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The Mormon Church and Racism

Reader comment on item: Westerners Welcome Harems
in response to reader comment: Joseph Smith was a polygamist with 30 wives

Submitted by Jason Alder (United States), Dec 22, 2008 at 13:59

Again, the point is not that Mormons never were polygamists... it's that they haven't been in over 100 years. And it was very appropriate of Mr. Pipes to annotate that fact at the end of his article. In regards to the Mormons being racist, you may way to check your information. Blacks were members of the Mormon church from its inception in 1830. In 1832, offical church records show Elijah Abel (a black man) as having been baptized and given the priesthood by Ezekiel Roberts (a black man, and also a priesthood holder). In 1836, Elijah Abel was ordained an Elder, and then a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, one of the highest offices in the Mormon Church. Also In 1836, The rules for the Kirtland Temple provided for "old or young, rich or poor, male or female, bond or free, black or white, believer or unbeliever…" (History of the Church 2: 368-69).

In 1833, when the Missouri Mob Manifesto was written to legalize the of the Mormons from Missouri, part of the Missourians' rationale was that the Mormons advocated "their (the Missourians') blacks" (which were slaves) being free and treating the slaves as free men. Missouri Executive Order 44, also known as the "extermination order" (alt. exterminating order) in was an executive order issued on October 27, 1838 by Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs. The order was in response to what Boggs termed "open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State ... the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description." Part of "defiance of the laws" to which he referred was their treatment of blacks as equals. (The order was formally rescinded in 1976).

In 1842, Joseph Smith wrote a letter on the subject of slavery to John C. Bennet, who was in the position of lobbying a young Abraham Lincoln, the Illinois Senator. It reads, in part: "I have just been perusing your correspondence with Doctor Dyer, on the subject of American slavery, and the students of the Quincy Mission Institute, and it makes my blood boil within me to reflect upon the injustice, cruelty, and oppression of the rulers of the people. When will these things cease to be, and the Constitution and the laws again bear rule?". In 1844, Joseph Smith ran (unsuccessfully, obviously) for President of the United States on an anti-slavery platform and even proposed that public lands be sold to pay for the release of all slaves and to abolish slavery by 1850.

This list goes on, but since your comments were directed more toward Joseph Smith, I thought I'd just address that part. The obvious evidences of the Mormons' acceptance and love of Blacks continue to modern times. The Mormon Church did officially recognize Blacks as priesthood holders in 1976, but there were many that held the priesthood, served in the church leadership, and were missionaries/representatives for the church from its inception in 1830. People of all different colors of skin have been a part of the Mormon Church both in the US and around the world for as long as the Mormon Church has been a religion.


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