an archive of unsettling histories, mythistories, and mystories
from U.S. & Mormon settler colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism
from U.S. & Mormon settler colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism
Nearly 100 yrs later, J. Reuben Clark wrote, “The Church discourages social intercourse with the negro race, because such intercourse leads to marriage” which he calls spiritually and biologically “wrong”.
In the 1940s the First Presidency marked that “No special effort has ever been made to proselyte among the Negro race” as “social intercourse between the Whites and the Negroes [leads] to intermarriage, which the Lord has forbidden.” This doctrinal segregation continues currently in the "Aaronic Priesthood Manual" on this church's website which quotes Spencer W. Kimball counciled in 1976: “We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally.”
In 1949, the First Presidency justified their anti-Blackness in their first Official Statement on “the Negro” writing: “The attitude of the Church with reference to the Negroes [is a] direct commandment from the Lord…” brought on by “the conduct of (their) spirits in the premortal existence.”
Leaders even encouraged Euro-settler Mormons to organize “to prevent Negroes from becoming neighbors,” and offered church buildings for these meetings.
In 1954, apostle Mark E. Petersen, spoke in favor of segregation saying, “What God hath separated, let not man bring together again” and cited the Lamanites and Nephites, the curse of Cain, and the Israelites and Canaanites as scriptural evidence of the divinity of segregation.
In ‘58 Bruce R. McConkie wrote in Mormon Doctrine that "the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.” The quote remained until 2010 when the book went out of print. Though the book is still available used. I bought my copy at the Mormon-owned thrift store, Deseret Industries.
A 1959 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that this church taught that melanated people were not as righteous in the pre-earth life and that most Utah Mormons believed "by righteous living, the dark-skinned races may again become 'white and delightsome'.”
In 1965 apostle Spencer W. Kimball told a group of Indigenous BYU students: "Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying.”
That same year BYU administrators began sending rejection letters to Black applicants which cited this church’s pro-segregation beliefs on interracial marriage as the reason for rejection.
With social and political pressure from the civil rights movement (which Ezra Taft Benson called a communist plot) the First Presidency released their second Official Mormon Statement on “the Negro” in 1969 in which they repeated that “the seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God… extending back to man’s pre-existent state."
One of the early dents in the anti-African/Black salvation ban’s armor came from beyond the U.S. borders. In Brazil, intermarriage between people of African, European, and Indigenous decent created a deeply mixed population which made Mormon blood purity doctrine difficult to enforce. And even though this church actively avoided proselytizing in Black communities, many Brazilian Mormons didn’t understand U.S. classifications of race and how it applied to the priesthood ban, which made their missionary work difficult.
Mark Grover, an “expert on Mormonism in Brazil” writes, “Many (Brazilian) members struggled with this policy which openly discriminated against family members, friends, and occasionally themselves… (and) resulted in limited growth and development for the Church.”
Because of the difficulty of determining this “one drop rule” in Fijians, Indigenous Australians, Egyptians, Brazilians, and South Africans the ban was relaxed in those places so that people with a "questionable lineage" were given the priesthood.
Another dent in their anti-Blackness armor came after the publication of "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview.” by Lester Bush in 1973. BYU vice-president Robert K. Thomas feared that the church could lose its tax exemption status as the article described the church's racially discriminatory practices in detail. This article created internal discussion among church leaders which weakened the idea that the Black salvation ban was doctrinal.
Then miraculously in 1978, the church, through Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, received revelation commanding them to lift the Black salvation ban.
Even so, deep anti-Blackness is still perpetuated in this church.
LDS historian Wayne J. Embry interviewed several Black Mormons nine yrs after the church lifted this ban (1987) and found that every one of them reported experiencing "a reluctance or a refusal (from white Mormons) to shake hands with them or sit by them, (as well as) racist comments made to them."
When asked whether the Black salvation ban and its lifting were policy or doctrine, Dallin H. Oaks stated in 1988, "I don't know that it's possible to distinguish between policy and doctrine in a church that believes in continuing revelation and sustains its leader as a prophet.”
Twenty years after that in 2007, Mormon journalist, Peggy Fletcher Stack, reported that Black Mormons still felt unwelcome because of how other members treat them, including being called the "n-word" in the temple and at church.
In June 2016, when some Black Utah Mormon women were asked what they’d want today, one woman said she wished she could “attend church once without someone touching my hair.”
That same year a survey showed that over 60% self-identified Mormons, know or believe that the priesthood/temple ban was God's will.
In June 2020, a spokesman for the NAACP said that there was "no willingness on the part of the church to do anything material ... It's time now for more than sweet talk." In response the church gave more talks. There are still no serious attempts “to do anything material.”
This doctrinal segregation continues currently in the "Aaronic Priesthood Manual" on this church's website which quotes Spencer W. Kimball counciled in 1976: “We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally.”
On Sunday June 12, 2022, thirty-one white men as members of a U.S. American white nationalist and neo-fascist hate group called Patriot Front loaded up their weapons, shields, and selves into a Uhaul to go terrorize a northern Idaho Pride event. Six of these men are from Utah and ten of them are said to be Mormon.
In 2014, the second leading cause of death in Utah for people 10 to 24 was suicide, which is higher than the national average.
LGBTQ youth are at least three times more likely than heterosexual youth to attempt suicide and about four times more likely to make a medically serious suicide attempt. At least 40% of the 5,000 youth who are unsheltered in Utah are LGBTQ and 60% from Mormon homes.
Some folks "wonder" if the history of anti-queer violence in Utah and Mormonism has influenced these young men who travelled to Idaho to commit hate-based anti-queer violence. I don't. I know that Mormonism is a deep source of anti-queer murderous rhetoric. And as a Lafferty brother from "Under the Banner of Heaven" says, the religion, "breeds dangerous men."
Jacob Smith on Twitter claims that "Maybe if you’d really pay attention to the talks given and the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints you would know that there isn’t any anti gay doctrine."
Well, I also read through the talks and I know there is a lot of anti-gay doctrine. And much of it encourages suicide, physical violence, and murder against queer people.
Here's a timeline of anti-queer openly violent rhetoric from this church (including some anti-queer "national suicide" fear mongering which directly aligns with "white genocide" rhetoric from white-nationalist groups like Patriot Front and Mormon anti-queer activists like Ayla "Wife with a Purpose" Stewart & the DezNat folks:
“Illicit intercourse shall be punished with death.”
- George Q. Cannon, 1857
The only way to stop homosexuality, this "filthy…nameless crime," was through “the destruction of those who practice them … if a little nest of them were left ... they would soon corrupt others"
- 1897 General Conference, Mormon President George Q. Cannon
“For homosexuality, (the Old Testament punishment) was death."
- J Reuben Clark 1957 General Conference.
“Sexual sins are ‘most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.’ (Alma 39:5)”
"Better dead clean, than alive unclean.”
- Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine,” 1958
“Many (a) faithful Latter-day Saint parent…has sent (a child) into the world with the direction: ‘I would rather have you come back in a pine box with your virtue than return alive without it.’”
- Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine,” 1958
"Molesters, rapists, killers, homosexuals ... are emotionally sick and disabled creatures. ... They are waiting. They are hunting. They are seeking .... The deviates prowl that jungle."
- Apostle Mark E. Peterson, Church specialist on homosexuality, Deseret News editorial, 1961
“There are moves… to ease up on…homosexuals and other deviates…This is one of the greatest evidences of apostasy of mankind…They which commit such things are worthy of death.”
- Apostle Mark E. Peterson, General Conference, 1965
“We are constantly pressured to understand and help murderers, rapists, thieves and now the 'poor, sick, misunderstood homosexual.' ... The believers of the Bible know what the Bible has to say of homosexuals, and that it states the penalty is death for this act."
- Deseret News, letter to the editor, 1966
“Homosexuality was made a capital crime in the Bible (Lev. 20:13) and the wage of sin is death. (Romans 6:23).”
- Apostle Mark E. Peterson, Church Specialist on Homosexuality, General Conference 1969.
“The glorious thing to remember is that [homosexuality] is curable … How can you say the door cannot be opened until your knuckles are bloody, till your head is bruised, till your muscles are sore? ... Your virtue is worth more than your life . . . preserve your virtue even if you lose your lives.”
- Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, 1969
From 1971-1980, BYU President Dallin H. Oaks had security spying on BYU students which led to many queer student deaths by suicide.
After a missionary told Apostle Packer that he’d punched his companion who was coming on to him, Packer said: “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way…You must protect yourself … Boys are to become men—masculine, manly men”
- To Young Men Only, Boyd K Packer, 1976 General Conference.
“We see evil and crime and carnality covering the earth. Liars and thieves and adulterers and homosexuals and murderers scarcely seek to hide their abominations.”
- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, 1980 General Conference.
“Families are under a more serious attack today than at any time since the beginning of the world, with the possible exception of the days of Noah, because of birth control, abortion, and sterilzation, as well as homosexuality.”
- General Authority Hartman Rector Jr., 1981 General Conference.
“Today we are aware of great problems in our society. The most obvious are sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, drug abuse, alcoholism, vandalism, pornography, and violence.”
- Ezra Taft Benson, 1982 General Conference.
"One generation of homosexual 'marriages' would depopulate a nation, and, if sufficiently widespread, would extinguish its people. Our marriage laws should not abet national suicide."
- Apostle Dallin H. Oaks 1984
The AIDS epidemic is “a plague fueled by a vocal few who exhibit greater concern for civil rights than for public health, a plague abetted by the immoral … Where is Wisdom?”
- Russell M. Nelson, 1992 General Conference.
The three main dangers facing the church are “the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement,... and so-called scholars or intectuals.”
- Apostle Boyd K. Packer, 1993
"Homosexual activity is a serious sin … sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder and denying the Holy Ghost”
- Mormon Church, True to the Faith, 2004
“Evil that used to be localized and covered like a boil is now legalized and paraded like a banner.”
- Apostle Oaks 2004
“As a Family Law professor concerned about the dangers of legalizing same-sex marriage, I sometimes feel like Moishe the Beadle” who tried to warn his people of the dangers of Nazis, but “they refused to listen.”
- BYU Law professor Lynn D. Wardle, 2007 World Congress of Families in Warsaw, Poland.
"Others may not be free [of same-gender attraction] in this life" but "our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy in a family."
- "God Loveth His Children,” 2007 official church publication
In 2009, Apostle Russell M. Nelson, warned of the dangers of “national suicide” as a result of marriage equality at the fifth World Congress of Families conference.
“I know that the history of the church is not to seek apologies of to give them…We sometimes look back on issues and say, ‘Maybe that was counterproductive for what we wish to achieve,’ but we look forward and not backward.”
- Apostle Dallin H. Oaks in an in interview in January 2015
"Less than a year ago, right here in Washington, DC, my friend killed himself. He was Mormon and gay. You've gone on record that the church does not give apologies. Does religious freedom absolve you from responsibility in the gay Mormon suicide crisis?" asked Evans.
"That's a question that will be answered on judgment day. I will be accountable to a higher authority for that."
- Apostle Oaks, 2016.
“We are confronted by a culture of evil…(including the) phenomenon of lesbian, gay, and transgender lifestyles and values.”
- President Oaks, 2019 BYU-Hawaii devotional
“I would like to hear a little more musket fire (against queers) from this temple of learning.”
- Apostle Jeffery R. Holland to BYU faculty in 2021
Days later BYU students drew pro-LGBTQ chalk art on the corner of campus and another BYU student poured water on the chalk and told onlookers "faggots go to hell".
In 2021, Hank Smith, BYU religion professor called a gay BYU student Korihor on twitter. Korihor is a Book of Mormon anti-Christ prophet who was punished for his “wickedness,” by losing his speech and then trampled to death. The gay student then received death threats from others, but there was no public action against the professor by BYU.
“Above all the problems the Indian has, his greatest one is the white man”
- Spencer W. Kimball, 1953
The first Mormon missions were to Indigenous nations or as Mormons call them, Lamanites nations. Mormons carried these missions into their manifest destined Zion in the west where they worked to assimilate, enslave, or massacre Indigenous peoples there. These assimilation practices are rooted in the Mormon teaching that Indigenous Peoples and white Mormons share an ancestor in the ancient House of Israel. Similarly, mormons called their enslavement practice "adoption".
This “adoption” practice later morphed into the Lamanite Placement Program (LPP) or Indian Student Placement Program, (1950’s-2000) in which more than 20,000 Indigenous children (from about 63 different tribes in so-called North America, though mostly Diné) were baptized and placed with white, Mormon families for the duration of the school year, every year, until the child graduated or left the program.
"The children in the home-placement program in Utah are often lighter
than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness...
One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were
donating blood in hopes of accelerating the process.”
- Spencer W. Kimball, GC, Oct 1960
In Mormon-written articles, the “success” of the program is measured by how white / Mormon the participants became. Mormon missions, temple weddings, and BYU attendance are all marked as successes. (There was no difference in economic success between participants and their reservation-raised peers)
Seven percent of LPP participants identified themselves as “mostly white” or “totally white.” Their peers who were raised on the reservation were twice as likely to feel that they “completely fit in” with their own people. Assimilation is genocide.
One author notes the “undoubtedly well-meaning” motives of the program’s organizers. But these “well-meaning” motives are exactly the problem. How well meaning can you be when rather than acknowledging the cultural / economic / ecological genocide that you’ve enacted on a people, you instead build a program to finish the job, to “Kill the Indian, save the Mormon." And then pat yourself on the back for it.
In an NPR podcast on the Lamanite Placement Program, a Mormon man asks:
"What is culture? And when is it good and when is it bad? And what's sacred about it? My grandmother came from Denmark." He continues, "She gave up her complete culture to come to America and be a member of The Church. Is that wrong? Is that bad? Which culture did these children give up? Did they give up their original culture where they had the gospel of Jesus Christ in their life? Or did they give up another culture that they came to when they left the gospel of Jesus Christ?"
These “undoubtedly well-meaning” “nice white” people are the definition of White Saviorism.
There is so much more that could be said about this program and its impact on the Indigenous peoples, like the on-brand cases of sexual assault filed by a few Diné against the church. One individual told his case manager that he was being beat and sexually abused who didn’t show up for 6 months and his boy scout master. Neither did anything. The abuse continued.
We could also talk about Indigenous resistance like the American Indian Movement and how they fought the LPP in congress and boycotted the 1973 general conference, beating drums, and demanding that the church donate ten million dollars to Indian social programs and return the native skulls held in the church’s history museum.
“And behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.” - 3 Nephi 19:25
In the early 1800’s, when Joseph Smith was a boy, it was a common for the everyday white-supremacist of the time to believe that some ancient white people emigrated to this land long-ago, but were eventually wiped out by the ancestors of contemporary Indigenous People. This belief is rooted in their white-supremacist ideologies which say that only white people can build the kinds of structures, cultures, and civilizations that Europeans witnessed in the earthworks of the Moundbuilder nations and temples of Maya, Inca, Aztecs, and Olmecs. This white-supremacist logic lives not only in the Book of Mormon but in the popular conspiracy theories of "Ancient Aliens".
In this mythistry, the existence of these structures IS proof that some ancient white people have been here. So the next questions become: What happened to these Peoples? Where are they now?
As a record of its time, the 19th century, the Book of Mormon imagines answers to these questions.
The Book of Mormon introduces itself as "a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas, the [white] Nephites and the [dark] Lamanites." After centuries of war the Nephites are completely wiped out by the Lamanites who "are among the ancestors* of the American Indians." (*until 2007 this text read, “the principle ancestors”)
The main storyline of the Book of Mormon begins with Lehi’s family who are described as a “white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome" people. They are Chosen by God to populate and replenish this Promised Land. This family arrives around 600 B.C. and shortly split into two groups: Nephites and Lamanites. The Nephites “were generally more righteous than” the Lamanites, who rebelled against their God, father, and brothers.
The Lamanites "were led by their evil nature (and) they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness."
To keep the "generally more righteous" Nephites from intermarrying with these evil-natured Lamanites, God cursed the Lamanites. "As they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome that they might not be enticing unto (the Nephites) the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon (the Lamanites)." God went on to warn the Nephites that if any of "the seed of (the Nephites) mixeth with (Lamanite) seed ... they shall be cursed" with the same "skin of blackness" curse.
But this white God is a merciful white-supremacist, so he makes the Lamanites and their posterity, "the American Indians," an “optimistic promise." If the Lamanites or "American Indians" forsake their People’s lifeways and accept the Book of Mormon as their history and Mormonism as their religion then “they shall (become) a pure and a delightsome People," “white like unto the Nephites,” who are “a civil and delightsome People.”
So, basically, Mormonism teaches that contemporary Indigenous Peoples are descendants of ancient white Israelites who lost their rights to this so-called Promised Land when they were cursed with "a skin of blackness" which they still carry. But if they assimilate to Mormonism and stop living their Indigenous lifeways, they will have their curse of dark skin lifted and they'll return to their original state as a pure, white, and attractive people again.
This is contemporary doctrine reified through the Book of Mormon.
When the Chruch’s “Race and Priesthood” gospel topics essays says: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse,” they are only referring to the African Salvation ban and the Curses of Cain and Ham.
This church and Book of Mormon still teaches that among the ancestors of contemporary Indigenous peoples are white ancient Israelites who’ve been cursed with “a skin of blackness”.
And this church has never apologized, repented, or taken accountability for the lived realities of genocide and assimilation (like the Lamanite Student Placement Program) that Mormon settlers have enacted based on this doctrine.
i won’t say much, I think the video says enough
I don't know this video’s name yet. I'm not even sure it is done
The video was arranged a few months ago, the audio was arranged over 3 years ago
This audio has been in my phone all those years, while in shuffle it has come on a lot in those months, so maybe it was ready to come out.
I also want to acknowledge the vast influence Latter Day Labia's work has had on me and this piece and to appreciate the work she does in that valuable archive 💙
I am nicholas b jacobsen, an artist, researcher, historian, educator, and organizer. I am a trans-non binary Euro-settler raised in the Nuwu lands of so-called Utah. My family has been Mormon and Utahn for as long as either of those concepts have existed. My ancestors sacrificed everything--their identities, homelands, jobs, health, & safety to become Mormon, Utahn, U.S. American, & white--to settler their Zion. They also sacrificed their humanities as they committed genocide against Kuttuhsippeh (Goshute), Timpanogos Shoshone, Shoshone-Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, Ute, Nuwu (Southern Paiute), and Diné (Navajo). Because my ancestors made my home through Indigenous genocide in their home/lands––I take it as my personal responsibility to unsettle what my ancestors settled, while helping my fellow settlers do the same through reading, writing, art, and community building.