A Brief History of Blacks, Marriage and Hypocrisy in the LDS
Black Mormons came to exist within two years of the founding of the Mormon Church by Joseph Smith in 1832. Elijah Able was the first black elder and Seventy Apostle or “traveling minister”. As a carpenter he contributed to the construction of the Temple in Utah, however he was denied his own Endowment in the temple a few years later. He died as a priesthood-holder, and his son and grandson were also ordained Elders. A few other black men were also ordained before 1848. He, was one of only two to ever become a Seventy Apostle.
One of the few ideals that makes this religion so interesting was its immediate acceptance of blacks, even former slaves, into the church and it’s rank and file very early on. Joseph Smith was an early advocate for the rights of black people. That would soon change with the adoption of doctrines and a changing of the guard so to speak.
Today there are about 400,000 black Mormons and counting. However, most do not know that from 1848 until 1978 black Mormons were banned from the priesthood and temples of the LDS Church. The same temple that one of the earliest black Elders helped to build. This is known as the Priesthood Ban and the reason for this was the result of a policy know as the “Curse of Cain Doctrine”. These policies were official and taught by the Mormon Church and its leaders.
Despite this, church membership has grown steadily among black Americans as well as black Africans since 1978 when the “Legacy of Cain” Doctrine’s ban was put to rest. It was never repudiated, it was ended. Many will argue that the result of this ban was due more so to social and religious unrest and not because the Church suddenly experienced a moral epiphany. Black Mormons currently have all the rights and blessings that white Mormons “enjoy”. However, there has only been one Black Mormon Seventy since Elijah Abel and that individual hailed from Brazil. His name is Helvecio Martins.
I can’t leave this topic without touching a little on the subject of polygamy among traditional and fundamental Mormons. Let’s start with the founder.
Joseph Smith was married to many women and at least 10 of them were already married to other husbands. Many of his wives were young girls still in their teens and at least two are known to have been 14 years of age. His marriages to those women formerly married with husbands were deemed celestial meaning they were eternal and he was sealed to these women in life and in death. Their marriages to the other men were considered civil only.
The church was prominently for Proposition 8 and even went so far as to donate millions of dollars for their cause, to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry. A church with roots in POLYGAMY and “indirect” and often times concealed RACISM has now jumped into the spotlight as proponents of BIGOTRY against law abiding gays and lesbians.
Quite the stance to take from a church that only abandoned polygamy for legal and financial reasons: the federal government was threatening to seize church property and their tax exempt status threatened. Traditional Mormons who long for plural marriage should be happy to know that despite the Church’s stance, the doctrine is still in place.
Unfortunately, in their case against same-sex marriage, the church is willing to deny to all human beings equal protection under the law through hypocrisy and transference, taking the spotlight off their own marred history and speaking out against an institution that they themselves had to be forced to revamp, respect, and even then it is still widely and secretly practiced today.
The vast majority of Mormon faiths practice polygamy, and the LDS is a rare exception. I do realize with painful insight that most religions employ hypocrisy as a means to reach their goal whether it be through growth in numbers or spreading a popular or unpopular message, but for a church who considers itself the true word, consider spreading messages of love and acceptance instead of veiled bigotry.
“The Mormon The Mormon
Where women are treated like doormen
And men are taught to make many babies
They some whore men
They marry for eternity but they still be gettin’ divorced and
For decades claimed the Mark of Cain was X’d across my forehead
Yet still blacks kneel while praying to a God who thought them abhorrent”