Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mormon faith attracts people of color despite vestiges of racist past



OK BEFORE YOU READ THE ARTICLE LETS REMIND OURSELVES WHY THE SIMPLE FACT THAT SOME IGNORANT BLACK FOLK WOULD EVEN CONSIDER BECOMING A MEMBER OF THE MORMON CHURCH IS OVER THE TOP WACKED!
I THINK I WILL JOIN THE KLAN, WHY THE HELL NOT, THEY HAVE KOOL ROBES, CALL THEMSELVES, “GRAND DRAGONS” SOUNDS KOOL TOO AND THEY BURN CROSSES. I LIKE A GOOD FIRE. THEY ONLY BURN CROSSES TO STAY WARM.
AS YOU CAN SEE I HAVE ADDED PHOTOS FROM ONE OF MY FAVORITE SOUTH PARK EPISODES, THE ONE ABOUT THE MORMONS.....DUMB, DUMB, DUMB.....


"There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantage. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less.... There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits."


-Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, pages 66-67

So yes, in the Mormon world the atonement covers the sins of Adam's fall, but babies are still born black and get treated like inferiors.




BY MARGARET RAMIREZ
Chicago Tribune


CHICAGO - (KRT) - As sunlight flooded the church from a window above, Brad Hunter brought his 2-week-old baby girl, Leah, in front of the congregation for her first blessing.

One by one, the male leaders of this Mormon church in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood formed a tight circle around the child. Black, white, Latino, Indian and Japanese Mormons placed their palms under Leah, forming a cradle of hands. Then the men closed their eyes tight and prayed.

The striking scene provides a modern-day portrait of today's Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Long perceived as a mostly white institution, the church now counts more than 12 million members worldwide, with nearly a third of its followers in Africa and Latin America.

This year, as the church celebrates its 175th anniversary and the bicentennial of the birth of its founder, a religion that began in a New York log cabin has emerged as a diverse global faith and the fourth largest church in the United States, with 5.5 million American members.

Mormon growth has been fueled by converts of color brought in by the church's missionary zeal and attracted largely, experts say, by the church's focus on family.

"The church has really emphasized the importance of family at a time when families are in trouble. That emphasis has made a great deal of difference," said Jan Shipps, a prominent Mormon scholar at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis who is not a church member. "It's an important religious force and it's here to stay."

The church's diversity has emerged almost defiantly from the relics of its racist past. Early Mormon teachings spoke of black people as inferior, cursed by God and unworthy to serve as clergy. Not until 1978 did the church lift the ban that barred blacks from the priesthood.

The American church remains predominantly white, and precise growth patterns are difficult to note because the church says it does not keep statistics on race or ethnicity. But church officials and religious scholars say that in the past 20 years the Mormon message has been well-received by middle-class African-Americans and, in particular, Latino immigrants.

Scholars say the number of black Mormons, miniscule before 1978, is estimated at 5,000 to 10,000 today. The church says 130,000 people belonged to Spanish-speaking U.S. congregations in 2004, up from 92,600 in 1995. Those figures do not include Latinos attending services in English.

Yet despite the increasing presence of minorities in the church, race issues have emerged as part of the church's growing pains.

Some scholars say the racist doctrine still found in Mormon texts and church leaders' past negative comments are factors in the slow growth of the church among African-Americans and have driven some members to leave in disgust. Other Mormons question whether an increasingly diverse legion of Latter-day Saints can be adequately represented by a leadership still composed mainly of white men.

Darron Smith, a black Mormon and an adjunct sociology professor at church-owned Brigham Young University in Utah, believes church leaders should formally repudiate all racist doctrines and teachings on blacks, arguing that it is the only way to retain black members.


"Why do Mormons persist in believing that black people were cursed? Many of them do and stubbornly defend racist white sentiment. Why is that?" said Smith, who co-authored a new book of essays titled "Black and Mormon." "I think this is counterproductive to the church's mission."

The large majority of black Mormons say they are willing to look beyond the racist teachings and cleave to the church in part because of its powerful, detailed teachings on life after death. Cathy Stokes, a black Mormon who lives in Chicago, said she was drawn by members' strong devotion to living the faith.

"Joining this church was the single most important decision of my life," said Stokes, a former Baptist who converted in 1979. "And since I've come, I have never felt more love than I feel here."

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