Let's see if the board's expert on this subject elects to comment...

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Posted by: michaelm (not logged in) ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 06:49AM

The author mixed up the Blacks with the American Indians by using the Book of Mormon. But leave it to Mormons to make it worse, like this comment.

"Actually, the Book of Mormon says nothing about black people. It does say something about "Lamanites­" (often interprete­d to mean native Americans) being "cursed" with a dark skin, but at the same time, it predicts a glorious future for them as literal members of the "house of Israel," placing them on a higher level than the white "Gentiles" who invaded their land. Crazy sounding? maybe. Racist? I think not."

I have been seeing this claim of American Indians going to be on a "higher level than" whites for a while now. It is an apologetic lie. The patriarchal blessing lineages of Ephraim and Manasseh are quite clear and the church has taught that Ephraim is at the head.

See The LDS Institute Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, chapter 24, page 66

“It is essential in this dispensation that Ephraim stand in his place at the head, exercising the birthright in Israel which was given to him by direct revelation. Therefore, Ephraim must be gathered first to prepare the way, through the gospel and the priesthood, for the rest of the tribes of Israel when the time comes for them to be gathered to Zion. The great majority of those who have come into the Church are Ephraimites. It is the exception to find one of any other tribe, unless it is of Manasseh.

“It is Ephraim, today, who holds the priesthood. It is with Ephraim that the Lord has made covenant and has revealed the fulness of the everlasting gospel. It is Ephraim who is building temples and performing the ordinances in them for both the living and for the dead. When the ‘lost tribes’ come—and it will be a most wonderful sight and a marvelous thing when they do come to Zion—in fulfilment of the promises made through Isaiah and Jeremiah, they will have to receive the crowning blessings from their brother Ephraim, the ‘firstborn’ in Israel” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:252–53).

Mormons try to hide the Book of Mormon racism with lies like BOMreader made and it created an even larger problem. Even if the Book of Mormon said that the American Indian would someday be on a higher level than whites (and it does not say that), there is no promise that Blacks will be on a higher level than white gentiles. Mormons still do not recognize equal status of races.

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Posted by: Don Bagley ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 03:46AM

I am 54 years old. I went to Mormon sunday school and primary meetings in the 1960s. I was taught that skin color, if white, was a blessing from God. If black, it was a curse. The whiter the skin, the more righteous the person. I don't want to hear any f--king excuses, I was taught what I was taught.

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Posted by: sonoma ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 04:10AM

except i'm a few years younger ;-)
plus it was in the book called "MORMON DOCTRINE" WRITTEN BY ONE OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES FOR *&%$#@ SAKE!!!

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 10:35AM,390033

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2012 10:36AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 11:09AM

. . . it's easy to see how Book of Mormon racism could be interpreted as anti-black since, as Hendricks explictly points out and quotes, Book of Mormon scripture itself announces a curse of black skin placed by God upon the wicked:

"And the Lord 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 Nephi 5:21)."

(emphasis added for head-in-the-sand Mormons who may have missed it)

Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2012 11:22AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: WiserWomanNow ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 11:21AM

And good for Obery, whom TBMs cannot accuse of being a "disaffected Mormon"!

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 11:25AM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2012 11:25AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: ontheDownLow ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 11:53AM

I worked with Mitt in the SLOCC 2002 games. Although I don't follow the morg no more, Mitt himself is a stand up business man and has a great business mind. He understands economics very well and would do a wonderful job of getting us out of this depression.

However, what a paradox this challenge poses for Mitt and his campaign. It is a challenge to renounce his religion publically or be scorned as simpathizing with past racial hating doctrine and practices that have pleagued mormon/american history.

I wonder if this will be Mitt's wake up call and he sees what we all now see?

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Posted by: Anonymous User ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 05:28PM

I love how the apologist comments dig the racist hole deeper and wider.

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Posted by: rgg ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 05:41PM

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Posted by: angsty ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 05:52PM

They don't realize that they're not helping. It doesn't matter whether Hendricks got the target of the racism right or not. His charges of racism still apply, as with his overall concern about the church's teachings. They can quibble with the details, but at the end of the day, the racism is still there. Anyone with a lick of good sense would not be able to read those lines in the Book of Mormon and not see racism.

To refuse to acknowledge the racism, just makes them look like they're too racist to recognize what racism is.

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Posted by: Heresy ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 06:50PM

and an acceptable fix to the BoM was to substitute 'pure' when it became embarrassing.

I'll bet they wish they'd fixed the BoM and PoGP a little more convincingly in 1980!

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: January 13, 2012 07:37PM

I suppose Mitt would respond that most religions have stupid distasteful stuff in their history and that remnants linger in the scriptures.

Of course with a Modern Day Prophet, they are have the means to know what is obsolete. No problem! If you can accept the creepy Bible, then the BoM is just following suit.

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