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Jul-18-2012 05:10printcomments

Joseph Smith was a Pro-Slavery Essayist:
Popping the Bubble Around Mormon Racism

Tim dispels rumors that racism was not part of the foundation of the Mormon church: Part 2

The Hill Cumorah by C.C.A. Christensen
The Hill Cumorah by C.C.A. Christensen. That's Joe Smith and God, the God who told him that people were Black because they committed iniquity. As his very best, Smith still opposed interracial marriage.

(SALEM) - I find it rather odd that Joseph Smith's name is not on the top 73 list of abolitionists. This was interesting to discover, as people of the LDS Church are writing in objection to my last article, claiming that I am calling an "abolitionist" a racist.

My article this week did expose the roots of the Mormon Church and they are tied to racism. Why Did the Mormon Founders Hate Black People?, touched a few raw nerves with the pro-Mitt Romney for President community.

A review of history shows us that Joseph Smith, who pulled the Book of Mormon out of a hat, was arrested many times in his life; accused of being a scam artist, and he favored really strange things, like not court-martialing military deserters, and never hanging people, though chopping their heads off or shooting them full of bullets were acceptable measures to Smith.

Was Joseph Smith a Godly man, or a fraud and false prophet? We know that Christ told mankind to turn the other cheek when slapped, and that Smith once made a promise to "establish our religion with the sword" if molested. The guy was really bent on morphing the Christian faith into something that worked for him; that is established with his polygamous lifestyle, but that doesn't make him a bad person, or does it? How about the fact that this so-called abolitionist, once authored a pro-slavery essay?

Waging the argument that Smith was an abolitionist, a comment from Just Another Racist Mormon claims that Smith actually "fought" for the freedom of slaves:

    I guess the fact th(a)t Joseph Smith fought for the freedom of slaves means little to you? I would also guess that the millions of dollars in humanitarian aid the church has spent on black people doesn't mean anything to you? You are entitled to your opinion, even when it is completely off base. Just like I'm entitled to my opinion which is that you are a bigoted piece of crap.

No surprise with that; the ugly insult is the pat approach of the news comment crowd that has fallen into utter defensive posturing, and spews the product of a very lousy argument.

Hat Tricks?

According to the book of Mormon, people were turned Black because they committed iniquity and God wanted them to no longer be physically appealing. Of course to adopt this mindset, one has to conclude that God himself determined that being Black meant being ugly; the bare bones aspect of the philosophy equates to Blacks being literally incapable of good looks. I happen to know quite a number of people who would strongly disagree with that idea, to put it mildly.

One funny thought that comes to mind, is how Lewis and Clark; slave owning white men, only made it to the western U.S. because their Black slave York saved them time and time again. The Native Americans respected and admired the Black man. After returning to the east, York would be whipped for asking for his freedom, nice guys that pair. This early slave had an ironic connection to Joseph Smith; like the Mormon founder, York had a penchant for sleeping with a multitude of women.

But I digress.

Digging deeper into this shadowy past, we discover that the prejudice of this church was not only written but it made the cut in their book as an official part of their religious teachings.

If you believe the Mormon version, you allow yourself to think that before there were Black people, they:

    "...were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome..."

But the Mormons believe they messed up by committing 'iniquity'...

    "...the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people..."

Joseph Smith and Racism

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Those battling to protect the man who founded the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, believe this polygamist was not a racist. This, in spite of the fact that he published a pro-slavery essay in 1836:

Bushman (2005, pp. 289, 327–28) (the essay "exhibited the conventional prejudiced of his day in asserting that blacks were cursed with servitude by a 'decree of Jehovah.'"); Hill (1977, p. 381) (noting that Smith did not want to be identified as an abolitionist, even when he disfavored slavery).
Bushman, Richard Lyman (2005), Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, New York: Knopf, ISBN 1-4000-4270-4.

It is true that Smith later strongly opposed slavery and this changing of his position preceded his political debut. Smith proposed abolishing slavery by 1850 during his presidential campaign, Wikipedia states that Smith did not believe blacks to be genetically inferior to whites; he welcomed both freemen and slaves into the church. But he opposed baptizing slaves without permission of their masters, and he opposed miscegenation.

The word miscegenation refers to interracial marriage and interracial sex. What happened to most Black men in the 1800's who were accused of having sex with white women? They were lynched.

So, to assert that Smith was not against Blacks, when he directly called for slavery at one point, and even after switching his position on slavery, maintained that Blacks should not be allowed to marry or have sex outside of their race, is just plain stupid.

No Good Excuses

These angry readers can say what they want, but it is a fact that changing the name of a religion does not change its function or reason for existence. Still, I assume the people telling me about Joseph Smith the abolitionist, must know something. It seemed logical to assume that there would be sufficient data Outside of the Mormon propaganda realm to back it up.

I just didn't think it would be hard to pin down the claims from these commenters about Mr. Smith's 'acclaimed' work as an abolitionist.

The Website Famous Abolitionists: biographies of famous Abolitionists lists what it considers to be, the top 73 most famous abolitionists in world history.

On the list of famous abolitionists that span the time from Henry the Proud in the 1100's, and Henry IV of France in the 1500's, to the well known abolitionists of the U.S. in the early to mid 1800's, like Sojourner Truth and John Brown, to people like Dennis Kucinich of U.S. politics today, I assumed we would find Joseph Smith's name listed prominently, at least among the top 73 abolitionists, but there is no mention of him at all.

Without giving up easily, I located the site Famous and Not So Famous Abolitionists - The Lifeline Expedition, thinking that he would at least make the cut for the 'not so famous' abolitionists, nope.

David in Colorado wrote:

    I would suggest that you contact Darius Gray or Marvin Perkins to get a more accurate explanation of the statements in the Book of Mormon about the so-called curse of a dark skin. It has to do with spiritual darkness from disobedience to God's commandments. In Jacob it talks about how the scales of darkness will be taken from them if they return to the Lord. Denying blacks the priesthood for many years was a practice that the Church corrected through revelation from a prophet of God. Be careful how you judge the past.

My point is that there is only one way for an organization to heal from a deeply flawed philosophy, that is to reject it and admit that early leaders' claims were wrong. There is no other way, and defending and excusing it until you are blue in the face will not change it. It all quickly begins to sound too much like a snake oil sales pitch.

An even larger point, is that 'David' and his Mormon brethren who apparently were referred to by Smith as "Saints" (nothing flamboyant about that claim!) are hanging the responsibility for Mormon racism squarely on the shoulders of God, and that seems blasphemous.

Brigham Young was the one who really drove this new religion into the shadows of racism. Smith was just the one who kicked the ball into play. I know people tend to behave as sheep and there is sometimes little hope for changing a cultural problem, but the facts are the facts and their lame feeble excuses mean little.

These same readers, also took my article to task for citing Wikipedia as a source, and that is really funny, because if the page on Mormonism was hacked into and false information posted, it would remain online for all of thirty seconds. Actually, I am not sure if they can even upload blatantly flawed information, Wikipedia has a lot of people watching entries and checking for accuracy.

The LDS Church isn't going anywhere, and of course most of its members are not inherently prejudice; but they too many are living in denial and it is wrong. Most of those who are not living in denial over the facts cited in this article, are ex-LDS. Perhaps just s little acknowledgement that they follow a faith that was created under less than stellar circumstances is in order. Perhaps denouncing those early teachings would illuminate the path for these 14 million followers.


Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

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LanceThruster July 20, 2012 1:04 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you for this informative and enjoyable piece, Tim. It's always much easier to stand your ground armed with the facts.

Tim King: Gracias Lance, that is cool.

joseph July 19, 2012 1:20 pm (Pacific time)

Joseph Smith is a good man.

Tim King: In what way Joseph?  He really created a lot of sadness and loss over nothing didn't he?  Do you think the world is better off because  of him?  I think that if his 14-year old boy dreams had been dismissed, that another group would fill the missionary role.  I do love that aspect of LDS and always have; I think it has to take a lot to do a mission, it just needs to be a lifetime commitment, not one year out of your life.  And for the record, there are many more positive things I can add; I have no real issues with the church today, I just want people to recognize things for what they are.

Josh Akers July 18, 2012 9:12 pm (Pacific time)

Joeseph Smith was a crackpot on par with L. Ron Hubbard. There are tons of really crazy people who appear really good at the first glance. I have trouble trusting anyone who doesn't use their OWN logic and reasoning to define religion or thier life.

Anonymous July 18, 2012 11:08 am (Pacific time)

Please read my post on the previous mormon article..It is anon about about 11am. It explains much..After it posts I might copy and paste it here. It really does, in my opinion, explain it all.

Anonymous July 18, 2012 10:03 am (Pacific time)

Tim this is simply a distraction on your part. Today it is the Mormons, and soon it will be something or someone else. Food for thought Tim: Progressives are up in arms over the prospect of voters being required to show something at the polls they must show regularly to function as a productive member of society – a photo ID. It’s because progressives, particularly progressive Democrats, have a vested interest in preventing as many people as possible, especially minorities, from becoming productive members of society.

Productive members of society – and those who aspire to be – don’t need or want government to do for them what they can do for themselves. The socialists, communists, fascists and anarchists – in other words, progressives – obviously don’t have the support to win elections. They must find many votes beyond their core supporters to survive. So they attempt to manipulate minorities.

They play the race card. They attempt to convince them Republicans, particularly conservatives, are racists.

Never mind only a few generations ago, it was Democrats who were lynching black people in the South, turning water cannons on them, toying with the idea of using eugenics to eliminate them and, always, trying to prevent them from voting. Since the party of slavery couldn’t own the bodies of black people anymore, it turned to trying to own their minds.

And votes. In the last 50 years, progressives have become quite interested in minority votes as the popularity of their message has waned. They pushed for a web of government dependence to entangle minorities – direct subsidies of just enough money to encourage complacency, public housing that serves as a staging ground for continuing criminal enterprises, an education system that coddles and babysits but does not, no matter how much money is sunk into it, educate, and, from their leaders, the soul-crushing rhetoric of victimhood and entitlement. Utopia is only an election cycle away – if we can get rid of those damn Republicans.

How else to explain how U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has been in office since 1965? It certainly isn’t because he has helped his district in Detroit. It looks like a nuclear bomb went off … twice. You can tell what it used to be when you drive through, and it’s sad. There is no one in that district not named Conyers whose life is better off since he assumed office, yet he’s re-elected by overwhelming margins every two years. Why?

They vote Democrat because they are told Republicans will only make things worse. Never told – or asked – is how things truly could be worse. But it’s folly to seek logic in irrational thought. In time the Mormons will be a distant memory as progressives find that their message did not work.

JohnnyLingo62 July 18, 2012 8:04 am (Pacific time)

Tim, I find your article and research methods quite lacking. Wikipedia is not a reliable source to use for any "religious research" as it is continually in "edit/claim/citation" mode. Take a look at the "Edit" and "Review History" tabs and you'll see how "anti-Mormons" have taken the control of the content more often and with greater 'zeal' than "Mormons" themselves. It's quite amazing how intent anti-Mormons are at "leaving the Church, but not leaving the church alone". As for "Darkness" and "Black" you need to read a little more in the Holy Bible. Was a "curse" put upon Cain by God after he killed Abel? The people in the Book Of Mormon were Israelites (mainly from the tribe of Mannaseh one of the sons of Joseph - the other son was Ephraim) so they are commanded to not "mix with the gentiles" (those not of the house of Israel). The "darkness" that came upon them could be physical or metaphorical, but the purpose was so the "people that followed the prophets would not intermingle with those that did not". This is the same message as written in the Old Testament in the Bible. Solomon was punished in his later years as he took "strange wives" which in the Bible, meant diluted the lineage of the Chosen People of God (the Israelites). As far as Joseph Smith, please read his Platform for President written in 1844 concerning his views on Slavery. He was killed a few months after declaring his run for POTUS on this platform. I hope you will spend more time researching from more diverse sources than just Anti-Mormon writings... as a reporter you should be able to see the forest from the trees. Try Thanks

Anonymous July 18, 2012 7:01 am (Pacific time)

Tim I have researched Governor Romney and in his 65 plus years no one closely associated with him (or his family/friends) has ever accused him of harboring any racist feelings. Do you have any sources that do? As far as other religions having racist or intolerance towards others not like them, well there are some pretty intolerant people/groups out there. I served in combat with people of all backgrounds, including Mormons, and I found Mormons to be excellent fighters. Maybe you have also? Then have you seen all the Mormon groups that go to Africa and other parts of the world engaging in selfless assistance? An earlier poster mentioned the intolerance of Mormons and the gay lifestyle. Well in California over 70% of blacks voted against legalizing gay marriage. In fact every time that issue was voted on in literally dozens of states it was always soundly defeated. Needless to say the make-up of the voters was diverse. It is election time, and the mud is being tossed, but look at some of those other religions. There are some who believe that those who leave their religion should be put to death, and even gays should be put down. Tell me, have you seen the Donnie and Marie Osmond show in Las Vegas recently? You think this number one show is being knocked because they are Mormon? Most of the polls out there are skewed because they are top heavy with the democrats,rather than balanced like the Rasmussen polls. We'll soon see who the real racists and haters are, and they are not Mormon Tim. Of course Christians were killing in the name of religion not too long ago, and some religions are killing today. Christians are being wiped out in many parts of the world in most violent fashion. Some ideologies transform, some do not. Same can be said about individual perspectives and biases.

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